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The Ultimate 7-Day Dubai Itinerary 2024

Are you planning a 7-day Dubai itinerary?

Dubai is an incredible city. I visited with family on both my and my husband’s side for one week, and I felt this was the perfect amount of time to see a lot of the main attractions.

This post details what we did during each day of of our stay, along with important information to help with planning your own 7-day Dubai itinerary.

About Dubai

Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, and it has seen a ginormous boom in tourism over the last couple decades. What started as a small fishing village in the 1700s is now one of the world’s most popular travel destinations.

Dubai has the record for a lot of things, including:

  • World’s tallest tower (Burj Khalifa, soon to be surpassed by Creek Tower – also in Dubai)
  • World’s largest shopping mall (Dubai Mall)
  • …and probably my favorite: World’s tallest chocolate structure (which happens to be a replica of Burj Khalifa)

If I could describe Dubai in just a couple words, I would say “sensory overload.” I found myself saying “wow” multiple times each day I was there.

The city is built on a desert, so that’s impressive in itself. But beyond that, Dubai is so incredibly modern that you almost feel like you entered the future.

From dazzling light shows and dancing fountains to sleek monorails and advanced automation, it’s hard not to be mesmerized by it all.

However, what stood out to me the most was how multicultural the city is. It’s like the Melting Pot of the Middle East. Even though the UAE is an Islamic country, its population is very diverse, and people of all ethnicities and backgrounds are welcome.

View of JBR Beach from the Palm Monorail
View of JBR Beach from the Palm Monorail

The Best 7-Day Dubai Itinerary

Day 1: The Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Mall was the very first place we visited as part of our 7-day Dubai itinerary. The sheer size and grandeur of this place gave us a taste for what to expect throughout our stay.

We were joined by a sea of other taxis as we were dropped off in front of the main entrance. This mall is the largest in the world by total area, with more than 1,200 stores.

It even includes one of the world’s biggest aquariums, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo (more on that in Day 6).

In the mall, we ate dinner at Bospurus Turkish Restaurant, where we had delicious Teretur, Lahmacun, and chicken Iskender Kebabs.

Every corner of this mall had something interesting to offer, from souvenir shops with traditional wares to giant sculptures and paintings. You could easily spend hours here browsing around.

After exploring the Dubai Mall, we went through the central exit on the lower floor to see the dancing waters of the Dubai Fountain and the light show at the Burj Khalifa. It was unbelievable.

The shows change often to highlight national and international celebrations or awareness campaigns. When we were there in 2018, they had a special presentation for the New Year.

The Dubai Fountain shows run every 30 minutes from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. every evening. Burj Khalifa shows run every 30 minutes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 7:45-10:45 p.m., and every hour on weeknights from 7:45-10:45 p.m.

Day 2: Desert Safari

A 7-day Dubai itinerary would not be complete without going to the desert. We booked an evening tour with Desert Safari Dubai.

We were picked up from our hotel by our tour leader around 3 p.m. His vehicle looked like a normal SUV, except that it had an extra frame built inside. We quickly figured out why.

As soon as we arrived at the desert, I think I saw our leader get a twinkle in his eye. He revved the engine and we were off, gliding (and bumping) from one sand dune to the next, swerving back and forth, sometimes careening off the edge of a slope. It was like a roller coaster on steroids.

After this “dune bashing” event, we were given the opportunity to take a quick camel ride before going to our base camp. I wish the ride would have been much longer, but it was still a fun experience.

Our tour concluded with an Arabic feast at the base camp, along with musical entertainment and free henna tattoos. Well, mine was free because it wasn’t so elaborate. I saw another girl get a much fancier one done for about 30 USD (see below).

Day 3: Day Trip to Abu Dhabi

During your 7-day Dubai itinerary, I highly recommend a day trip to the capital city, Abu Dhabi, which is about an hour and a half away.

I don’t have a link to the exact tour we did, but there are several different companies that offer these tours, such as this highly rated tour by OceanAir Travels.

On our way to Abu Dhabi, our driver stopped at a small village where we could pick up some fresh dates. We purchased some that were filled with chopped pistachios. YUM.

Fresh dates on the way to Abu Dhabi

We also made a pit stop at Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor theme park. It was just supposed to be a bathroom break, so we didn’t get to see much there. If you’re into rides, you may want to schedule a time to visit on another day.

Our next stop was at Emirates Palace. Contrary to the name, it’s actually a five-star luxury hotel instead of a royal residence. We weren’t allowed inside, so the entry arch was about as far as we could get.

Dubai 7-Day Itinerary: Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

The highlight of the day was visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE. It is able to accommodate more than 40,000 worshippers.

