Dubai on your own
Here we have gathered information for shore excursions in Dubai on our own. The largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and capital of the same emirate has a good 3 million inhabitants. Dubai is today one of the most visited cities in the world and is at par with world metropolises such as Paris or Singapore. About half a million people come here as part of Dubai cruises.
Only six flying hours away from Germany, you will find here in the winter months bathing weather and temperatures over 25 degrees. And that guarantees! This is a big advantage of the region and the many beautiful beaches in Dubai attract tourists in droves. Who would not even like to take a bath in the backdrop of the luxury hotel Burj al Arab? The main attraction of the city is probably the spectacular architecture. Nowhere is there more skyscrapers over 300 meters high than here. Among them is the skyscraper Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 828 meters. The currency of the United Arab Emirates is the dirham with the currency symbol AED. A dirham currently equals 24 cents. Further information is available at Visit Dubai. (As of June 2019)
The cruise port of Dubai
Cruise ships run to Port Rashid. The cruise port is located in the mouth area of Dubai Creek. There are two modern cruise terminals and moorings for several cruise ships. The cruise terminals are, as you would expect in the region, equipped with every comfort. Here you can u.a. Change money, surf the internet for free, buy souvenirs and get information for the visit. In front of the cruise terminals there are large taxi ranks, city tours and free shuttle buses to famous shopping malls.
For the sake of completeness. There is a third cruise terminal near the harbor exit. Here is currently permanently the famous former cruise ship Queen Elisabeth 2nd Today, the QE2 is a hotel ship.
In 2018, the construction of a new cruise ship terminal was announced, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020. It is a joint project of the American Carnival Corporation with the local Meraas Holding. The new cruise port is being built in the Dubai Marina area, to the left of the Palm Jumeirah tribe. It is expected that all cruise brands of Carnival Corporation (including the cruise ships of AIDA, Costa, Princess, Carnival, Holland America, etc.) will invest here in the future.
Mobile in Dubai on your own
The issue of mobility is central to all crusaders who are planning their own cruise vacation in Dubai. Ultimately, it is about the question of how to get from the port to the desired land destinations. For the overview here a very detailed city map in PDF format.
On clear days, you can see the Dubai skyline very well from the cruise ship. That should not hide the great distances. The famous Burj Khalifa is already 13 kilometers from Port Rashid. The Atlantis Hotel on Palm Jumeirah is 35 kilometers away.
Dubai is not a city for pedestrians! In the older neighborhoods of Bur Dubai and Deira on Dubai Creek, you can walk longer distances. But that’s the exception to the rule. For pedestrians, Dubai is too hot and too spacious.
A free way to travel into the city are the free shuttle buses of the numerous shopping malls. These are represented with stalls in the cruise terminal. Here you can get information about the departure times of the buses. From the mostly shopping malls one can continue for example with the metro or a taxi. For Metronutzer the BurJuman Mall is particularly interesting, since here the two Metrolinien intersect.
The countless taxis are part of the cityscape in Dubai and are an ideal means of transportation for anyone planning shore excursions in Dubai on their own. Responsible for taxi operations is the Dubai Taxi Corporation (DTC), which is subordinate to the Road and Transport Authority (RTA). The DTC has a website with lots of information in English. Taxis can also be booked via the website.
Where can you find a taxi?
There is a large taxi rank in front of the two cruise terminals, at the shopping malls, at metro stations and at many attractions in the city area. Of course you can waving a taxi on the street by hand sign. There is also the possibility to book a taxi online on the DTC website. Corresponding apps of the DTC complete the offer.
What do official taxis look like?
The vehicles are easily recognizable as taxis. A decent taxi is painted cream and has a taxi sign on the roof. Almost like in Germany. There are visual differences in the car roofs. The taxis with red roofs are public taxis of Dubai Taxi Corporation. The vehicles with blue, green, yellow, brown or white roofs belong to DTC franchise partners. There is no difference in price between the public taxis of the DTC and those of the franchise partners. Nevertheless, we have always tried to get hold of a taxi with a red roof, even if there is no reason for it. A special feature are the taxis with pink roofs. These are intended for women and children and are driven only by women wearing pink attire.
If you climb into a vehicle that does not look like the one described above, you pay more. This applies, for example, to the chic black limousines of the DTC Limousine Service. But here too the prices are affordable.
