aerial view of JBR Dubai

7-Days in Dubai: Classic One Week Dubai Itinerary

by Dubai Travel Planner

What can you do in Dubai in one week? [+ more ideas if you have longer!]

Dubai is a dazzling and eclectic city sitting on the azure waters of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula.

Known for its steamy hot summers and incredible modern skyline to its vast plains of rolling desert dunes, is it possible to fit in everything this mega city has to offer into just 7 days in Dubai?

It’s tough, but we’re certainly willing to try!

We’ve set out for you below a fairly well-paced one-week plan that takes into account all the different aspects of Dubai, from the modern skyscrapers and architectural feats to more traditional parts of the city, shopping opportunities, desert tours and of course, ways to simply relax and soak up the year-round sunshine.

This is a super detailed Dubai itinerary for 7 days, so do bookmark this page for later in your browser or save it to Pinterest

Things to Know Before Visiting Dubai

Before we dive into the juicy details of WHAT TO DO, make sure you’ve checked out our essential planning information too. We cover in much greater detail:

  • Dubai dining guides – all our favourite places to eat, dining specialities, bars and special occasions.
  • Best time to visit Dubai – don’t be caught out by the weather or religious events; here are the ideal times of year to visit Dubai.
  • Take out travel insurance! We are in an ever-changing world at present; whilst Dubai remains open for business, don’t get caught short; make sure your trip is comprehensively insured.

Transport in Dubai for One Week

Over the course of one week in Dubai using this itinerary, you will need to take a combination of taxis, the Metro and private tours.

We’ve given basic directions on the best way to get to each place by public transport, if possible, or where you may need a taxi to get door-to-door with ease. You can find our complete guide to Dubai Transport options here.

Metro: If you stay in Dubai for one week and want to use the Metro lines, it is recommended to get a Silver Nol and top it up with a 7-Day Pass (The card costs 25 AED with 19 AED in credit, then a regular weekly Metro pass is 110 AED). We explain all the fares in more detail here.

A note on taxis: In the hottest part of the year (i.e. about May to October!), be wary of how far you can walk during the day. Places may look relatively close and within walking distance on a map, but under the heat of the sun, a short taxi/Uber ride may very much be worth it (noting a minimum fare applies of 12 AED for taxis).

Hiring a car: Unless you are a super-confident driver or plan on taking several trips out of the city, you are best relying on taxis and tours for your out-of-town trips during a one-week stay in Dubai. You can learn more about self-driving in Dubai here, or if you’re still interested in renting a car in Dubai, check out how much it costs here:

What Can I Fit Into A Dubai Itinerary 7 Days?

With only 7 days in Dubai, you need to be careful with your time management and no doubt book a few activities in advance, especially if you’re visiting at peak tourism times.

When planning out your days, note that the weekend in Dubai is now Friday afternoon through Sunday (2.5-day weekends); these days are MUCH busier with local residents also out and about, especially Friday afternoons after prayer time.

We set out for you here a balanced itinerary for seeing everything that Dubai has to offer, but also included below is a table of additional activities that you can mix and match to your tastes.

For a comprehensive list of everything there is to see and do in Dubai, pop over here – we have 150+ ideas!.

Day 1 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Relax Into Dubai

Relax, unwind and get to know one of Dubai’s modern beachfront districts.

Whether you are staying in one of Dubai’s luxury beachfront hotels or not, with 7 days, there’s no need to rush into sightseeing day 1. Many hotels include their own amazing resort facilities, or head out to explore one of these beachfront areas on foot:

JBR, Bluewaters, Dubai Marina

A lot of first-timers find the area of JBR and Dubai Marina a great place to start. Familiarise yourself with The Walk & The Beach – catch those rays and shake off the jet lag.

If you’d like to stretch your legs further, take a walk over to the ultra-modern man-made island, Bluewaters Island, to dine and marvel at the Dubai skyline along Jumeirah Beach and perhaps add in a flight on Ain Dubai, the largest observation wheel in the world for spectacular city views [NB still “temporarily” closed in 2024].

Ain Dubai on Bluewaters Island, looking back to JBR & Dubai Marina

You can easily spend a whole day in the JBR area between activities along the beach (inflatable water parks, splash pads, jet ski and flyboarding, Flying Cup sky-high dining – read more here!) and onward for dinner in the Dubai Marina area or catch a dinner cruise.

