Dubai and Abu Dhabi Travel Guide for First Time Visitors
With the record-breaking architecture as well as traditional quarters, Dubai is a remarkable destination that must be seen to be believed. The next famous city and the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi is majestic and charming, featuring Islamic monuments, thrilling parks, and coastal pleasures.
And for first-time travelers, discussing the transport, budget hotels, attractions, food, and other essential information about the cities is significant. From discovering the luxuries of Dubai to traveling the unheard roads of Abu Dhabi, here is the comprehensive Dubai and Abu Dhabi travel guide for first-time visitors to help you have smooth sailing.
Why you should visit?
A city that has upped the game in engineering and innovation, Dubai is one of the top cities drawing millions of visitors yearly. Home to the futuristic skyscrapers, observation decks, state-of-the-art theme parks, exotic souqs, preserved heritage, archaeological museums, endless desert, largest mall, rooftop restaurants and bars, and several more superlatives, Dubai is a city of contrasts and extremes. Be it a weekend-like trip or long stay, the emirate has all kinds of ideas that will fulfill the needs of everyone in the group.
- Burj Khalifa
- Jumeirah & Kite Beach
- Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
- Dubai Marina
- Ski Dubai
- Dubai Frame
- IMG Worlds of Adventure
- Dubai Miracle Garden
- Al Fahidi Historical District
The capital has taken the rich tradition and culture to new heights with its world-class museum, historic buildings, Islamic architecture, oldest mosques, the swath of red sand, and the Bedouin inspired lifestyle in camps. The globally renowned Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit is an invitation for the thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies. Catch the breath at public beaches and amazing restaurants.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
- Ferrari World
- Yas Island
- Emirates Palace
- Mangrove National Park
- Observation Deck at 300
What is the currency?
1 AED = 19.42 INR
1 AED = 0.27 USD
What is the best time To visit?
The weather is the finest from November to March, making it ideal for sightseeing. The temperature is nice and not humid, unlike the months of July to September that witness the highest degrees. Also, there are plenty of events in December like the NYE and Dubai Shopping Festival. Thus, the wintertime gets a high footfall.
Dubai is excruciatingly hot and the only benefits you get in summer months is fewer tourists around and reasonable rates of hotels and restaurants. And the places you can hit are air-conditioned shopping malls, cool swimming pools, and ice rinks.
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is between April and May or from September to October, which features spring and fall seasons yielding enjoyable weather, manageable crowds, and affordable hotel rates.
To experience a ‘no humid and heat’ climate, flock during the months lying between December and March. It is a peak season when the city is swayed by the travelers who are indulging in all kinds of outdoor activities. To unwind on beaches, plan your visit in October, March or April when the weather is hot but in a pleasant way.
What you should wear?
UAE is an Islamic country. And it has influenced the way of life in the cities. The government has announced that ‘tourists should adopt a certain level of cultural and religious sensitivity for the duration of their stay’.
The unavoidable tip in the Dubai travel guide for first-time visitors is to have a decent dressing style. Locals could be found in a long white Kandurah and Gutrah (headpiece) for men and a long black Abaya with a Shayla (headcover) for women. You aren’t expected to wear the same, but there are minimum standards.
- For women, it is always safer to carry a shawl or pashmina. In case you are heading towards the religious or government buildings, rent a full-length abaya and cover your head.
- Avoid tight, revealing clothes like cut off shorts, midriff tops, spaghetti straps and ripped jeans.
- Men should also avoid short or bare clothing but can pick the knee-length shorts.
- Visit restaurants as per their dress codes. Or you can put on shirts/ t-shirts and pants for men, and long skirts and tops for women.
- UAE, however, is not as conservative as many other Middle East countries and thus, you can put on the swimwear on beaches, and on leaving grab a kaftan.
- On a desert safari, wear light clothes, pants, shorts or capri pants, t-shirts or a blouse. Pack a light jacket or thin sweater for the chilly evenings.
How to travel around?
For you to not lose your way amid the labyrinth of high rises and date-palm oasis, hop on the public transport. These are affordable and convenient. The network of metros and buses is spread citywide making it the preferable choice. If privacy and comfort are important to you, the cabs/ taxis is the best bet. Although, they may pile up and blow your budget.
It is weird but the bikes in Abu Dhabi are a very popular choice. Priced at AED 2, the bus is another favorite that runs on different routes connecting the important landmarks. To travel in luxury, hire private taxis. And besides these, the ferries are quite a norm in the capital city.
Where to Stay?
The city is swamped with expensive resorts and deluxe 5-star hotels. So, for spendthrifts, this place is heaven. Right from the signature luxury destination, Burj Al Arab and One & Only The Palm to the all-in-one resort Atlantis The Palm, there are swankiest places on earth to keep you wrapped in warm hospitality. Well, there are also hotels, hostels, and dorms for holidaymakers on mid to strict budgets. Rove Downtown Dubai, Sima Hotel, Holiday Inn, and At The Top Hostel are a few examples.
This capital city is a place built in Millenium and thus, has got an array of fancy places that invites sophisticated travelers to live, relax and stay. Nothing less than a castle, Emirates Palace is an ultra-five-star hotel with upscale amenities and high-end services. Four Seasons Hotel, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel and Rosewood redefine the opulence and take a special place in Abu Dhabi’s skyline. But if budget matters, take a U-turn and book rooms at Al Diar Mina Hotel, ibis Abu Dhabi Gate, Novotel, and Centro Al Manhal Hotel, which have pools, housekeeping and more.
Where to eat?
Dubai’s food scene is vibrant. Be a part of its multicultural dining scene, from alfresco set up to street hawker centers, the city is flooded with unique dining experiences. Taken influence from different cuisines, it serves a delicious variety of dishes. Some recognized names in restaurant chains, cafes, and bars are Pierchic, Ossiano, The Penthouse, Arabian Tea House, Wavehouse, and Zero Gravity. If you crave the quintessential Emirati cuisine, head towards the Old Dubai.
Abu Dhabi has some of the best experiential dining restaurants that truly know how to serve a memorable meal. There are myriad options and cuisines to pamper your palate. The great places to duck into and go on a gastronomical journey are Villa Toscana, Punjab Grill, The Terrace on the Corniche, Zuma and BOA Steakhouse.
Other handy tips
- Be cautious when you visit the cities during Ramadan because of the enforcement of stricter laws. You won’t be able to drink and eat in public to give respect to people who are fasting. And the breaking of any law could be a hefty fine or even imprisonment.
- Learn the negotiation tactics for buying gold at the souks.
- In a long layover, you have a choice, put your bag in storage or carry it with you. It’s already hot in here, so, when you are in Dubai, always put the baggage in storage.
- Metros have two lines- a red line connecting the airport to famous tourist places as Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, and the Palm Jumeirah resort, and the green line in touch with the red line that helps to explore the Old Dubai. Buy a Red Nol Card and load it up with credit for uninterrupted and cheap traveling.
- Don’t forget sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses on safari.
- Don’t consume alcohol in public.
To be able to travel without being mugged or overcharged by locals is quite a trick. And one wrong decision could ruin your trip. Follow these guidelines and you will not regret holidaying in these two cities. Hope you have an amazing journey.