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Beat the bore: Fun stopover ideas for regular Dubai visitors

Thu, March 28, 2024

Dive deeper into Dubai's culture with these great stopover activities.

Dive deeper into Dubai's culture with these great stopover activities.

See more of Dubai’s desert

That first desert safari is always fun, but it can’t even scratch the surface of things to do out in Dubai’s magnificent dunes – such as taking advantage of the desert’s clear night sky for an astronomy session. And staying out in the desert overnight allows a lot more than star-gazing, with a range of camping options – from authentic tents to private lakeside experiences available via tour organisers such as Platinum Heritage.

Alternatively, you can take a guided wildlife safari deep into one of Dubai’s conservation areas, where you can see all sorts of desert creatures in their natural habitat, from gazelles and oryx to birds of prey. And if you have a bit more time, think about combining this with a few days in Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa for the ultimate escape from the city’s bustle.

Explore Dubai’s blossoming gastronomy scene

The past decade has seen a revolution in Dubai’s culinary landscape, and while restaurants with big-name celebrity chefs get a lot of attention, there are fascinating foodie delights happening all across the city. Head to a restaurant such as Boca in DIFC, where a zero-waste approach has led to innovative techniques and ingredients – resulting in creative and delicious dishes.

Or try the 12-seater Moonrise, a Michelin-starred omakase venue which blends Middle Eastern and Japanese flavours and techniques in a way that, according to chef Solemann Haddad, could only happen in Dubai. There are plenty more astonishing culinary discoveries to be made, which isn't surprising in a city where more than 200 different nationalities come together – and bring their cuisines with them.

Get sporty with Dubai’s world-class facilities

If you follow golf, you’ve probably seen the world’s best players making their way around some of Dubai’s courses – and there’s no reason you can’t follow in their footsteps, quite literally. Dubai is packed with championship-grade golf courses, from the famous Emirates Golf Club and Jumeirah Golf Estates, to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club’s 18-hole waterside thriller.

You can also look to the sea, and Dubai’s vast and diverse watersports options. Spend the morning on a jet ski – or why not try flyboarding and learn to soar through the air on powerful jets of water. There’s also paragliding, wakeboarding, some of the best diving experiences in the world – and the chance to pilot a miniature submarine shaped like a shark.

Immerse yourself in Dubai’s arts scene

Thanks to its multicultural population, and status as a trade and finance hub for the Middle East and beyond, Dubai has a thriving arts scene that's well worth a look. Start at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where you can explore the art world's latest trends in commercial art galleries.

Then head to Jameel Arts Centre, next to Dubai Creek, which offers thought-provoking exhibitions along with film screenings and other artistic offerings. Once you start looking into Dubai’s community of artists, you’ll find yourself drawn to places such as Alserkal Avenue, a trendy development of converted warehouses now home to art studios, an indie cinema and more.

Get active in Hatta’s dramatic mountains

Around two hours by car from the city of Dubai lies the exclave of Hatta. Compared to the city’s flat coastal landscape, this small community is high in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains, with a striking landscape of jagged cliffs and stunning hidden valleys.

Hatta is renowned as a centre for outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more – perfect for some vigorous exercise after days of sunbathing. Most first-time Dubai visitors never head to Hatta, but it’s ideal for a break away from the city, especially with accommodation including everything from comfortable hotels to trendy trailers.

Join in with the latest festivals and events

There’s always something new going on in Dubai, with plenty of major festivals and other events throughout the year – so check what’s on during your visit. Enjoy the gastronomic delights of Dubai Food Festival each spring, months of deals and entertainment at Dubai Summer Surprises, 30 days of free fitness opportunities during Dubai Fitness Challenge in November, and fantastic offers and activities at Dubai Shopping Festival from December to January.

Plus there are plenty more performances, concerts, plays, exhibitions and other events taking place all year, every year. Keep an eye on Dubai Calendar to see what’s coming up, or find out what's on at venues such as Dubai Opera and the Coca-Cola Arena – you might just discover your new favourite thing.

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