Dubai is definitely up there as one of the most Instagrammable cities in the world! The city is covered in Instagram-worthy locations and the list only gets bigger each year due to the city expanding at such a vast rate. I lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for over 3 years and always new photo-worthy places were constantly popping up everywhere! Here’s the most well-known and popular Instagrammable places in Dubai!
Dubai is a very well spread out city, so I have separated it into the three main areas of Dubai: Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina/The Palm area, and Bur Dubai to help make it easier for you to plan your trip and visit those Instagrammable places!
Burj Khalifa ‘At The Top’
At over 829 metres high, the Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world since it’s opening in 2010. It is an absolute must visit on your trip to Dubai – it is so impressive and it’s hard to get your head around the sheer size of it!
Head to the observation points ‘At The Top’ on levels 124 and 125 to enjoy the view down onto Dubai, which costs 149 dirhams (£30). The whole city seems so tiny from up here! If you are willing to pay an extra 229 dirhams (almost £50), you can go up to the 148th floor observatory, but to be honest the view from levels 124 and 125 and the outdoor platform there is perfectly fine.
Click here to view the ticket options available and try to reserve your tickets and time slot beforehand online. Often if you arrive on the day without any tickets the time slots are nearly always full and you may have to wait a few hours to enter, or even you may not be able to enter at all, especially during peak times. The entrance to visit the observation decks is inside the Dubai Mall, near to the entrance by the Dubai Fountains.
Photo tips: The most popular picture people take from here is overlooking the Dubai Fountains below. Sit on the ledge on the floor and get someone to take a photo of you from above. Also try to visit on a clear day – the weather can sometimes be hazy in Dubai, which makes visibility pretty poor.
Click here to see the Google maps location of the Burj Khalifa.
Head to the Dubai Fountains to see the Burj Khalifa from the outside. The Fountains are located right next to Dubai Mall. Burj Khalifa looks magnificent both during the day and in the evening when it is lit up – the lights projected onto the building are changing constantly.
Every night on the hour and half past the hour, from 6pm-11pm, the Dubai Singing Fountains put on a show for 5 minutes. A song is played, the Burj Khalifa is lit up, and the fountains ‘dance’ to the music, like the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.
There are many outdoor restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the show, or you can just stand by the fountains and watch them, although it can get quite crowded. If you stand on the Souk Al Bahar bridge, you get a slightly elevated view which is really nice, plus you get the Burj Khalifa in the background. Alternatively, you can go up to the Apple store inside Dubai Mall and view the fountains from above on their outdoor balcony. As I mentioned, it gets quite crowded here, but if you wait until the last show at 11pm, there are not too many people around which is really nice.
Click here to view the Google maps location of The Dubai Fountain.
The Address Downtown
The driveway of this hotel is a great place to get a full-length photo of the Burj Khalifa both during the day and at night time. You don’t need to stay here at The Address to be able to access this photo spot – anyone can access the driveway and you’ll often see the odd person shooting here.
Photo tip: As the Burj Khalifa is so tall it can often be very difficult to get the whole building in your photos! I found though that if you put your phone/camera as low to the floor as possible and put it at an angle, you can get all of it in the picture.
Did you know?
Burj Khalifa interestingly was originally supposed to be called ‘Burj Dubai’ as ‘burj’ means tower/building in Arabic. But Dubai ran out of money whilst constructing the tower, so Sheikh Khalifa who is both the President of the UAE and the ruler of Abu Dhabi (the capital of the UAE) bailed them out and donated the remaining funds to complete the tower. Under one condition though: that the tower be named after him. Not a bad deal right?
Click here to see the Google maps location of The Address Downtown.
If you exit back onto the road from the hotel driveway and turn right, walk for about 300 metres and you’ll also be able to see the famous Wings statue – called The Wings of Mexico statue. This is also a good spot to get the whole of the Burj Khalifa in your shot. Click here to view the location of Google maps.
The largest mall in the world, Dubai Mall has some nice Instagrammable locations. My favourite is The Dubai Mall Waterfalls (not to be confused with the Dubai Fountains outside the mall!). This impressive silver waterfall is also known as The Humans Waterfall and shows several human structures plunging into the waterfall. The waterfall spans all 4 floors of the mall. Click here to find it’s location inside Dubai Mall – it is fairly near the ice rink.
