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No spot in Dubai hasn’t caught the eye of the world already. The Internet is flooded with pictures of the Burj Khalifa and other marvels Dubai prides itself on. Yet, I took it upon myself to experience what the city has to offer. And to be quite fair, I could never be more fascinated.
This was a trip with my fiance and, to be honest, the first time I visited the UAE. The only worry I was left with was planning the itinerary, and we were determined to make the most of our trip by getting our hands on everything we could. And as the novice photography enthusiasts that we are, we couldn’t miss out on whatever we thought was captivating enough. Luckily, Dubai offered everything we could ask for.
I do not know who needs to hear this, but a three to four-day trip to Dubai would suffice. Moreover, in these three days, you can access the most visited attractions, along with the picture-perfect spots where you won’t let your phone and its camera get out of your hand even for a second. One of the reasons is that Dubai’s skyline complements the architectural accomplishments impeccably, offering a sight made to relish nowhere else.
The best part of Dubai is that it holds dear to its Arabic roots while also setting the bar high in the case of contemporary lifestyle and city glitz. I could seriously go on raving, but the fact remains that you will end up with a lot of spots for the gram. Below are 11 of the idyllic places with a bonus one that is likely to fill up your phone’s space with pictures and, of course, your heart with all the memories.
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1. Sunset Beach
For those who want instagrammable content on their profiles. Seriously, missing out on this wouldn’t have done justice to the blog, though I may sound cliche for mentioning it just like the others.
It is not just any beach but a quintessential photo-clicking site and a place to bask in the sun while you’re soothing your senses and avoiding work emails.
I normally carry my GoPro for such locations, but if you are thinking of getting a tripod or a better camera, think again. Handheld shots would do, and your iPhone would be put in the best use for what it’s intended.
2. Dubai International Financial Center
From the name itself, it may not look like the first place you’d want to visit in Dubai. But it makes a name among other captivating attractions in Dubai with its beautifully symmetrical areas that are worthwhile to explore.
Pro Tip: You will always have people photobombing your photos. But you can avoid them by planning your visit for a Friday or Saturday afternoon. If your trip aligns on those days, you will be able to get better pictures.
The bridge seen above has excellent symmetry, and having a friend pose for you gives fascinating scale to your photos. Although the bummer is that the security may ask you to refrain from using a DSLR, so you will have to rely on your smartphone. Sneaking in a GoPro may cut it (but you can always try, right).
3. Dubai Souk
If you want to take gallivanting to the next level, the Souk is going to be the place for you. The souks in Dubai have carefully retained the city’s old-world character. Wandering through the charming lanes transports you back to Dubai’s pearl-diving days. These historic markets feature several Instagram-worthy sites, ranging from spice souks to gold souks and even a full souq dedicated to fragrances. Walking through the passageways of these souqs transports you to the past and provides a fascinating piece of well-preserved history rich in culture and traditions.
4. Ain Dubai
The Ain Dubai Ferris Wheel, the world’s tallest and highest at 210m, offers 360-degree views of Dubai’s sparkling shoreline and a magnificent skyline.
From your pod, you should be able to see the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Palm Islands, and the full width of Dubai Marina. Photographs with Ain Dubai in the background are just as beautiful as those taken inside the pod.
The views are supposed to be especially lovely around sunset when the city is covered in pink and ombre colors. Choose the sunset time slot, even if it is somewhat more expensive.
5. Downtown Dubai
Downtown Dubai is a renowned tourist destination and home to the city’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa. You can also find the observatory deck perched atop the Burj Khalifa, giving you a bird’s eye view of the whole city. Then there’s the Dubai Fountain which is synonymous with Dubai’s eventful nightlife.
The huge Dubai Mall accommodates upscale and international designer companies as well as casual cafes, while Emaar Boulevard has more of a somewhat trendy setting when it comes to eateries.
The stunning community is a medley of explorable options, and the contemporary apartments in Downtown Dubai, whether as a room or full-fledged residence sell like hotcakes. Who knows, on your first or next visit, you may want to settle for good.
You can hop off on one of the buses for tourists that hover around the city, but for me strolling did just fine.
Here you can click multiple shots, and if you use Instagram filters to your advantage, you will have plenty of content to post for the upcoming weeks.
6. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is an awesome place to visit if you’re fascinated by marine life. It’s located in Dubai Mall, which is one of the biggest malls in the world, and the aquarium itself is massive.
Picture a giant glass tank that’s filled with all sorts of fish, sharks, and rays hovering right above your head! You can see them from different angles, including from a tunnel that goes right through the middle of the tank. It’s a really cool experience to walk through the tunnel and feel like you’re surrounded by all these amazing creatures.
The underwater zoo part of the attraction has a bunch of different exhibits, each with its own unique animals. There’s a penguin exhibit, which is always fun to watch, and a crocodile exhibit that’s pretty intense. They also have a special area where you can see some really bizarre and interesting creatures like jellyfish and giant spider crabs.
