Dubai – the city of dreams, where the past meets the future. There is no way in the world, that 2 days in Dubai will be enough to experience what this amazing city/state has to offer. During my last visit, I was lucky to spend some quality time here, so now I’ve prepared a detailed two days in Dubai itinerary, so you don’t have to waste your time creating a plan. Please remember that this guide is mostly aimed at people visiting Dubai for the first time and there won’t be enough time to visit any theme parks during these two days in Dubai. However, I have brought out some additional places to visit in case you are staying longer or don’t like the initial plan. Are you active at night? Then have a look at this guide for things to do in Dubai at night
Two days in Dubai are best spent as follows:
- Morning: Beach time at La Mer or Jumeirah beach, light lunch;
- Day: Shopping in Dubai Mall; Sunset at Burj Khalifa;
- Evening: Dinner with a view of Fountan and laser shows.
- Morning: safari in the desert;
- Day: boat tour to the Palm, coffee up in the sky;
- Evening: sunset watching at JBR Marina beach, dinner at Dubai Marina.
Where to stay in Dubai for the best 48 hours in Dubai experience?
Dubai has lots of different accommodation options. Depending on your budget, you have a choice from very modest hotels and BnB’s to amazing luxury resorts and high class hotels with infinity pools overlooking the man-made wonders.
Cheaper hotel options for your things to do in Dubai in 2 days itinerary
Some of the cheapest hotels I have seen online were mostly all located in the neighborhood called Deira. It’s a busy area with lots of small shops and restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. This part of town is mostly populated by foreign workers and ex-pats.
Private room in Deira will cost you as low as 40$ per night, hotels with good reviews are Al Farej Hotel 3*, Grand Central Hotel 3*, Le Wana Hotel 3*. During my last visit we stayed at Al Jaddaf area (other side of the Creek from Deira) and loved it! This area is still under construction and you can get good deals on hotels there – for example in IntercityHotel Dubai Jaddaf Waterfront 3*.
Where to stay in Dubai with middle price range hotels
If you have a bit more cash to spend on where you stay, we would definitely recommend choosing a more central location, such as Dubai downtown or JBR / Dubai Marina. Dubai Marina has lot’s of very nice apartments and apart-hotels to choose from. Some of the cheaper ones – Golden Stay Vacation Homes, Jannah Place Dubai Marina and Marina View Deluxe Hotel.
Staying near Dubai Marina has lots of advantages – everything is very close, it is a safe and fun area to hang out during day and night, JBR beach is just around the corner. Dubai Marina has been one of the best places I have seen during my Dubai trip!
Places to visit in Dubai during 2 days – Day One
Now, let’s look at some options in terms of things to do. Dubai is not exactly a beach destination, even though there is a long strip of coastline and very nice, organized public and private beaches. If you are coming from the North (like we did), enjoying at least some beach fun is a must and high on the list.
Dubai itinerary 2 days: La Mer or Jumeirah beach
La Mer is the newest public beach in Dubai. Its small and has everything you need from a beach – lots of cafes, free showers, water park and cool artistic vibe. In a way, it reminds of Venice beach in Los Angeles – lot’s of street art, cool hangout and laid back atmosphere. You can stay here for a few hours and will hardly notice the time go by.
Sunbeds are for extra charge, but you can also use your own towel to sit on. Sea temperature is nice and warm throughout the year, swimming is possible even in January! Staying in this beach will make you forget you are in Dubai. However, all it takes is just to turn your head and you will see the amazing Dubai downtown skyline right behind your back.
Information about other free public beaches in Dubai can be found here.
Lunch at La Mer
By the time you are done with sunbathing, it’s a good idea to grab a quick bite before you move on. La Mer has lot’s of nice cafes and restaurants for any taste.
- The Duchess – Very good service and tasty food. With prices a bit higher than the competition, this place stands out thanks to exceptional service and very delicious food.
- Texas Roadhouse – Missing home? This place is said to have great, perfectly grilled steaks – a paradise for meat lovers.