You can also find the cute Umbrella Street in Dubai Mall: on the ground level near to the ice rink too.
There is even a giant aquarium in Dubai Mall! You can see all types of sealife here, from stingrays to fish to sharks – infact there are over 140 species of sea creatures in here! It is located in the middle of the mall (click here for location inside Dubai Mall) next to many shops, and costs nothing to see this impressive aquarium. However if you would like to go through the famous tunnel that has the aquarium surrounding it you will have to pay. Click here for more information and here to purchase tickets.
The Dandelion Lights sculpture in Burj Park is so beautiful. And of course with a fantastic backdrop of the Burj Khalifa in the background! At night the dandelions are even more impressive to see as they are lit up so beautifully in different colours.
To get to Burj Park, stand at the entrance to Dubai Mall near the dancing fountains, with your back against the Burj Khalifa. Walk to your right and then you’ll see a small bridge across to a park on your left. Follow the path round and you’ll see the dandelion structures. You’ll also see some others scattered about, but the ones here in Burj Park provide the best pictures as you can get the whole of the Burj Khalifa in your picture (take the picture from low down to get it all in).
La Mer Beach
La Mer is one of my absolute favourite places in Dubai! It is trendy, unpretentious and there are so many little corners here to discover! It feels a bit like you’ve stepped back in time when you stroll through the outdoor shopping mall, or like you’re in trendy East London’s Spitalfields. Soak up the atmosphere, check out the wall murals and then head to the beach!
If you want to find these beach huts, go on the beach to the right (some are actually public toilets!). The wall murals are on the sides of restaurants so you probably won’t see them if you are walking along the beach. You’ll need to walk in between the restaurants and behind them to find the murals – look for Texas Roadhouse and Bado Chinese.
Best visited in the evening, when the sun is setting over the Dubai skyline. If the sky is hazy (like when I went), you won’t be able to see the skyline very well at all!
DUBAI MARINA/THE PALM AREA
Burj Al Arab
The sail shaped Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s most iconic hotel. It is also the world’s most luxurious hotel and the only 7 star hotel in the world! Thankfully you don’t have to stay here to be able to get some really nice pictures of it though!
Go to Sunset Beach or Jumeirah Public Beach, which are both just to the right of the Burj al Arab, to watch the sunset. These are free public beaches, but don’t have many amenities. These beaches are located in the Umm Suqeim area, and you can swim in the water here if you wish (the water is always a nice temperature in Dubai!). You’ll find many Indian subcontinental ex-pats here with their children.
Madinat Jumeirah is a large resort in Dubai right next to the Burj Al Arab. It has several hotels, restaurants and a souq (market) all built around an artificial canal. The buildings are intended to replicate the traditional style of buildings in the UAE and you’ll see many wind catchers here, which was a common type of building that originated from Iran, with the aim to keep buildings cool.
You can take a relaxing abra boat ride along the canal to get a unique view of the Burj Al Arab. For more information about the boat ride including prices and where to find the abra station, as well as how you can get a boat all to yourself, click here to read!
Inside the Madinat Jumeriah Souq (built to replicate a traditional Arabian souq) you can find many souvenirs to purchase. Both the boat and the market gets very busy later in the day, so come early if you want to get pictures without other people in.
Jumeirah Beach (JBR)
Also known as JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences), this is a lovely area to stroll around. There is a free public beach here (the best free public beach in the UAE!), with showering and changing facilities, as well as many restaurants, cafes and shops. There is a nice atmosphere here and there is also a cute outdoor market here selling unique products. Click here to view the Google maps location of JBR.
A 10 minute stroll across the pedestrian bridge (or take a golf buggy) from JBR takes you to the recently completed Bluewaters Island and the observation wheel named Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye). Bluewaters Island features the only Caesars Palace outside of Las Vegas, and there are many restaurants and shops here too. The impressive Ain Dubai is the world’s tallest observation wheel at a whopping 250 metres tall.
Just behind JBR is Dubai Marina – a bustling area located along an artificial river that connects to the sea. There are so many skyscrapers here and so much life in this part of Dubai. Many of the expats live in this area and there’s always something going on here.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis The Palm
You can visit the famous Atlantis The Palm hotel without staying there. There are many restaurants, shops and cafes inside so plenty to keep you busy! The hotel is also home to The Lost Chambers Aquarium – a huge floor to ceiling aquarium. Tickets can be purchased here, and if you are a resident in the UAE, show your resident card (Emirates card) for a discount! The aquarium is very popular with families, so try to get here early if you want to escape the crowds, although I got there at midday and it was fairly easy to get a picture without other people in. You can even go diving in the aquarium if you wish.