Getting there: Jumeirah Beach Residence/Dubai Marina is the perfect place to stay for one week due to the high number of spacious hotel apartments, or by Metro take Red Line to DAMAC Properties or DMCC Metro Station

Lar Mer (Closed – To be replaced by J1 Beach in 2024)

Another ultra-modern beachfront area of the city to consider for easing into your first day in Dubai is La Mer. An eclectic mix of palm-tree-lined walkways, retail, dining & play opportunities. There’s even a mini water park here. As pretty at night as it is by day La Mer is a trendy new addition for families and singles alike to enjoy Dubai’s modern vibes.

Colourful La Mer Beach Huts in Dubai

If you don’t want to spend the whole day simply at the beach, La Mer sees you close to both the Jumeirah Mosque – the largest mosque in Dubai open to the public for daily tours – and Etihad Museum, telling the story of the country’s unification in 1971.

Getting there: No direct Metro stop (nearest is Financial Centre then a 10-minute taxi), or take bus 8, 9 or 88 along Jumeirah Beach Road

Rest up now, as we’ve now got some pretty busy, action-packed days ahead!

Day 2 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Old Meets New

Step back into the Dubai of the past, from Bedouin roots to bustling Dubai Creek.

Your first day of real sightseeing needs to go back to the grassroots of what Dubai city is about; a busy trading port city based around Dubai Creek.

Get your bearings at Dubai Frame

Let’s start your exploration of Dubai by taking in the views from the Dubai Frame. Pretty much what it says – it’s a giant picture frame! One of the first tourist highlights you will capture coming from Dubai International Airport into the city.

The Dubai Frame with Palm Trees - Dubai Landmark attraction
The spectacular Dubai Frame gives you the opportunity to see old and new Dubai

You ascend up one side of the 150m high frame (48 floors) and then walk across the top. The see-through floored sky deck gives you fabulous views of Old Dubai, Dubai Creek to Sharjah and beyond in one direction, and the modern skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai in the other.

Learn more about visiting the Dubai Frame here | Buy tickets with PlatinumList

Getting there: Nearest Metro is Al Jafiliya for Zabeel Park but it’s a decent walk, you may prefer a taxi/Uber drop off

Wander Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood

This is the oldest part of Dubai city, a labyrinth of narrow laneways that date back to the 19th century. The area of Bur Dubai is protected so that the city’s heritage does not become lost forever under the sprawling skyscrapers. Most of the traditional sandy-coloured low-rise buildings are now galleries, museums and small cafes.

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
The laneways of Al Faihidi Historical Neighbourhood are fun to explore on foot

Within this area, you will find the Dubai Museum, housed within the Al Faihi Fort, which dates back to 1787. At only 3 AED you should definitely pop your head in for more insight into the country’s Bedouin past and the pre-oil era of Dubai. {CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS SINCE 2020 – NO INDICATION OF REOPEN DATE YET}

There are many other Dubai museums to be discovered within the laneways; the Coffee Museum (entry fee 10 AED) is one of our favourites worth seeking out.

Getting there: Al Fahidi Bus Station or Al Fahidi Metro station

Lunch at Al Seef Waterfront

By now, you have most certainly worked up an appetite, so if you’ve not stopped for lunch in XVA Cafe or Arabian Tea House situated within Al Faihidi Historical Neighbourhood, now would be time to head to one of many restaurants in this waterfront development. Seamlessly blending old with new it’s directly across the street, next to the Al Faihidi Marine Transport Station.

Al Seef is set up like a traditional souk so you’ll be able to do your shopping here too. Kids may enjoy popping into the Museum of Illusions or having some fun with photos in the instagrammable laneways.

Colourful Shops in Al Seef Dubai

Cross Dubai Creek on an Abra

An absolute must for an authentic old Dubai experience! Whilst there are far more modern methods these days of crossing the city, a traditional abra from Bur Dubai to Deira at 1 AED per person is still a steal!

Dubai Creek at sunset with abras
Old Dubai – Dubai Creek

Explore the Traditional Deira Souks

Depending on the heat, you could spend several hours lost in the laneways of Deira, the most popular stops being the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk. It’s all open-air, so it can be heavy going and a bit of walking mid-afternoon in the hotter months.

You’ll find a few more museums in this area of the city, too, Naif Museum and Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili are worth seeking out for history lovers.

If you need to escape to airconditioning at this point, Al Ghurair Centre in Deira offers an indoor shopping option – a more modern mall you can still pick up cheap(er) clothing and electronics here before starting your evening exploration.

Take a food tour in Old Dubai

For the evening, it’s time to take in some local cuisines. Being the multicultural city that Dubai is, you can be sure many dishes are vying for attention as “local” cuisine, in addition to traditional Emirati or Bedouin-style dishes.