- The Inventing Room – Something totally different – a dessert shop with high class entertainment. The place is an Instagrammer’s fantasy – it’s all about the looks! They are using nitrogen to prepare the ice cream and other desserts.
- Aprons and Hammers – the best seafood place. Plates a quite big, so make sure to come hungry!
- Catch 22 – a go-to place with very high reviews and one of the best according to locals. Shrimps and burgers are a must-try!
Sunset at Burj Khalifa
Brace yourself – we are going to shoot up to the sky! With a total height of over 828 meters, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and you have the chance to ascend it here, in Dubai. Two levels are open to general public: Level 124 & 125 and 148. Cheaper option to the level 124 will cost you around 40$ for a visit during the day time.
Make sure to arrive early, as the security checks take time and the queue for the elevators is quite long. The ride to the 124th floor takes only 1 minute and once you are all the way up, it is overwhelming. The floor is designed to inspire you to take different cool photos, but the crowds are also crazy. Hang around until sunset and enjoy the beauty of the city as the lights start to shine and the Fountain beneath you comes alive.
Fun fact: Did you know that you can enjoy a sunset in Dubai twice on the same day? If you move fast enough, you can see the sunset from a lower deck and then once more if you take the elevator to a higher deck!
Shopping in Dubai Mall
Once you’ve had enough of the High Life, come down and lose yourself in the World’s 2nd largest mall by total land area! Dubai Mall is not just about shopping – it’s also the entertainment and high class dining.
Some of the highlights of Dubai Mall:
- Dubai Aquarium and underwater Zoo – free to be viewed from the mall side (through the world’s largest acrylic panel). For an extra fee, you can enter the tunnel to see the sharks and rays up close.
- Ice rink – fun for the whole family, experience winter fun activity in the middle of the desert.
- Reel Cinemas – World’s largest and most luxurious cineplex.
- Dubai Dino – real size 155 Million year old dinosaur skeleton in the Souk Done of Dubai Mall.
- Hysteria – horror walk, that will boost you with adrenaline!
- Creek tower mega-replica – the soon to be new and tallest new building in Dubai.
- VR park – world’s largest indoor virtual reality park that will not disappoint.
Dinner with a view of Fountan and laser shows
Third Avenue Boutique (rating 4.5, cuisines : International, European, Deli, Grill) – Excellent location, good food and very attentive staff. This cafe has a nice terrace overlooking the Fountain show as well as Burj Khalifa.
Carluccio’s (rating 4.0, cuisines : Italian, Pizza) – located on the ground floor but still has a view of the fountain. Friendly staff, good pizza! Average for 2: 60$ including 2 appetizers/ 2 main dishes and 2 drinks.
Red Lobster (rating 4.0, cuisines : American, Seafood) – This place has mixed reviews, as some people enjoyed the food and the service while others complained about the lack of both.
Walnut Grove (rating 4.5, cuisines : International) – excellent view of the Burj Khalifa, great for all kinds of desserts.
Logma (rating 4.0, cuisines : Middle Eastern) – great place to try some local flavors and enjoy the shows at the same time. Beware that there are few options for healthy eaters.
Restaurants without a view of Fountan
Cheesecake Factory (rating 4.5, cuisines : Indian, Italian) – located opposite from the Aquarium. Great selection of cheesecakes as well as main courses.
Eataly (rating 4.0, cuisines : Italian) – good variety of Italian desserts and main courses, restaurant is in the middle of an Italian shop!
Hurricane’s Grill (rating 4.5, cuisines : Steakhouse, Barbecue, American, Australian) – Australian family style restaurant, famous for the best steaks and ribs. This place also has outside terrace
Day two of 2 day Dubai itinerary
Wow, it’s only been one day and we have already seen so much! However, the choice fun activities is almost limitless when it comes to Dubai! On the second day of this things to do in Dubai 2 days itinerary, we will have some serious fun in the desert followed by very cool beach visit!