Right at the tip of The Palm is The Pointe beach, another free public beach with a fantastic view of Atlantis The Palm. The beach offers free bean bags and umbrellas, and there are also many shops and restaurants here for you to enjoy. Click here to find the location of The Pointe on Google maps.
BUR DUBAI (OLD DUBAI)
The newest addition to Dubai’s skyline is The Dubai Frame – located in Zabeel Park between downtown Dubai and Old Dubai. You have probably seen pictures of it online – showing the Dubai skyline perfectly fitting inside the fame. This is all photoshopped. I asked many people including people working here at The Dubai Frame how it was possible to get this kind of photo, and they said only with photoshop you can get the whole of the skyline in the frame (or possibly with a drone but you need a special UAE license to fly drones here). Otherwise it is not possible and the Dubai skyline appears to the side of the frame.
Entrance to the Dubai Frame is 52.50 dirhams (£10) and you will be given an allocated time to go in. Once you get to the top, you can get some nice pictures with the skyline, and also there is a glass portion of the floor where you can walk on and look down below if you dare!
Click here to see the location of The Dubai Frame.
Bur Dubai boat ride
Catch a glimpse of Old Dubai – when this place was merely a fishing village and non of the glitz and glamour existed. Located near the Al Ghubaiba bus station (where you can take the bus to Abu Dhabi) is the Bur Dubai (Old Dubai) abra station, where you can take an abra boat ride across the creek to Deira for 1 DIRHAM! (That’s 20p!). In Deira you can visit the impressive gold souk and get some really good deals on gold jewellery!
Click here to see the Google maps of the Bur Dubai abra station.
The Iranian Mosque is only a 2 minute walk from the abra station and near to the textile souq, and is definitely worth a visit if you haven’t been to Iran. This is a Shia mosque (in comparison to the majority of mosques in the UAE which are Sunni). It was founded by the Iranian community here in Dubai and also goes by the name of Ali Ibn Abi Talib Mosque.
Click here to view the Google maps location.
A desert safari is a magical experience and another thing you must absolutely do when in Dubai. Often desert safaris take place in the evening – from 3pm onwards, and you’ll do some dune bashing, sandboarding, camel riding, possibly hold a falcon (the national bird of the UAE), get some henna or dress up in traditional Emirati dress, as well as enjoy some traditional Emirati food and a local dance performance. You also have chance to take some pictures at sunset, which is a really nice time for photography here.
Most desert safaris from Dubai take place in a regular 4×4, however, Bab al Shams offers a 1 hour open top Land Rover desert safari ride which is amazing! Not only can you get some incredible Instagrammable shots of the desert, but you can get some amazing shots with the Land Rover too! Click here to read more about the services offered.
Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit the desert, when it is not too hot and the lighting is perfect.
Also, one important note if you’re looking for a certain Instagrammable spot in the desert! You’ve probably seen the famous shot of the Dubai skyline and then a road covered in sand leading up to it. The road is there alright but you can’t see the skyline from here, it has been photoshopped in. The road is called the Old Emirates Road
Located inside Le Meridien Mina Seyahi is the gorgeous Bounty Beets. Not only is every corner of this cafe totally Instagrammable, but more importantly the place is overflowing with positivity and good vibes! They also have delicious gluten-free, organic and vegan food on the menu! Inspiring quotes hung up everywhere, cute wall murals surrounding you, and a menu to absolutely die for! Come here for breakfast when it is quiet!
Click here to view the Google maps location of Bounty Beets!
Tania’s Tea House
Located a short walk from Jumeira Beach is Tania’s Tea House. This is such a quaint little teahouse with gorgeous interiors and an extensive menu of teas and delicious cakes! Go upstairs to visit the Insta-famous Habib-tea wall (habibti is the feminine version of ‘habibi’: the word for ‘sweetheart’ or ‘dear’ in Arabic – stick around the UAE long enough and this word will automatically become part of your vocabulary, that’s how much it gets thrown around!).