I can’t even describe how beautiful this building is. There are so many intricate architectural details that you could spend hours wandering around and still miss something. My favorite part was when darkness fell and the mosque became dazzlingly blue.

The mosque contains the world’s largest carpet (which happens to be a Persian carpet). It stretches from one side of the main hall all the way to the other and measures a whopping 60,546 square feet (5,630 square meters).

It took 1,200 weavers more than a year to complete! If you’re interested, you can read the fascinating story behind this carpet here.

The flowers shown below were carved from stone and were one of my favorite details in the mosque. They are a combination of irises, tulips, lilies, and roses – all flowers that can be found in the Middle East.

Our tour concluded with a buffet dinner at Danial Restaurant in downtown Dubai, featuring amazing Persian food. We ended up eating there twice. It was so good!

🕌 Book your Abu Dhabi day trip now

Day 4: Ibn Battuta Mall

The Dubai Mall is impressive, but I think I liked the Ibn Battuta Mall even more. Ibn Battuta was a famous globetrotter from the 1300s who visited Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India, China, and Andalusia during his travels.

The mall is broken into themed courts representing each of these regions. Below are pictures of the India, Egypt, and China courts.

My favorite court was Persia, with its iconic blue mosaic patterns.

7-Day Dubai itinerary: Persia court at Ibn Battuta Mall
Persia court at Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai
Persia court at Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai

Needless to say, I was much more intrigued by the interior design in the mall than by actually shopping.

Note: You could do a lot more than just visit this mall in one day. We wanted to take things slow on this particular day, but if you want to squeeze in something else, see Additional Activities to Consider.

Day 5: Dubai Miracle Garden and Global Village

On day 5 of our 7-day Dubai itinerary, we paid a visit to the Dubai Miracle Garden, the city’s very own desert oasis. The garden first launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013, and you’ll now find more than 150 million flowers here.

The Dubai Miracle Garden is one of the few attractions that is only open seasonally. (It closes during the summer.) If you really want to see this place, you should plan your trip in the cooler months, ideally between November and March.

Tickets cost 55 AED (15 USD) for adults and 40 AED (11 USD) for children aged 3-12. (Children 2 and under can enter for free.)

After visiting the garden, we hopped over to Global Village, which is in a similar part of the city. It’s such a cool place! They have exhibits for dozens of countries and cultures, featuring local food and trinkets from each location.

They also have lots of festivals and live shows. After leaving, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled around the world.

Note: Global Village is another attraction that is only open from October to April.

Dubai 7-Day Itinerary: Global Village
Main entrance to Global Village

I really enjoyed the Iran exhibit, which was filled with spices, historical replicas and artifacts, and my personal favorite: Persian carpets.

You could easily spend half a day at Global Village. There is so much to see and do, not to mention the variety of things to eat.

Day 6: Dubai City Tour: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and More

On Day 6, we took a guided city tour to see some other popular attractions we hadn’t been to yet.

One of our first activities on the tour was to ride the Palm Monorail and visit the famous Palm Jumeirah island. Lots of celebrities have condos on this island, including David and Victoria Beckham. You will also find the famous Atlantis the Palm resort here.

Our next stop was the Dubai Marina, a city district built around a man-made canal that pulls in water from the Persian Gulf.

Visitors usually gravitate toward the Dubai Marina Mall or the two beaches in this area: The Beach and The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence (known as JBR).

Both beaches are family-friendly with lots of restaurants and activities to choose from, including AquaFun, the world’s largest inflatable water park (located at JBR).

As part of our guided tour, we took a one-hour yacht ride through the Marina that ended in the Gulf, with stunning nighttime views of the Dubai skyline. The captain blasted music for us while we all danced under the stars. It was magical.

We then visited Madinat Jumeirah, known as Dubai’s Little Venice. You can see why it gets this nickname with the many canals and bridges that weave through this area.

Madinat Jumeirah is especially lovely to visit at night when it’s all lit up. It becomes a dinner hotspot, with its more than 50 restaurants and lounges to choose from.

Another key attraction here is Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a large Arabian bazaar where you can browse for special trinkets to take home with you. Madinat Jumeirah is also not far from the famous Burj al Arab hotel.

Our tour ended with a visit to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, located inside the Dubai Mall. There is nothing quite like being in an aquarium with people shopping around you.

In some places, there was just a thin glass wall separating the aquarium from the rest of the mall. Pretty wild!

More than a thousand aquatic animals that make up more than 140 species live in this aquarium.

A basic ticket (starting at 169 AED/46 USD) gives you access to the main Aquarium Tunnel and underwater zoo. You can also upgrade to include additional experiences, like the King Crocs Encounter, shark dive, or snorkeling.

