The 10 Best Things to Do in Old Dubai – All Best Places to Visit
You want to visit Dubai Old Town during your stay in Dubai? You’re looking for the best things to do in Old Dubai?
You’re at the right place!
Consisting of several districts located on both side of the Dubai Creek, this vibrant neighborhood is home to a variety of souks and traditional markets, where you can shop for everything from spices and textiles to gold and electronics.
In order to help you plan your visit, I have prepared for you this guide of the 10 best places to visit in Dubai Old Town, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you all my best tips as well as my selection of the best accommodations in Dubai depending on your budget.
So, what to do in Old Dubai? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
- The 10 Best Things to Do in Old Dubai – All Best Places to Visit
- 1. Deira District
- 2. Dubai Gold Souk
- 3. The Spice Souk
- 4. The Perfume Souk
- 5. Take a Ride on an Abra
- 6. Dubai Creek
- 7. Bur Dubai
- 8. Al Fahidi historical district / Al Bastakiya quarter
- 9. Dubai Museum
- 10. Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
- 11. Bonus: Eat like a local in Dubai Old Town
- The best itinerary to visit Dubai Old Town
- Where to Stay in Dubai to visit Old Dubai?
- You’re traveling to Dubai? These articles will help you !
Advice: When visiting Dubai Old Town, make sure to dress modestly and respect local customs.
You should also bring cash, as many of the shops in the souks and small restaurants don’t accept credit cards.
1. Deira District
You should start your visit of Dubai Old Town in Deira District, especially famous for its souks.
The souks are the best way to explore Deira and get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of the area! There are many souks in Deira, such as:
- The Gold Souk, where you will find rows of shops selling glittering gold jewelry
- The Spice Souk, where you will be transported to a world of exotic scents and flavors. The stalls are selling a wide variety of spices, herbs, and teas, as well as other ingredients used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
- The Perfume Souk, home to dozens of shops selling a wide range of perfumes, oils and incense.
When visiting Deira district, you should also take the time to explore some of the other stores in the area. The neighborhood is home to many traditional shops selling spices, perfumes and traditional clothing, as well as antique stores and art galleries.
You can also find restaurants, cafes and shisha bars where you can take a break from shopping and enjoy some traditional Middle Eastern cuisine.
To get to Deira, take the metro and stop at Al Ras Metro Station.
2. Dubai Gold Souk
Deira Gold Souk is an absolute must-visit for any traveler to the city.
Located in the heart of the Old Dubai, this bustling souk is home to over 300 shops and is renowned for its vast selection of jewelry and precious stones.
For those looking to buy gold, the Deira Gold Souk is the perfect place. You can find everything from necklaces and earrings to watches and bangles.
Gold prices are based on the current market rate, but you can often get a good deal if you’re willing to haggle.
You can also find a wide range of other precious stones such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires.
Most traders are very friendly, so really don’t be afraid to ask questions and barter for the best price!
Deira Gold Souk is a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home. From traditional Emirati jewelry to modern pieces with a Middle Eastern twist, you’ll find something for everyone.
3. The Spice Souk
While you’re in Deira, you should definitely visit to the Spice Souk.
This vibrant and colorful market is full of exotic spices, incense and herbs. You can find everything from cardamom and turmeric to frankincense and saffron.
It’s an incredible sensory experience, with merchants calling out to you and the aroma of spices in the air.
Just like in the gold souk, you can bargain with the merchants and get a great deal on your spices and herbs.
Be sure to bring some home with you, as they make great souvenirs for family, friends or yourself!
4. The Perfume Souk
To discover new smells, let’s now head to the Perfume souk!
Traditional Emirati perfume are made from Oud (a fragrent oil derived from resin), but many other ingredients are used to make the various perfumes: musk, amber, saffron, rose, Jasmin… You will for sure find something that suits your taste.
For high quality traditional Arabic perfumes, you should go to Ajmal Store or Swiss Arabian, 2 of the most famous stores.
And if you’re looking for something more unique, you can also create your own personalized perfume at Khadlaj Perfumes, another renowned store.
