How To Do Dubai In 72 Hours

This Series:

➔ British Airways Club Suite | Airbus A350 | London – Dubai
➔ JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai
How To Do Dubai In 72 Hours
➔ British Airways Club Suite | Airbus A350 | Dubai – London

The general opinion with long haul trips is that in order to make them worth it, you need to spend the longest amount of time at the destination as possible. 

This isn’t necessarily the case however. Some places can be done in a long weekend. Dubai being one of them. 

In my case, I took the late flight from Heathrow on the Friday evening, arriving just before 8am on the Saturday morning into Dubai. The airport wasn’t overly busy at this point, so I was out in well under an hour. 

Day 1

When it comes to hotels in Dubai, there isn’t really any preferred areas location wise. As long as you’re within a reasonable walking distance of a Metro station you’ll be fine. The chances are you’ll be using this as your main method of getting around. 

On the subject of the Metro, even if you ignore everything else I say here, don’t ignore this:

Buy a Gold NOL Card. 

Seriously. The standard carriages of the Metro get packed. Even previously, this wasn’t a pleasant experience. In the COVID world, it can be downright dangerous.

With a gold NOL card, you will have access to the gold class cabin of the train. There was no greater satisfaction than jumping off the train at my destination having had a seat in a relatively empty carriage for the journey, only to see everyone else packed in like sardines. The gold NOL card will set you back the same initial outlay as a silver one – 25AED (around £5), with 19AED (£3.80) being usable.

The main difference is the fare when using it. Whilst a standard fare will set you back between 3AED and 5AED (60p – £1), the gold fare will cost double. The extra £1 is well worth it in my opinion. Sure, the carriage isn’t the height of luxury, but as mentioned of all the trips I took, I only ended up standing the once. And even then, I was the only person who was standing in the whole gold class section. Which was a huge contrast to the rest of the train.

But I Digress…

In my case, I was able to check into my hotel at around 9am.

I spent a couple of hours relaxing before heading out around lunch time. As I was on the doorstep of fairly recently constructed Dubai Canal, what was left of the day was spent taking a walk along this area. 

Dubai canal
Dubai canal

The area I was in featured a reasonably large park – Safwa Park. This was a fairly large area, which wasn’t overly busy. Upon entry, my temperature was taken – which seemed a little odd as the entirety of the park was outdoors. But I guess different country, different rules etc. What I didn’t realise was that I had to pay 3AED (60p) to enter. I didn’t have any cash on me, and they didn’t take card. This wasn’t an issue though, as I was waved in anyway. 

After a decent wander around the park, it was time to head off for something to eat. Whatever takes your fancy in Dubai, you’ll likely find it. The best bet is to head to one of the many malls that are around. I had planned on using the river bus to head along the canal to the Dubai Festival Mall.

However, this wasn’t running during my visit. So Uber it was!

Upon returning, I took a dhow across the creek to the nearest Metro station. 

Dubai creek
Dubai Creek

As it had been a long day, it was an early(ish) night.

Day 2

The second day started with breakfast in the hotel. Coincidentally, the crew that had operated my flight to Dubai the previous day were just finishing up and about to head back to the airport. 

I popped by the hotel pool for half an hour or so before heading out. 

Once more, it was on to the Metro. See, I said you’d be using it a lot….

The aim today was to head to Dubai Marina. Where the influencers hang out! Upon arrival, I was quite surprised to see how much this area had changed in the 4 years since my previous visit.

These days there is a pretty big commercial area with shops cafes and restaurants along the beachfront.

In addition, there’s a bridge over to a man made island, named Bluewaters.

This was such a recent addition to the area that it was mostly not open yet.

This included the worlds largest ferris wheel – which I may have considered going on. 

Back on the mainland, I took a walk along the beach. I barely recognised the area from my last visit!

Dubai Marina

By now, it was time to grab a coffee and a snack. As mentioned, there are many choices in the area, even if you fancy something Canadian…

Once I was done, it was through to the marina area. This always makes for a pleasant walk in the sun.

Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina

On the opposite side of the marina is the Marina Mall. Not the best in Dubai, but there could be something of interest depending on your tastes. For me personally, it serves as a handy shortcut back to the Metro!

Later in the evening, I made the few steps from the hotel to have a look at the Dubai waterfall. This is only active after sunset. 

Dubai Canal
Dubai canal

After getting my fill of this, it was off to the Mall of the Emirates to grab something to eat. 

Day 3

Much like the previous day, things started off in the hotel restaurant. This was followed by the walk to the metro station. This time however, I’d be heading in the other direction. Yet another new feature to the city since my last visit was the Dubai Frame. 

Dubai Frame

Situated in the Za’abel Park, this is the worlds biggest frame. Because everything is the worlds biggest in Dubai.

You can take a shortcut through the park, however, if you take a short walk around the outside of the park to the main entrance, you get free entry to the park with a ticket to the frame.

Dubai Frame

For the price of 52AED (around £10.50), it’s one of the cheaper attractions. Not just an observation deck, the attraction features a look into the past of Dubai before you head up.

Dubai Frame
Dubai Frame
Dubai Frame

The observation deck itself is the present.


And once you head back downstairs, it takes a look at the plans for the future. 

After 45 minutes to an hour at the frame, it was off for a walk around the sizeable park.

Dubai Frame

This was a pleasant hour or two – the sun was shining, it was warm but not too hot, it wasn’t particularly busy… and best of all, I managed to find a decent cup of coffee on my way around too!

As is seemingly the norm on my trips these days, it was back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the afternoon for a drink and a snack.

The Dubai Mall

Once more, the evening consisted of heading to one of the many malls for dinner. This time around, it was the Dubai Mall – the worlds biggest. Therefore, this is a bit of an attraction in itself. 

Dubai Mall

The only retailer I recall going in was The Cheesecake Factory for dinner!

Yet I still managed to spend a couple of hours here. Outside The Cheesecake Factory is a huge aquarium – although unusually for Dubai, it’s not the worlds biggest. This one loses out to the Georgia Aquarium by quite a margin. I guess you can’t have everything. I did consider buying a ticket to take a closer look – but the queue was huge. So once more, I admired it from the outside.

Speaking of the outside, head outside and you’ll have a great view of the Burj Khalifa and the water fountains. 

Burj Khalifa Dubai

Back indoors, there are a couple of other areas of interest. If ice skating is your thing, you’re in luck:

Dubai Mall

One of the more well known features of the mall is The Human Waterfall.

Dubai Mall

If you’re after something that at least looks a little more traditional, then once more, you’re in luck.

Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall

And for the #AvGeek, there’s even an Emirates Fokker!

Dubai Mall

Although unfortunately, the Emirates Store appears to have closed. The A380 simulator is still in the mall however – although it is in a different location now. 

I could have spent a little longer in the mall, wandering around, seeing a few more of the attractions and generally people watching. But I was mindful that time was getting on, I had an early(ish) alarm call the following morning and I still had to pack up to fly home.

Dubai Mall

So it was back on to the metro to head back to the hotel. 

And that is (roughly) how you do Dubai in 72 hours.

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