What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dubai?
For me, Dubai is the metropolitan glittering city in the middle of the desert that has copied the best ideas from popular tourist destinations around the world and simply made theirs far grander!
One of the 7 states from the oil rich United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah) but by far the largest and most visited city in the UAE.
If you’re looking for a destination that has it all and will keep your Instagram content on fire, then Dubai has got to be your no.1 choice. With over 7 years experience of organising photoshoot trips to the UAE, here are our best things to do whilst in Dubai for the Instagram worthy content you desire!
Insider Tip – ALWAYS take a change of outfit to these locations to grab more varied content without looking like you only took one outfit on your trip to Dubai!
Not every destination was made like Dubai! Within a two hour drive from the ultra-tall skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai, you will be met by the mesmerising red sand dunes of the Arabian Desert. Here you can experience the thrills of dunes-bashing within the comfort of your chauffeured 4×4 or for the ultimate #WishYouWere & #LivingMyBestLife Instagram shots, why not hire your own Quad Bike like we do on our group trips?
Two main things are synonymous with Dubai; the desert and the skyscrapers! Downtown Dubai is where you can feast your eyes on the latter! A showcase of vast wealth, opulence and unabashed desire to prove that Dubai does things better and bigger than most other metropolitan cities. Whilst there, be sure to check out the following spots for those unique shots & mind boggling sights:
This is no ordinary shopping mall; it is a destination in it’s own right! Still regarded as the largest shopping mall in the world (by total land area) and with 14,000 car parking spaces! With attractions such was an Ice Rink, Multiplex Cinema, Indoor Waterfall and the worlds largest Aquarium with over 400 Sharks and Rays, in a 10 million litre tank (#wowsers) you’ll be spoilt for choice. Once you’re spent out from shopping in some of it’s 1,200 stores, you can rest your sore feet whilst enjoying the large variety of yummy delicacies at it’s Food Quarter.
Step outside through the South end of Dubai Mall and, if timed correctly (1pm & 1:30pm in the daytime & every 30mins from 6pm -1:30pm), you’ll see the world’s largest musical fountain that certainly puts the Las Vegas Fountains of Bellagio to shame! With powerful jets set to shoot water as high as 150 metres/500 feet (that’s the height of a 50 storey building) and synchronised to dance to selected music and illuminations… it’s #Magical! Favourite spots to get the best view will be on a paid boat ride on the Burj Lake, the Floating Boardwalk or one of the several restaurants at Souk Al Bahar.
An unmissable sight towering over Dubai’s skyline is the worlds tallest building and free-standing structure, Burj Khalifa. Located next to Dubai Mall and a focal point of the Dubai Fountain.
This magnificent building attracts visitors from all over the world for its unparalleled scale and observation decks on floors 124 & 125. If you want the ultimate 360° views of the city and if you’re not scared of heights, you must head to the worlds highest observation deck on level 148 which is a mind-boggling 555 metres/1,850 feet above ground level!!
Unless you plan to stay at the Palace Downtown Hotel, there is absolutely nothing to do here apart from getting yourself one of the shots below. A mere 3 minutes walk from Dubai Fountain and with amazing backdrop views of the Burj Khalifa, it would be sacrilege not to add this to your ‘Insta worthy’ locations in Downtown Dubai.
Designed by world-renowned artist Jorge Marin, the Wings of Mexico is a temporary fixture in the heart of Downtown Dubai that you will no doubt have come across on social media.
Located at the entrance to Burj Plaza and with the Burj Khalifa directly in line of the structure at its opposite end, it makes it an ideal location for an angel winged selfie!
The Tower of Arabs, commonly known as Burj Al Arab, is as synonymous to Dubai as Big Ben is to London or the Eiffel Tower is to Paris and reportedly, it’s the worlds only 7 star hotel! This hotel is so exclusive it has its own policed bridge that ensures only its guests gain access to its private facilities which include a man-made beach! The nightly rate to stay at this hotel is certainly not attainable to most of us, but fear not dear Insta-shot-seeker! Simply book yourself an afternoon tea (it’s still expensive though) at the Burj Al Arab to gain entry to this place, the “8th wonder of the world’.
As already stated, Dubai has it all; including beautiful beaches with pristine white sands and glorious sunsets. One of these. and it’s the most popular beach, is Sunset/Kite Beach on Jumeirah Road. Perfectly situated with the Burj Al Arab as it’s backdrop, so even if you’re on a budget you can avoid paying the expensive entry cost of the Burj Al Arab and still get it in your photos. Best to go before mid-day for the best sunlight and not on a Friday/Saturday to avoid the crowds. Sunsets here are also phenomenal – of course!
