Dubai and Abu Dhabi

December 2014

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Dubai and Abu Dhabi travel itinerary

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The main airports in the United Arab Emirates are located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both served by direct flights from most countries of the world. Should the direct flights be too expensive, connecting flights are offered by several airlines via London, Amsterdam, Rome, Paris, Cairo, Istanbul and others. Arriving by land from other countries in the Middle East is not very practical, as it may involve long trips in the middle of nothing, with extreme heat. Cruise ships visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi are constantly increasing in number and this may be a good idea to visit lot of places along the routes, in full peace if mind.


Since the United Arab Emirates are located on the edge of one of the hottest and driest deserts on the planet, you're probably wondering what is the best season to go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The best time to visit the United Arab Emirates is from November to March, when the temperatures are more comfortable and suitable for outdoor excursions, even in the surrounding desert. It must be added that in this period, especially in the months of December and January, the sea temperature may be too cool if the purpose of your holiday in the Emirates is mainly to relax on the beaches of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. During the other months of the year, and especially in the middle of summer, the temperature in the Emirates often exceed 40 degrees Celsius, making outdoor life uncomfortable, for this reason, most of the life takes place indoors where visitors will find air condition almost everywhere, including metro stations and most bus stops. The very little rain that falls yearly over the country, is mainly concentrated in the winter months (December to February) but the precipitations are usually very limited and will hardly impact your holiday.


What are the main attractions of Dubai? How much time is well worth taking a tour of Dubai? These are probably the main questions while organizing an holiday in the city, therefore, we try to summarize here the most popular attractions that the city offers, trying to figure out how many days it is good to plan for the visit. Generally, the main reasons for which tourists go in the Emirates, particularly in Dubai, is for shopping in some of the largest malls in the world, as well as to visit huge buildings featuring unique architectural characteristics, maybe while staying in some extra luxury hotel. In terms of history, nature and landscapes, Dubai does not offer so much: you could possibly want to consider spending a few hours among the beaches (nice beaches, but not the best of the Middle East) distributed over most of the city's waterfront. Another idea may be to book an half-day tour to the desert, enjoying landscapes dominated by sand dunes. The Dubai Mall, a huge shopping center in the heart of the financial district of the city, should definitely not be missed in the list of things to do in Dubai, not only for the hundreds of shops it offers, but also for the attractions hosted inside, as the largest aquarium in the world (containing 10 million liters of water) and the ice rink. Accessed directly from Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world, where observation platforms at placed at various heights. The Mall of the Emirates is another major shopping center, known to contain also a ski slope with artificial snow where visitors may ski or participate to various games on the ice. For those wishing to immerse themselves in a souk in a classical Arabic style, a few hours visit to the historic district of Dubai, known also for lot of stores selling gold, should not be missed. Finally, for those who can not afford expensive rooms in the most luxurious hotels, but still want to visit them to get the idea of ​​what they offer, some structures, such as Burj Al Arab, offer tours upon payment of a ticket. To visit all the attractions discussed here, we recommend a stay of 3-4 days.


Compared to Dubai, Abu Dhabi has fewer attractions to visit and therefore a complete tour of the city is possible in just one or two days, even as an excursion from Dubai. Regarding the things to see in Abu Dhabi, which should never be missed from any trip, we suggest the Great Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the largest in the world, built with finely inlaid quality marble, and the Marina Mall shopping center which houses hundreds of shops. Not far from city center, the Ferrari World Museum is a large theme park created in tribute to Ferrari's passion (it may require a full day to try all the attractions), while the Heritage village is a reconstruction of a traditional village. For those wishing to relax by the sea, Abu Dhabi offers some beaches just right the skyscrapers in the downtown.


In recent years, Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports have become some of the busiest hubs in the world, thanks to their strategic location, ideal for linking Europe with Asia and Oceania. If Dubai or Abu Dhabi are just a transit, but your connecting flight requires to wait at least 6-8 hours, you could certainly consider to take a short tour in the city, by either paying a taxi driver staying with you throughout the trip, or by taking an organized tour that can be booked directly in a booth at the airport. Attractions in Dubai that can be visited in relatively short time, are Dubai Mall, The Mall of the Emirates and Burj Khalifa, respectively the largest shopping centers in the world and the world's tallest skyscraper. For a possible tour in Abu Dhabi while waiting for connecting flights, you might consider visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Marina Mall, or, if you have more time, the theme park dedicated to Ferrari (Ferrari World Museum).


In Dubai and Abu Dhabi it is usually impossible to move on foot, either for the huge distances and also because roads are usually not designed to accommodate pedestrians. Public transportation is quite efficient, although they are often quite crowded and not always available to every street outside the central downtown. In Dubai there are (2014) two subway lines that connect the airport to the financial district, serving the main malls and Burj Khalifa: you may therefore consider getting an hotel not far from a metro station, so you can move around quickly. The taxi is very used in the Emirates and prices are much lower than the average in Europe or USA (however, during rush hours, they may not be very convenient due to the heavy traffic). Alternatively, you may want to consider renting a car, since the driving style is certainly better and safer if compared to other Middle East countries (although, in any case, below the western standards). For people who need to move between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are very cheap buses with frequencies ranging between 20 and 40 minutes, taking about 2-3 hours to cover the 150 km distance, depending on traffic.

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Dubai Dubai, the city with largest malls and highest buildings in the world <<-- GO
Dubai has quickly become one of the most visited cities of the world, thanks to the many attractions it offers and for the convenient flight route network. The city is in the Guinness Book for several records, as the largest mall in the world, the tallest skyscraper, or the ski slope closest to the equator.
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, a modern and quickly growing city of the Middle East <<-- GO
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirates, and being only 150 kilometers from Dubai, it's a destination not to be missed during any trip to the country. From the mosque of Sheikh Zayed to the Ferrari museum, Abu Dhabi is home to several interesting attractions which certainly worth a visit.

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