Large swathes of Dubai have a fairly futuristic look but if you want a complete tour of the city’s most iconic landmarks, then the following tour ticks all the major bases (excepting the Burj al Arab), including everything that’s tallest, coolest, most modern, and (in places) most downright daft.
Dubai’s love of funky modern high-rises can be seen right in the old city centre with the stunning National Bank of Dubai and the wacky Etisalat building, sporting a giant golf ball on its roof, while a bit further down the Creek the hugely original Dubai Creek Golf Course clubhouse is another of the city’s oldest modernist stunners.
Hop on the metro to World Trade Centre metro station and then walk down Sheikh Zayed Road, easily the city’s wackiest and most futuristic strip of real estate. Shakespeare & Co. (about halfway down the strip) is a handy place for a pitstop. After about 30–40min you’ll reach the Dubai Mall. Walk through here and exit via the back to reach the Burj Khalifa and the heart of Downtown Dubai then continue south to reach Business Bay, home to a further cluster of left-field landmarks.
Now get yourself to Business Bay station and ride south along the city’s metro, whose driverless trains and metallic pod-shaped stations also have plenty of futuristic appeal. Get off at Jumeirah Lakes Towers and stroll along Marina Walk around Dubai Marina, set between a great forest of skyscrapers – look out in particular for the quirky Cayan Tower – modern architecture at its most twisted.
Finish up by heading back to Dubai Marina tram station and catching the sleek new Dubai Tram up to Palm Jumeirah station, where you can transfer to the Palm Monorail for a stunning high-level ride to the vast Atlantis resort, with showstopping vistas of the city’s endless skyscrapers lined up to view.
Al Ain in 1 Day … Explore the oases, mudbrick forts and markets of the UAE’s only major inland city
Discover Dubai’s Exotic Souks … Hunt for gold and frankincense in the labyrinthine Deira bazaars
Dubai for Kids … Ten of the best things to do with children in the city
Dubai in 1 Day … Superfast city tour to make the most of your stay
Dubai in 2 Days … Seeing it all (nearly!) on the ultimate city tour
Dubai Skycrapers on Sheikh Zayed Road … Where signature skyscrapers reach for the clouds
Dubai Walking Tour … The oldest part of the city is Bur Dubai, great to explore on foot
Dubai’s Upmarket Jumeirah District … Suburban heaven, local style
Highlights of Old Dubai … Dive into the past in Dubai’s historic old city
Indulge in Downtown Dubai … Home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa
Sharjah in 1 Day … A taste of the traditional Gulf
Shopping in Dubai: Souks and The City … Crunch your credit-rating in Dubai’s stupendous array of old-school souks and dazzling modern malls