A Guide to Top Things to Do in Old Dubai

A Guide to Top Things to Do in Old Dubai

Dubai is renowned for its glitzy and glamorous image, but it also boasts a rich heritage and history. In Old Dubai, you’ll discover a vibrant tapestry of culture, attractions, and delectable culinary experiences.

For a unique and enriching weekend or long-term activity or when hosting guests, it’s better to monthly rent a car Dubai. We highly suggest a trip downtown to explore the captivating side of Dubai’s past. Here are top-notch things to indulge in Old Dubai:



Discover Dubai’s Historic Heart

Discover the historical heart of Dubai in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. It is one of the city’s oldest residential quarters. Roam through its maze-like alleys and immerse yourself in the past. Just as you explore the traditional sand-colored houses, once inhabited by merchants who traded at Dubai Creek. Today, these residences have been transformed into local boutiques, charming cafés, and captivating art galleries. Don’t miss favorites like the Arabic Calligraphy House specializes in ancient art forms. Moreover, the Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili offers a glimpse into the life of an Arabic classical poet. This neighborhood is a true reflection of Dubai’s rich cultural heritage and artistic essence.

Enjoy your favorite cup of Chai or Karak


These beloved beverages keep the city bustling with numerous cafes and dedicated spots. If you prefer a lighter option, go for a cup of chai. Go for a stronger, richer flavor with caramel undertones, opt for karak chai. If you enjoy the delightful mix of spices and sweetness, these drinks will surely appeal to you. Thus, boasting lively notes of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. You’ll find plenty of establishments offering these delightful beverages at affordable prices. Such as Cha Cha Chai, Disco Chai, Zafran Karak Tea, Chai Sutta Cafe, and many more.

Savor a morning at XVA Gallery, Hotel & Café

Nestled in the Al Fahidi Neighborhood, this artsy boutique hotel houses both a café and an art gallery. Concealed in the heart of Al Fahidi, formerly known as Al Bastakiya. This historical labyrinthine area stands as one of Dubai’s oldest communities. XVA Hotel features 15 unique suites and rooms. They are complete with three serene courtyards and traditional wind towers. Their café is a haven for vegetarians and vegans, serving fresh and vibrant dishes that fuse flavors from around the world. Additionally, visitors can take a moment to appreciate the exhibitions showcased at the XVA Gallery.

Embark on an enchanting Abra ride across the Creek

These wooden boats, accommodating up to 20 people, have been serving as water taxis for centuries. Moreover, shuttling passengers across the Creek. Enjoy an eight-minute journey for a mere single dirham and catch a glimpse of Dubai’s past. It’s an excellent opportunity to explore both sides of the historic old town, from Deira to Bur Dubai. While many locals use these boats to avoid traffic, the experience itself is charming, especially during the sunset hours.

Indulge in a delectable shawarma at Al Mallah

This iconic eatery is synonymous with Dubai and is renowned for its mouthwatering shawarmas. With numerous locations across the city, you’re always close to savoring a chicken or lamb wrap. Al Mallah has perfected this delightful combination, featuring fluffy bread, garlic sauce, and succulent meat. It’s a truly tempting treat. Starting from just Dhs9, you can satisfy your cravings for this beloved Dubai specialty.

Join a Cultural Tour

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre was established in 1998. It is dedicated to promoting Emirati culture, customs, traditions, and religious awareness. As it is inspired by the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The center is housed in a beautifully restored wind tower house in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. It offers a range of engaging activities, including traditional cultural meals hosted by local Emiratis and guided walking tours. To ensure your spot, make sure to book in advance. It is because it’s a popular destination and tends to get busy.

Explore the charm of Al Seef

Situated along the Dubai Creek, Al Seef beautifully blends modern and traditional designs, showcasing the city’s rich heritage. Constructed in 2017, this revitalized neighborhood pays homage to the Creek’s humble beginnings as a pearl diving base. Today, it’s a delightful area filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. The pedestrianized 1.8km walkway along the shoreline of The Creek invites you and your loved ones to spend a leisurely afternoon. Amid the array of local and delicious restaurants, Starbucks stands as a popular hotspot. Thus, drawing visitors with its picturesque interiors and scenic exterior terrace. Rent a car Dubai and get to Al Seef. Enjoy watching Abra boats crossing the Creek. Moreover, discover unique trinkets in the souk-like shops scattered throughout the area.

Witness Dubai Museum

If you’re seeking captivating places to explore in Old Dubai, make sure to visit the Dubai Museum. Situated within the Al Fahidi Fortress in Bur Dubai. This museum takes you on a journey through the entire history of Dubai. Even from its earliest tribal inhabitants to the economic boom of the 1960s and the ambitious plans for the future. Inside, you’ll find intriguing displays of former fishing boats. Moreover, artifacts from the daily lives of nomads, weapons, and archaeological remnants. It’s a fascinating experience that offers valuable insights into how the city appeared before. The entrance fee is 3 AED, and the museum is open every day except Friday mornings. To reach the Dubai Museum, simply take the metro to either Al Ghubaiba or Sharaf DG Metro Stations. Both of which are within a 10–15-minute walk from the museum.


Old Dubai offers a captivating blend of heritage, culture, and history. It beautifully contrasts with the modernity of the city. From exploring traditional neighborhoods like Al Fahidi to taking abra rides on Dubai Creek. Moreover, indulge in authentic Emirati cuisine and visit cultural centers. The district provides a unique and enriching experience that showcases the soul of this vibrant city. Whether you are a resident or a visitor, exploring Old Dubai is a must to truly appreciate the beautiful facts of Dubai.




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Alison Housten
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