| Victoria Zurakowski
Locals Guide To 5 Must-See Dubai Neighbourhoods
The Ultimate Dubai Neighbourhood Guide
Despite its small stature, Dubai has nine key districts, further divided into a whopping 229 neighbourhoods.
Dubai's neighbourhoods are eclectic and vary from one to another. From the historic Bur Dubai district to one of the Emirate's most sought-after residential hubs – Jumeirah - there are so many things to see and do. This is the reason why we've decided to pull some of our favourites together to create one sizzling Dubai neighbourhood guide.
When pondering Dubai neighbourhoods, the lively Jumeirah district immediately springs to mind.
Once just a stretch of beach, Jumeirah now makes up the whole coastal area to the west of Dubai Creek. Jumeirah's most famous road - Jumeirah Road - otherwise known as Beach Road - extends through this well-known Dubai neighbourhood and comprises impressive waterfront resorts, boutiques, and eateries.
Whether it's day or night, Beach Road, which is perhaps one of the most famous roads in all of Dubai's neighbourhoods, is a terrific place to walk any time of the day. While exploring this popular thoroughfare, you'll also see some of the city's most expensive and extravagant villas, which is reason enough to visit.
As one of Dubai's top neighbourhoods, it's no surprise that Jumeirah is home to some fantastic shopping opportunities. Bargain hunters love the Souk Madinat. Here you can while away your afternoon strolling and meandering the bustling stalls and boutiques.
Mercato Mall on Jumeirah Road, also home to our Sand Dollar flagship store, is reminiscent of a small medieval Italian city. Comprised of colourful Venetian-inspired palazzi and panoramic balconies surrounding a central atrium, this is the exact style that Dubai is famed for.
Any Dubai travel guide will tell you that a trip to visit the Palm Jumeirah is also a must. With its stunning high-end exclusive 5-star beach hotels and resorts and decadent dining opportunities, this iconic palm-shaped island will blow your mind. From family-friendly resorts like Riva Beach Club or adult-only clubs like WET Deck, you can find what you're looking for when it comes to five-star facilities. Whatever it is you're looking to do, it's here, especially if you love a bit of aquatic adventure that includes chartering luxury yachts, exploring the vast coastline via cruises, or revving it up on speedboats and wakeboards.
Where to stay:
If cocktails are your game, head to the 5-star Sofitel hotel on Jumeirah Beach, where you'll be able to swim up for your mojito in the sea view pool. For some family-friendly fun, check out Jumeirah Beach Hotel, well-known for its luxury playground for adults and kids alike.
Where to eat:
For some fiery delights, La Parrilla, an Argentinian grill house, will transport you through a culinary adventure in Latin America - it's a meat lover's dream come true. Next, travel to India and visit Naya, which is in the Jumeirah Hotel, where you'll be treated to the edible gifts of Punjab and Delhi.
2. Bur Dubai
Upon visiting Bur Dubai, one of the oldest Dubai neighbourhoods located on the western side of Dubai Creek, you'll soon understand that there's more to the city than just towers and modern architecture. Here, you'll get a glimpse into the past and see where it all began while reliving Dubai's past and witnessing the energetic and generous spirit of this popular UAE neighbourhood that's typical of Emirati culture.
Bur Dubai debunks the myth that there aren't any open spaces in Dubai. This neighbourhood is home to the stunning Creekside Park, located between the creek's two bridges - Al Maktoum and Al Garhoud. This is by far one of the best walking areas out of all the Dubai neighbourhoods and often features in local Dubai travel guides. Here you'll find vast waterfront promenades, a 30m-high cable car, and for something a little different, there's also a kids' fun educational centre - Children's City.
Within Bur Dubai, you'll find a smaller historical neighbourhood - Al Fahidi, a popular tourist point on many Dubai neighbourhood maps. Here you'll find original historic houses with traditional barjeel wind towers. As well as quaint alleyways and historic architecture, Bur Dubai is also home to several cultural and artistic gems like the Heritage Village, the Iranian Mosque, the Coin Museum, XVA art gallery, and Dubai's oldest building - the Al Fahid Fort that dates to 1787.
Shopping in Dubai's oldest neighbourhood doesn't involve modern shopping malls, but this doesn't mean you can't pick up some gems. Here, you'll find an impressive range of local, independent jewellery and clothing boutiques, as well as the world-famous Textile Souk, where you'll be able to stock up on pashminas, traditional embroidered cushions, exotic fabrics, and even carpets. Bur Dubai is also the place to go for all your made-to-measure needs.
Bur Dubai is easily accessible by water taxi (abra) from Deira.
Where to stay:
The Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Jadaf Culture Village is a luxury 4-star hotel in the heart of Bur Dubai that is conveniently located next to some of the most popular attractions and is easily accessible from Downtown Dubai.
Where to eat:
Antique Bazaar is an award-winning Indian restaurant in this historic Dubai neighbourhood. With the perfect ambience and an ever-revolving menu, this is where you'll be able to sample an assortment of traditional vegetarian and meat delicacies. For a more upmarket dining experience in one of Dubai's oldest neighbourhoods, head to The Bistro on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard Road. This is the ultimate Dubai restaurant for intimate dinner dates with a French dining concept and a chic cocktail bar.
3. Business Bay
Straddling Dubai Creek, you'll find one of the more contemporary Dubai neighbourhoods - the bustling Business Bay. One of the key financial districts, here you'll find yourself in awe of the towering high-rise buildings, luxury apartment blocks, and 5-star luxury hotels.
