Your Dubai itinerary: the best 3 days in Dubai

Are you coming over for 3 days in Dubai and need an Itinerary for Dubai in the impressive United Arab Emirates? Do not look any further! But well, what to do in Dubai? And what budget should you keep in mind? This impressive city can be overwhelming with all that it has to offer for couples, solo travellers and families. But we got you! Enjoy this 3-day itinerary with the best things to do in Dubai that we used ourselves during a stopover. From water fun to shopping and a warm and spectacular welcome in the magical Dubai desert safari. Immerse yourself in a city that offers the ultimate Mixing Cultures experience!

Dubai itinerary – travel tips

Travelling to Dubai might require some more preparations or research before you arrive for your 3 days in Dubai, other than arranging your documents and travel insurance. You will need to keep an eye on the dress code for example. Dubai’s main religion is Islam and therefore modest clothing is required. In this Dubai itinerary, you will visit several parts of the city and its surroundings. The approach might differ per neighbourhood. For example, in ‘Old Dubai’ you are expected to dress more covered, whereas in Tourist and expat areas or resorts more ‘common Western outfits’ are generally accepted. But then, what about alcohol or showing affection in public?

But did you also know that you need a VPN for video calling on Whatsapp or that the weekend days are not the usual Saturday and Sunday? A Dubai city trip is a lovely cultural experience where all parts of the world come together, but also requires you to change your habits or to be open-minded. Please check out our blog post below for details and more Dubai travel tips that you could use when you plan a trip to Dubai.

What can you wear? And what other Cultural differences are there in Dubai? Check Best Dubai tips to know before you travel

Where to stay in Dubai

Accommodations in Dubai are spread very widely over the city and you wish to pick wisely to be conveniently close to the places to visit in Dubai in 3 days. The city is constantly under construction to provide housing to the millions of people living there. Therefore, hotels and other accommodations pop up all around roughly 35 sq. km, which is the size of the city according to Each neighbourhood has its own vibe and charm, and hotspots but also price ranges. Travelling to Dubai sometimes scares people off as they still have in mind that it is only a location for luxury travellers. Well, do not worry at all. Dubai evolved incredibly over the years, now also offering many options for budget travellers like hostels. That should not keep you from starting to plan your Dubai itinerary.

We highly recommend you to look further than wanting to be in the middle of the buzz if you wish to travel budget. For budget travel, you quickly end up in Bur Dubai, a more traditional and cultural area. If the buzz and the many landmarks like the Burj Khalifa do attract you, Dubai Downtown is where you should book your hotel. In general, ensure that there is a proper transportation network (metro and bus) in the close surrounding to for example Dubai international airport and as the tourist spots to visit are also all around Dubai. So you will need to travel quite some KM for this Dubai Itinerary. However, we often used a taxi to go to the Dubai things to do further away from us.

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Travel with a stopover to Dubai

Exploring new destinations as a stopover is one of our favourite things to do and one of our most recommended travel tips. You get to see more, sometimes not even for extra costs in one trip. Who wouldn’t like to include that in any travel itinerary? Dubai is the ultimate stopover destination when flying, for example, between Europe and Asia when flying with the best airline in the world ‘Emirates’. And that is what we did, however when flying to our final destination Mauritius. Plan your 3 days in Dubai stopover for a perfect break. Find more information on the website of Emirates Stopover to plan your ultimate Dubai itinerary.

Stopover is the best travel tip! Learn to travel like a real explorer with Stopover flights, a must know Travel tip

Is 3 days in Dubai enough?

We believe you can spend countless days in Dubai and United Arab Emirates. There is so much happening and to do. Besides all the travel experiences, you will also notice that there are a lot of events in Dubai. From shopping and cultural events to Art and Music, the city offers it all! It really depends on your budget and wishlist how long you should stay.

In general, you can definitely see all the Dubai highlights in 3 days. In this Dubai Itinerary for a minimum of 3 days in Dubai, you will also see the highlights that are a must for your first trip. You will have packed days if you wish to make the most out of them. Especially if you wish to visit places like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, a theme park and also places outside the city like the Dubai desert safari or maybe even a day trip to Abu Dhabi with the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. However, let’s be real… you most likely will get a kick out of visiting this city that will make you keep exploring.

Budget for 3 days in Dubai


We were lucky with our accommodation as we could stay with family. Therefore we cannot share the exact costs for this trip for the accommodation during your 3 days in Dubai. However, for budget planning in general we always check “Budget your trip” where you can select any costs on any type of budget. Please see the averages for accommodation below:

  • Budget: from €44 p.p. in a hostel to €88 p.p. in a hotel double room
  • Mid-range: from €114 p.p. to €229 p.p. in a hotel double room
  • Luxury: from €308 p.p. to €615 p.p. in general, however there are some very luxurious hotels with higher costs per night.

As mentioned previously, these are the averages given on the budget checker. When checking we see several great options in the Downtown area for already €100-€150 per night in December. These are very well-reviewed 3 and 4-star hotels.