Note that some experiences may require more advanced bookings since slots are limited.

Our guided Dubai tour was arranged by my husband’s family so I don’t have an exact link to share. However, this Dubai tour is highly rated and takes you to a lot of the key Dubai sites as well.

🚄 Book your Dubai city tour now!

Day 7: Some Final Shopping

On the last day of our 7-day Dubai itinerary, we spent some time at one of the City Centre malls (there are many of them) before packing our bags. For us, it was a day to soak up final moments with family before we parted ways.

If you still have a full day available to explore, this would be another great time to consider the additional activities listed below.

Additional Activities To Consider

When you only get to spend a week in a place, it can be hard to prioritize the things to do. It’s always a balance of wanting to see as much as you can while also taking time to enjoy each activity to the fullest.

I am happy about the activities we chose during our Dubai trip, but there are many other options, too.

Here are just a few other items to keep in mind for your 7-day Dubai itinerary:

At the Top (Burj Khalifa)

Burj Khalifa is an impressive site to behold from the outside, but for jaw-dropping views of the entire city, you may want to go inside and take a ride all the way to the top.

🏙 Book your Burj Khalifa tickets here

Dubai Creek

This natural saltwater waterway separates two main Dubai districts, Deira and Bur Dubai. It is an important historic part of the city, where you can find plenty of souks, heritage buildings and museums.

Hop on an abra boat for just 1 AED (0.27 USD) one way, to explore the Creek by water.

Dubai Frame

This architectural landmark currently holds the record for the largest frame in the world. Designed by Fernando Donis, the Dubai Frame was intended to “frame” the city of Dubai and serve as a reminder of the past, present and future.

You can purchase tickets for the sky deck for amazing views of the city.

🖼 Book a combined tour of Dubai Creek and Dubai Frame

La Mer

This is Dubai’s famous beachfront, located between Pearl Jumeira and Jumeira Bay. In addition to the beach, you’ll find a large selection of shops and restaurants, as well as eye-catching murals.

This place seems to especially be a hotspot for families with kids, as there are so many areas to explore and play.

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s most iconic hotel and a symbol of Arabian luxury. Hotel rooms start at well over 1,000 USD, with the grandest suite booking at around 24,000 USD.

You won’t be able to get into the building if you aren’t a paying guest, but you don’t have to stay the night there to be considered one. If you’re up for a little splurge, you can reserve an afternoon tea at Sahn Eddar starting at 550 AED (150 USD).

The restaurant can book out weeks in advance, so you will want to plan for it ahead of time.

Ski Dubai

A ski resort in the middle of the desert? Yep, Dubai has that, too. You can ski or snowboard, meet penguins, zip line, or take a chairlift inside the 22,500 square meter area, located inside the Mall of the Emirates.

One-day access passes start at 295 AED (80 USD).

Best Place to Stay in Dubai

Mövenpick Grand Al Bustan

There are a ton of places to stay in Dubai and it can feel overwhelming to know which one to choose. We always try to find a balance between quality and price, so we ended up going with the Mövenpick Grand Al Bustan (formerly called Roda Al Bustan), which is about 0.6 miles from Dubai International Airport.

It is a five-star hotel you can often book for under 100 USD per night. (When we went a few years ago, we paid around 90 USD per night, and last I checked, prices seem pretty similar.)

I’m not an expert when it comes to hotels, but I thought this price was a steal for a five-star hotel in Dubai. It’s not located right in the city center, but we didn’t have any trouble getting around.

A taxi ride to places like the Dubai Mall was only about 15 minutes long (and taxis were inexpensive, too – see Getting Around the City).

The Mövenpick Grand Al Bustan has a gorgeous lobby area and one of the largest buffet breakfasts I have ever seen (note breakfast is a surcharge).

There is also a large outdoor pool, and you can choose to book a room with a sliding door that goes right out to it. My husband would often slip out in the early morning to go for a quick swim (while I slept in ;)).

The hotel staff was really friendly to people of all ages, and everything was always nice and clean. While I can’t compare this place with any other hotels in Dubai, I would rate this one a 10/10 for both quality and value for money. We really enjoyed our stay here.

🛌 Reserve your room at Mövenpick Grand Al Bustan

Best Time to Visit Dubai

The weather is warm in Dubai year-round, but the hottest months are April through October. For comparison, the average temperature in August is 106° F (41° C), whereas in January it’s 75° F (24° C).

We visited over New Year’s and the weather was really nice: in the 70s and sunny almost the entire time. Though you’ll probably have sun no matter when you go – it only rains an average of 25 days per year there.