Morning safari in the desert
We will start our morning early with a very interesting tour offered in Dubai – desert safari. Usually this tour is done in the evening (also can be done overnight), but morning options are also available and quite popular.
You will be picked up by a 4×4 vehicle from your hotel or apartment. The actual dune bashing is done with latest models of Toyota Land Cruisers. The drivers are very professional and knowledgeable, so no need to worry! Also, the vehicles have extra frame protection. After the thrilling ride you will be taken to a desert camp where you can have some refreshing drinks and a chance to take photos while riding a camel.
Morning safaris usually start around 7 AM and last for approx. 4 hours. Price: around 120 AED.
Boat tour to the Palm
After lunch, hop on a boat tour leaving from Dubai Marina for a nice cruise up to the Palm of Jumeirah – the man-made island in the shape of a palm tree! Boat tours are running daily, the one you should try to board is leaving at 2:15pm. During this 75 minute ride, you will get to see the Atlantis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah, Bluewaters Island, Ain Dubai and Burj Al Arab. Use the chance to take amazing photos of Dubai skyline from water!
Coffee up in the sky – a highlight of 2 day Dubai itinerary!
Flying Cup is a new attraction in Dubai and is something for people who are not afraid of heights. You will be raised 40 meters above the JBR beach with fantastic views of the area, Palm of Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island.
How does it work? The table has a total of 16 seats, each person will be buckled up. You will be spending around 20 minutes in the air, which is just enough to enjoy a tasty cup of anything – coffee, tea or fresh juice.
Tickets: 80 AED for an adult.
Sunset watching at JBR Marina beach
One of the best ways to enjoy a sunset, in my opinion, is to relax and chill at a place called Smoky Beach. It’s one of the best places for shisha, if you are into that kind of thing or would like to try it. We went there for sunset and enjoyed it greatly thanks to super friendly service, attentive personnel and fantastic shisha that they offer.
Even if you are not going to smoke, you can still try their heavenly (non alcoholic) fruit cocktails! Our favorite was the one served inside a pineapple! Smoky beach is very popular place, especially during sunsets, so be sure to arrive early and pick a good spot.
Shisha price: 120AED, fruit cocktails: 60-100 AED.
Dinner at Dubai Marina on a dhow cruise
Dhow is a traditional Arabic vessel with one or more masts, widely used in the Middle East, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Here, in Dubai, these vessels have been transformed into floating restaurants. Why not enjoy a Dubai Marina cruise onboard one of those vessels and have a buffet style dinner at the same time. For anyone visiting Dubai for two days only, this is a perfect combination and will save precious time.
Dhow dinner cruises are available in both Dubai Marina and Dubai Creek. Most ships have live entertainment onboard and unlimited soft drinks. The experience is both romantic and stress free.
Dubai Marina restaurants
If taking another cruise is not on your wish list, there are multiple nice restaurants in the Dubai Marina that will meet almost any requirements.
Massimo’s Italian Restaurant (Italian) – excellent food, great views of the Marina and the mosque.
MirAmin Marina (Lebanese, Middle Eastern) great place for food and one of the best places for shisha.
Ruya (Dubai Mediterranean, Turkish, Middle Eastern) – Oriental food with beautiful view of the Marina.
Zengo (Japanese, Sushi) service is impeccable, although slow at times. Sushi choice is limited. Check out their Tuesday ladies night.
The Talk Restaurant (European, International) varieties of tasty seafood, friendly staff.
Alternative things to do in Dubai for 2 days
Didn’t find anything exciting? Or staying longer, than 2 days in Dubai? Well, here’s the good news – there is so much more to do in Dubai, you can easily spend here a week or more! We have found some more ideas how to spend a few fantastic days in this amazing place.
Dubai Frame is one of those tourist attraction that you can’t really understand fully until you visit. You should definitely include it in your 48 hours in Dubai! On the outside, it’s a just a huge frame, nothing more. It doesn’t serve any purpose other than being a huge museum and a viewing platform. It should come as no surprise that it is the largest frame in the world.
