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There is something undeniably magical and alluring about food and drink in Dubai. Alongside its fine-dining restaurant, the city is known for tax-free shopping, swanky nightlife and ultra-modern architecture.

In addition to the local Emirati cuisine, you can find food from every part of the world in this magnificent capital. If the United Arab Emirates is on your travel bucket list, here's our guide on what to see, where to stay and what to eat/drink in Dubai.

Where to stay in Dubai

Heading to Dubai and wondering where to stay? With so much to offer, it can be difficult to know the best places to stay. Here are the best places to stay in Dubai.

Downtown Dubai

The best place to stay in Dubai for the first time in Downtown Dubai, the most westernized spot in the city. It has some of the classiest hotels, including the Palace Downtown and Armani Hotel.

Though Dubai is known for being pricey when it comes to hotels, there are plenty of affordable options here. The Carlton Downtown Hotel is an excellent pick for budget-conscious travellers who still want convenience and style.

The world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, whose office spaces and residences are open to only the elite few, is in Downtown Dubai. It houses the Armani Hotel, which is designed and furnished to reflect the personal taste of Giorgio Armani himself.

Downtown Dubai is a walkable neighbourhood and best explored on foot to get a feel of its friendly locals and colourful vicinities. The place has plenty of other neighbourhoods worth a stroll, including Jumeirah Corniche with its beautiful scenery of Jumeira beach, Burj Park surrounded by its outstanding attractions, and Dubai Marina with its striking view of the iconic skyscrapers.

What to see in Dubai

Let’s have a look at the best things to see in Dubai.

Burj Khalifa

What would Dubai be without its symbolic Burj Khalifa? Designed by Chicago-based architect Adrian Smith, the building is three times tall as the Eiffel Tower. Apart from being the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa has the world’s highest number of stories, highest occupied floor, tallest service elevator, and highest outdoor observation deck. For most travellers, a trip to this place is a must-do while in the city.

Dubai Mall

If you like avant-garde malls, you may want to visit the Dubai Mall, which allows access to the ice-skating rink, gaming zone, Cinema Complex, and Dubai Aquarium.

Head to Bastakia

Also known as the Al Fahidi neighbourhood, the 19th century Bastakia was home to super-wealthy Persian merchants who traded pearls and textiles.

Enjoy the view of traditional courtyard houses with wind catchers. These wind towers weren’t just pleasing to the eye. They were the only method of cooling homes in those days.

Visiting Bastakia is tantamount to taking a step back in time, a fantastic history lesson that is perfect for all ages.

Take a cultural heritage tour

We'd recommend a visit to the official residence of former Dubai leader Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, who was in power from 1912 to 1958. Today, this building is restored as a museum that depicts a classic example of Arabian architecture. The museum houses a rare collection of vintage black and white photos that show Dubai in the early 1900s, furniture, artefacts, coins and essential historical documents. It’s arguably the oldest building in Dubai.

What to eat and drink in Dubai

Dubai might be tiny, but there’s a vast culinary offering in this buzzing city. Food has been part of this metropolis and a key factor in driving the tourism industry. No matter what cuisine you seek, you’re bound to find it here. However, traditional Emirati cuisine can be tricky to come across if you don’t know the right place to go. The list below contains some of the best places to eat. You’d be hard-pressed to find better than what’s on offer here.

Ibn AlBahr

If there’s seafood on your mind, then the Ibn AlBahr restaurant is an absolute must-visit. Located on Palm Jumeira on a private beach, this Lebanese seafood restaurant provides shrewd clients with the freshest fruits of the sea.

The cuisine is classic Lebanese focussed on fresh seasonal seafood prepared with imagination and flair by world-class chefs. The menu includes char-grilled butterflyfish, Tandoori and the samke harra (spicy fish).

The Palace Cafe

The Palace Cafe is a real blessing to anyone who would want to taste typical Arabic cuisine. The customary breakfast includes Falafel, foul medamas, and shakshuka eggs to make your day brighter. This place is also famous for its Lemongrass Shawarma, Lobster falafel, Moutabol trio, Caramel burger, and Shrimp Machbous. Desserts range from apple samosas to Date Ravioli.

Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Cafe

Arguably the city’s most Instagram-friendly restaurant, the Arabian Tea Restaurant and Cafe is a sight to behold. Thanks to its white-and-cobalt decor coupled with lush flowers, this open-air restaurant has become the influencers’ hangout of choice. You can come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Afternoon tea comes with other dishes such as bread served with vegetables, olive, cheese, and honey. It’s also perfect for people who just want to have a conversation and take their time.

La Fabbrica Italiana

Ask a random person in Dubai to name a popular Italian restaurant, and there’s a great chance they’ll say the La Fabbrica Italiana located at 51 Al Wasl Rd. While the menu is shot – mainly tiramisu, burrata, and focaccia – it’s delicious. The burrata is served with gazpacho, beef carpaccio, tomato salad, or fig. The place is good for weekly dinner with friends and casual dates.

Al Fanar Restaurant and Café

For some tasty and authentic Middle Eastern food, head to the Al Fanar Restaurant and Café. The restaurant features coral walls, wooden doors, traditional lamps, old photos, and vintage memorabilia. The main aim is to offer visitors an experience reminiscent of the 1950s style.

Besides scrambled eggs, lentil soup, al Fanar salad, lamb kebab, and biryani, you’ll also find a variety of fresh juice.

Nobu Dubai

You may want to head to Nobu Dubai if you want to try out Japanese cuisine for the first time. Seafood dishes, including sushi, are found here. However, you must book at least a month in advance before you get a table here due to overwhelming demand.

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