5. Take a Ride on an Abra
While you’re in Deira, you should take a ride on an abra, the traditional water taxi that is commonly used by locals to cross the Dubai Creek.
Riding an abra is an inexpensive and fun way to experience the creek from the water!
It’s also the best way to cross from Deira to Bur Dubai, another district of Dubai Old Town.
You can hop on an abra at any of the stations along Dubai creek and take a short ride to the other side. You will discover the city from a different perspective and be able to interact with the locals.
The ride will just cost you a few dirhams and is a great experience!
6. Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek is a historical waterway that runs through the city of Dubai.
The creek is a popular destination for travelers who want to experience the traditional side of Dubai, as it’s part of what we commonly call Dubai Old Town.
In addition to crossing Dubai Creek on an Abra to get from Deira to Bur Dubai, the Creek can be explored during a traditional dhow cruise.
A dhow is a traditional Arabic sailing vessel, and taking a cruise on one is a great way to see the creek and the surrounding areas!
You can choose from a variety of different cruise options, ranging from dinner cruises to sightseeing cruises. While on board, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the creek and the Dubai skyline, as well as learn more about the history and culture of the city.
7. Bur Dubai
Located on the Western side of Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai (which literally translates as “mainland Dubai”) forms the other half of the Old Dubai.
Here are the best places to visit in Bur Dubai:
- Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House: The old house of the Al Maktoum family until 1958. You will see photos and documents about the history of the city.
- Old Souk, one of the oldest in Dubai. You can find everything there: slippers, souvenirs, traditional lamps…
- The Textile Souk: if you are looking for traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, the Textile Souk is the place to go. Here, you can find a wide range of textiles, including beautiful embroidered fabrics and colorful carpets.
- Meena Bazaar, a market where you can buy Indian goods: fabrics, spices, jewelry.
- Hindi Lane and its Indian stalls. The best place to try traditional dishes at a reasonable price.
- Sheik Mohamed Cultural Center: Here you can have lunch with an Emirati in a traditional house. The center was opened by the Sheikh to allow tourists to learn more about United Arab Emirates (UAE) traditions. Reservation is required, click here.
- Al-Seef Market: a very nice place to take a stroll, featuring restaurants and shops in traditional houses replicas.
- The Grand Mosque, the largest mosque of Dubai (not open to visitors, you can only see the outside if you’re not Muslim). It shouldn’t be confused with the famous Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque.
- Hal Fahidi historical district, more info about it a bit further in this guide
- Dubai Museum: the perfect place to learn more about the history of the city (and specifically old Dubai). I tell you more about it a bit below too.
8. Al Fahidi historical district / Al Bastakiya quarter
If you’re visiting the Old Dubai, you should definitely take some time to explore the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood, also known as Al Bastakiya quarter.
Located in the heart of the city, Al Fahidi is full of narrow alleyways and historic buildings that offer a glimpse into the past. It’s a popular destination for travelers who want to experience the traditional side of Dubai.
Here, you can explore the city’s traditional architecture, shop for souvenirs, and sample some of the best regional cuisine.
The district is made up of over 50 historic buildings, most of which were built in the late 1800s.
You can take a guided tour of the Old Dubai to learn more about its history and architecture, or explore the area on your own.
As you wander the narrow streets, you’ll pass by traditional wind towers, sand-colored homes and small art galleries.
9. Dubai Museum
If you’re looking for places to visit in Old Dubai, you should head to Dubai Museum, located in Al Fahidi Fortress (Bur Dubai)
It traces the entire history of Dubai, from the first tribes who lived there through the economic boom in the 1960s, to the future plans for the coming years.
There, you will discover former fishing boats, objects from the nomads’ daily life, weapons and archaeological remains.
The museum is very interesting and allows you do get a good grasp of how the city looked like before its impressive development.
The entrance fee to the museum is 3 AED. It’s open every day except Friday morning.