Relatively new to the scene, at La Mer you will find colourful beach huts, palm trees, bucket style showers and probably the worlds cleanest beach toilet facilities. Complete with views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf, with more restaurants and shops to keep you occupied, it’s definitely an ideal location to spend your day soaking up the sun and watching the world go by.
Here at the worlds largest man-made marina, you’ll find expensive yachts, hip restaurants & bars plus amazing views of some of the city’s skyscrapers. Take a scroll during the day to catch the stunning visuals of the white super yachts as they contrast against the glistening turquoise waters and blue skies of Dubai. In the evening, book yourself a table at one of it’s trendy high-rise restaurants/bars at Pier 7 to enjoy the gorgeous night scenes from its alfresco dinning area.
The best views of Dubai are from the sea and the sky! A typical yacht cruise in Dubai will take you on a three hour adventure to view most of the city landmarks from the sea, including sights of JBR skyscrapers, the worlds biggest Ferris wheel, Palm Jumeria’s man-made Island, the world famous Atlantis Hotel and Burj Al Arab. Just make sure your phone/camera is fully charged! You’ll be taking photos of everything!
If jumping from the sky at 13,000ft is your cup of tea, then look no further as this experience will satisfy any adrenaline junkie looking for a fix! On board with your flight instructor, whom you’ll be securely attached to, plus a personal photographer to capture those Insta worthy moments, this is a truly exhilarating way to see Dubai from above! For an equally exiting but cheaper experience, you could try the new Gyrocopter Flights in Dubai. A gyrocopter looks similar to a helicopter but you’ll be surrounded by glass for an unobstructed view and a fully immersive experience.
Dubai certainly knows how to throw a party! With live music performances, top DJ’s spinning the best tunes, dancers and performers on stage, pristine swimming pools, tasty food & alcoholic cocktails, chiselled topless men and bikini clad babes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Ibiza’s Oceania or Vegas’ Drais club! My favourites include Zero Gravity’s Bottomless Brunch on Saturdays, Nikki Beach Ladies Day events and a visit to the latest trendy spot in town; CÉ LA VI for its infinity pool & incredible views of the Burj Khalifa; it’s a must!
Before the shiny skyscrapers, yachts and the five-star beach resorts arrived (fuelled by the oil boom of the 1970’s), Dubai was an old fishing town and a far contrast from what we know it to be today! If you’re keen to discover Dubai’s heritage, history and get photos that will set you apart, then a visit to Old Dubai is a must. Below are your must-do’s:
There is no better way to get a more vivid look at the clear contrast between old & new Dubai than from a 150 metre-high sky glass bridge! Opened in 2018, the frame is positioned in such a way that the skyscrapers of new modern Dubai can be viewed on one side, while the more traditional old Dubai can be seen from the other side.
Abras are traditional wooden boat taxis and offer the fastest and most affordable way to cross between the parts of Old Dubai whilst taking in some unique sceneries from the Creek. You can travel with other passengers but if you want the best Instagramable pictures, you should hire your own private Abra ride.
Hop off your Abra ride to visit the traditional markets (Souks) of Dubai where you’ll undoubtably see more gold, spices and textiles than you can ever imagine!
Okay so you’ve done it all in Dubai and you’re looking for the next thing to do. Why not take a 2 hour ride on the outskirts of Dubai through the scenic rocky landscape and the valleys of the Al-Hajar Mountains to discover this hidden gem. Make sure to go Kayaking on its vast green lake (Hatta Dam); being on these calm waters, surrounded by rugged mountains, you’ll feel like you have all the time in the world.
You’ve made it this far, you might as well go the extra mile, right? Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the UAE and certainly worth a visit. Your must-do-list should include a trip to the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque and you will no doubt soon discover why it is called the Grand Mosque!
Other places to visit includes Louvre Abu Dhabi (art museum), Qasr Al Watan (super opulent palace showcasing Arab heritage) and the Ferrari World theme park.
On your next trip to Dubai, why not book your own private professional local photographer to capture all these fabulous moments? Click here to find out more.
Our Dubai & Abu Dhabi group trips offer a structured daily itinerary, Dubai Penthouse accommodation, local transportation to aforementioned locations and your photographer! Click here to discover more.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing