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Day trip to Dubai

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Updated: May 3, 2024
 By Pri

 Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE and the seat of the government. It’s undoubtedly quieter and more conservative than the glitzy and glamorous Dubai, but that’s part of its appeal. If you are staying in Abu Dhabi, we are sure you will have a nice quiet stay there.

However, we would recommend you take a visit to Dubai as a day trip to not miss the world’s tallest building, the largest mall, the Dubai Frame or the very famous Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood. At the heart of the glitz and glam, however, is a city with a rich cultural heritage. Dubai first made its name as a fishing and pearl village, and a strategic port on the Persian Gulf. Even with modern developments, the city’s sense of history is still alive today. One can savor a cup of traditional coffee, catch a ride on an old-fashioned abra or shop in a traditional souk.

Here is our guide on the top things to do in Dubai on a day trip if you are venturing out to see the city on your own. The best way to reach Dubai from Abu Dhabi is by taxi (RTA, Uber or Careem) and can cost you somewhere around $70 to $90 (AED 250 to AED 330) or take the RTA Bus from Abu Dhabi, which will drop you at the Ibn Batuta Bus Stop in Dubai and costs AED 25. From here, you can continue your journey via the metro, tram or taxi. Most of Dubai’s iconic places are well connected by the Dubai Metro. Here is our guide for you on how to use the Dubai Metro.

1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall & Dubai Fountain

The Burj Khalifa passed many important milestones on its goal to become the tallest man-made structure the world has ever seen with 160 storeys and 555m high. In just 1,325 days since excavation work started in January 2004, Burj Khalifa became the tallest free-standing structure in the world. Tickets to the Burj Khalifa can be bought online, inside the Dubai Mall or from the entrance of the Burj Khalifa. You can check out the views from the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa or go up to the 148th floor and marvel at views of the city. The Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai also hosts the world’s highest restaurant, At.mosphere.

You can also take our private tour of Downtown Dubai to know more about the architecture of the marvelous buildings the area has. The Dubai Mall features the world-class Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo featuring thousands of aquatic animals and a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel. The aquarium houses world’s largest acrylic panel which made it to the Guinness Book of World Records.

There are around 40 displays here housing creatures such as piranha, penguins, crocodiles, lizards, snakes, otters and eels. You can take a ride on a glass-bottom boat to view over 33,000 aquatic animals and you could also go cage diving with sharks!

Tickets to the Dubai Aquarium can be purchased online or at the counter in the mall. The ticket is valid for one entry only. Visitors can stay if they want here. Frequent visitors can purchase a membership card and enjoy exclusive privileges. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater zoo are open 7 days a week. Opening times are Sunday to Wednesday 10 am to 10 pm, and Thursday to Saturday 10 am until midnight.

You can reach the Dubai Mall by taxi or by the Dubai Metro.


2. Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and Dubai Museum

On your day trip to Dubai, you should not miss seeing how traditional life in the mid-19th century used to be at the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, formerly known as Bastakiya, by joining us on our Old Dubai and Souk Tour. Located along the Dubai Creek, this district is a key heritage site that has preserved much of the original infrastructure. You can start your day with a private or a public morning tour at 10 AM with us in the old city.


The traditional wind towers constructed from stone, teak, gypsum, palm wood and sandalwood represent only a small part of Al Fahidi’s history. Each alley, twisting pathway and breezy tower tells a story of life before the Emirates.

Today, these houses have been converted to art galleries, hotels (XVA Art Gallery and Hotel, museums (coffee museum and coins museum) and institutes such as the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

Escape the skyscrapers and take a glimpse into how Emiratis from past generations lived their lives in this historical district.

Cross the Dubai Creek on an AED 1 Abra (boat) Ride

The Creek is the historic heart of Dubai, which once divided the city into two areas: Deira and Bur Dubai. Until the construction of Al Maktoum Bridge, the first bridge in Dubai in 1963, the only way to get from one side to the other was in a rickety little wooden boat called an abra. It’s still undoubtedly the most fun (and affordable) way across. Also, check our Old Dubai tour to see this part of the city.

We’re convinced this is the best cruise in the city!

Walkthrough the Textile, Spice and Golds Souks on our Walking Tour

Retail therapy in Dubai doesn’t necessarily mean heading to one of the (many) sprawling malls. For a more traditional experience, head down to one of the many souks lining either side of Dubai Creek. The Gold Souk has hundreds of retails offering a selection of jewelry, diamonds and other precious stones, while the Textile Souk has a wonderful selection of colorful fabrics

Dubai Museum

The Al Fahidi Fort, now known as the Dubai Museum was renovated during the reign of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. It was opened in 1971 to be an official museum that displays the history of Dubai and its original heritage. In 1995, another underground museum was established and added to the old fort.