To get to the Dubai museum, take the metro to Al Ghubaiba or Sharaf DG Metro Stations. Both are located around 10-15 minutes on foot from Dubai museum.
10. Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a great place to learn more about the culture and customs of Dubai.
The center offers cultural activities, including guided tours of the district, traditional Arabic meals, and workshops on Arabic calligraphy and henna painting.
The center also hosts regular Q&A sessions where you can ask local guides any questions you have about the city.
11. Bonus: Eat like a local in Dubai Old Town
Dubai Old town is home to numerous traditional Arabic restaurants and cafes, where you can try some of the delicious local cuisine.
Be sure to try dishes like hummus, shawarma, and falafel, which are all staples of the Arabic cuisine.
And don’t forget to wash it all down with a cup of Arabic coffee or a refreshing glass of mint tea.
If you’re more looking for Indian food, head to Hindi Lane: you won’t regret it!
The best itinerary to visit Dubai Old Town
To help you organize your visit, here is my recommended 1 day itinerary in Old Dubai.
- Start by going to Deira district and visit the famous souks. You can opt for a guided tour (click here).
- Take an Abra to cross Dubai Creek from Deira.
- You will arrive in Bur Dubai. Visit the souks (including the textile souk)
- Head to Hal Fahidi historical district and visit the Dubai Museum.
If you don’t want to spend the whole day in Old Dubai, you can do the 2 following activities at the end of the afternoon:
Let’s now go to the Dubai Frame. Ideally, plan to be there a bit before sunset. The easiest way to get there is to take a Taxi. You will need to book your tickets for the Dubai Frame in advance by clicking here.
To end your day in style, you should now go to Dubai Garden Glow, the perfect night time visit!
This large park features hundreds of sculptures coming to life every evening during light shows with musical backgrounds. I really loved it!
You need to book your ticket in advance by clicking on the button below:
Where to Stay in Dubai to visit Old Dubai?
There are hundreds of hotels in Dubai, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.
In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels in Dubai for each district, depending on your budget. I have also made a special list of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Dubai.
As always, to get the best prices, you should book your hotel as early as possible!
- DoubleTree of Hilton Dubai – Business Bay: Located 1.5 km from Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. Very spacious and comfortable room, well decorated and equipped from 110€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: free shuttle to the Dubai Mall, good breakfast, comfort, tranquility. This my favorite hotel in Dubai for its exceptional value for money!
- Rove Downtown: Only 600 meters from the Dubai Mall. Bright and clean double room with view on Burj Khalifa, from 150€, breakfast for 15€. Strong points: Access to the Dubai Mall on foot, helpful staff, free shuttle service to the beach, Dubai Museum or Madinat Souk.
- Taj Dubai: Located 800 meters from Burj Khalifa. Modern and luxurious room with bay window overlooking the city and marble bathroom starting at 220€ per night, breakfast at 32€. Strong points: The magnificent view from the roof, the Indian decoration, the large swimming pool. An excellent hotel in Dubai city center, perfect for a romantic stay!
- Palace Downtown: Located on the lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, this 5-star hotel offers magnificent rooms with balcony, with an exceptional view of the Burj Khalifa. From 380€ per night, breakfast at 39€. Strong points: the exceptional location, the beautiful surroundings, the very attentive and helpful staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Downtown Dubai!
The best hotels in old Dubai (Deira and Bur Dubai – Convenient to visit Dubai Old town)
- Golden Sands Hotel Apartments: Located in Bur Dubai, 1.5 km from the Dubai Museum. Apartment equipped with kitchenette and washing machine, from 80€ per night, breakfast from 11€. Strong points: Cleanliness, the heated swimming pool, the comfortable apartments
- Swissôtel Al Ghurair Dubai: Located in Deira district. Warm and spacious room from 115€, breakfast at 27€. Strong points: the pleasant staff, the view, the good breakfast. It’s my favourite in Old Dubai for its excellent value for money!
- Hyatt Regency Creek Heights Residences: Located next to Creekside Park. Very spacious, super comfortable and very well equipped rooms starting at 130€ per night, breakfast at 33€. Strong points: 5 minutes walk from the metro, the warm welcome, the quiet location, the spa.