Business Bay is home to Dubai's most recent waterside attraction - the Dubai Water Canal that spans 3.2km along the waterway towards the Creek in Old Dubai. This new addition is popular among locals and tourists looking to go out for a stroll, jog, or bike ride.
Business Bay is often referred to as a city within a city. One thing this up-and-coming Dubai district is famous for is its nightlife. After a day exploring other Dubai neighbourhoods, head to Business Bay to let your hair down. A favourite haunt for locals is Makar – a cute Scottish bar that serves up a range of classic Scottish beverages and hearty pub snacks. If you're looking for something a little livelier and more vibrant, Seven Sisters is a popular late-night hangout. With its low-level rooftop and serious party vibes, you're guaranteed a night of swanky fun. The Treehouse in Taj Dubai is another must-visit rooftop bar that offers some of the most spectacular views of the Burj Khalifa. If you love al fresco dining, summer parties, and views to die for – The Treehouse cannot be missed.
Where to stay:
If you're looking for a different, non-hotel experience, DAMAC Prive on Al Abraj street is an exceptional collection of luxury apartments that overlook the Dubai Canal.
Where to eat:
A foodie hotspot, Business Bay is home to one of Dubai's best restaurants - the Bleu Blanc and BASTA! by celebrity chef David Myers. Here, you'll be treated to a sensory dining experience of carefully sourced seafood and meat. The Eloquent Elephant is like a home away from home for many. Offering artisanal food, drinks, and happy banter, this is a British gastropub at its best.
4. Dubai Design District
As one of the hottest and newest Dubai neighbourhoods, Dubai Design District, otherwise known as d3, is the place where art and culture are celebrated. D3 is an artistic hub and is becoming more and more popular among start-ups, entrepreneurs, and creatives.
With many art and design installations dotted through the modern precinct and plenty of concept art galleries and independent studios, it's no surprise that Dubai's most famous fashion designers, architects, and interior designers decided to make d3 their base. So, if you love shopping for unique items, such as limited-run handmade designer vases or hand-knotted carpets, d3 is where you need to start your Dubai adventure. D3 is also where you'll pick up unique items, especially jewellery, that cannot be found anywhere else. Check out 55 Fifty 7 Jewellery for some of the best bespoke jewellery in Dubai.
And since culinary art falls into the broader categories of art and design, it probably doesn't come as a surprise that you'll also find some top-notch restaurants and gastro pubs.
Getting to d3 is relatively easy and pain-free as there's a designated bus route. Catch the F13 from either The Dubai Mall or the Burj Khalifa metro stations for a more direct route. Tourists also love taking the more scenic route via a Dubai water taxi.
Where to stay:
One place to pin on your Dubai neighbourhood map is the Millenium Central Dubai Downtown Hotel, which is the perfect place to unwind and take in the stunning views of the city.
Where to eat:
Akiba Dori is a trendy Japanese restaurant inspired by the well-known anime culture of Akihabara in Tokyo. Known for its fun ambience and excellent service, this restaurant located in Building 8 is famous for its Kani Salad, Squid Fry, and Chicken Katsu Curry. Coffee aficionados also love the Espresso Lab in Building 7, known for its deep devotion to anything caffeine-related.
5. Dubai Marina
One of the all-time favourite Dubai neighbourhoods is Dubai Marina. Dubai travel guides almost always suggest walking through Dubai Marina District towards the docks at least once. Here you'll find a selection of al fresco dining opportunities along the picturesque waterfront, where you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the surrounding high-rise buildings reflecting in the marina's waters. With a stunning beach spanning 1.7km and a marina full of luxury yachts, this is one of the Dubai neighbourhoods that never fails to impress.
Recently voted one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, Dubai Marina is the place where everything's at, whether you're looking for a fun social destination full of beach days and evening soirees. There's always something happening in Dubai Marina and the surrounding areas. As well as attracting foodies, the marina also attracts fitness enthusiasts thanks to the free-to-use 600-meter running track that fringes the area and an impressive range of outdoor exercise equipment for the public to use. Throughout the day, visitors to the area are treated to live music and street performances, which of course, makes this a fun place to escape.
There's a constant buzz, especially when it comes to water action. Thrill-seekers will get to try their hands at activities like wakeboarding, parasailing, and jet skiing. Another fun family activity to add to your Dubai neighbourhood map guide is Aquafun - the biggest inflatable waterpark in the world.
To get to this popular neighbourhood in Dubai, take a metro from the DMCC stations. Water taxis and the Dubai Ferry are other options and regularly service the marina.
Where to eat:
If you're looking for a sophisticated and stylish resort with great eating options for the entire family, Azure Beach offers seaside and poolside services. Mina's Kitchen is also family-friendly. This impressive new dining hall serves up world-class cuisine and has several cooking stations where you'll be able to watch the chefs work their magic.
Where to stay:
Address Dubai Marina is a popular recommendation among Dubai neighbourhood guides for the best views of the marina and waterfront. Centrally located, this is the perfect base if you're looking for somewhere close to the heart of new Dubai.
Dubai stretches through the desert sands and is a sprawling city. It's also vaster than what many Dubai travel guides suggest, which is why we recommend getting your hands on a Dubai neighbourhood map and pre-planning your visit to ensure you get in everything that you want to see. These are just a few of our favourite Dubai neighbourhoods, and we can't wait to release part two of our Dubai neighbourhood guide very soon. In the meantime, if you're interested in discovering more of the city and the rest of the UAE, be sure to check out our guide to the best UAE shopping malls and the most Instagrammable places in the UAE.