Top 8 things to see & do in the UAE

Summer in the UAE – Top 8 things to see & do

If you are spending your summer in the UAE, here are the top 8 things to see & do. The United Arab Emirates is not just Dubai, there are 6 other emirates to be explored. On this trip, I had the opportunity to fully explore Abu Dhabi but only scratched the surface in Dubai.

If you want to find out the travel requirements for travel to the UAE for Nigerians, read this post.

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Abu Dhabi and Dubai do have a reputation for being expensive so, in this post, I’ll go into full detail on the top things to do in the UAE, my experiences and how much it costs (a few of the activities are under $50).  

I implore you to carry out your own research as the rules and prices could change at any time.  

Related post: The Ultimate UAE Travel Guide – What to see & do

Sky Views Observatory  

If you are in Dubai and want incredible views but are on a budget, Sky Views Observatory is perfect. It’s a short 10/ 15-minute walk (depending on how fast you walk) from the Dubai Mall through an underground tunnel. The ride up on the glass elevator to the 52nd floor (where you get off) gives you a taste of what to expect with mesmerising views of downtown Dubai.  

For AED85 ($23) you get access to a Glass Walk, which gives you panoramic views of Dubai from different perspectives, I mean you are more than 219.5 metres up in the air, as well as the Glass Slide where you get to see more of Dubai while you slide.  

Summer in the UAE

If you want some thrill and don’t mind hanging off buildings, you can pay an extra AED504 ($137) (this price changes frequently) to experience the Sky Edge Walk which encircles Sky View from the outside and gives you a view of the city and the Burj Khalifa from beneath your feet.   

You can buy tickets from here or here either when you get to the Observatory or Online and it opens from 10 am – 10 pm daily.

Dubai Mall  

Did you really go to Dubai if you didn’t visit Dubai Mall? It is the largest mall in Dubai and it is unmissable. With over 1,200 retail outlets, an ice rink, a souk, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo the Burj Khalifa (The World’s Tallest Building) and the Dubai Fountain, you could easily spend your entire day here. To make the most of your time at the mall, you should dedicate specific days to the activities you want to do, this will make sure you don’t get distracted.  

You can catch the Dubai Fountain Show every 30 minutes from 6 pm until 11 pm daily. It is the world’s tallest performing fountain and is accompanied by lights and music, it is very captivating and FREE!  

If you visit the Dubai Mall, just know a lot of walking is involved, the mall is huge and places are far apart so make sure you download the Dubai Mall app to navigate it.

Opening times:  

  • Sunday to Thursday: 8 am – 12 am  
  • Friday & Saturday: 8 am – 1 pm  

Visit the Dubai Spice & Gold Souk and Ride a Traditional Abra 

This is a must when in Dubai! I love visiting markets in the countries I travel to, you can feel the energy of the city. I can haggle, and bargain and I often find unique pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. You need a shopping list when visiting the Dubai Spice and Gold Souk to make sure you don’t go over budget.

It’s located in Deira, 20 minutes from downtown Dubai, it has a different vibe and atmosphere and is right across the street from the Dubai Creek where you can ride a traditional Abra (wooden boat) for AED1 ($0.27).  

The Gold Souk sells gold, silver and precious stones all with intricate designs and they are cheaper in Dubai compared to other countries mainly because the gold rate depends on the daily international gold prices. 

If it’s your first time in Dubai, it may be worth it to book a guided tour which takes you on a tour of Old Dubai, the Coin Museum, and the Souks as well as an Abra ride.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque 

I visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and it was magnificent, from the architecture to the 24-carat gold chandeliers and domes, every single thing was GRAND. 

Top 8 things to do in the UAE

Here are a few things to note before you go: 

  • Entry is free but tickets need to be booked online beforehand. When you book you are sent a QR code which you use to enter and exit the mosque.  
  • You need to be properly dressed; women need to be covered from head to toe. 
  • There’s a mall right before you enter the mosque where Abayas are sold. You can also rent some (these are not as stylish as the ones on sale). 
  • There are designated photo stops around the mosque – you can only take photos here, and you are not allowed to make any hand gestures if you do, you could be asked to leave. 
  • You need to show a negative PCR test (taken within 14 days) to enter. 

I spent about 45 minutes here just admiring the pristine marble and taking pictures but I could have spent longer. If you travel during the summer, visit the mosque in the early morning or late evening because it gets very hot during the day.  