Arabian Tea House
Located in the old part of Dubai, Al Fahidi. The Arabian Tea House is one of the original tea houses in Dubai. Enjoy a traditional Emirati breakfast here served by the super friendly staff! Make sure to also walk around the Al Bastikiya area, to get a feel for how Dubai was before the discovery of oil.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Located a little drive out of the centre is Dubai Miracle Garden. But it is definitely worth the journey!
There are 50 MILLION flowers at Dubai Miracle Garden, making this the largest collection of flowers in the world! As the Miracle Garden is outdoors, it is only open seasonally: from October to April, when the weather is bearable in Dubai. It is too hot the rest of the year to be outside for more than a couple of minutes without sweating profusely. You’ll find flowers shaped into big hearts and even a giant Emirates plane made of flowers! It gets pretty busy here so get here early (open from 9am – 9pm on weekdays and 9am – 11pm on weekends – which are Friday and Saturday in the UAE).
Click here to view the Google maps location.
Dubai has it’s fair share of luxurious hotels, which often deterred people with a modest budget such as backpackers from travelling to Dubai. However, now there are a few hostels popping up around Dubai. One that is particularly popular is At The Top, located near Dubai Marina. The hostel is on the 66th floor (the first hostel in the world at that level!) and has stunning views overlooking The Palm.
At the Top Hostel is a great luxury hostel in the Dubai Marina area. This is one of the most budget friendly options of accommodation in Dubai priced at 100 dirhams a night for a bed in a shared dorm. Plus the view overlooking The Palm is incredible. Situated on the 66th floor (making it the highest hostel in the world!) and right opposite Barasti Beach Club and Zero Gravity Beach Club and just around the corner from the metro, this is a great location for tourists on a budget in Dubai! Click here for the Google maps location!
There are many luxury hotels in Dubai, each offering something special and unique. However, if you are looking for an Instagrammable hotel, head to Shangri-La. On the rooftop you can take some stunning pictures of the Burj Khalifa, and this is only available to guests of the hotel.
If you want to experience staying in a desert resort (the world’s most luxurious desert resort infact!), head to Bab al Shams. This place is sure to blow you away. I spent 2 incredible days here and just loved it: the hotel is designed in a traditional Arabian style, there is so much to do here to keep you entertained, and the staff were simply amazing. Click here to read about my experience there!
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT DUBAI
How to get around Dubai
Dubai has a very efficient metro system, however as the metro runs simply from east to west, many places in Dubai (especially by the seafront) are still inaccessible by the metro and the only way you can get there is to take a taxi. Luckily taxis are abundant in Dubai and you can pay in cash or card. Taxi fares are quite cheap and there is CCTV in each taxi for your safety. You can get Uber in Dubai, however often regular taxis work out to be cheaper.
If you want to take the metro, which is significantly cheaper, get a metro card.
Can you visit Abu Dhabi from Dubai?
Yes, Abu Dhabi is just over 1 hours drive from Dubai, meaning you can easily do a day trip to Abu Dhabi. A taxi costs around 250 dirhams (£50) from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, although if you head to Ibn Battuta station you can share acab to Abu Dhabi with other people. The price is split between 6 of you, making it much cheaper.
Alternatively you can also take the bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi (from Ibn Battuta or Al Ghubaiba bus station). There are ladies only sections at the front of the coach and also there is wifi onboard.
Driving to Abu Dhabi from Dubai is very easy – just follow the Sheikh Zayed road all the way. Do be careful of speed cameras as there is no buffer – therefore you cannot go over the speed limit or you will get fined! If you are driving back from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, make sure to stop off at The Last Exit: the coolest service station you will visit! So many options for food and full of photo-worthy spots! Click here for the Google maps location.
You can also book on a tour of Abu Dhabi and they will take you to the main sites: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace and Louvre Abu Dhabi. Tours work out a lot cheaper but you have less flexibility. Click here for options.
For a complete guide to Abu Dhabi, click here to read my We Are Travel Girls article.
When is the best time to visit Dubai?
Summer is best avoided in Dubai due to the extreme heats: it often exceed 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months of June to August! October through to March are the most pleasant months to visit Dubai, when the weather hovers around the 30 degrees mark, although this is the peak season so places will be busier and hotel rates will be higher.
Should I exchange money in Dubai?
The exchange rate in the UAE is pretty good for exchanging money. You get a much better rate than if you exchange money in Europe. The UAE dirham is capped to the US dollar (3.6 dirhams to the US dollar).
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