The drivers are guest workers from Asia. The communication can sometimes be a bit difficult when the driver and / or passenger only speak broken or dialect-colored English. Most of the time you do not have any problems. It is customary to tip the drivers. One can e.g. simply round up or leave the driver the change.
Basically, only what has to be paid for is displayed. Therefore, you should always check briefly before driving, whether the taximeter is running. If the driver claims that there is an extra charge (such as port fee), it is a fraud. But we have never experienced it ourselves.
The fare consists essentially of a basic charge and a kilometer price. Rides that start at the cruise terminal or airport are more expensive! Therefore you pay more for trips from the port to the city than vice versa. But that is the case in many cities. Then there are tolls, a waiting fee and higher fees for night driving. Wagon sizes also play a role.
There is a lot of conflicting information about the basic and kilometer prices in the network. We would like to refer to the information on the website of the DTC. Since one can rely on the taximeter hundred percent, the individual price components are not so crucial. The rides are much cheaper than in Germany.
Here are some pricing examples of our rides:
- Al Ghubaiba Metro Station – Port Rashid: 20 AED
- Mall of the Emirates – Madinath Jumeirah: AED 11.50
- Madinat Jumeirah – Port Rashid: 64 AED
- Port Rashid – Dubai Mall: 60 AED
- Dubai Mall – Port Rashid: 35 AED
- Burj al Arab – Port Rashid: 63 AED
- Airport – Port Rashid: 59 AED
We always paid the taxi in cash. In local currency. But you can usually pay by credit card. For safety’s sake, we would briefly address that before departure. It is sometimes possible to pay with other currencies (Euro), but it makes no sense because of the bad exchange rates.
A relatively new DTC service is a taxi rental service. However, you have to register here 24 hours in advance. You pay AED 900 for six hours, and AED 1,800 for twelve hours. For that you get your personal taxi driver.
About / Careem
Of course you can also book in Dubai via the apps of Uber or Careem rides. Careem is a company from Dubai that is very popular in the Gulf and Asia. Recently the company was bought by Uber, but continues to operate independently on the market.
The ultra-modern Dubai Metro (dubaimetro.eu) is a fully automated and driverless mode of transport. There are currently two lines, the Red Line and the Green Line, covering virtually the entire city.
The stops “Al Ras” and “Al Ghubaiba” of the green line are close to the harbor, but can only be reached by taxi. With a free shuttle bus to the BurJuman Shopping Center, this is the ideal way to reach the Metro. The metro station BurJuman connects the red and the green line, so you can go anywhere from there.
In the historic center around the Dubai Creek, the metro is a real subway. In the direction of Burj Khalifa, the Red Line travels aboveground on a viaduct along the famous Sheikh Zayed Road with its skyscrapers. With a bit of planning and a city map, the metro can be a cheap and fast means of transport for hikers too. However, it gets very crowded in the rush hour. But that applies to the streets as well.
A train consists of five sections, one of which is reserved for women and children and for the Gold Class (1st class). The remaining three compartments can be used by all. The foremost compartment, with a great view in the direction of travel, is intended for 1st class passengers (Gold Class). Because of the view, the Gold Class is also worth considering for hikers. Especially as it never gets crowded here. The day ticket (Red Card Day Pass for the Gold Class) costs 16 euros. The normal day ticket (Red Card Day Pass for the Silver Class) is cheaper with 12 euros and can also be pre-ordered. This Red Card Day Pass in the Silver Class pays off as of the 3rd trip.
Single tickets are based on zones and can be purchased directly at the counter. Alternatively you can use vending machines. Here you enter the destination station and the fare is displayed.
The metro is also connected to the new tram and even the monorail on Palm Jumeirah. The latter costs extra and leads to the Hotel Atlantis on the top of the huge palm tree.
Of course there are city tours in Dubai or hop-on hop-off bus tours, as city tours are usually called today. The difference to classic city tours is that you can get off at all stops with a subsequent bus. As a rule, you do not have to wait more than 30 minutes for the next bus. During the bus trip, holidaymakers are provided with travel information in several languages (including German) via headphones. Free Internet is usually part of the service today. The busses are biplane and open at the top, so you can take nice pictures on the way.
There are now two providers who are in front of the cruise terminals to customers. The top dog is the company Bis Bus Tours (bigbustours.com), which offers three different bus tours in Dubai. The beach tour, the city tour and the tour of the Dubai Marina. There is also a night tour and a dhow boat tour. The routes overlap so you can change on the way. A map with all routes and stops can be downloaded here. Big Bus Tours brings tourists from the cruise terminals to the Dubai Mall, where you can change trains and begin the city tour.
