Best of Dubai - what to do at the Persian Gulf?

There is a delicate balance of old and new in Dubai, resulting in a smorgasbord of things to do. You can spend your mornings sprawled out along Jumeirah Beach and your afternoons shredding powder at Ski Dubai. Or you can start your day haggling at the traditional Gold and Spice Souks before exercising your credit card at the contemporary Dubai Mall. But first thing's first: Get to know the city. Head straight to the top of the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building) where you'll find incredible views stretching into the Persian Gulf. And if you're interested in a more traditional perspective, take an abra (water taxi) ride along Dubai Creek.


Dubai Mall


Skirting the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai is every shopper's paradise. The massive Dubai Mall is the largest shopping center in the world and houses a whopping 1,200 stores. Even if you aren't interested in buying anything, a visit to this immense retail center is a must: The Dubai Mall also contains numerous entertainment facilities, such as an ice rink, a movie theater and several kid-friendly attractions, including an aquarium that houses more than 33,000 underwater creatures.

Burj Al Arab


Overlooking the Persian Gulf from its perch between Jumeirah Beach and the Palm Islands. This stunning building has wowed architecture buffs since it opened in 1999. Its curved glass façade – modeled after the sails that have graced Dubai's waterways all these years – shelters a world-class. Luxurious hotel located on its own man-made island. The hotel not only houses the tallest atrium in the world at nearly 600 feet high, but it is one of the tallest hotels in the world. Architecture aside, amenities include revolving beds in some suites, as well as a helipad, in case you thought arriving via a complimentary Rolls-Royce was too pedestrian.

Jumeirah Beach


Within walking distance of the Burj Al Arab is arguably Dubai's best strip of public sand. Sun-seekers come to this lively shoreline to revel in Dubai's bright rays, while water sports enthusiasts take advantage of the calm, turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf. Jumeirah Beach is also equipped with a children's playground and plenty of barbecue and picnic areas. Just make sure you come early as the area grows steadily more crowded throughout the day.

Gold and Spice Souk


Dubai is and has been a titan of trade for centuries. To get a sense of what commerce was like back in the day. Take a stroll through one of the city's traditional souks, or bazaars. The Gold Souk, located on Dubai Creek's south bank in the Deira, specializes in glitz and glamour. Featuring glittering displays of necklaces, bracelets and earrings from more than 300 retailers. The Gold Souk is one of the most renowned gold jewelry trading centers in the world. In fact, approximately 20 percent of the world's gold passes through this market.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve


When the glitz and glam of urban Dubai gets old, visitors strongly recommend escaping to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The UAE's first national park sits on the outer edges of the city, and occupies about 87 square miles of the Arabian Desert. The reserve mainly acts as a research unit, but travelers are allowed to explore the area – with one caveat: visitors aren't allowed to tour the reserve by themselves. Luckily, the park offers many different types of activities that will cater to travelers with varying interests. Thrill-seekers can go sand boarding, dabble in archery or go dune driving on a luxury four-wheeler. Those looking for a more relaxed experience can soak up the spirit of the desert on low cushions in Bedu tents for a delectable Dune Dinner. Or arrange a more intimate Private Desert Dinner. There's also traditional camel treks available, as well as horseback rides, and even a class on falconry. Visitors can also camp on-site, or retreat to the luxurious Al Maha A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa at the end of the day.