We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Dubai Like a Local

Exclusively sponsored by Visit Dubai

67%
Found this guide helpful

Look beyond Dubai’s futuristic skyscrapers and tourist sheen to discover the authentic culture and lifestyle that makes the city tick. From bustling souks and Bedouin customs through to a thriving modern arts scene, here’s our guide to the places and experiences that capture the real day-to-day Dubai beneath the glamour.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Like a Local

10 Places

4 City Tips

Print
Map

10 Places

Dubai Opera

Theatres

Arabian Tea House Cafe

Restaurants

Dubai Spice Souk

Flea & Street Markets

Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian Centre

Game & Entertainment Centres

Women's Museum Bait al Banat

Speciality Museums

XVA Gallery

Art Galleries

Dubai Museum

History Museums

Dubai Camel Racing Club

Horse Tracks

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Educational sites, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Alserkal Avenue Arts District

Art Galleries

Visit Dubai's City Tips

  • Respect local culture by ensuring your shoulders and legs are covered when exploring, especially in historic parts of the city
  • Taxis are easy to find outside hotels and other attractions. For longer distances, use the cool and efficient metro network
  • Friday is a holy day in Dubai, with many attractions closed in the mornings
  • Unless you’re an experienced desert driver, it’s best to avoid long self-drive road trips into the desert
  • Dubai Opera
    Theatres
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Opened in 2016, this glass building in Downtown Dubai echoes the prow of an Arabian ‘dhow’ trading boat and hosts everything from operas and musicals to classical and pop concerts, so it has something for all. Check what’s on at the website and factor in time to admire the building before taking your seat.

