One of the best things to do for free in Dubai is watch the wonderful light, music and water performances of Dubai Fountain. Accompanied by classic and modern songs from artists around the world, this brilliant display is not to be missed and sees water shoot up to 500ft in the air on the manmade Burj Khalifa Lake in the centre of Downtown Dubai. Dubai Fountain was designed by the creators of the famous fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and can be viewed during the day and night. We'd recommend watching the spectacular show after dark when they are lit up.
For a fun-filled day out the whole family will enjoy, splash in to exciting water theme park Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm. Water roller coasters, speed slides, rivers and rapids fill the 42-acre park and there are unique rides, such as Shark Attack! where you spin into the blackness of the Ziggurat tower before emerging through a shark-filled lagoon. Thrill-seekers should head straight for the Leap of Faith, a 27.5m tall slide that catapults riders into a transparent tunnel running through a shark-filled lagoon. Aquaventure also has access to a private beach with magnificent views of the city. Above 1.2 metres: AED 225 (£40); below 1.2 metres: AED 180 (£32).
Housed in a desert fort dating back to 1787, Dubai Museum is complete with cannons, entertaining displays of everyday life before the discovery of oil and recovered graves from the third millennium BC. Browse life-size scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses and the souk, and meet pearl fishers, desert Bedouins and date farmers who once roamed the land. Check out the large dhow and see inside a traditional wind tower dwelling outside the museum. Adults: AED 3 (50p); children AED 1 (17p). After visiting the museum, head to the nearby XVA Hotel & Cafe for the signature Mint Lemonade and a freshly-prepared salad or sandwich.
Want to be close to Jumeirah Beach and enjoy gorgeous views of Dubai Marina and the city skyline? Radisson Blu Residence offers contemporary apartments with access to Marina Walk and is just a short stroll to Dubai's finest beaches. Each apartment comes with a kitchenette and balcony with expansive views, plus free WiFi and a shuttle to Jumeirah Beach and the shopping malls. If you don't fancy going to the beach, the apartment hotel has an outdoor pool and for those wanting to work out, there's free access to the on-site fitness centre. From AED 499 (£89) per night.
If the megamalls and skyscrapers in the city make you yearn for an authentic Arabian adventure, a desert safari is the ultimate way to see wild and wonderful Dubai. A 4x4 will take you off-road on a rollercoaster ride, taking in the golden sand dunes of Arabia. Spend the afternoon on a brilliant dune drive before stopping to take pictures and watching the magical sunset. You'll then be taken to a campsite, where a delicious barbecue dinner, camel rides, shisha and Arabic entertainment await you. The evening under the stars ends with belly dancing and whirling dervish performances. It's the perfect way to escape the city for an evening and see the spectacular desert. Desert Adventures offers desert safaris for AED 290 (£49) per person with dune bashing, barbecue, henna, camel rides and entertainment.
Ever wondered why women in the Middle East wear abayas? How daily life in Dubai changes during Ramadan? Or why the date palm tree is so significant? If you've ever had a question about the local culture, religion or customs of Dubai, you'll find the answers at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Bastakiya. Operating under the philosophy "open doors, open minds," the excellent centre promotes cultural awareness and improves communication between locals and visitors to the UAE. Book a spot for the cultural lunch which includes a tasty traditional Emirati meal in a typical wind tower house that you can enjoy while chatting with your male and female hosts about their culture and traditions. AED 70 (£12).
For a memorable shopping experience in Dubai, don't miss a visit to the largest shopping centre in the world, The Dubai Mall. As well as 1,200 shops to browse, the huge mall offers something for everyone - even the kids and those who loathe shopping! Dubai Aquarium, one of the world's largest tanks, has 10 million litres of water and one of the most diverse collections of marine life worldwide. Cool off at the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink and enjoy amusement games and rides at SEGA Republic. If you're travelling with little ones, KidZania is an amazing indoor theme park where children mimic the real world and can take on different job roles in their own unique city.
Fancy steak for dinner? Head to beautiful pyramid hotel Raffles Dubai for some of the best meat in the city. Upmarket grill Fire & Ice is decorated in dark wood and earth tones, combining an intimate atmosphere reminiscent of New York's Meatpacking District. There is a variety of steaks on offer, from Irish Angus to Australian Wagyu. Other specialities include Canadian lobster and corn-fed chicken from Western France. Fire & Ice also has a list of more than 400 wines from the old and new worlds to accompany your dinner. Three-course meals from around £40 per person.
Dubai is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world and one of the most charming and sophisticated is located on Sheikh Zayed Road, close to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain. Fairmont Dubai exudes elegance and glamour with a handful of stylish restaurants and bars making it a favourite spot among the locals too. Modelled after an Arabic wind tower, the 394-room hotel features a marvellous spa (the Majestic Harmony Facial is perfect after a busy day of shopping or sightseeing), a variety of dining options, such as Spectrum on One with its six specialist cuisines from Asia and Latin America, plus trendy and relaxed bars. For a lazy day at the hotel head for the rooftop pools, complete with spectacular views of the city's sunrise and sunset. Double rooms from AED 1078 (£192) per night. If you're looking for a beachside stay, the new Fairmont The Palm boasts unparalled views of the Arabian Gulf, brilliant cuisine and the fabulous Fairmont Falcons Juniors' Club for kids.
Rising 828 metres above the city, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and its observation deck At The Top is a highlight of any visit to the Middle East. Located on the 124th level, At The Top provides awe-inspiring views of Dubai's skyscrapers, the World Islands and the Burj Al Arab. If seeing the city from a lofty height with unobstructed 360-degree views isn't enough for you, there are special telescopes that provide close-up pictures of the world below and you can see virtual time-travel visions to see the city by day or night. Children AED 95 (£17); Adults AED 125 (£22).
For just AED 1 (17p), you can take a delightful ride across Dubai Creek from the historic district Bur Dubai to bustling Deira on an abra. These small wooden boats are the quickest and most atmospheric ways to enjoy the creek. They carry around 20 people across the water from various stations along each side and run from 5am to midnight. From Deira, you can visit the fascinating gold souk and discover a variety of herbs and spices at the spice market. For the best ride, take an abra at night when you can see the buildings around the creek lit up.