Overall, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is a must-visit attraction if you’re in Dubai. It’s a fun and educational experience that’s great for kids and adults alike.
7. Dubai Desert
If you have a knack for adventure, this is your call. Dubai has a fair share of beaches, but the Arabian sands are what hooks the tourists right away. Here’s the catch – you can visit the Arabian desert during the day, as well as at night.
During the day, you may have to put up with the scorching heat of the Dubai summer. The uneven sand dunes of the desert add to the adrenaline rush and can be best experienced with Safari rides, camel rides, and quad biking.
The ideal times to get a photograph would be sunsets and sunrise, as the Sun is the biggest near the horizon (so much room for candid photography). These times would make for an irresistibly photogenic moment.
8. The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah
Located on the iconic Palm Jumeirah island, The Pointe is a waterfront dining and entertainment destination that has something for everyone. From high-end restaurants to casual cafes, there’s a diverse range of dining options to choose from, all with stunning views of the Arabian Gulf.
But it’s not just about the food. The Pointe is also home to a variety of entertainment options, including a fountain show that rivals the famous Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas. You can catch the show every hour in the evening, and it’s a magical experience that you won’t forget.
And if you’re looking for some retail therapy, The Pointe has you covered. There are plenty of shops selling everything from souvenirs to luxury brands.
But what really sets The Pointe apart is its location. It’s situated on the eastern side of the Palm Jumeirah, which means you get unobstructed views of the Dubai skyline. It’s the perfect place to relax, soak up the atmosphere, and take in the beauty of the city.
Pro tip: Add the Palm Fountain display to your plan, which takes place every day after 6 p.m
9. Burj Park
The Burj Khalifa, the totem of the fast-paced growth sphere of Dubai, can be accessed from umpteen places, but you can get a closer look at the Burj Park. The Burj park is right at the base of the Burj Khalifa and is a little island accessed via footbridges in Downtown Dubai.
Burj Park is a great way to spend a quiet evening, to get some energy boost, especially after a long shopping session. There is always something happening, so you can catch up with events like food truck festivals, boat rides over Burj Lake, and walking along the Dubai Fountain Promenade are additional options.
With the Burj Khalifa and other backdrops by your side, you can get pretty aesthetic shots for your profile. I even witnessed a proposal, and good for the person proposing, his beloved said yes. It was like being in some rom-com. If you get lucky, you may get to see movie crews shooting for upcoming projects.
10. Global Village
Talking about Dubai’s outskirts, you can find Global Village – which makes for a unique entertainment destination celebrating the diversity of the world. It’s a place where you can experience the food, music, and art of different countries all in one place.
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at Global Village is the sheer size of the place. It’s huge! There are more than 25 pavilions, each representing a different country or region. You can explore them all and experience everything from traditional dance performances to delicious cuisine.
But it’s not just about the cultural experience. Global Village also has a variety of entertainment options, including thrilling rides, games, and live shows. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re traveling with family or friends.
And if you’re a shopaholic, Global Village is the place for you. There are more than 3,500 retail outlets selling everything from local handicrafts to designer fashion.
11. Hot Air Balloon Ride
The views and sensations you will experience can’t fit in a combination of words. It can well cost a fortune for many to get a glimpse for a while on the hot air balloon, but at least you’ll get off with an irreversible smile.
While it may not be Cappadocia, this contender remains undefeated and hands-down one of the most remarkable experiences we had. The ride lasts for about 35 minutes which passes by like a breeze, but you will recall enjoying every second.
We were on the hot air balloon at sunset, and oh boy, the views were all I didn’t even know I had missed. If you’re with your special someone, the vibes are going to be immaculate in every way!
You may also witness camels, gazelles, oryx, and other desert wildlife from the top grazing on the land. And believe me; they look so tiny yet discernable enough as you elevate after boarding the balloon.
And the bonus – you get to click candids above 4,000 feet at the expanse of the Arabian Desert – an unending ocean of sand dunes bathed in a glorious golden yellow light during daybreak.
There’s a reason why visiting Dubai is worthwhile. Hovering around the city gave me multiple glimpses of the glitzy buildings, but there’s more to Dubai than that.
I was headed to find a place with more Arabic architecture, and we ran into the Souk, a highly visited site in Dubai. The locals are usually cordial, and you can tour around with your camera pretty much anywhere without getting in trouble; however, in some cases, you may be asked not to use a DSLR or any other professional camera. Make sure to take care of your equipment and know where it would be allowed.
If you plan to go inside the Burj Khalifa, your camera will be good. Make your intentions clear that you are only there for recreational purposes because anyone with a commercial intent with the cameras would be straightaway prohibited. After that, if your photos end up in your Pinterest profiles, your gram or even Unsplash is your business.
I hope you get an idea of what it is like to find the perfect spot in Dubai. Try to visit sites where there is less foot traffic on certain days. Avoid going to the markets on weekends, as they are “thronged” with people – both locals and tourists. This was one of the mistakes we made while planning the trip, but it all went well, so we have no regrets