It’s a feast for the senses. The most insane mix of modern luxury, dappled with ancient trading history within its historic neighborhoods. Dubai – this young city’s skyline seemingly changes every day. As a photographer, this evolving completely captivated me (and my camera!). Between the city’s architecture, beach-front views, traditional mosques and every quirk in between – Dubai is a quilt of curiosities… perfect for the modern photographer. Today, I’m sharing what I believe are Dubai’s most picturesque sights.
What To See
The Burj Khalifa’s Observation Deck
The world’s tallest building (as of right now, at least!) is housed in Dubai’s bustling Downtown neighborhood. And besides being a sparkling gem in the city skyline, the Burj Khalifa’s indoor and outdoor observation deck is incredible! We think it’s definitely worth it to hike to the top for to the 125th and 148th floors for different perspective of Dubai’s sprawling skyline. It’ll totally blow you away. Be sure to book in advance, especially if you want to see the sunset on the expansive city below!
The Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood reflects the traditional look and lifestyle of the city up until the 1970’s. It’s like walking into Dubai’s past! The high stone towers, winding alleys, pathways and public squares feel like a maze of diversity. Many visitors overlook this historic neighborhood, as it definitely as an old world feel in a very modernist, forward thinking city. But I happen to think it’s a must-see! Plus, the sandy, warm tones are a dream to photograph, too!
The Dubai Mall could pretty much be a city on its own! Typically, photographers wouldn’t consider bringing along their gear to do some window shopping – but let me tell you, this place is a gold mind of picturesque locations!
In between shopping and eyeing up some of the priciest stores in the world, make sure to stop at the iconic Indoor Fountain sculptural piece. The scale of it is astounding! And get snap happy at the next-level Fountain Show at night (shows are on the half hour from 6:00 – 11:00 pm Saturday – Thursdays). Or, if you’re there on a rainy day, the beautiful Aquarium is a great spot to snap some exotic underwater beauty!
Truly a sight to behold. Photographers will be delighted to see the incredible detail outside of the Mosque’s doors. The tile work and splashes of color will bring you to your knees (…and we mean that metaphorically and realistically – gotta get that perspective!). I could have spent hours photographing the architectural beauty of this place. Every square inch is a serious delight.
Madinat Jumeirah Abra Ride and Souk
A ride through the waters of Madinat Jumeirah on its magical abra is a treat for the eyes… plus, its a great way to access what I believe to be the best view of the Burj Al Arab! Weaving through the waterways is so relaxing, especially after all the walking you do while exploring Dubai. And it totally allows you to view the city from a new perspective. Afterward, enjoy a stroll through the old meets new souk to shop for some incredible souvenirs or for a cup of coffee.
The beautiful arches of the brightest and boldest umbrellas and hanging greenery? A dream come true for the lens! Besides being a fantastical display of botany and foliage, the Miracle Garden is a fantastic place for people watching. The colors of the Miracle Garden burst into life, both in person and in frame. It’s a total must-do while in Dubai!
Is this tree-shaped island the glitziest part of Dubai? Heck yes it is! From above, Palm Jumeriah’s famous fan-like shape has become quite notorious for its opulence… and it’s just like that on the ground too! Home to the poshest, sleeked apartments, spas, hotels, and nightclubs you could only dream of… Palm Jumeriah is an excellent photogenic location to witness the higher end of Dubai’s city life.
Souk Al Bahaar
This Arabic-style shopping mall in the city has a ton of textures for the camera (and shopper) to admire. From antiques, carpets, home goods and waterfront restaurants – Souk Al Bahaar is definitely worth adding to your Dubai itinerary. But, one of my favorite secrets is that it’s home to a unique framed view of the Burj many overlook!
Take in the sun set or sun rise from the Water Canal and you’ll see the skyscrapers of Dubai beam with golden shades galore.
Where To Eat & Drink
Maiden Terrace On Palm Jumeriah
This outdoor terrace gives guests a simply stunning view of the Dubai Marina skyline and the Arabian Gulf! Drinks here at sunset are an absolute must!
One Life Cafe
This cafe’s attention to homemade, freshly cooked meals is apparent! It’s also a great spot to sit down and do some editing or catch up on work while exploring the rest of Dubai!
Named “Dubai’s original cafe,” Sikka has been open since the 1800s and the Al Maktoum Dynasty. Pretty dang impressive! As Dubai began its trading and cultural exchanges with other worlds, it also began to pick up the culinary delicacies it traded with. Sikka does a masterful job at incorporating local treats with Indian and Persian flavors. It’s an amazing homage to Dubai’s growth, development and its delicious cuisine!
Located in the famous Dubai Mall, Parker’s began as a “concept restaurant” that quickly got to be very popular with tourists and locals. The original quirk was that guests would need to recover a special key hidden somewhere within the sprawling Dubai Mall in order to get a seat… and only clues given on its Instagram would help them track it down. This place got a buzz going ever since! And for good reason. It’s delightful with a fantastic menu!
The Sum Of Us
This charmer has some of Dubai’s most delicious, house roasted coffee and gourmet treats. It’s a great spot to grab something healthy in a super friendly location. This is also a great spot for anyone with specific food allergies or dietary restrictions!
Where To Stay
Nikki Beach is a little slice of Miami smack dab in the Middle East! If you’re looking for a beach-y, free spirited vibe, right beside the beach… this hotel is totally for you. Enjoy the relaxing cabanas, chic rooms and nearly perfect shoreline. Nikki Beach is a minimalist, bright, clean and an all around lovely resort!
Palace Hotel Downtown
This five star luxury hotel exemplifies all that Dubai strives to be – modern, attentive, incredibly well designed, tasteful, stocked with amenities and an excellent location.
Shangri La Hotel
The Shangri La Hotel is perfectly situated on Sheikh Zayed Road, a quick walk away from the Dubai Mall and City Walk. Plus, it has some of the best views of the skyline, the Arabian Sea and unobstructed perspective of the Burj Khalifa in the pool and dining areas.
The Steigenberger is perfect for city lovers with its awesome views of the Burj and excellent service. This modern hotel is the perfect home away from home.
Right in the heart of the Al Fahidi neighborhood – the XVA Hotel is bedazzled with so many beautiful twists on traditional details. Enjoy the outdoor dining area when needing a break from exploring Dubai’s every nook and cranny.
Dubai pleases the senses. From the visual feasts of its souks and modernist skyscrapers, to the scents of the authentic and delicious meals cooked by friendly locals. It’s incredibly hard not to be overwhelmed by its beauty!