P.S.: If you’re doing a day trip from Dubai, planning can be a bit tedious, so it may be more convenient to do a tour where transportation is already provided.

Desert Safari  

A Desert Safari is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have in the UAE. I booked a group tour through GetYourGuide for my mum, sisters and me and let me just say, it’s something I won’t mind doing again. You can book a Desert Safari directly from tour companies which you can find on websites like:  

  • Get Your Guide: I booked a group package from here which was on sale for €84.47 per person. It was an all-inclusive tour and came with hotel pick-up and drop-off, all tour activities. 
  • Hotel Concierge: Another option is to book directly from your hotel concierge. They can provide you with options from different tour providers.  

The best time to go on a Desert Safari (the only time tour companies operate) is at sunrise, from 6 am to noon, and sunset from 4 pm till late in the evening. Wear light and airy clothing with comfortable shoes because you’ll be doing things like visiting a Camel Farm, Dune Bashing, Sandboarding, Camel Riding and Quad biking.  

Related Post: A Guide to a Desert Safari Experience in the UAE

The Louvre Abu Dhabi 

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum that represents the dynamic nature of the contemporary Arab world and its multicultural heritage. With over 8 gallery rooms you can easily spend over 2 hours here, just walking around, admiring the art.  

A general entry ticket costs AED63 ($17) and the museum is open Tuesdays – Sundays from 10 am to 6:30 pm. Apart from viewing the art, you can Kayak around the museum early in the morning or late afternoon for an extra AED126 ($34.30).  

To enter, you need to show your vaccination card and a negative PCR test that was taken within 14 days and masks need to be worn at all times inside the museum. 

The grounds around the museum are truly beautiful, so after looking at the art, spend some time outside (just know the summer heat is almost unbearable). 

Yas Island – Ferrari World  

If you love theme parks, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is where you need to be. It’s home to Formula Rossa, The World’s Fastest Rollercoaster – this ride is so exhilarating! It goes from 0 – 240km/h in 4.9 seconds and you’re given goggles to protect your eyes from the speed. Save this ride for last while you enjoy all the other thrilling coasters to build anticipation.  

To make sure you beat the crowd and don’t have to line up for any of the rides, get there as soon as it opens at 11 am or 12 pm (depending on the time of the year) and expect to spend at least 6 hours if you want to go on all the rides at least once before the park closes at 8 pm.  

A single-day ticket costs AED310 ($84.40) and AED345 ($93.93) if bought at the park and it gives you access to all the rides, except for a few like go-carting and the Ferrari Driving Experience (you can drive a Ferrari or be a passenger and cruise around Yas Island) that cost extra.  

To enter, you need to show your vaccine card and a negative PCR test that was taken within 14 days and your mask needs to be worn at all times when you’re not on the rides.

P.S.: the park is huge, so get ready to WALK.  

Visit Corniche Beach Abu Dhabi  

Beach days are essential in Abu Dhabi especially during the summer when temperatures can get as high as 50 degrees Celsius.  

Corniche Beach is pristine and the entrance fee costs only AED10 ($2.72). You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas for AED25 ($7.08). The public side of the beach can get a bit crowded but if you’re staying at a hotel like The St Regis Hotel Corniche, you have private access to Corniche Beach and because of how secluded it is, you could end up having the beach all to yourself.  

Places I would have gone to if I had more time 

  • If I had a few more days in the UAE, I would have visited Jubail Mangrove Park, a mangrove sanctuary in Abu Dhabi. It protects Abu Dhabi’s coastline and biodiversity you can pay AED15 ($4.08) to take a walk on the meandering boardwalk which takes you through the mangroves and allows you to discover Abu Dhabi in all its beauty.
    • Some other activities you can find in the mangrove are: Kayaking, stand–up paddle boarding, and a one-hour tour in an electric dragon boat that gives you a unique vantage point to discover beautiful trees and fauna. 
  • Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood was number 1 on my list of places to visit in Dubai. It’s a small, quaint, and understated neighbourhood that provides a view of the old traditional Dubai. It is quite juxtaposed with downtown Dubai characterised by Sky Scrapers, modern technology, and high-rise buildings that are hard to see elsewhere in the country. You can find the Dubai Museum and the most Instagrammable Starbucks here so it’s definitely worth a visit.  

I hope this helps you decide and budget the activities to do and places to visit on your next trip to the UAE.

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. If you end up booking a trip, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you!

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