This Dubai walking tour covers Bur Dubai, the oldest part of the city,Strung out along the southern side of the Creek, and perhaps the most interesting. This was the acorn from which Dubai sprang, and is where you’ll find the vast majority of Dubai’s oldest buildings – traditional wind-towered houses, soaring minarets and mud-brick forts – most of them clustered in the historic Iranian quarter of Bastakiya and the waterfront district of Shindagha, and with gorgeous views up and down the Creek.
It’s a great place to walk. Large swathes of modern Dubai are notoriously unfriendly for pedestrians, but the old city is great for aimless wandering, nowhere more so than along the Creekside in Bur Dubai and Shindagha, with superb views of the old city centre and refreshing waterside breezes – and, best of all, it’s pedestrianized. You could easily spend a full day (or longer) exploring the various attractions listed below, although you could probably squeeze the following itinerary into a busy half-day, at a push.
Start at the Dubai Museum, offering a great introduction to the city’s history and culture, highlighting some of the extraordinary winds of change which have swept over the city since the 1960s. After visiting the museum, walk a couple of minutes down the road to the historic Bastakiya quarter and explore the district’s fascinating tangle of old wind-towered houses. The quarter was originally built by Iranian merchants who were lured to Dubai in the 1920s to help build up the city’s economy with promises of low taxes and commercial freedom.
If you need to refuel, the excellent XVA Cafe and Arabian Tea House Café are both close to hand. Return to the Dubai Museum, then head around the back of the museum, past the Grand Mosque and Hindi Lane into the atmospheric Textile Souk (Bayt al Wakeel) inside the souk, is another good place for lunch or a drink). From here, it’s also worth a short side trip to Al Fahidi Street to visit the colourful Iranian Mosque and also to have a look around the colourful clothes shops and bustling mercantile life of Al Fahidi Street and Meena Bazaar.
Continue through the souk, past the Bur Dubai Abra Station, and follow the Creek past the Shindagha Tower and along into the venerable old waterfront area of Shindagha, one of the oldest areas of the city, and perhaps the place, even more than Bastakiya, where you get the clearest sense of what old Dubai once looked like. Many of the old waterfront houses here have now been turned into small museums. Best is the excellent Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House, while the nearby Traditional Architecture Museum is also worth a look. Continue walking along the Creek as far as the Heritage and Diving Villages, with superb city views along the way.
Close to the Diving Village, Kan Zaman is a great spot for an evening meal or shisha, while Saravanaa Bhavan, back down the Creek near the Textile Souk, is one of the area’s dozens of local curry house offering superb, cut-price Indian food. For something more romantic and upscale, try Antique Bazaar.
This Dubai walking tour is best early in the morning or, particularly, towards sunset, as dusk settles over the Creek and the city lights slowly come on amidst crowds of commuters and evening shoppers and idle strollers.
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