We noticed opportunities from €20 per night in shared rooms or hotels in the Deira neighbourhood for real budget options. Dubai is accessible for everyone so get ready to start planning your Dubai Itinerary!

Other costs

  • Taxi ride averages: € 10
  • Visit Burj Khalifa observation deck: € 34
  • Abra boat trip: €0,50
  • Yacht hire: quickly from € 600 & up
  • Dubai Desert Safari: € 60 – € 100
  • Shopping: entirely up to you! You can go wild shopaholics!
  • Budget food: average € 15 per day (streetfood and supermarket, not in a restaurant)
  • Food mid-range: average €38 per day (not all meals in a restaurant)
  • Luxury food budget: from €52 and up

Dubai Itinerary – what to do in Dubai in 3 days

Please note that this is our own Dubai itinerary for 3 days. We arrived the evening before and left in the middle of the night on the third day. Due to this planning, we enjoyed three full days in Dubai. Of course, it is entirely up to you how you would like to pick & mix your things to do in Dubai.

1 day in Dubai: Dubai souk, Burj Khalifa, Downtown and Dubai Mall

Day 1 – morning: Dubai Souk with gold, spice and textile

Located in the exciting old centre of Dubai you will find a fun traditional market with gold, spice and textile. Also known as the old souk Dubai. In this different part of the city with more cultural vibes, you will see us window shopping! Because no, it is not possible to keep your eyes off all the gold in the Gold Souk. The biggest bracelets and necklaces are shown are all real gold. I don’t even know how much these necklaces would weigh around your neck! It is truly unique to see all these imposing designs.

After the gold souk, it is very easy to walk to the spice souk which is directly connected. Otherwise, you should just follow the smell of all flavours that will come right at you. It is such a lovely souvenir to bring home for some yummy curries (which we obviously did, oops). And last but not least you will continue your walk to the textile Souk with all kinds of (traditional) clothing. Colourful and some beautifully decorated with glitters and gold.

It was a really different and pleasant experience to visit the Dubai Souk compared to the area downtown and you should not skip this during your 3 days in Dubai. We enjoyed seeing it and experiencing a different, more middle Eastern, vibe and wandering around in the area. This is definitely the place where you see Old Dubai. The only thing we did not really enjoy is something that happens often on markets. Namely, the endless pulling and yelling to get you into a shop. The funny thing this time is that Jorinde was left much alone (experienced before it is often the woman that gets all the attention) and it was Nadiim who got pulled all places haha. We left the area back to the other part of the city via water, the Dubai Creek see below.

Day 1 – morning: Abra on the Dubai Creek

It is time to discover Dubai on the water in a traditional way! By accident, we ended up on an ‘Abrato cross the Dubai Creek from the Dubai souk back towards the area towards Dubai Downtown. We saw these cute boats with, in our case, only locals on them. We walked towards it and before we knew it we were sailing the waters through a beautiful part of Dubai where you can really see the historic side of the city. Later on, we realized that these are well-known water taxi’s, but we did not really do our research before visiting Dubai, to be honest.

We ended up on the other side of the water in a neighbourhood we otherwise wouldn’t have visited and we have seen the nicest small streets and a beautiful mosque. It is very easy to take an Abra, next to the Souks. Just walk towards the waters and you will see it. On Google maps, it is called: Deira Old Souq Marine Transport Station.

Day 1 – afternoon: Burj Khalifa

After your boat trip head towards Dubai Downtown. To do so, we took a taxi which was around 10 euros and the quickest way to stay on schedule for your full Dubai itinerary for day 1. He dropped us off in front of the Dubai Mall, where we already could see the king of towers highly above everything else. Visiting Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest tower, was a must and something we were looking forward to much. The Burj Khalifa height is 828 meters. And with its incredible architecture, it is already thrilling to stare at this beauty from the ground.

Standing on top of the Burj Khalifa observation deck you will for sure have the following thoughts coming up in your mind: “we are really just a small piece in this world”, “how on earth did they build this”, “does it touch the clouds?” and “am I going to faint on top?”.

It takes just one minute for the elevator to reach the 124th floor to the observation deck. Well, did we enjoy the ride but Jorinde definitely walked out on a few shaky legs. It really took her a bit to “ground” and to be able to walk around freely and without fear because; OH WE ARE SO HIGH! But the reward? Splendid views that you will never see again. Unless you wait for the newest tallest tower being built in Dubai as we speak.

Tip: book your admission tickets in advance. You select a date and time and will need to stick to this. See if you prefer to go during the afternoon or evening. Some prefer the evening due to the fountain show or all the city lights.

Day 1 – late afternoon & evening: visit Dubai Mall

Shopaholics, watch out… this mall will keep you company for several days. It is M-A-S-S-I-V-E with over 1200 shops. Even that big that you have golf cars driving around as taxi service. And this mall does not only have clothing or makeup shops. You can find the unimaginable here: the worlds biggest aquarium, ski hall (YES in the desert), indoor theme park, huge cinema, lots of restaurants and another gold souk. Besides all shopping, the mall is also a great place to discover the huge cultural variety in Dubai. Here you see that the whole world is coming together in Dubai, by type of people and the way of dressing. It is wonderful.

