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Dubai Walking Guide: Heritage walk in Dubai

Discover Dubai’s cultural gems on foot
Long before Dubai transformed into an urban metropolis, the area now known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood was the epicentre of city life. Wander through the winding alleyways of this old town district and along the Dubai Creek to follow in the footsteps of Dubai’s early settlers.
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Historic highlights

Uncover Dubai’s past

Historic highlights

Uncover Dubai’s past

Time: Three to five hours

This culturally-themed walking tour will take you around Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and Dubai Creek. Here’s what to know before you start.

Start point: Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai
End point: Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek 
Directions to starting point: The easiest way to get to Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is to hail a taxi. Hail one from any roadside or book one by calling +971 4 208 0808
Best time to walk: Morning and early afternoon
Major landmarks: Arabian Tea House, SMCCU, XVA Gallery, Textile Souk, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek


Contact Details

Top tips:

  • Bring a water bottle and a hat 
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt or bring a light cotton scarf while exploring the historic areas
  • Carry cash if you plan on shopping at the city’s souks

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The right start

Arabian Tea House

The right start

Arabian Tea House

It’s time for tea and tales

Start your walking tour at Arabian Tea House at Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai, where you can fuel up with a cup of local ‘karak chai’ – a strong tea blend with a dash of milk and spices. Turn left and you’ll enter the labyrinthine lanes of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.

Part of the attraction of the district, which showcases the traditional way of life in Dubai from the mid 19th century until the 1970s, is simply wandering through its narrow lanes. Here you’ll discover creative art spaces, museums and cafés housed in traditional L-shaped homes made from gypsum, coral and limestone. Look up and you can’t miss the buildings topped with distinctive wind towers.

Contact Details
  Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai
  +971 4 353 5071

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Culture 101

SMCCU

Culture 101

SMCCU

Insights into local customs and traditions

Continue in the direction of Dubai Creek towards Al Musallah Road to reach Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). With the aim of offering visitors a greater understanding of local culture and traditions, SMCCU is often the first port of call for most visitors. The centre offers a wealth of information and also hosts a full schedule of activities. Sign up for a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner, or simply wander around and admire the venue, which is located in a carefully restored wind tower house.

Turn left to follow the sandy lane buttressing the simple but elegant Diwan Mosque, part of the Ruler’s Court complex and stop by XVA Art Hotel. The Instagram-worthy space features a stunning courtyard and contemporary art gallery as well as a popular vegetarian cafe.

Ticket Info: Admission fees vary based on the event

Contact Details
  House 26, Al Musallah Road, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai
  + 971 4 353 6666
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Uncover history

Saruq Al Hadid

Uncover history

Saruq Al Hadid

Follow a colourful trail to the museum

Turn left towards Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street and follow the winding path to the Textile Souk, which is reminiscent of Dubai’s historic trading past. Walk along the warren of small shops and stalls and engage in friendly bartering for colourful fabrics and kitsch souvenirs.

Once you’re done shopping, turn right on to 34th Street and follow 3A Street to reach Saruq Al Hadid. This recently opened museum displays a range of artefacts unearthed from a centuries old archaeological site in the depths of the desert. Walk among some of the reclaimed relics –  an impressive haul of over 900 objects discovered from the site.

Contact Details
  Shindagha historic district
  +971 4 359 5612

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Past to present

Dubai Creek

Past to present

Dubai Creek

Glide across the historic waters on an abra

Walk back towards 3A Street to the Bur Dubai Abra Station by Dubai Creek. This waterway continues to reflect Dubai’s historic roots, back when early settlers relied on its waters for their livelihood. Visitors can queue for a short trip across the Creek to Deira on traditional wooden boats, known as abras, for just AED1.

The Dubai Creek’s waterway was recently extended as part of an ambitious 3.2km canal project. Marking a new era in the city’s urban transformation, the Dubai Water Canal winds its way from the Creek to the Arabian Gulf through Business Bay. Return another day to follow this scenic route onboard the Dubai Ferry

Contact Details
  3A Street, Bur Dubai
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Historic souks

Deira Souks

Historic souks

Deira Souks

An authentic shopping experience

A short, breezy ride later, you’re on the other side of Dubai Creek. Now cross Baniyas Road and follow Old Al Baladiya Street for one kilometre before turning right into the original Gold Souk district, where all that glitters is definitely gold. Haggle with the shopkeepers over delicate handcrafted pieces and ornate wedding jewellery sets, or better yet, craft your own bespoke jewels. The vendors here are some of the best in the business and can offer competitive rates.

With a little more time on your hands, follow your nose to the Perfume Souk for a quick lesson in oud and bakhoor.

Contact Details
  Souk Street, Deira

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The spice trail

Deira Spice Souk

The spice trail

Deira Spice Souk

Stock up on exotic ingredients

Retrace your steps to make your way to the Spice Souk. The souk is easy to find – just turn right onto Baniyas Road and follow the aroma of cardamom, turmeric, dried lemons and rose petals. The spice market’s alleys feature a warren of local vendors and storefronts piled high with bulging sacks of spices. Interacting with the vendors is part of the fun, and friendly bargaining is often welcomed with a smile. 

Contact Details
  Baniyas Road, Deira
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Emirati flavours

Radisson Blu Deira

Emirati flavours

Radisson Blu Deira

Dine on local specialities

Turn left to Old Baladiya Street to reach Baniyas Road and admire views of the Creek and traditional dhows as you pass the iconic Deira Twin Towers. Walk towards Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Deira Creek – this Old Dubai accommodation first opened in 1975 and is the city’s first five-star hotel.

After a long day of exploring, treat yourself to a traditional Emirati meal at the hotel’s signature Aseelah restaurant. Try the hearty lamb harees where coarsely-ground wheat is mixed with tender meat and spices, and the fish machboos that sees locally-caught sustainable fish served with Arabic rice.

Contact Details
  Baniyas Road, Deira
  +971 4 222 7171

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