There are very few destinations in the world that juxtapose tradition with modernity, but Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the neighbouring emirates do it perfectly.
With about 350 days of sunshine a year, the United Arab Emirates offer the perfect ingredients for a dream holiday. After Abu Dhabi, Dubai is the second-largest sheikhdom of the Emirates. In Dubai’s city centre, you will stumble across construction projects stretching to the heavens, ultra-luxury hotels, and out-of-this-world shopping opportunities. Immerse yourself in breathtaking relics from days gone by – it’s no coincidence: For years, the ruling royal family of Dubai, the Al Maktoum family, has been funnelling the riches from oil deposits to invest in the tourism infrastructure.
Dubai is home to spectacular skyscrapers; The Burj Khalifa, for example, is the tallest building in the world! Ambitious hotel projects will also catch your eye like the 321-metre-high Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, a five-star, sail-shaped hotel. Even bigger and more spectacular sites are The World Islands and the eighth “wonder of the world”, the Palm Islands – an elevated archipelago that stretches for kilometres into the Persian Gulf.
More and more Aussies are making their way to the largest and wealthiest of the Emirates: Abu Dhabi. Just like Dubai, its wealth stems from oil. Where just a mere fishing village stood sixty years ago, a mega-metropolis full of towering buildings, luxurious shopping centres, and stunning cityside beaches took its place in no time at all. Today, the capital of the Emirates, which spans over nearly 200 natural islands, is a bustling metropolis that can be characterised by its cosmopolitanism and hospitality.
However, there is much more to discover on a trip to the Emirates, which is possible either on your own or by taxi – thanks to the excellent road network. Your journey could lead you to the desert or the beaches on the turquoise Persian Sea. On a cruise to Dubai, the folk tales One Thousand and One Nights will turn into a holiday with 1,001 possibilities. Check out our list of “must-see” sights in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Top Attractions in Dubai
If you hop on a cruise to Dubai, the towering structures of the city will come into view even when you’re still far out at sea. Even up close, you’ll still be able to enjoy the sights. The stately Burj Khalifa is, undoubtedly, the symbol of Dubai. At 828 metres high, the tallest building in the world dominates the city’s skyline. Ascend to the observation deck on the 124th floor for a breathtakingly beautiful view that extends far beyond the sea on one side and the desert on the other. The only view that can top it is the one from the exclusive ‘At the Top – SKY Lounge’ on the 148th floor. Alternatively, take a seat in the At.Mosphere on the 122nd floor and enjoy the view while savouring a delicious meal.
The Dubai Mall
Just like everything in Dubai, the shopping centres are simply gigantic! Restaurants, entertainment, and shops and brands from all over the world – you’ll find everything here. One of the most popular shopping centres is the enormous Dubai Mall, right next to the Burj Khalifa. Even if you spend a whole day there, you won’t be able to see everything. With more than 1,200 shops and around 150 restaurants, that’s no surprise! And it doesn’t stop there: You can also see waterfalls, an ice-skating rink, an amusement park, and, one of the biggest highlights, the Dubai Aquarium.
The Dubai Fountain
Just a few steps from Dubai Mall and toward the Burj Khalifa sits the Dubai Fountain, the largest choreographed fountains in the world. The fountains reach a height of 150 metres and dance in an impressive show accompanied by music. When the sun is setting over Dubai and painting the sky in vibrant hues, the light-and-water show is a magical experience. The shows take place every half hour until 11pm.
Atlantis, The Palm and Aquaventure Waterpark
The Palm Jumeirah is one of the largest artificial islands in the world, and at its heart is the famous luxury hotel and resort, Atlantis, The Palm. The Aquaventure Waterpark is right on the premises, and this beautiful, action-packed waterpark is full of thrilling water slides and fun-filled attractions. If you are looking to relax and cool off, grab a swim ring and lazily float down the waterways. For adrenaline-junkies, fly around on the fantastic zipline courses around the “Tower of Poseidon” pyramid.
Outside of modern Dubai, holidaymakers along the Dubai Creek can experience the sheikdom’s past. Watch the spectacular sunsets over the bay, count the passing dhow ships on the creek, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of the local souk marketplaces, where Dubai’s history as a major centre of trading comes back to life. On your cruise to Dubai, you should not miss the Gold Souk in the Deira district. The traditional market is a maze of alleys that feature countless jewellery shops, where the precious metal is traded in all shapes and price ranges. The bazaars hawking textiles and spices is right next door, where haggling is a must. You are sure to find the perfect gift there!
Top Attractions in Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with a grand dome, four minarets, and more than 1,000 columns is the highlight of Abu Dhabi. By far, the mosque is the most photographed motif in the city. Although the place of worship only opened in 2007, more than 4 million people have visited in the first half of 2019 alone. Inside, you will also find some wonders, including one of the world’s largest chandeliers!
Everyone should stroll along the most famous promenade in Abu Dhabi. The Corniche really comes alive when the evening approaches, the sun goes down, and the heat dissipates: Locals and visitors alike mosey alongside one another to enjoy the balmy evenings with a view overlooking the sea. As you walk along the six-kilometre Corniche, you can admire Abu Dhabi’s skyline on one side, while the white-sand beach on the other invites you for a swim.
Even from a distance, you can spot the impressive dome of the new landmark in Abu Dhabi. At the western end of the Corniche promenade, where the rows of skyscrapers end and the white beaches begin, a fairy-tale-like palace comes into view. If you’ve never ridden in a Maybach before, here’s your chance: Enjoy a ride in this luxury automobile as you’re being chauffeured to the entrance of the luxury hotel Emirates Palace. You can even visit the five-star hotel without having to dine at one of the restaurants. The foyer and corridors are ornate and spacious, so expect to get your steps in because the long hallways will take you deep into the hotel.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Since 2017, the ultra-modern Louvre Abu Dhabi has made its home in the middle of the desert while still maintaining a partnership with its famous counterpart in Paris. Its 13 exhibition rooms will invite visitors to the art world from antiquity to the contemporary period. Here, you can also view well-known works by famous artists, including Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin.
Yas Island and Ferrari World
You will find plenty of variety on the delightful Yas Island, from the golf course and the marina to the beach and the racetrack. Car enthusiasts can get their hearts racing at Ferrari World. At this amusement park, adrenaline junkies can speed down a track in a race car. Left your driver’s license at home? Go from 0 to 200 in just five seconds on the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa. The annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix also takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit right on the marina.
Are you ready to experience the ancient history and modern luxury of these two emirates? Browse our amazing cruise deals to the United Arab Emirates. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ring our Australia-based cruise experts on 1300 642 039. They are ready to help you plan your dream cruise holiday.