Downtown Dubai is the most vibrant district of the fast-growing megacity! Aptly called "The Centre of Now", it is a tourist and commercial hub dotted with marvelous attractions. If Old Dubai showcases the city's humble past, Downtown Dubai flaunts its awe-inspiring present and promising future!
There are so many things to do in Downtown Dubai. To thoroughly appreciate the thriving district, I suggest spending one full day exploring the area. During the winter season, mornings in Downtown can be jump-started with sunrise viewing at Burj Khalifa's observation deck. During summer, when Sunrise At The Top is not available, this Downtown Dubai DIY Tour route can be followed.
1. Breakfast at Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
This tour involves a lot of walking; hence it is best to start it with a hearty breakfast! We have been to the top breakfast spots in Downtown Dubai and I can highly recommend La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie. It is a chic French restaurant tucked in one of the best spots of the boulevard. Think about devouring a fine Petit déjeuner at the most prestigious square kilometer in the world!
|superb breakfast spread at La Serre Bisto and Boulangerie in Downtown Dubai|
Omelette is a must-try! Silky-smooth outside, moist and creamy inside!
2. The Palace Downtown Dubai
From La Serre, walk to the picturesque entrance pathway of The Palace Downtown Dubai; a 5 star hotel with a stunning Middle Eastern theme. Non-hotel guests can enter the scenic entrance drive as it is connected to Souk Al Bahar. With a backdrop of the Burj Khalifa, the Palace's majestic pathway is a perfect spot for photo ops!
|Photography Spot: The Palace Downtown Dubai entrance|
3. Souk Al Bahar
Souk Al Bahar is a shopping and dining destination with a remarkable Arabesque concept. The souk-style architecture clearly depicts Dubai's love for its heritage! There are retail shops selling local handicrafts, carpets and perfumes. Most restaurants have al fresco seating overlooking the Burj Lake and Burj Khalifa.
|Souk Al Bahar: a piece of tradition and heritage in Downtown Dubai|
4. The Dubai Mall
From Souk Al Bahar, take the bridge (another great stop for souvenir photos) to The Dubai Mall. Based on total area, The Dubai Mall is considered to be the largest mall in the world! For some serious shopping, devote a separate day for The Dubai Mall. But for a quick trip, stroll under the paper butterflies at the Fashion Avenue, gawk at the atriums and window shop!
|The Dubai Mall: one of the world's largest shopping mall|
Lunch at The Dubai Mall
There are plenty of options for lunch at The Dubai Mall. For budget eats, head to the food courts. There's one in the lower ground floor, the other in the second floor. Mid-range meals are offered in specialty restaurants, and lavish ones can be taken in the hotels which are directly connected to the shopping mall. My ideal lunch venue is a restaurant with a terrace or a glass window facing the Burj Lake where I can view the Dubai Fountain afternoon shows. There are two shows in the afternoon; every 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm on Fridays, 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm on weekdays!Free Attractions at The Dubai Mall
With the heat wave reaching its peak at high noon during summer, it is best to stay indoor after lunch! Use this time to see the free attractions at The Dubai Mall. Don't miss the Dubai Aquarium; a Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest acrylic panel. And take the opportunity to meet Dubai Dino; a real skeleton of a long-necked whip-tailed dinosaur!
|Dubai Dino: real dinosaur skeleton on display at the Souk Dome of The Dubai Mall|
5. Coffee Break / Snack Attack
While waiting for the temperature to drop, head to Fume Eatery in Manzil Downtown. It is a casual diner serving comfort food. For an afternoon chill, order the best-selling Monster Shake! My fave is the Bro-nut! It's an outrageous chocolate shake topped with chocolate brownie, nutella and marshmallows.
|Fume Eatery's Monster Shakes: Berry Freaky and Bro-nut|
6. Stroll / Bike / Segway / Ride the trolley!
It's time to burn the calories and to see more of Downtown Dubai! Tip for artsy people: Look out for the art installations! There are so many scattered around the boulevard. Bikes can be rented from the BYKYstations. Segway tours are also offered! You can also hop in the Dubai Trolley; a hydrogen-powered trolley system that runs along Mohamed Bin Rashid Boulevard. Note: As of August 2016, Dubai Trolley has temporarily stopped its operations.
|Downtown Dubai has a collection of sculptures. In the photo is Lutfi Romheim's "Together".|
7. Burj Park
Burj Park is a small island, covered in grass, offering a panoramic view of the Burj Khalifa. Here, you can laze around or have a simple afternoon picnic.
|view of the Burj Lake, Souk Al Bahar and The Dubai Mall from Burj Park|
8. Sunset At The Top
From Burj Park, walk towards The Dubai Mall. It's time to catch the glorious Arabian sunset from Burj Khalifa's observation deck. At The Top entrance is located at the Lower Ground Level of The Dubai Mall. The observation deck is actually open from morning til night, but the experience is magical during the golden hour! Another advantage of booking a Sunset ticket (or Sunrise during winter) is having the opportunity to see Dubai in daylight and under the night sky. Note: Tickets should be purchased ahead in Burj Khalifa's official website.
|bird's-eye view of Downtown Dubai from Burj Khalifa's At The Top observation deck|
9. Dinner by the Burj Lake
Just in time for the evening shows at the Dubai Fountain, head to a restaurant by the Burj Lake. Souk Al Bahar has several options. The Dubai Mall also has casual restaurants at the upper level where diners can have an aerial view of the amazing show. Our go-to spots for dinner with a view are TGIFridays at The Dubai Mall and Serafina at Souk Al Bahar.
|Dubai Fountain show from a restaurant in Souk Al Bahar|
10. Dubai Fountain Show
One can never have enough of the Dubai Fountain! So, after a good dinner, watch a show or two in the waterfront promenade. For a unique fountain show experience, sail on a traditional abra (65 AED per person) and enjoy the world's largest dancing fountain up close! It would certainly give your Downtown Dubai DIY Tour an awesome finish!
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