Still relatively new in Dubai is the franchise of City Sightseeing (city-sightseeing.com), which is known from many ports in Europe. The company offers 7 different routes with more than 40 stops in Dubai. City Sightseeing has a special feeder route (the green line) for cruise guests. This leads past the two cruise terminals to the Dubai Mall, where you can change to one of the other regular routes.
Tickets can be booked in the harbor or in advance at GetYourGuide *. There are several ticket options, which is why it is advantageous if you are dealing with it before the Dubai cruise.
Dubai is very spacious and distances are considerable. City tours are therefore very time consuming. If you are in Dubai for the first time and want to get an overall view, the product is ideal. If you want to visit specific sights, take a taxi or rent a car.
Dubai is a car city with wide roads and highways with up to 12 lanes. The traffic is high. Nevertheless, many drivers drive very fast and like to honk. Another special feature are the numerous sports cars and luxury cars, which one does not see in the frequency in Germany.
If you want to drive here, you need a passport, a credit card and an international driver‘s license. Most car rental companies have offices at the airport and on Sheikh Zayed Road. In the cruise terminals we have not seen any provider. You have to either take a taxi to the rental car station or find a provider that delivers the car to the port.
If you want to travel with a luxury car through Dubai, you might find it at special providers like Paddock Rent a Car (paddockrentacar.com) or Apex Luxury Car Hire (apexluxurycarhire.com). A Ferrari 488 GTB is available at Paddock for 720 euros a day. Not cheap so.
If you want to be reasonable, you should take a look at the car sharing apps Ukar (udrive.ae) or Ekar (ekar.ae). Both are companies from the region. With the functioning of the service one must familiarize oneself before the journey.
Particularly popular are trips with the traditional Abras over the Dubai Creek. The wooden water taxis cost 1 AED and connect the two districts of Bur Dubai and Deira. It starts at the Abra stations, whose location can be found quickly on Google Maps. There are no timetables. When an Abra with 20 passengers is full, it starts. For us, the rides are among the most beautiful experiences in Dubai.
With Dubai Ferry ferries (dubai-ferry.com) you can see Dubai from the water. Unfortunately, the routes and schedules are a bit confusing. Information can be found on the website of the Roads and Transport Authority (rta.ae), which is also available in English. Above we have an overview of routes and departure times
City Cards in Dubai
There are a number of city cards for staying in Dubai. An overview of these discount books can be found at rent-a-guide *. We loved the Dubai BLUE SIAT Pass. This includes admission to the Burj Khalifa, a desert safari & the airport transfer.
Book shore excursions in Dubai
Those who do not feel like bothering about holidays with timetables or taxi drivers can choose from a wide range of organized land excursions. Corresponding offers can be found aboard the cruise ship or at local tour operators. By way of example, we include the land excursion program of MSC Cruises for Dubai. Other shipping companies have a more or less similar program. For the shipping companies, these cruise excursions are an important business. Accordingly intensive is advertised.
Those who like it more individually or who are deterred by the high land prices on board should take a look at the offers of local tour operators. These can be conveniently and safely found and booked at GetYourGuide * (see above), rent-a-guide * or My Land Excursions * (at the bottom of this page).
Highlights for shore excursions in Dubai
Dubai is a big city with long distances. From Cruise Terminals in Port Rashid to the Atlantis Hotel on The Palm Island, it is approximately 35 kilometers. At least 25 kilometers to the Burj Al Arab. In addition, the city is growing rapidly. Everywhere is being built. If you want to explore Dubai on your own, you need a map and some planning. You do not have to worry about your own safety here. Dubai is a safe city.
Left the airport. In addition, the old Dubai around the Dubai Creek. At the mouth of the Creek (Inlet) the cruise port. In the center of the image the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. Burj al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah on the right and the new Dubai Marina district on the right. All this is connected by the Sheikh Zayed Road, a city highway with up to 12 lanes.
The old city center around the Dubai Creek is located near the Port Rashid cruise port. Here you can easily spend a day and many destinations on foot, by Abra or the metro.
The Dubai Creek looks like a river mouth, but is a natural, more than ten kilometers long estuary. He divides the old Dubai into two parts. From the sea to the right of the Dubai Creek is the Bur Dubai district and on the other (left) side Deira. Tackling across the Dubai Creek aboard one of the small water taxis (Abras) is one of the most beautiful experiences. The spicy sea air, the bustling back and forth of the old dhows and the view of the merchant quarters make us feel the pulse of the ancient Orient.