One of the most highly recommended food tours in Dubai is Frying Pan Adventures, who offer various options for small groups to have authentic experiences in the streets of Dubai. Or try this highly commended small group culture and food tour. Most guided tours start and end in Deira.

A boat cruise on Dubai Creek

If you didn’t head out on the water night one in Dubai Marina, try it on night two. Nightly dinner cruises on Dubai Creek will allow you to take on a new perspective of just how busy and bustling Dubai still is as a busy seaport.

An alternative is to hire a guide for Day 2, you will get informative commentary along the way as well as help with transportation.

TIP: Whilst the dress code in Dubai is quite loose around the beach, heading to the older parts of town it’s definitely advisable and polite to cover up more – we talk more about what’s appropriate when here.

Day 3 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Modern Dubai

Explore around Downtown Dubai, from towering heights to mighty fountains and everything in between.

In complete contrast to Day 2, let’s take you over to the glimmering skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai and the ultra-modern side of the city.

Dubai Mall

Often touted as the biggest shopping mall in the world (though technically it’s not!), there are a plethora of indoor experiences to have just inside Dubai Mall, other than shopping! Especially if you’re visiting in the summer, it’s easy to spend two days just exploring everything this mega mall has to offer.

Let’s be realistic, though and assume with half a day; you can explore one of:

There are plenty more things to see and do indoors and some just outside and on the roof – see the full list of Dubai Mall attractions here.

Getting there: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Station on the Red Line Metro, then there’s an air-conditioned travellator connecting you to the entire surrounding area of Downtown

Scale the Burj Khalifa

It would be hard to set out a Dubai itinerary and not include THE most iconic building in the city – the world’s tallest building in the world, no less! Yes, you can travel to the observation deck of the building on the 124th and 125h floors (extra packages take you to the 148th floor!), or even dine at At.mosphere restaurant and lounge on Level 122.

If you’re unsure what experience might suit you, head over to our complete visitor’s guide to visiting the Burj Khalifa, where we set out all your visiting options – no outside climbing permitted, Mission Impossible-style!

If there’s one part of your Dubai itinerary you simply must book in advance; it’s the Burj Khalifa. Tickets at the door are extortionately more expensive and can sell out. Do allow a good 2 hours for queuing and having a good look around. Note sunset and sunrise slots (weekends only) cost more.

Lady looking out of the window at Burj Khalifa observation deck

Souk Al Bahar

Another spot to explore nearby is Souk Al Bahar. Accessed over a pedestrian bridge from Dubai Mall, this modern market is made in the design of a traditional souk offering handicrafts through to fine dining and spectacular views over Burj Lake.

You can find a good selection of places to grab a drink and bite around downtown Dubai here.

Sky Views Dubai

A brand new alternative to scaling the Burj is to try Sky View Dubai. This sensational new experience is not for the fainthearted as you take a glass elevator to the 52nd floor of Sky Views Observatory above Downtown. Walk the 46m glass-floored walkway between two towers, then take a transparent slide-ride over the city!

The super brave may even want to take on Edge Walk for a hands-free leap of faith! Scale your way around the outside of the Address Sky View Hotel. Although not as high as the Burj Khalifa, we’d argue Sky View offers a more unique view of the city.

Evening in Downtown Dubai

There are several ways to continue enjoying Downtown Dubai well into the evening, its the hub of Dubai nightlife alongside JBR/Dubai Marina.

The Dubai Fountain show is one of the most popular free things to do in Dubai. Starting from 6:00 PM nightly, then every half hour, watch the fabulously choreographed light and sound show on Burj Lake, sitting at the foot of Burj Khalifa. Later in the evening, the Burj Khalifa also lights up for half-hourly shows.

The Dubai Fountain show on Burj lake, viewed over the bridge to Souk Al Bahar

For a close-up view of the fountain show, you can take an abra ride on the lake. Alternatively, our favourite is to pick out one of the restaurants with uninterrupted views in either Dubai Mall or Souk Al Bahar and dine whilst getting to see the show a few times over without the crowds.

If your trip happens to align with something you enjoy at Dubai Opera, this is another sensational Downtown Dubai experience to get glammed up for.

If concrete and modern Dubai is really not you, then head to the listing below of the best cultural activities to continue on a few more activities we couldn’t squeeze in Day 2. A day trip to the Heart of Sharjah may be preferable.

Day 4 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Beach & Desert

A day for sand and surf – dune surfing, that is!

One thing Dubai definitely does well, and in copious quantities, is sand!! So why not dedicate Day 4 to our two favourite Dubai activities, hitting the beach and hitting the desert?

