With Dubai doing away with RT-PCR test requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers, now is the perfect time to visit. Here’s our 48-hour itinerary for you to make the most of everything that’s new and happening in the city.
Begin your day at Dubai’s newest landmark—the stunning Museum of the Future on Sheikh Zayed Road. Inaugurated on February 22, 2022, the rather futuristic museum explores how science and technology will shape the evolution of society in the coming decades. The museum’s architecture itself reflects this future-forward ethos—an asymmetric torus (ring doughnut) clad in stainless steel and fibreglass with artistic use of Arabic calligraphy. Inside, seven levels of immersive exhibitions await; I found the one on outer space resource development particularly exciting.
The wellness area, a calming dusty pink space where you can reconnect with the world through the five senses, is a must-visit. I highly recommend the grounding therapy where two large-scale gongs create an environment of therapeutic sound. If you are travelling with kids, there’s an entire floor dedicated to the ‘future heroes’, where they can participate in missions to solve problems and learn more about the world. And finally, don’t miss stepping out on the viewing deck for spectacular views of the museum’s architecture, and of course, the Dubai skyline.
Speaking of views, it doesn’t get better than Sky Views Dubai atop the Address Sky View Hotel. Take the panoramic glass elevator to floor 53 where the Observatory gives spectacular views of the city’s skyline and the shimmering coast beyond. Walk the 25-metre glass floor and then proceed to the Glass Slide, which connects the two levels. I absolutely loved whizzing down this transparent glass tube that wraps around the tower’s exterior—keep your eyes open for uninterrupted views! If you are particularly adventurous, try the adrenaline-pumping Edge Walk. Step out on the floating walkway that encircles the tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city below your feet. Your guide will also encourage you to try some daring poses for the camera; don’t worry, you will be harnessed throughout.
Round off your experience with a meal at Panorama 52, an American-style diner where you can savour scrumptious burgers and other stateside classics while enjoying views of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountain, and Downtown.
Head over to Dubai Mall for some retail therapy. If you want to try something different, visit Infinity des Lumières--an innovative digital art centre located on level 2 of the mall. Destination Cosmos, a thrilling exploration of the vastness of the universe, is on till 2nd April. Striking imagery from NASA and the French National Center for Space Studies comes to life, immersing you in the world of stars, planets, and supernovas. I found the Apollo 11 moon landing rather goosebump-inducing, not to mention the journey through the canyons of Mars.
However, for me, the highlight of Infinity des Lumières was the immersive Vincent van Gogh exhibit aptly titled ‘Feel Every Moment’. Through a magnificent fusion of light, sound, and digital animation, the exhibit brought alive many of his masterworks—from Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters to Bedroom at Arles and Starry Night. For dinner, head to the bustling DIFC where you will find Carnival by Trèsind offering a post-modern take on Indian cuisine; there’s à la carte, of course, but I recommend the multi-course chef’s tasting menu, which is quite different from what you might have eaten at Trèsind Mumbai.
After spending day one in Downtown Dubai, it’s time to head to The Palm Jumeirah. Before you begin, get a hearty breakfast at Brunch & Cake, a Barcelona export that has recently opened at The Pointe. Grab a table in the alfresco section and get their scrumptious egg breakfasts, pancakes, or an acai bowl (portion sizes are huge!) Take a short walk down to Costa Azzurra to try a fun new way to sail around the Palm Jumeirah. Hop on a two-seater electric catamaran, complete with a protective canopy, comfy seats, and a built-in waterproof stereo that you can connect with via Bluetooth and play your own music. The joystick is easy to use and in no time, you’re sailing in the turquoise waters with fabulous views of The Atlantis. The catamaran’s built-in illumination allows for night trips, so you can also plan a romantic date night spin around the Jumeirah.
For lunch, swing by the Ritz-Carlton Dubai’s newest restaurant—the laidback beachside Tamoka where Chef Cesar Bartolini whips up a medley of Latin American and Caribbean flavours. Cocktails are smashing and the food lip-smacking; I recommend the ceviche, faina (chickpea flatbread with wild mushrooms, salted ricotta, and truffle oil), the signature zapallo con queso (whole pumpkin filled with cheese fondue with purple potato, plantain, and cassava for dipping), and the pineapple carpaccio for dessert. If you’re up for it, the Ain Dubai is nearby—the world’s highest observation wheel that offers views of Dubai’s iconic landmarks from air-conditioned cabins.
But the best views of The Palm Jumeirah are from the Palm Tower’s observation deck that opened late last year. Aptly called The View at The Palm, the deck stands 240 metres above the Jumeirah and offers 360° panoramic views. Apart from the main viewing deck and the VIP Lounge, there’s also the Next Level, which I highly recommend—it’s the highest point of the tower with uninterrupted views.
Then, step below on the 51st floor to Sushisamba, currently one of the hottest tables in Dubai. Helmed by the energetic and charismatic Chef Moon Kyung Soo, the restaurant offers a unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian cuisine. The sushi (don’t miss Samba Dubai) and ceviche are stellar, of course, but I would also recommend the robata-grilled black cod with Saikyo miso and the yellowtail taquitos.
Where to stay
Dubai has several spanking new hotels that have opened recently, like the contemporary Hollywood-style Paramount Hotel Midtown, which brings California chic to heart of the city, or the ultra-luxurious Raffles The Palm Dubai on the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah with gorgeous city and sea views.