If you're visiting Dubai for a long stopover or business trip, make sure to leave a little space in your bag for a bathing suit, flip-flops and souvenirs.
For business travelers with just a few hours or half-day to spare in the emirate, head to the Dubai Mall. There pick up a cold drink or frozen yogurt and head outside to watch one of the world's most beautiful dancing fountains and be mesmerized by base views of the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.
Continue Reading Below
If you feel like getting some exercise in, skip the hotel gym and head out for a run or brisk walk by Kite Beach, where a safe 3-mile-long (5-kilometer) track runs along the coast. Don't forget to stop and take a selfie on the beach with the sea and Dubai's iconic sail-shaped Burj al-Arab hotel behind you.
For spinning enthusiasts, head to Fly Dubai where there's no membership cost. Just call ahead to book a bike at one of Fly Dubai's two locations for indoor spinning classes, but make sure to order a taxi ahead of time if you go during peak rush hours. The metro does not connect to either location and taxis are hard to find between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
For a quieter afternoon, head to Dubai's man-made island The Palm. Go for a day pass at the Atlantis or the Jumeira Zabeel Saray hotel. A day pass during the workweek, which in the Middle East runs from Sunday to Thursday, is significantly cheaper and the beach quieter than the weekend days of Friday and Saturday. Most hotels that offer day passes also include lunch.
If what you need is a few, short hours of complete serenity to clear your head, go for the ultimate pampering experience and head to the spa at the One & Only Royal Mirage across from Dubai Media City or the Talise Spa in Madinat Jumeirah.
Once at Madinat Jumeirah, shop in its famous souq where you can pick up some reasonably priced souvenirs like postcards and Middle Eastern-inspired printed artworks at Gallery One.
Unlike most Middle Easter markets, this souq is indoors and there isn't too much haggling over prices. The upside is that what the market misses in authentic folkloric experience it makes up for in air-conditioned comfort between the hot months of April and October.
Also at the souq are some of Dubai's most popular restaurants with views of the Burj al-Arab and a man-made waterway that connects the three hotels that comprise Madinat Jumeirah.
If you are in Dubai between November and March, when the weather is great outdoors, visit The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, better known as JBR. There, visitors can soak up some sun on the beach, enjoy a lavish meal and shop for unique finds at boutiques like Sauce — a homegrown chain of edgy concept stores in Dubai.
The hotels along The Walk are home to some of Dubai's best restaurants, but meals there don't come cheap. For something a little less formal, enjoy a bite to eat at one of JBR's many outdoor cafes and restaurants. At night on the weekends, JBR turns into a bustling street for people watching. The Gulf's wealthy cruise along the strip in their Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys.
Nearby are some of the world's most architecturally stunning skyscrapers in Marina. There, too. you'll find a mall, outdoor cafes and some of the city's most expensive real estate overlooking the yachts.
Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayaelb