Dubai is famous for its luxury shopping, skyscrapers, fancy hotels and fine dining. Its most well-known spots include Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), the Dubai Fountain and Jumeirah Beach -which boasts the world’s first and only 7 star hotel ‘Burj Al Arab’. You might be tempted to think that this is all Dubai has to offer, but you would be mistaken. While these may be the tourist hot-spots, there are many more adventures to be had off the beaten track, so continue reading to discover four of Dubai’s hidden gems.
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If you have ever been to Dubai, the chances are that you will have been (or thought about going) dune bashing in the Dubai Desert. For those who have never been to Dubai, dune bashing is basically driving around the dunes really quickly and then hitting the brakes every so often.
Dune bashing is one of the most popular outdoor activities for tourists (and locals) in Dubai, but visiting the Mangroves in Abu Dhabi is a quieter alternative if you still want to do some outdoor adventuring. Only a short drive from Dubai, the Mangrove National Park is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and vegetation.
You can visit on a day trip, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always choose to ride a doughnut boat or kayak through the slender paths of water. Although, it is important to make sure that if you are going to participate in extreme sports or athletic activities, that you have the correct type of travel insurance in case of an accident.
Only a 30-minute drive from the city centre, the fossil dunes of Al Wathba are one of Dubai’s best-kept secrets. Unknown to even some locals, the fossil dunes are one of the wonders of the United Arab Emirates. You may recognise them from the opening scenes of ‘Star Wars: A Force Awakens’, so rent a 4×4 and go and get lost in the desert while trying to find these stunning natural creations!
Delma Island is an unusual place in the UAE as it still retains much of its cultural heritage. Dating back 7000 years, the Island is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the country and offers visitors a rare chance to see what the traditional Persian Gulf would have been like, without the fancy hotels and skyscrapers. Although Delma Island is around 500km from Dubai, there are regular ferries running from Jebel Dhanna terminal, and it would be a great place to stay overnight.
For those more artistically inclined, the Jameel Arts Centre is a brilliant (if underrated) choice. Located in Jaddaf Waterfront, the Arts Centre is an independent institution which exhibits contemporary art to the public. Although it only opened in 2018, the centre has already become one of the leading modern art institutions of the UAE. The Jameel Arts Centre features innovative architecture, art galleries, community projects and the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park, making it the perfect place to visit if you want to enjoy some art in peace and quiet.
Check out our interactive Tourist Map of Dubai for the top attractions, restaurant recommendations & rooftop bars.
If you are traveling to Dubai with a significant other, you’ve got to check out these Things to do in Dubai for Couples.
Abu Dhabi is only a short 1 hour drive from Dubai. Check out these exciting Abu Dhabi Tourist Attractions.
Written for Valentina’s Destinations by Pauline Davis
She’s been travelling since she was 5, Pauline has had to succumb to a working student life with a long list of travel destinations. For her, everything is a balance act – working, studying, travelling and taking care of her 2 Labradors. Also a budding writer, Pauline expresses her love for both travelling and writing by contributing to a slew of online publications in her spare time.