Updated: Oct 4, 2018
Dubai in July... i know what you're thinking... WHY? Ugh, not sure myself honestly. I really made the most that I could despite the scorching heat. If you're pre-planning and can avoid it, then definitely skip out on the Summer months.
I should mention right away, Dubai isn't one of those places where you can do touristy things every minute of your trip. There's a lot to see, for sure. But as with most Middle Eastern countries and cities, it's a slower paced, more luxurious lifestyle.
WHAT I DID
If you're planning on seeing Burj Al Arab, but want a cute picture, then definitely head to Jumeirah beach. The view is the best.
The other famous Burj... Burj Khalifa. I recommend that you combine seeing this while checking out the famous Dubai Mall. They're all in the same vicinity. Dubai Mall - which btw, if you want to do some serious damage or shop till you drop; this is your mall. There's a ton of cafes by the Dubai Fountains (this is so entertaining to watch) and they do light shows on the Burj at night.
Stereotypes are accurate sometimes… there’s a lot of desert in the Middle East, and it’s kind of a big thing. It's actually quite the experience, but I would avoid this specific activity in the Summer. Usually in Dubai, wherever you go, there's AC. When you're about 2 hours deep into the desert, you're away from civilization but more importantly, you're FAR from AC! The Dubai Desert Safari was super fun. I booked my tour with OceanAir Travels after reading the Conde Nast article. They were incredible; customer service and hospitality was unbeatable. Their prices were pretty reasonable as well!
At the safari, you do something called "Dune Bashing". Essentially, picture yourself in a rollercoaster but on sand and via car. I was most nervous about this, but I was pleasantly surprised (aka did not throw up). They stop the car in a few different spots to get that perfect picture, and then head to the campsite where you'll see different performances, get fed dinner, smoke shisha, etc.
When I heard that Abu Dhabi had developed their take on the Louvre, I knew I had to see it. Abu Dhabi is about a 1 hour drive from the centre of Dubai. Whether you’re an art lover or know zilch about the world, you’ll enjoy the Louvre. It’s SO stunning - but expect to spend at least 2-3 hours here. There’s so much to see, and you’ll really want to pause and read about the pieces.
Speaking of Abu Dhabi, the other famous tourist (and non-tourist) attraction is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Out of everything I saw, this was the most surreal and picturesque.
TIP: bring your own modest clothing + scarf. The ones they give out aren’t cute at all. You must be fully covered (hair included) in the mosque.
Other places I recommend:
Dubai Marina speedboat tour
Any Souk/Bazaar (spice and perfume bazaars were amazing)
Mall of Emirates
Ibn Battuta Mall
If you’re visiting someone like I was, having the luxury of a car is definitely ideal (blast AC all day, everyday). In Dubai, “Careem” is their version of Uber or Lyft. Also, they recently launched a subway system which I tried out and LOVED! Granted, it’s not a massive map but it’s really handy, clean and organized.
Let’s be real. My fav part. Here are my recommendations:
Feras al Deyafa (for Kunafa)
Sushi Story (Abu Dhabi)
Jumeirah Beach - great view of Burj Al Arab
Desert Safari (3 picture stops in total, all equally great)
Any souk - traditional looking picture with so much colour and flavour
Dubai Marina speedboat tour - stops at The Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Dubai Eye, Dubai landscape/skyscrapers
Any mall - check out Ibn Battuta for less crowds but lots of cool architecture
So that's what I did! Hope you enjoyed this read, and it benefits your trip to Dubai if you're heading there!