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Experiences

The most relaxing places in Dubai

Zahirah Marty

Zahirah Marty

Entrepreneur

Mon, February 12, 2024

Entrepreneur Zahirah Marty knows a thing or two about unwinding in the city. Here are her picks for Dubai's unique and must-visit spots that are sure to offer a sense of calm.

Zahirah Marty

Zahirah Marty

Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Zahirah Marty knows a thing or two about unwinding in the city. Here are her picks for Dubai's unique and must-visit spots that are sure to offer a sense of calm.

Try a hammam experience at Talise Ottoman Spa

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As far as luxurious experiences go, you can’t beat being massaged, bathed in a blanket of heavenly bubbles and wrapped in a delicious body mask. Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray offers one of the best hammam experiences I’ve ever had – even compared to Morocco and Turkey! It’s a remarkable experience from arrival to departure and leaves you fully appreciative of why the royals of yesteryear regularly enjoyed this soul-settling treat.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: 9am to 9:30pm every day

Services available: Hammams, facials, massages, luxury body treatments, VIP, wellness therapies, personal training

Age requirements: All spa guests must be 16 or older

What to bring: Take your own bathing suit if you'd like to use the facilities such as the thalassotherapy pool, or gym attire if you've booked a private personal training session

Prices: From AED345 to AED2,705

Where to book: Visit the spa's website or call +971 4 453 0456

Stay at Fairmont The Palm (even for a day!)

I think of this as a home away from home – a place to share fabulous experiences with my family, or simply take some time out for myself. Fairmont The Palm’s strength lies in its flawless customer service and the lengths they go to in order to ensure your time at the property is magical. From sun soaking on the beach to massages at Willow Stream Spa, the natural surroundings and attentive team make for an unforgettable experience.

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: The hotel is open 24 hours a day, the spa from 10am to 9pm

Services available: 11 restaurants, spa, swimming pool, health club, kids club, watersports activities, yoga, leisure lounge and more

Age requirements: Fairmont The Palm has facilities for all ages; Falcon Kids Club welcomes young ones from 18 months to 12 years old

Prices: From approximately AED1,500 in winter and AED585 in summer

Where to book: Visit the hotel's website or call +971 4 457 3388

Enjoy a desert picnic by the water

Al Qudra Lakes Dubai

It’s a little off the beaten track, but I highly recommend a glamorous picnic by a beautiful lake, carefully curated for a group of any size. I love escaping to the desert with my girlfriends to create our own ‘Carrie Bradshaw and friends’ moment, soundtracked by classic female anthems under the stunning night sky! It’s a stylish and relaxing take on traditional adventure experiences.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: Open 24 hours a day 

Best time to visit: Dubai's winter season (October to March) averages temperatures of 23°C, ideal for outdoor activities such as a visit to Al Qudra Lakes 

Age requirements: All ages are welcome to visit and camp overnight at Al Qudra Lakes

What to bring: Pack your own barbecue if you'd like to cook a meal, camping gear and warmer clothing for an overnight stay, a bike if you'd like to go on Al Qudra Cycle Track, sunscreen, water, a camera etc

Prices: Entry is free, with no pre-booking or permits needed

Al Qudra Lakes
Sights & Attractions

Float in a hot air balloon

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The serenity of sailing over magnificent desert dunes is something that must be seen to be believed. There’s a sense of stillness as the balloon glides through the air, punctuated by the occasional gush of flames overhead. You can end with a warm sunlit breakfast in moderate temperatures (the balloons don’t fly during the summer). It’s worth the early start to get a unique perspective on this iconic landscape, with the chance of spotting some local wildlife wandering below.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: Pick-up time is between 3:30am and 5:30am, depending on the time of year

Best time to visit: Dubai's cool winter (October to March) is a wonderful time to enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the desert. The attraction closes during summertime

Services available: Pick-up and drop-off from Dubai, welcome coffee, drone show, desert drive, breakfast. Private trips are also an option

Age requirements: Participants must be aged five and older; there are a few other restrictions, see the website for more details

What to bring: Take comfortable footwear (high heels are not recommended), wear warmer clothing in winter and bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Prices: From AED1,350 for adults and AED1,150 for kids

Where to book: Visit the Balloon Adventures Dubai website or call +971 4 412 6333

Take an abra journey and watch the sunset

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Away from the bustle and energy of ‘older’ Dubai, I love nothing more than to sit beside Dubai Creek at sunset, sipping on a fresh juice or saffron-infused tea. The abras shuttle people back and forth for a mere AED1 either way, so you can watch the sun’s golden blanket give way to the bright trails of traffic and boats – like a real-life timelapse!