Around Dubai Creek, there are numerous attractions, such as the famous gold souk in Deira. So much gold at once, there is probably nowhere else. Also worth seeing is the Dubai Museum in the historic Al Fahidi Fort (Bur Dubai), where you can make a fascinating journey through time in the not so distant Bedouin past. The fathers of today’s sheikhs were still building dhows, harvesting dates and popping pearls. Nearby you can stroll in the narrow streets of the Bastakiya district (Bur Dubai). This is one of the oldest districts in Dubai. Many traditional houses with wind towers have been preserved.
A new attraction near Dubai Creek is the Dubai Frame (thedubaiframe.com) in Zabeel Park. The building, opened in January 2018, looks like a giant, 150-meter-high picture frame. Of course you can go up to a viewing platform and enjoy the view.
Sheikh Zayed Road
The multi-lane Sheikh Zayed Road is the largest and most important traffic hub of Dubai. It runs parallel to the sea and connects the older with the new districts of Dubai. Depending on the direction of travel, if we have counted correctly, there are up to six lanes. Just unbelievable. The skyscrapers pile up on both sides of the road.
A ride on a taxi or metro on Sheikh Zayed Road is a great experience. Here is worth a Gold Class ticket for the Metro especially, because then you sit at the front with a view in the direction of travel. Directly on Sheikh Zayed Road since 2010 rises the tallest building in the world. Incredible 828 meters high is the gigantic Burj Khalifa.
Of course, the Burj Khalifa can already be seen from the deck of the cruise ship in Port Rashid. The tallest building in the city and in the world is probably the # 1 landmark in Dubai. The whole complex is about 13 kilometers from the harbor and was built in the immediate vicinity of the huge Dubai Mall. With a taxi comes here convenient and cheap.
There are two viewing platforms on floors 124/125 (456 meters) and 148 (555 meters). The view is breathtaking. A little like a plane. To see details, almost too high. The viewing platforms are open every day from 8:30 to 23:00. Especially popular is the time before sunset. Then you can see from above, as the sun sinks into the sea and then admire the water features of the Dubai Foutain from above. Of course, this time is a bit more expensive.
Tickets for the viewing platforms
If you want to see the entire city from Burj Khalifa, you can and should reserve tickets in advance. The rush is great, since every tourist in Dubai would like to see the city from above. There are several ticket options depending on the viewing platform, time and additional options. A good overview can be found on the website of the Burj Khalifa (link above) or at rent-a-guide *.
Many people want to see the viewing platforms, so that waiting times are inevitable. If you do not want to wait, you can buy Skip the Line tickets. An alternative to this is the not so popular times early in the morning or a slightly more expensive ticket to the observation deck on the 148th floor. There is a separate elevator and hardly any waiting times.
The water features
At the foot of the skyscraper is a lake with fantastic water features. The Dubai Fountain is as popular a tourist attraction as the Burj Khalifa itself. At 6 pm, the big water, light and sound show starts and then repeats every 30 minutes. The length of a show determines the music, which is always different. The fountains shoot up to 150 meters in height. Also at 13 o’clock and 13.30 o’clock there is a show.
You can admire the spectacle from the viewing platforms of the Burj Khalifa. On the ground, the bridge between Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar is particularly well suited. Here, however, you have to secure a place early. It is more comfortable in the surrounding restaurants.
Dubai Mall with the aquarium
The Dubai Mall at the foot of Burj Khalifa is considered the world’s largest shopping mall with over 1,200 stores. The mall also houses the Dubai Aquarium. An aquarium has a capacity of 10 million liters and houses over 33,000 marine animals. A world of its own. Exciting is the walk through a 48 meter long glass tunnel.
Just a few kilometers further on is the Mall of the Emirates, another gigantic mall. A clearly visible trademark is the indoor ski system.
Burj al Arab and surroundings
The 321 meter high Burj Al Arab has been rising right on the sea since 1999. Even after 20 years, it is the landmark of Dubai and for us the most attractive building in the city. The decor is so extraordinary that many media speak of a 7-star hotel. It deserves the 7 stars probably, but the categorization ends now with 5 stars. In order to visit the luxury hotel on your own, you need a reservation in one of the restaurants or in the Sky View Bar.
