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2 Days in Dubai for First Timers

Curated by Sarah IredaleSarah is an experienced copywriter specialising in travel, finance, and IT. Born and raised in Sri Lanka and India, and with stints living in the UAE and Oman, her love of South Asia and Arabia has seen her add travel writing to her record of copywriting for cross-sector global brands. Sarah has a BA Hons in History from Reading University and lives in East Sussex with her partner. When not working, she enjoys scuba diving, wild swimming, and woodland walks with her rescue Jack Russell, Charlie.

Two days in Dubai let you branch out beyond the essential desert and city tours. Delve deeper into Dubai’s sands and Bedouin culture, dive headfirst into its 21st-century architecture and theme parks, and up the pace with the extreme sports the city does so well. Here’s how to make the most of a 2-day stay in Dubai.

Day 1: Morning

Sightseeing in Dubai is best in the relative cool of morning, so begin today with a guided city highlights tour or a hop-on hop-off bus tour to explore more freely. Take photos of the ultramodern must-sees such as the Atlantis, the Palm, and Burj Al Arab, and delve into old Dubai, where wind towers and souks huddle around Dubai Creek.

Day 1: Afternoon

Devote the afternoon to Dubai’s entertainment heavyweights. Stay cool in the sun courtesy of the pools and chutes at the Wild Wadi or Atlantis’ Aquaventure water parks, or head for IMG Worlds of Adventure for white-knuckle rides and virtual-reality experiences.

Day 1: Night

Most Dubai desert tours take up the afternoons and evenings, when the desert looks and feels extra romantic. After a 4WD dune drive, group tours make tracks for Bedouin-inspired camps to enjoy camel rides, sandboarding, henna art, and other traditional activities. A barbecue dinner and live entertainment usually provide the finale before convenient transfer back to your hotel.

Day 2: Morning

Rise early for a sunrise seaplane flight offering phenomenal bird’s-eye views of Dubai’s skyscrapers glowing gold at dawn. Follow your aerial exploits with another burst of adventure, this time in the desert. Join a quad bike or buggy expedition and feel your adrenaline race as you roar across the dunes.

Day 2: Afternoon

To escape Dubai’s afternoon heat, head for one of its indoor attractions—air-conditioned oases out of the sun. All ages love watching the sea life at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, while skiing in the winter-like world of Ski Dubai makes for an adventurous and quirky alternative.

Day 2: Night

Go all out for your final night in Dubai. Prebook evening admission to the 124th-floor observation deck at the Burj Khalifa for floodlit city views, or ramp up the luxury and height at the 148th-floor SKY observatory. For a meal to remember, dine in one of the city’s ultra-glitzy hotel restaurants or take a dinner cruise on Dubai Creek or the Dubai Marina.

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