The underground museum displays the pearl diving section and tells the importance of the pearl diving industry in the history and formation of Dubai.  In the center of Fahidi Fort lies a spacious yard that is used for displaying models of local boats and bamboo houses with their traditional furniture.

Museum ticket only costs AED 3 per person and is a must-visit site when you are in Dubai. You can visit the Dubai Museum on our Old Dubai & Souk Heritage tour as well, where our guide will give you detailed information about everything.

For a more detailed guide, you can also refer to our blog on the top things to do in Dubai, Top 10 Free Things to do in Dubai, Which Dubai City Pass is the best.

If you would like to take a guided day tour to Dubai with pick up and drop off facility from Abu Dhabi, here is our list of the highly-rated tours for your reference.

  1. Dubai Sightseeing Day Trip from Abu Dhabi

The tour is well rated on Viator and is offered daily and is a great all in one day trip to Dubai. You will travel by air-conditioned coach while your guide will shed light on the region’s rich history and culture. You will visit attractions like Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al-Arab and the Burj Khalifa. You will visit the old town and cruise across Dubai Creek on a wooden ‘abra’ taxi and shop till you drop in the bustling gold and spice souks.

Cost: AED 321 onwards

Pick Up Time: 8:30 AM

Tour Duration: 9 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English

  1. Dubai Full-Day City Tour from Abu Dhabi

Another highly reviewed tour from Get Your Guide, we recommend you taking this tour since it is well priced and covers the major attractions in Dubai in a span of 8 hours. You will explore the Souks, visit the Dubai Mall and also stop at the Palm Jumeirah!

Cost: AED 300 onwards

Pick Up Time: 8:30 AM

Tour Duration: 9 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English and German

  1. Dubai City Tour from Abu Dhabi

Rayna Tours offer daily tours from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. This amazing tour, starting from Abu Dhabi, journeys you through the region’s prime highlights. You visit the Dubai Museum; admire awe-inspiring structures along Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and Atlantis; and cross over the glitzy Sheik Zayed Road, taking in the vistas of stunning skyscrapers.

Cost: AED 245 onwards

Pick Up Time: 10 AM

Tour Duration: 10 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English.

  1. Dubai City Tour from Abu Dhabi

This is a must-do tour of Dubai! Be fascinated by Dubai's rich history and tradition on a tour around the Al Fahidi Cultural Neighbourhood, Dubai Creek and the Gold and Spice Souks. You will explore the Dubai Museum to learn about times gone by and cross the Dubai Creek in a traditional abra (water taxi). In the afternoon, you will visit Downtown Dubai, and pass the Burj Khalifa and explore The Dubai Mall.

Cost: AED 245 onwards

Tour Duration: 9 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English and German

  1. Dubai City Sightseeing Tour from Abu Dhabi

From the signature Burj Al Arab hotel to Jumeirah Mosque and the fabulous gold souk, you’ll see all the sights that make Dubai famous and learn about them from a local guide.

Cost: AED 385 onwards

Tour Duration: 8 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English

  1. Dubai City Tour from Abu Dhabi

You will learn about the history and culture of Dubai, visit the Dubai Museum, walkthrough, and shop in the spice markets and the Gold Souk. We will visit the Dubai Mall and the Madinat Jumeirah and take insta worthy pics near the Burj Al Arab. Finally, you will drive past the Palm Jumeirah.

Tour Duration: 8 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English and German

Pick Up Time: 9 AM

  1. Dubai Day Tour from Abu Dhabi

On this tour, you will tour Dubai in search of its historical sights and famous icons for a day with the help of an English speaking guide, visit the oldest building in the city and see cultural locations such as the Dubai Heritage Village. You will get amazing photo opportunities at the iconic world-famous landmarks: Burj Al Arab, Palm Island, Atlantis Hotel, and the Burj Khalifa

Cost: AED 238 onwards

Tour Duration: 8 hours (Approx)

Tour is offered in English

About The Author


Pri is a true believer in the Rule of Three - she lives between Dubai, Bombay and Washington DC, speaks three languages and has 3 kids under 3. She graduated from Connecticut College and has a Masters Degree from New York University. Pri is a licensed Dubai tour guide, travel blogger, art aficionado, foodie and curious to check out all things new in her city. Pri has been part of the Free Tours By Foot team since 2015 and loves to make customized itineraries for her guests.
Updated: May 3rd, 2024
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