Be amazed by the Burj Khalifa.
Currently the world’s tallest building at 2,717 feet high, this 163-floor glassy spike juts into the sky from downtown Dubai, and the aluminum structure alone weighs the same as 1,000 Airbus A380 aircraft. Soar up to the Burj Khalifa observation deck on the 124th floor in an elevator that travels at 32 feet per second, then take in far-reaching views of the city and the shimmering desert beyond.
See the skyline from Palm Jumeirah.
Dubai’s self-styled ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, the palm-shaped island’s foundations were created from seven million tons of rock blasted from the nearby Hajar Mountains, along with 120 million cubic meters of sand. Be brave and go for an aerial view with Skydive Dubai, or drop in for drinks at one of the many luxury hotels perched on the Palm’s ‘fronds’ to take in the city skyline.
Enjoy pure luxury at Burj al Arab Jumeirah.
The seven-star, all-suite hotel is shaped like a sail, and is an iconic symbol of Dubai. Its 107,640 square-foot terrace fans out into the Arabian Gulf and was built off-site in Finland in 2016, then transported over 2,796 miles to Dubai by sea, where it seamlessly joined the hotel. Inside, you can take afternoon tea in the Junsui lounge, where you will be dazzled by the largest Swarovski crystal ceiling in the world, with 29,000 crystals representing the Milky Way.
Be charmed by Al Fahidi Historical District.
Also known as Al Bastakiya, this quaint pocket exudes memories of an era that predates malls and skyscrapers. The houses have wind towers—the original air conditioning of the Middle East—which help to funnel cool air through the building. Enjoy delicious local dishes in the shady walled garden of the Arabian Tea House, then hop on a traditional abra (motorized water taxi) to cross the Dubai Creek.
Enjoy some retail therapy at Dubai Mall.
No Dubai vacation is complete without a visit to the largest mall in the world, whose size is equivalent to more than 50 soccer fields. Inside, you will find everything from 1,200+ shops to an Olympic-size ice rink and a world-record-breaking aquarium. Just outside, join those who gather every evening to watch one of the city’s loveliest attractions—the choreographed dancing fountains that soar up to 492 feet into the air, before swirling, swooping and falling to the sound of music.
Take in the Gold Souk.
Tucked into the lining of Al Ras Deira in old Dubai, this ‘city of gold’ has over 300 retailers, with prices dictated by a daily gold rate. It is sporadically home to the world’s largest gold ring, the Najmat Taiba (‘Star of Taiba’), a 21-carat behemoth weighing almost 141 lbs, with 11 lbs of diamonds and 615 Swarovski crystals, and valued at over US$3 million. For a very different atmosphere, visit the neighboring Spice Souk—where the air hangs heavy with scents emanating from sacks brimming with both exotic and familiar ingredients.