The world’s playground, Dubai has everything: world-class dining, a jam-packed cultural calendar, exclusive private resorts, adventures for thrill-seekers, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A true oasis in the desert, in Dubai the ultra-modern meets the timeless — visitors can thrill to the beauty of the desert dunes and dine in newly anointed two-star Michelin restaurants in the same afternoon. A luxury holiday spot for those who appreciate high culture and authentic experiences, Dubai is a truly one-of-a-kind destination. Here are five ways to enjoy it to the max.
See the Desert From the Sky
Dreamy desert views are best had from the air. Take a private hot air balloon ride in the early morning for a chance to spot gazelles, oryx, and camels wandering the dunes, a truly unforgettable travel experience.
If stunning architecture and glittering coastlines are more your thing, try the helicopter tour lifting off from Palm Jumeirah. You’ll see Dubai’s most famous attractions from the sky, including the spectacular Burj Al Arab (shaped like a ship’s sail), bustling downtown Dubai, the yacht-filled Dubai Marina, and of course, the Burj Khalifa — at 160 stories, it’s the tallest building in the world.
Michelin Stars to Spare
With a surfeit of world-class restaurants opening their doors in recent years, a trip to Dubai is now one of the very best vacations for food lovers. In June 2022, the first Michelin Guide to Dubai was published, and it included no less than 11 starred restaurants.
Il Ristorante - Niko Romito, an incredibly stylish Italian restaurant with a sophisticated and modern menu (the fish is especially mouth-watering) received two stars, as did STAY by Yannick Alléno, a colonial-style space serving impeccably crafted French dishes that showcase star ingredients like langoustines, king crab, truffles, and Wagyu beef.
It’s not just the most exclusive spots that have built Dubai’s reputation as one of the world’s culinary travel destinations. The city has a thrillingly diverse range of cuisines that sets it apart from other foodie destinations. Kenneth James, Chief Concierge at TAJ Exotica Resort & Spa Dubai, always sends guests to his favorite restaurant in Dubai, Alici, a southern Italian eatery where he recommends the linguini with lobster paired with a glass of moscato d’asti.
For an unforgettable dessert, Kenneth says the tiramisu at La Fabbrica (made from a handwritten recipe that dates back to 1958) is one of the best you’ll ever taste. For authentic Middle Eastern flavors, pull up a chair at Mama’esh, a casual neighborhood restaurant that churns out some of the best flatbreads (made with organic flour and filled with melted halloumi, crisp falafel, and creamy hummus) in town.
From international superstars to homegrown favorites, the live music scene in Dubai is filled with high-energy performers. Firmly established at the top of the list of venues is Q’s Lounge — owned by music legend Quincy Jones — where the intimate, living-room style space hosts a roster of dynamic jazz, soul, and groove musicians chosen by Mr. Jones himself.
McGettigan’s at Souk Madinat has live music brunches on Saturdays, as does trendy Lock Stock & Barrel. Bull & Bear has themed soul music nights as well as jazz and cabaret (plus spectacular nighttime city views). If you want to dance all night, New Soho Garden hosts the biggest names in live shows; Jason DeRulo, Wiz Khalifa, and Meek Mill have all graced the stage.
While lounging on the beach or by the pool is a must, why not add a little experiential travel to the mix? Dubai’s event calendar is jam-packed, so the problem is never finding something to do — it’s deciding what to do.
If you’re a fashionista, check out the hottest new designers at Arab Fashion Week and the six-week Dubai Shopping Festival. Fancy yourself a runner? Plan your trip around the Dubai Marathon (or, for the truly tough, the nonstop 24-hour Al Marmoom Ultramarathon). If you’re more of a spectator, try the Dubai World Cup (the heart-pounding annual horse race) or the Dubai Sevens, one of the most exciting rugby tournaments in the world. Art Dubai is the Middle East’s leading art fair, where you can snap up investment pieces from up-and-coming artists, while foodies should schedule their visits around Taste of Dubai, a three-day celebration of the region’s best cuisine.
Where You Will Stay
Dubai — a city of contrasts, where modern glamour meets traditional culture, creating an enticing blend of mystery and excitement. From spectacular shopping to landmark tourist destinations, there is always a reason to explore something new in the City of Gold. Stay at the TAJ Exotica Resort & Spa Dubai, nestled on the shores of the city's iconic Palm Jumeirah, our luxury rooms complete with balconies and exquisite furnishings make for a distinctive oasis where guests can celebrate the exotic side of life.