If you’re not staying at a resort hotel, pick out one of Dubai’s popular beach clubs and enjoy the rays for a few hours with the comfort of a sunbed and table service. For more extreme adventures, you could add in a jet ski tour, or if you’ve not hit the waters yet, a boat cruise to see the unique Dubai skyline.

Dubai also has plenty of public beaches, some are completely free, and others have a small Dubai municipality charge but great facilities. Local favourites include Al Mamzar Park and Kite Beach has slightly bigger waves than others, or head to Sunset Beach for iconic views of the Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel.

Shopping alternative

If it’s getting hot out or you’d prefer a little retail therapy, spend the morning at Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Similar to Souk Al Bahar in Downtown, this is a modern souk (market) built in traditional style, with indoor and outdoor (seasonal) stalls and shops offering tourist tat to genuine souvenirs and a superb range of eateries.

Again, you can get some brilliant Burj Al Arab views here and even take an abra out on the waterways around the extravagant Jumeirah hotels (a bit more pricey than the 1 AED on Dubai Creek but an amazing backdrop!).

View of Burj Al Arab from Souk Madinat
Views from Souk Madinat back to the Burj Al Arab

Getting there: Souk Madinat Jumeirah is not on the Metro, but you can get to the Mall of the Emirates and a short taxi from there, or stop at Internet City and then hop on Bus 88.

In the afternoon, get set for the Dubai desert. There are numerous tour operators who have camps set up in the dunes just outside of the city, as well as a select few operators in the protected Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

A typical desert safari trip in Dubai will include city pickups; then you’ll travel by 4×4 into the dunes, doing some dune bashing along the way before an offering of sand sports – pick from quad bikes, fat bikes, sandboarding, camel rides, henna painting, shisha then join a communal BBQ dinner.

Alternatively, if you are more interested in seeing the desert wildlife than the sand sports, opt for premium options offered by Platinum Heritage, a little more pricey but for smaller groups, a more genuine desert experience.

Getting there: No need to worry about your 4×4 skills, tour operators will pick you up from your hotel or a convenient city location

You can do day 4 in reverse too; If you take an early morning desert safari you can get out and beat the heat, then spend your afternoon and evening enjoying shopping, wandering the souk or a beach club afternoon with sundowners to finish.

If you are visiting in the peak of summer, you would likely need to scratch this outdoor day and replace it with some further activities from our indoor guide to Dubai eg, Ski Dubai or Green Planet

Day 5 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Abu Dhabi Day Trip

No trip to the UAE is complete without seeing the Capital, Abu Dhabi.

The most iconic of buildings to visit in Abu Dhabi is the simply stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Whilst it is possible to squeeze in a trip to the Grand Mosque only on a half-day trip to Abu Dhabi – it’s less than 90 minutes on a tour coach Dubai to Abu Dhabi – you’d be doing yourself an injustice not to see more of the city.

Getting there: If you want to move at your own pace, then definitely hire a car for your Abu Dhabi day trip, but catching a tour is the easiest option – the big price differential is whether you join a shared tourist coach or take a private tour

We have more details here on the spectacular places in Abu Dhabi you can squeeze in on a one-day trip from Dubai – including the Louvre Museum and Qasr al Watan, the Presidential Palace (there’s even a free bus for these two top attractions!)

A longer itinerary would see at least 2 to 3 days spent in Abu Dhabi to capture the highlights of the capital properly.

If you are a theme park junkie, you may want to even stay overnight and enjoy Day 6 at the Yas Island theme parks, just as good (if not better!) than their Dubai counterparts – Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi & Ferrari World.

Abu Dhabi is but one of the other 7 Emirates of the United Arab Emirates (albeit by far the largest in size and the richest in oil!). Dubai is quite central in the country, so it is a great base for exploring the rest of the Emirates. We have more ideas listed below for alternative or additional day trips from Dubai.

Where to stay in Abu Dhabi? For the Yas Island theme parks, definitely overnight in the brand new Hilton Yas Island. For views of the Grand Mosque, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi or Fairmont Bab Al Bahr on the Grand Canal are good choices closer to Dubai end of town.

Those staying longer in Abu Dhabi, pop on over to our Abu Dhabi Travel Planner website.

Day 6 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Dubai Theme Park Day!

Thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies will never be left disappointed in Dubai.

Now if you have littles travelling with you (or big kids at heart!), you may well need to move theme park day further up the itinerary or dedicate two full days.