We enjoyed some air conditioning hours in the mall as it was so hot outside. In the evening the mall is open as well until midnight which is perfect to plan your long days in Dubai and then schedule the mall for evening entertainment. We also visited the Dubai Mall aquarium, which is fun but not necessarily one of the first highlights we would recommend. A real attraction at night is also the daily (every 30 minutes) fountain shows in front of the Burj Khalifa. Tip: if you do not wish to stand outside or have a higher point of view on the fountains, visit the Apple store where you have a great view through the big windows.

Watch out for something that will be too tempting to visit more often on this Dubai itinerary: Dubai Mall Cheesecake factory! A great place to go for dinner, even if it’s just to pick one of the many (!) cheesecakes.

Day 2 – morning: breakfast or lunch at the Dubai Arabian Tea House

Yesterday was a big day, time to take it a bit easier and to start the day with incredible food. Visit the Arabian Tea House! Located in a unique and historic neighbourhood Al Fahidi where you would enjoy looking around a bit. You might wish to make a reservation as the place is very popular. And we can imagine, it is perfect from the interior, decorations, air-condition already. If you add the food with many delicious sharing platter options on top of that you will go wild! So tasty. For all details see Best Dubai tips to know before you travel.

Day 2 – afternoon: Dubai Desert safari with quad and BBQ

What a day this was! Racing through the beautiful Red Dunes desert on a quad at first, and later with a jeep. It is really spectacular and in some moments maybe even a bit scary seeing yourself flying over the dunes. Make sure to check your pick up location in Dubai itself. Many depart around 2/3 in the afternoon. The drive towards the Red dunes desert is around one to 1,5 hours. Slowly you will see yourself disappearing in endless desert views, leaving the big city far behind.

At first, you will go to a place to race with a quad yourself. After some sliding through the sand you hop in the car again to enter the real thrilling desert games: Dune bashing! With a 4WD jeep, you will enjoy a bumpy ride over some of the highest dunes – up and down. When you are sliding your way down on the sand, you do not have to be afraid. The drivers are very experienced and will make sure you arrive safely in the camp for BBQ after around 30 to 45 minutes of dune bashing. But we must admit, Nadiim loved it and Jorinde did hold on tight at some moments.

After the craziness on the dunes, we arrived in a camp that makes your Arabic night dreams come true. There are camels, henna painting and other traditional activities like a belly dancer. BBQ will be served to your table under a sky full of stars. What else do you want? Good night!

3 days in Dubai: Yacht in Dubai, Burj al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah & Souk

Day 3 – morning: Dubai yacht tour (private or group)

Alright, we kick off day 3 in Dubai right away with a great experience. And definitely the most luxurious one on this Dubai itinerary! What is better than seeing Dubai from the water while having a little taste of the luxurious lifestyle? To celebrate Nadiim’s birthday we chartered a private yacht to go around specific parts of Dubai. It was fantastic! It was HOT and cooling down on a fancy yacht with the wind through our hair was a moment to never forget. Several operators offer yachts to charter in packaged and scenic routes. Is it expensive? For the standard traveller, yes – but worth it. if you prefer to share the costs, you could also join a group yacht tour or look for other water activities like a speedboat, water skiing or go to the beach next to the Burj al Arab.

Day 3 – afternoon: Madinat Jumeirah & Souk

In Madinat Jumeirah & Souk you will experience another location in Dubai with a completely different experience. Is this Dubai itinerary not fun? A beautiful sand coloured, but more modern, complex surrounded by blue waters and many palm trees. All together it creates a great atmosphere and a real holiday feeling. You can take place in one of the restaurants or cafe’s, do some shopping in the souk or admire all in ‘Venice style’ from small boats on a tour around. The souk however is more focused on tourists souvenirs, but we did find many unique and beautiful shops. Still want that gorgeous painting we couldn’t bring in our suitcase… hmmm. And what we loved most? Around every corner, you have another viewpoint with something great in front of you, like the Burj Al Arab.

Day 3 – afternoon: Burj Al Arab

Another unique building in between the many already that you will see when following this itinerary for Dubai, the Burj Al Arab. Considered the most luxurious hotel in the world. You will most likely stare at it from the outside as it is harder to get in and it does not have an observation deck like the Burj Khalifa. However, there are some possibilities for the restaurant or high tea reservations. But, make sure you meet the dress code. For a day at the pool, you could try Burj Al Arab Terrace, sort of a floating ‘beach/pool club‘ behind the building which is a real gem and hotspot. Reservations are required. However, if all that is not an option just enjoy the views from outside and enjoy your time at the beach next to it.

And that is the end of your Dubai itinerary for unforgettable 3 days in Dubai! What activities are you going to do for sure? Let us know in the comments below!

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