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January 16, 2020 4 min read

Top jobs, flashy cars and first class services are what make Dubai one of the most attractive cities to live in. This desert haven lures expatriates from all over the world to work (and play) big-time. 

For those of you who don't know, I was based Dubai for four years working as cabin crew for the prestigious Emirates Airline. And from experience, I can vouch that this cosmopolitan city is worth a visit. I often travel back and just recently flew over for a fun photoshoot with my girlfriends, who were absolute superstars in the heat.
Photoshoot fun with my girls. Location: Dubai.

I had some time to re-explore my old stomping grounds on this trip, and thought I would make a list of must-see-must-do's for those of you who are planning a staycation or holiday. Keep in mind, there are thousands of recommendations all over the internet, and these are just the ones I think you shouldn't miss ;)


Don’t leave Dubai without experiencing the ultimate cultural excursion; dune bashing in the desert! I have done the sunset tour quite a few times and 100% recommend booking yours with Arabian Adventures, for the ultimate desert safari experience. The tour includes 4x4 dune driving, dinner under the stars, camel rides and other exciting bits that I’ll keep a surprize.

Beyond the sand dunes, you can beat the heat at Aquaventure Waterpark on the Palm. This incredible waterpark has the coolest waterslides! For the polar opposite experience, you can switch your bathing suit for a ski jacket to snowboard at Ski Dubai. And for the very brave, there's always skydiving over the city with Skydive Dubai. Nevertheless, there are enough thrill-seeking activities for all.

When it comes to shopping, this city has all the big ticket items! From exclusive fashion, beauty and tech labels available at the enormous Dubai Mall - wear your best walking shoes! - to quirky "I love Dubai" souvenirs and traditional spices at the local markets, the desert offers a shopping experience like to other. My favorite spots to shop are by far at the traditional souks, where you’ll find gorgeous silk scarves, colorful beaded shoes, traditional Arabic carpets, art and golden jewellery. It’s buzzing with friendly locals, excited tourists and a vibrant atmosphere.
Souk shopping. Image via Visit Dubai

If you're looking for the ultimate beach and pool experience, pack a swimsuit for your trip to Dubai! There are endless ways to soak up the sun, and taking selfies by the Sofitel's Infini Lounge or sipping on cocktails at the hottest resort, FIVE Palm Jumeirah, are a great starting point!

Most of the beaches in Dubai are affiliated with luxury resorts that cost a penny or two to enter. One of the most popular free beaches is Kite Beach, which I highly recommend to put on your list. This slice of paradise offers soft sand, turquoise waters and is stacked with plenty of food trucks to keep you going! Outdoorsy activities like paddle-boarding, kite surfing and snorkelling can be arranged through the social community website, We Do Active

Poolside fun. Image via FIVE Palm Jumeirah Hotel


Naturally, a city that hosts over 200 nationalities would have food options for everyone. And in Dubai, the food game is serious. From delicious local dishes to international mouth-watering cuisine from here to Greece (and everywhere in between) you can treat your taste buds to almost anything!

For local flavors, I recommend ordering a platter at The Arabian Tea House Café and for the best dates in town (the eating kind) Bateel is my number one choice. Nothing beats lunch and coffee at Stomping Grounds and I love Asia Asia for dinner with a view. For the fancy stuff, I'd go to high tea in the Burj Al Arab (I took my Mom and we had the best time).

Oh, and it’s true what they say. Dubai brunches are over-the-top, Instagram-worthy buffet spreads with drinks and music that serve up major fun! Heads up, you might want to glam it up as Friday brunch is often a dressy affair. Check out The Mode to rent a gorgeous little number for the day!

Yummy food in a gorgeous setting. Image via Asia Asia

In Dubai, people sweat in style. On every corner, there is a luxurious gym and studio just waiting for you to join a boxing, dancing or barre class! I highly recommend downloading the ClassPass app for easy access to book your preferred fitness class. I tried their two week free trial and found my new favorite zen-spiration, a Friday morning Urban Flow session with the amazing Sarah White

For the best value salon treatments try Sister's Beauty Lounge(their lovely team took care of my very neglected brows on this last trip), Tips & Toes or The Nail Spa. If you're looking to splurge on something more luxurious, book a day at the The One&Only Spa for the ultimate spa experience.

Relaxation Pool via the One&Only Royal Mirage

Dubai is rich in many ways, and it's especially rich in culture. A visit to one of the mosques offers wonderful insight to those who are interested in learning more about the religious practices of the UAE. Archi-lovers will appreciate the impressive skyscrapers along Sheikh Zayed Road, and of course the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, with it's magnificent dancing fountains.

You'll find a blend of Arabic, Persian and Islamic influence across the city in the architecture, music, cuisine and art. There are dozens of outdoor festivals to choose from, and art galleries with renowned displays for enthusiasts. Oh, and I hear the Dubai Opera is a real treat for date night!

Dubai, a magical city where anything is possible! I'm excited to head back for another photoshoot for fitphytand to try all the things on this lift for the umpteenth time! Please share with me your favorite things to do in Dubai - I'd love to add them to this post.


xxo, Marelé