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: You can visit Dubai Creek any time, day or night. Abra (traditional wooden boat) crossings begin at around 6am daily

Best time to visit: Sunrise and sunset are popular times to visit Dubai Creek. From October to March, you can stay outside for longer due to the cooler temperatures  

Age requirements: None

What to bring: Take cash to pay for the abra journey, make sure you're wearing comfortable clothing and don't forget sunscreen and a camera too

Prices: An abra journey is packed with incredible sights and sounds, and costs just AED1 each way (or AED2 with air-conditioning)

Where to book: For AED120 per hour, you can hire an abra for a private trip along the creek. Contact the RTA or go to an abra station once you've arrived at Dubai Creek

Marvel at the skyline from Dubai Creek Harbour

Dubai Creek Harbour in Dubai

Dubai Creek Harbour is one of the city’s popular destinations for a truly unique view of the Dubai skyline. The terrace at Vida Creek Harbour sets a frame for those picture-perfect fiery sunsets, across a channel of water that turns to glass on a calm night.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: This is a 24/7 destination, so you can visit whenever you please

Best time to visit: For the most atmospheric vistas, head to Dubai Creek Harbour just before sunrise or sunset. From October to March, the weather will be more pleasant so you can stay outdoors for longer 

Services available: Wander along the 6km promenade, admire the funky art installations, take a boat tour or hire a bike. Also, don't forget to check out The Viewing Point, Dubai Creek Harbour's free observation deck which projects 26m over the waters of Dubai Creek

Age requirements: None 

Price: Free

Where to book: No booking necessary

Surround yourself by nature at The Farm

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The Farm at Al Barari is only a short drive from Downtown Dubai, but it feels a world away. With its tall trees, lush green vegetation and a mouth-watering menu, the owners describe it as an ‘oasis of calm’, and it certainly is. The menu is inspired by global cuisine and this botanical retreat offers true escapism.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: 7:30am to 10:30pm daily

Best time to visit: It depends on your preferences, but breakfast at The Farm is a wonderfully tranquil way to start your day. Try anything from a healthy breakfast burrito to organic shakshuka while surrounded by nature

Services available: The Farm serves breakfast, lunch and dinner

Age requirements: All are welcome; youngsters will love the kids all-day menu, which features options such as crispy cod goujons and monkey ropes spaghetti 

Prices: Breakfast dishes cost approximately between AED50 and AED100, lunch and dinner options range from around AED70 to AED205

Where to book: Visit the restaurant's website or call +971 4 886 6223

Explore the waters around Palm Jumeirah

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Dubai is often overlooked for its open water diving experiences, but the waters around the Palm can surprise you with their diverse marine life. As a new diver, you’re often taken to some of these spots for practice dives. However, even for more confident divers, the comfortable conditions make for a soothing exploration of this magical underwater realm.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: There are several diving and snorkelling operators on Palm Jumeirah, including Mermaid Diving Center, which opens daily from 9am to 6pm

Best time to visit: Explore Dubai's stunning underwater worlds during the day, when visibility is clearer 

Services available: A range of courses are available at Mermaid Diving Center, from a PADI open water certification to the advanced Master Seal Team qualification

Age requirements: Kids of all ages are welcome to try Mermaid's reef discovery snorkelling course. The junior open water course is a scuba certification for ages 10 and up

What to bring: All necessary equipment will be provided by Mermaid

Prices: Courses at Mermaid range from AED1,000 to AED4,000

Where to book: Visit Mermaid Diving Center's website or call +971 55 887 6015

Skydive over Palm Jumeirah

Skydiving in Dubai over the Palm

It may not be everyone’s top pick for a relaxing spot, but my experience of sailing down from 30,000 feet with Skydive Dubai left me with a strange sense of calm…after the initial adrenaline rush! As a tandem jumper, you enjoy a very steady descent once the parachute opens, giving you time to take in the sites of Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence – it's an unbeatable vantage point.

 

Essential info:

 

Opening hours: 8am to 2:30pm daily

Best time to visit: Temperatures are cooler in winter, but it may be easier to find a suitable slot in summertime (and it's slightly cheaper then too). There are no tandem desert skydives during summer

Services available: The centre offers tandem and solo skydives over either Palm Jumeirah or the Dubai desert, plus gyrocopter flights and a flight school. When you book a tandem dive, you can pay extra for package that includes photos and an edited video of the experience, while a one-minute Instagram highlight reel costs an extra AED150

Age requirements: Participants must be between 18 and 75 years old on the day of their skydive. See here for a full list of requirements

What to bring: See the website's FAQs section for full details

Prices: Tandem skydive prices vary according to the time of year. The cheapest option is the tandem desert skydive from January to June (AED1,799), with prices going up to AED2,599 with add-ons

Where to book: Visit the Skydive Dubai website or call +971 4 377 8888

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