What to Wear in Dubai

The UAE is not as strict as other Islamic countries when it comes to dress code, but there are still certain guidelines that tourists are expected to follow:

  • Clothing should cover the shoulders and not fall higher than the knees.
  • Swimsuits may only be worn at the beach or swimming pool.
  • Women should wear a shawl or other head covering when visiting a mosque.

In addition to the guidelines above, I recommend wearing lightweight, breathable clothes that will make the high temperatures more bearable.

Here are some examples of outfits I wore:

Getting Around the City

Group Tours

For 3 days of our 7-day Dubai itinerary, we booked guided tours with the drivers picking us up and dropping us off at our hotel (see Day 2, Day 3, and Day 6 for the details of those tours).

I’m not always into doing guided tours, but these were small-group tours mostly comprised of our family members, and it was a stress-free way to see a lot of sights in one day.

Taxi

On the days we didn’t take a group tour, we got taxis to get around the city, since they were fast and inexpensive. I think each ride averaged around 20 AED (5 USD), and we could fit up to four people in each car.

There are actually two types of taxis in Dubai: those driven by men, which are tan with a colored roof, and the Ladies and Families Taxis driven by women, which typically have pink or lavender roofs.

As the name suggests, the Ladies and Families Taxis are for women, children, and families only. This option may be especially attractive to solo female travelers who don’t feel comfortable traveling alone with a man.

Dubai Metro

We didn’t experience the Metro during our 7-day Dubai itinerary, but I have heard that it’s very fast and easy to navigate.

There are only two lines, the red line and the green line, that stop at around 50 stations throughout the city.

Most of Dubai’s main attractions are close to a Metro station. More information on Metro tickets and pricing can be found here.

Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Dubai?

Citizens of many countries (including the USA, Canada, and Mexico) do not need to apply for a tourist visa to come to the United Arab Emirates, regardless of the airline used to arrive to the UAE.

They can simply obtain a free visitor visa upon arrival that is good for at least 30 days. (For some countries, it’s 90 or 180 days.)

For citizens of countries not on the visa-on-arrival list, if you arrive and depart the UAE with Emirates Airlines, you can now apply for a visa online.

If you fly with a different airline, you will need to have your host (person or hotel) in the UAE sponsor your visa.

See all the details on the Emirates Airlines website.

Is it Safe to Travel to Dubai in 2023?

Dubai is one of the world’s safest destinations, and it currently ranks #2 in Bloomberg’s COVID Resilience Ranking. The city has rigorous safety procedures in place to prioritize and monitor the safety of its residents and visitors.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I never felt unsafe during my entire stay in Dubai. As long as you take the usual precautions you would in any large city, and adhere to local laws and regulations, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Current COVID-19 Restrictions

Effective November 8, 2022, travelers are no longer required to present COVID-19 vaccination certificates or negative PCR test results to enter the UAE. Check out the Visit Dubai website to learn more.

Wrap-up: 7-Day Dubai Itinerary

Dubai is unlike any other place I have visited. You could easily spend two or three weeks here and still not run out of things to do. But if you only have seven days, you can still see a lot of the highlights as part of your 7-day Dubai itinerary.

Guided Tours Are Your Friend

If you plan to bounce around a lot in one day, a guided group tour can be a cost-effective and stress-free way to see the sights. Three guided tours I would recommend are:

  • Dubai desert safari
  • Day trip to Abu Dhabi
  • At least one Dubai city tour (ours covered Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Madinat Jumeirah, and Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo)

Sites to Visit on the Same Day

Since taxis are so affordable in Dubai, I would recommend this mode of transportation to get to sights on your own. Here is a list of the attractions mentioned in this article, grouped together based on their proximity to one another.

  • Dubai Mall (with Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo), Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain. These are all within walking distance from each other.

  • Dubai Miracle Garden and Global Village. Note they are only open from October-April, and they are about 20 minutes apart via taxi.

  • Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Madinat Jumeirah, and Burj Al Arab. For Palm Jumeirah, I recommend taking the Palm Monorail from Gateway Station to the Atlant stop and back, just for the experience. The other three locations are all only about 5-10 minutes apart by taxi.

  • La Mer, Dubai Frame, and Dubai Creek. A taxi ride from La Mer to Dubai Frame is about 12 minutes, and from Dubai Frame to Deira on Dubai Creek is also 12 minutes.

  • Ibn Battuta Mall and Mall of the Emirates (with Ski Dubai). Both malls could potentially be covered in one day, depending on how much time you plan to spend at each location. They are only about 15 minutes apart via taxi.

Whether you do all of the things above or just a few, I am sure Dubai will leave you with a lasting impression. You really can’t go wrong in this bustling desert metropolis.

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