In the immediate vicinity of the hotel, the Wild Wadi Water Park and the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel, Leisure and Business Center attract many tourists. The Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most visited destinations in the city, especially in the evening.
The Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is the first completed palm island. The structure consists of the 4 kilometer long and 600 meter wide trunk, the eight palm fronds on each side and the crescent surrounding the crescent moon, which protects the entire structure from storm surges. The palm fronds are densely built with luxury villas and closed to tourists. You can, however, with the Palm Monorail (palm-monorail.com), a taxi or as part of a city tour on the 4 kilometer long trunk drive to the Atlantis Hotel.
Whoever was part of a Caribbean cruise in Nassau (Bahamas) immediately recognizes the similarity of Atlantis The Palm with the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. The hotel has a fantastic aqua park and an aquarium.
Seen from the harbor just behind the Palm Jumeirah is the Dubai Marina with its skyscrapers. This is not just a marina, but a neighborhood that will eventually be a major city with more than 150,000 inhabitants. Here, a new cruise terminal of Carnival Corporation is currently being built.
An almost four-kilometer-long artificial canal with beautiful waterfront promenades invites you to stroll. There are countless shops and restaurants here. The so-called Marina Walk along the canal is especially popular in the evening. There is also a mall (Marina Mall) and a beautiful beach (Marina Beach) on the lake side.
Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden (dubaimiraclegarden.com) is a 72,000 square meter park with allegedly more than 50 million flowers. A garden paradise in the desert that is particularly impressive in the late afternoon or early evening, as the garden is beautifully illuminated. Next door is the beautiful Dubai Butterfly Garden. Both visits can be combined very nicely. Then worth the longer journey (about 32 kilometers) from the harbor better.
The desert begins at the city limits of Dubai. The Rub al-Chali is the largest sandy desert in the world and the destination of many shore excursions in Dubai. Popular desert safaris are with SUVs. The riders let some air out of the tires to better glide over the dunes. There are even nights or even nights in desert camps with many folklore.
The selection is also very big here. The so-called Dune Drive Safaris is about the fun in the desert. Dune bashing is called sliding over the dunes. That’s fun, but it’s not for people who get sick quickly in the car. It is rocking tremendously. If you do not mind, you can also opt for self-drive offers (eg Quad Safaris or Dune buggy tours). Wildlife Drive Safaris is more about the natural desert experience.
There are many beautiful beaches in Dubai, but they are mostly hotels. The choice of public beaches is limited, but is enough for a few hours on the water.
Most public beaches can be found on Jumeirah Street between the mouth of the Dubai Canal and the famous Burj al Arab Hotel. Overall, this section is seven kilometers long. There is a beautiful promenade that is also miles long and connects several public beaches and is also popular with joggers.
The public beach at the height of the Umm Suqeim Park and in the immediate vicinity of the Burj al Arab is definitely a good choice. Unfortunately you can not rent umbrellas and beach chairs here. Gastronomy is available. The sand is very soft and the sea is shallow. Ideal for families. You can enjoy the fantastic scenery of the Burj Al Arab right next door.
About three kilometers further towards the harbor is the Kite Beach. As the name suggests, many kite surfers and windsurfers are on the road here. The beach offers everything you would want in terms of infrastructure. There are public showers, sunbeds with umbrellas and some food. A climbing and skate park provides variety.
La Mer (lamerdubai.ae) is a newly created neighborhood with beach just 10 kilometers south of the port. The beach is 2.5 kilometers long. Sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented. There are plenty of restaurants, shops and water sports.
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Al Mamzar Beach Park is located on the other side of Dubai Creek on the border with the neighboring Emirate of Sharjah. From the port you drive 16 kilometers to here. The complex consists of several bays, green areas and a pool area. The entrance is quite cheap with 5 dirhams. If you prefer it more exclusive, you can rent chalets with kitchen, shower, toilet and a small garden.
We have already mentioned the new district Dubai Marina. There is also a private and a public beach area. Admission is free to Public Beach. There are modern and clean dressing rooms and washrooms. Sun loungers, parasols and towels can be hired. On the beach promenade cafes and restaurants provide for the supply of the tourists. Unfortunately, this beautiful beach is already nearly 35 kilometers from the harbor. Only a few hours on the beach is a bit far. If you go to the beach in the afternoon and in the evening enjoy the flair of the beach promenade “The Walk” with its boutiques and restaurants in the open air, but worth the drive anyway.
Further cruise trips by local providers
The links marked with an asterisk (*) are so-called affiliate / advertising links.
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