There’s a superb selection of world-class theme parks to choose from in Dubai. If you’re visiting in the beautiful shoulder seasons (approximately March to May and October to November), our top pick would be one of the mega water parks – choose from Atlantis Aquaventure or Wild Wadi at Jumeirah.

(NB, if you stay at Atlantis the Palm or any of the Jumeirah hotels, your water park entry will be included!)

New family rides have opened at Atlantis Aquaventure

Over the cooler winter months of the year (December to February), Dubai Parks & Resorts is our top choice. Here you can choose between four connected theme parks (ideally, you can fit in two of these in a day – three at a squeeze):

  • Legoland Dubai
  • Legoland Dubai Water Park
  • Motiongate
  • Bollywood Parks (Now closed but touted it will be replaced with Real Madrid World – a football theme park)

And if it’s the peak of summer, the top pick goes to IMG Worlds of Adventure – think Marvel characters to Cartoon Network-themed rides and activities. IMG is entirely indoors to beat the heat.

If theme parks really aren’t your thing, we strongly suggest checking our alternate suggestions for day trips & cultural activities you could add on below.

Getting there: The Theme Parks in Dubai are all quite spread out, Atlantis Aquaventure is on the outer crescent of Palm Jumeirah and Wild Wadi is close to Souk Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai Parks & Resorts is in Jebel Ali, beyond the end of the Metro and IMG Worlds of Adventure sits south of the city. In a group, it’s worth getting a taxi for this day

Day 7 – 7 Day Dubai Itinerary: Splurge on something unique

On your last day, it’s time to tick off anything you’re yet to see and do from our ideas above and engage in something uniquely Dubai.

Some top suggestions for “only in Dubai” experiences include:

If you’ve not had the opportunity yet, find one of Dubai’s dramatic rooftop bars (seasonal) to finish off your incredible week in Dubai with dramatic views over the city skyline or the Arabian Gulf.

Rooftop view from the top of Raffles Dubai Tomo restaurant
Rooftop dining from Raffles hotel, looking back to Downtown Dubai

Additional activities for your Dubai itinerary

There was only so much we could fit in an initial 7-day itinerary!

If some of the above activities do not appeal, were out of your budget, or perhaps you’d like to add some additional days to make it a 10-day or two-week itinerary, here’s what you could look to add:

Additional family activities

See our complete guide to Dubai activities for kids here

Additional cultural activities

See our complete guide to exploring historical places in Dubai

Additional Dubai itinerary day trips

  • Head over the mountains to the east coast and spend some time in Fujairah, including snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities
  • Scale to the UAE’s tallest peak in Ras Al Khaimah and experience a modern pearl diving farm
  • Cross the border into the remote Omani enclave of Musandam for a day of sailing, dolphin spotting, and snorkelling
  • Check out the amazing outdoor adventures, hikes, and water sports on offer at Wadi Hub, Hatta

See our complete guide to Dubai day trips

Additional Adventure Activities

See our complete guide to Dubai outdoor adventure activities

Hatta in the Hajar Mountains, another incredible day trip idea from Dubai

Frequently Asked Questions about Dubai itineraries

Is 7 days in Dubai enough?

It really depends if you’re coming just to get a taster for future trips, a stopover on a long journey, or simply to relax in the sun.

If you want to “see it all” and explore more of the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula, no, it’s not enough; we’d recommend two weeks to thoroughly cover the United Arab Emirates.

7 days will be a good sample though of everything the country has to offer but with plenty left to enjoy on future trips to Dubai.

Can I see Dubai & Abu Dhabi in one week?

Yes, in theory, you could squeeze in an exciting and action-packed trip to both cities in one week, but you will be exhausted and only scratch the surface. You can fit the very biggest highlights of Abu Dhabi into one day but realistically, give yourself 2 to 3 in Abu Dhabi and 7 or 8 in Dubai, 14 days if you really want to see the whole of the United Arab Emirates with a few break days built in.

How much do I need for one week in Dubai?

It depends on what sort of budget you are operating at. We talk more about money matters here.

If you consider a cheapish hotel room for two, close to the Metro can be obtained for around 200 AED, a day pass on the Metro 20 AED, meals, if you go cheap and cheerful, could boil down to 50-100 AED a day.

So before your airfares and any fancy extras like waterpark days or desert tours, let’s say 300 AED per day or c 2000 AED for a week in Dubai ($545USD). It’s not the cheapest city, but there are ways you can save money, as we discuss in our budget guide to Dubai.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Take me back to the Dubai Travel Blog

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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1 comment

Saad March 19, 2021 - 3:07 pm

So beautiful, subhan’Allah. The Masjid’s in Dubai are even more beautiful! 🙂


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