The idea is that once you are all the way up, you can see modern skyline of Dubai downtown on one side and the old town on the other side. Visiting Dubai Frame is a good way to spend a few hours and is cheaper than Burj Khalifa, although the two can hardly be compared. Ticket: 50 AED.
Global Village is a huge theme park where countries serve as inspiration for different areas. You can wander around and visit Turkey, Iran or the United States (16 countries in total). Global Village is open from 16:00 daily and it’s much better to visit when the sun sets – thousands of colors and lightning comes alive!
Global Village is not just about shopping – you can wander around without spending money at all, simply enjoying the shows, artists, musicians etc. However, we do recommend trying out some typical flavors, such as Turkish ice-cream or fresh coconut juice. Ticket: 16 AED.
Miracle Garden / Dubai Garden Glow
Who says Dubai is all sand and dunes? If you decide to visit the incredible miracle garden, you will see what amazing things can be done with enough irrigation and lot’s of desire. If you decide to visit this cool place, be prepared for 150 million flowers arranged in colorful arches and patterns! Open from mid-November to mid-May, tickets: 55 AED.
Hot Air Balloon ride
An experience that is difficult to beat – early morning ride over the endless desert. This tour is for people with romantic attitude – a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the desert from a different angle! The package usually includes hotel pick up and the price is around 250$. The ride is usually around 1 hour in the air, total tour time around 3 hours.
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is made out of Motiongate (movie themed park), Bollywood park (Indian movie theme park) and Legoland theme park & water park. The area is quite large and it can easily take up all day to explore all 3 parks. Needless to say, it is more fun for families with children, but can be fun for adventurous adults as well.
Dubai Parks & Resorts have everything a proper theme park should have – blockbuster-inspired rides, movie themed attractions, shopping, dining, and much more!
Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park
A day full of water fun – visit Aquaventure water park – the biggest water park in the Middle East – for thrilling water slides, shark tunnel and rafting experience! Beware that it tends to get quite crowded and you might have to wait in line for some slides. In addition to water slides, there is a private beach, surfing wave machine, swimming with dolphins and the Lost Chambers Aquarium. Tickets: from 280 AED.
Day trip to Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World
A fun way to spend a day in UAE is by taking a day trip to the neighbor state – Abu Dhabi. The tour can be done either with a travel agency, by rental car or by taxi. The last two options will obviously give you more flexibility in terms of time. One of the highlights of your Abu Dhabi visit is certainly Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is the largest mosque in UAE!
Fun fact – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was voted the world’s second favorite landmark by TripAdvisor! The carpet in this mosque is world’s largest carpet, made by Iran’s Carpet Company.
Ferrari World is the first Ferrari-themed park in the world. The building is so huge, it can be seen from space! Formula Rossa, the fastest ride in Ferrari park, accelerates up to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds. This ride will give you an idea what it’s like to be in a real Ferrari race car. Moreover, you will find dozens of other attractions and rides, real Ferrari cars, souvenir shops, restaurants and much more.
Dubai likes to remember its past and traditions. If you’d like to see something truly local, pay a visit to Deira and lose yourself in one of the souks. Souk is an Arab word for market, and as you may know – it used to be the center of trade back in the days (before they started building malls). Gold souk is one of the best places to shop for jewellery; Spice souk is a go-to place for dried herbs and spices; Perfume souk is famous thanks to unique scents. Don’t forget to haggle – it’s part of the culture!
Visit the Expo 2020
Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai later this year (Oct 20, 2020 – Apr 10, 2021), so if you are planning to visit this amazing city anytime within this period of after – have a look at what Expo 2020 has to offer! This year, 192 countries will participate in World Expo! It’s still early to say anything, but rumors say it’s going to be epic. You can check all the information, pavilion designs, planned activities and highlights and purchase multi-day passes here. Ticket for 1 day: 120 AED, 3-day ticket: 260 AED.
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