    Good for
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Take a closer look at the massive ‘Symphony’ chandelier in the atrium. This 36-foot (11-meter) cascade of 3,000 pearl-shaped lights is best seen from the upper storeys.
    • Go by metro over a rental car: the Opera’s valet parking can mean long waits post-show. Leave the metro at the Burj Khalifa stop and then follow the walkway signs.
    • Aim for a seat near the aisle for easy restroom breaks: the rows in the stalls are pretty long.
    • Events are bookable as far as eight months ahead on the Dubai Opera website, so you can secure your tickets long in advance of any trip.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #40 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Live concert 12/11/2018
    • Beautiful Venue 10/11/2018
    • Dubai Opera
    Address:
    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd
    Downtown Dubai, Near Burj Khalifa
    Dubai 8229
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 440 8888
    Other:
  • Arabian Tea House Cafe
    Restaurants (Lebanese, Cafe, Middle Eastern)
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    This cute café makes an authentic Arabian refreshment stop when you’re exploring the old Al Fahidi quarter. Settle in the cool Arabian-house courtyard under the trees and floaty shades, and select from the Middle Eastern-style menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The café opens daily from 7:30am to 10pm for meals, snacks, and drinks.
    • Order the afternoon tea if you don’t fancy a full meal: you’ll be treated to mini sandwiches served with glasses of tea.
    • Factor in extra time if you’re visiting on Fridays or Saturdays: you may have to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a table.
    • The Tea House makes an ideal pitstop after a Dubai Museum visit. Turn right from the museum door, left along Al Fahidi Street, and look for the wind-tower house on your left.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #107 of 7,142 restaurants in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Arabian Tea House dubai November 2018 12/11/2018
    • Great atmosphere and good food 10/11/2018
    • Arabian Tea House Cafe
    Address:
    Al Fahidi Street
    Bur Dubai, Bastakiya، Opposite Musalla Post Office
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 353 5071
    Price range:
    US$10 - US$15
    Hours:
    Thu
    7:30 AM - 10:00 PM
    Fri - Wed
    7:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • Dubai Spice Souk
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    One of Dubai’s oldest attractions, this vaulted bazaar exudes a rich sense of old Arabia. The shop-stuffed lanes are full of rainbow-hued spices, herbs, incense, nuts, teas, and sweets; as well as stalls hawking souvenirs, clothes, and cushions, so you’re sure to find the perfect gift or memento.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Be sure to haggle: a good rule of thumb is to start at 50% the quoted price, and settle at around 70%.
    • For a full-on cultural fix, catch a wooden, open ‘abra’ boat across Dubai Creek to the souk. Board at Bur Dubai and hop off at the Deira Souk stop.
    • The souk is open Saturday through Thursday from 10am to 1pm and 4pm to 10pm, and from 4pm to 10pm on Fridays.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #116 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    • What a rip off - visit but don't buy!! 15/11/2018
    • Really Nice Souk 14/11/2018
    • Dubai Spice Souk
    Address:
    Sikkat Al Khail Road
    Al Ras
    Dubai 75157
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +98 911 313 8170
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    4:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Sat - Thu
    10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    Other:
  • Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian Centre
    Game & Entertainment Centres
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Sitting in dunes south of Dubai city, this sandcastle-lookalike eco-resort features an equestrian center that brings the desert alive for visitors. Book a horse or camel ride across the dunes, watch for wildlife, and stop to taste camel milk for a true Bedouin experience.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you can’t ride, no worries: the equestrian center runs horse-riding lessons for adults and children over five.
    • Arrange a cab in advance to get here: it’s a roughly 45-minute journey. The center will book a return taxi for you.
    • If you’re visiting in summer, opt for a sunrise or sunset horse or camel excursion to avoid the searing daytime heat.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #19 of 146 Fun & Games in Dubai
    • A dream come true... 27/10/2018
    • Another place to go for desert hack 03/10/2018
    • Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian Centre
    Address:
    Al Sahra Desert Resort Jebel Ali - Lahbab Rd
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 56 177 2856
    Other:
  • Women's Museum Bait al Banat
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Delve into one of the lesser-known aspects of Emirati life—the role of local women—at this revealing and thoughtfully laid-out museum. View the exhibits of traditional dress and jewelry, admire art exhibitions, and learn about the social, economic, and political progress being made by leading women in the emirate.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Allocate about an hour to 90 minutes to look around: there are three floors to explore.
    • The museum is open from 10am to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday.
    • Combine your visit with a scout around Deira Gold Souk, located just a few streets away.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #124 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    • Awesome Experience 04/11/2018
    • Worth the time 15/09/2018
    • Women's Museum Bait al Banat
    Address:
    Al Sabkha 24 St
    Gold Souq, Deira
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 234 2342
    Price range:
    US$20 - US$20
    Hours:
    Sat - Thu
    10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • XVA Gallery
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    For a taste of contemporary Arabic art and food in a contrasting, traditional setting, this gallery-café-hotel set in a restored vintage building is spot on. Exhibitions focus on artists in the Gulf and wider Middle East, while the café serves gourmet veggie dishes in a courtyard that’s the picture of old-time Arabia.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Don’t miss the homemade mint lemonade—a perfect cooler during a hot day’s sightseeing.
    • Opening times are 10am to 6pm, every day of the week, including Fridays.
    • Pick up arty local souvenirs such as ceramics and jewelry at the design shop while you’re here.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #114 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    • One of Bastakia's many attractions 11/05/2018
    • Traditionally tasteful, eclectically delightful... a must visit sort of place. 10/04/2017
    • XVA Gallery
    Address:
    Al Fahidi St
    Bur Dubai
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 353 5383
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Dubai Museum
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Set in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort and a fixture on most city tours, this engaging museum offers a no-nonsense insight into Dubai’s history and culture. Ancient artifacts, recreations of souks and old houses, a timeline of the city’s growth since the 1950s, and the well-preserved fort make it a must for anyone keen to understand the forces that have shaped the city.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Opening times are 8:30am-8:30pm Saturdays to Thursdays, and 2:30pm-8:30pm on Fridays.
    • At three dirhams for adults and one dirham for children under six, the museum is great value.
    • Don’t miss the displays on Dubai’s pearl-diving history. They show how pearl divers would don just nose clips and gloves to dive to the seabed for oysters.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #68 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting 16/11/2018
    • Educational and Affordable for a Budget 16/11/2018
    • Dubai Museum
    Address:
    Al Fahidi St
    Al Fahidi Fort, Bur Dubai
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 353 1862
    Hours:
    Fri
    2:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Sat - Thu
    8:30 AM - 8:30 PM
    Other:
  • Dubai Camel Racing Club
    Horse Tracks
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Camel racing is undergoing a resurgence in the emirate, and the Dubai Al Marmoum race track provides a great opportunity to observe it in action, complete with robot jockeys. See the camels being prepared, and watch from the grandstand for a fascinating glimpse into old-school Dubai.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The race season runs from mid-October to mid-April, with races timed for the early mornings and early afternoons on selected days, usually including Fridays and Saturdays.
    • Races are up to 10 kilometres long, so the camels are out of view for some time.
    • Catch a ride in a 4x4 to follow the camels along the circuit-side roads.
    • Organise a return cab in advance: the races are not specifically aimed at tourists, so transport is difficult.
    • Entry is free, and no betting is allowed.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #78 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A Race with a Twist 11/11/2018
    • The best Camel racing in the world 06/11/2018
    • Dubai Camel Racing Club
    Address:
    Along Al Ain Rd, exit 37
    Approx. 40 km from Dubai
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 832 6526
    Other:
  • Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
    Educational sites, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    With traditional experiences, culinary offerings, Q&A sessions, and walking tours of Dubai’s old quarters, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding gives you a direct window into Emirati heritage and customs—taking you behind the city’s tourist glitter for a look at authentic daily life.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Book to join a group breakfast or lunch while learning about Emirati customs and traditions. It’s one of the centre’s most popular experiences.
    • Take a SMCCU creekside tour for a fascinating look at historical Dubai, including a boat ride, souk visits, and cultural Q&A session.
    • The SMCCU is in Dubai’s historical Al Fahidi quarter, about 10 minutes’ walk from Al Fahidi metro stop.
    • For a list of the tours and activities on offer, visit the SMCCU website.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Best way to learn everything you ever need to know about Dubai & its people 12/11/2018
    • Conference activity 22/10/2018
    • Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
    Address:
    Al Mussallah Rd
    House 26, Al Fahidi District
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 4 353 6666
    Price range:
    US$23 - US$23
    Other:
  • Alserkal Avenue Arts District
    Art Galleries
    See more photos
    Visit Dubai Says:

    Marooned in a seemingly soulless area of warehouses in the Al Quoz industrial district, Alserkal Avenue is home to thriving modern art galleries, workshops, boutique stores, and pop-up projects. The area also stages markets and galleries’ nights, together with live evening concerts and performances.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Check out upcoming exhibitions and workshops at the Alserkal Avenue website.
    • After enjoying the galleries or classes, relax at one of the numerous organic cafes and coffee shops.
    • Ride the metro to Noor Bank station and Alserkal is a 5-10 minute cab ride from there.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #89 of 358 things to do in Dubai
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A great little art hub 31/10/2018
    • Artist community 08/09/2018
    • Alserkal Avenue Arts District
    Address:
    4 Warehouse
    8 Road, 74; Al Quoz 1
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    Phone:
    +971 50 556 9797
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sat
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
top
×
Was this guide helpful?
YesNo