Where is the centre of Dubai?
If you are choosing where to stay in Dubai, it can be a bit confusing as it is unlike most cities in that it doesn’t have a ‘city centre’. Usually when people travel to a new city, they navigate themselves and decide where to stay based on the city centre, as this is typically where all the main attractions are situated. Although Dubai does have a Downtown area, the city centre and main attractions are spread out, along the coast and split on either side of the major motorway, Sheikh Zayed Rd. The city can be viewed as two sections, divided by the Creek: old Dubai (the north) and new Dubai (the south). The older areas in the North are closer to the airport and developments in the last 10-15 years have seen areas like Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina and even Downtown emerge.
Dubai Marina / JBR Beach
With stunning views of the marina and only a close walk to the beach, this vibey area is a favourite spot to stay for visitors and residents alike. As the highest densely populated area of hotels, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, this is the prime spot if you enjoy staying in the buzz of the eclectic nightlife. The Dubai Marina Walk is a 7km waterfront walkway through the Marina and Jumeriah Beach Residence. Lined with palm trees, trendy shops, cafes and restaurants, it is an excellent place for walking, eating and shopping. The JBR Beach is a bustling cosmopolitan beachfront area with an Arabian twist. It is one of the best public beaches in Dubai and offers a wide variety of water sports like wakeboarding or parasailing. With a 600m running track, volley ball court and outdoor gym, this is also a great area for the active types.
The Palm Jumeirah
As the area that most people hear about before their visit to Dubai, The Palm Jumeirah is considered as the most famous area in Dubai. This man-made archipelago and 8th wonder of the world is a must-see during your visit to Dubai, whether you choose to stay there or not. It is the perfect area to stay in if you are seeking relaxation and pampering. Home to some of the best selection of 5-star resort hotels in Dubai (and the world), there is no shortage of luxury and opulent accommodation options. You may even get a glimpse of the rich and the famous in their elaborate villas situated along the fronds of The Palm Jumeirah – the branches of the centre of the archipelago.
Mina Seyahi, Madiant and Jumeirah Beach Area
Mina Seyahi has the translated meaning “Port of Travellers”, this area was constructed in the 1980s to promote tourism. This area is the stretch of land between Dubai Marina and The Palm entrance, located opposite Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai Media City. It’s not a very big area but it is situated along the coast and is well connected to other prominent areas in Dubai.
A well-known landmark in this area is the famous Barasti Beach Bar – a popular hangout renowned as one of Dubai’s most vibrant bars.
A little way up is the Madinat Jumeriah, a luxury resort designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town. This magnificent Arabian resort captures the natural beauty of the region and is comprised of three opulent hotels, twenty-nine summerhouses and seven villas. Souk Madinat Jumeriah located inside the resort is an impressive recreation of an old-style Arabian Souk which offers a variety of retail and dining experiences, both high-end and affordable showcasing the magic of Arabia. With the icon of modern Dubai, Burj Al Arab standing adjacent to this area, there are plenty perfect viewpoints of the only 7-star hotel in the world. Staying in this area also gives you complimentary access to Wild Wadi Waterpark and two kilometres of pristine private beach.
Mall of the Emirates and Al Barsha
As the home to the largest indoor ski slope in the world, a visit to the Mall of the Emirates is no ordinary shopping mall excursion. Staying at the Kempinski or the Sheraton offers a unique après ski experience in the middle of the desert. Al Barsha is the area situation behind the mall with lots of affordable accommodation options. So close to the mall and fairly central to the marina, it is quite a popular residential area with many villas. Al Barsha is a bit crowded with lots of cheap eats and is not the best area to stay in unless you are on a budget.
From the tallest tower in the world to the largest shopping mall in the world, Downtown is on the doorstep to some of the most famous things to do in Dubai. This area is quite close to the airport but a bit further away from the beach. With many great restaurants and bars, including the highly-regarded Dubai Opera located in the Opera District, there are plenty of lavish dining and entertainment options. The Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain system set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, is one of the most spectacular free activities to do in the city. It is located beside a major attraction, the Dubai Mall which is also known as the home of the Dubai shopping festival and is the largest mall in the world and it also has the Underwater Zoo and an indoor ice-skating rink.
The old areas of Dubai are near the airport, north of The Creek. These areas including Deira, Bur Dubai, Al Satwa, Garhoud and The Creek and are usually less glamorous than the more modern areas of Dubai. Hotels tend to be a little tired in these areas as they have been around for a lot longer. The streets are often quite crowded with more congested traffic however there are a few cultural treasures which are worth a visit during your stay. Popular tourist attractions in this area are the Gold and Spice Souks, the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort. You can catch a fun ride in an abra (water taxi) across the creek but the Dhows can be of a low quality and are normally badly run.
There really is somewhere in Dubai to stay for everyone – we hope you enjoy your visit to Dubai.