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek: 5* hotel located in Deira bay. Double room with balcony overlooking the bay from 150€, breakfast at 29€. Strong points: The proximity of the metro and the shops, the beautiful swimming pool, the comfortable bed and the amazing view. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Old Dubai!
Dubai’s best beach hotels
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Jumeirah Beach, Dubai: Located 300 meters from the beach. Rooms and apartments with sea view from 125€, breakfast at 27€. Strong points: The view, the comfortable beds, the location near the beach and the harbor.
- Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach – Dubai: Located along “The Walk”. Rooms with balcony overlooking the Gulf and Palm Jumeirah from 175€, breakfast at 24€. Strong points: the exceptional view, the proximity of the tram and metro, restaurants and shops at the foot of the hotel.
- Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach: Located 150 meters from the beach. Contemporary room with balcony and sea view from 230€, breakfast at 22€. Strong points: the infinity pool, the very good breakfast, the spa, the ideal location to enjoy the sea.
- Grosvenor House Hotel and Apartments: Located on the port promenade. Elegant and bright double room from 290€, breakfast at 42€. Strong points: Comfort, access to the private beach, the quality of the food.
The most beautiful luxury hotels in Dubai
- Atlantis The Palm, Dubai: One of the emblematic hotels of the city, located in Palm Jumeirah. Room from 300€, breakfast from 42€. Strong points: Includes access to Aquaventure Park and The Lost Chambers aquarium, private beach, swimming pools.
- Rixos The Palm Hotel & Suites – Ultra All Inclusive: Also located in Palm Jumeirah, this luxury hotel offers all inclusive rooms (all meals included) from 452€. Strong points: the quality of the meals, the setting, the amazing rooms.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai: Located directly on the beach of JBR Walk. Elegantly furnished rooms with balcony and sea view from 500€ per night, breakfast at 39€. Strong points: 6 swimming pools, a private beach, the spa, the very helpful staff.
- Armani Hotel Dubai: Located in the Burj Khalifa Tower! Rooms decorated by the fashion designer Giorgio Armani, starting at 550€ per night, breakfast at 41€. Strong points: the privilege of sleeping in the Burj Khalifa, the refinement of the place, the view.
- Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah: Located in Palm Jumeirah. Luxury suite with living room and dining room starting at 750€, breakfast included. Strong points: The private beach, the huge swimming pool and the beautiful gardens.
- Burj Al Arab Jumeirah: THE luxury hotel, one of the rare 7* hotels in the world! The “smallest” suite is 170m² and prices start at 1290€, breakfast at 74€. I can assure you that your stay in Dubai will be truly exceptional and unforgettable!
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling to Dubai? These articles will help you !
Discover all my articles about Dubai: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Dubai are listed there.
- Dubai: The 30 best places to visit – All best things to do and activities!
- 2 days in Dubai – The perfect itinerary for 48h!
- 3 Days in Dubai – The best 72h itinerary
- 4 Days in Dubai – The defitinive guide to plan your trip
- 5 Days in Dubai – How to spend 5 days in Dubai
- 1 Week in Dubai – The best itinerary to visit Dubai in 7 days!
- Burj Khalifa: The definitive guide to all tickets + Tips
- Dubai Aquarium: discover one of Dubai’s must see attraction
- Dubai Mall: How to plan your visit of this huge shopping center!
- Dubai Old Town: 10 best things to do
- Dubai Fountain Show: all my tips to enjoy it to the fullest!
- Palm Jumeirah: the 15 best things to do!
- TOP Activities in Dubai – The 30 best activities and excursions to do in Dubai!
- Dubai Zipline – Price, info and reservations for the best experience in town!
- The best desert safaris in Dubai – my 7 favorites! (4WD, quad, buggy and more)
- Where to stay in Dubai? The guide to the best hotels by district, for all budgets
- Dubai Pass: The best way to save time and money in Dubai!