Dubai is a spectacular city to visit. Many of its buildings are on a scale not to be found anywhere else in the world. Whether you are gazing up at Burj Khalifa, admiring the Dubai Fountain, or experiencing the man-made Palm Jumeirah islands, you are looking at something completely unique.
While these striking locations are worthy of a visit, there is a lot more to Dubai. On a much smaller scale, but equally impressive, is Bur Dubai. This is actually half of historic Old Dubai (with the other half being Deira); a mesmerizing, charming area hidden in the city center.
In Bur Dubai, you can explore Dubai’s fascinating past; shop for treasures in the souks; soak up art and culture, and experience legendary, traditional Arabian hospitality. It’s the perfect area to relax, immerse yourself in history, and witness the incredible changes that Dubai has undergone.
Here are 5 places for your Bur Dubai itinerary:
Dubai Creek and Marsa Al Seef
Dubai Creek flows through the center of Dubai. It is here you can find the very beginnings of the city.
As recently as just one century ago, Dubai was a small fishing port. Fishing vessels arrived at Dubai Creek with their day’s catch so the place was a hive of activity and trade. The city’s small population would have all lived and worked close to the creek.
Dubai has clearly changed greatly since these times. Thankfully, you can still explore its historical beginnings. Taking a traditional dhow cruise from Marsa Al Seef along the creek combines spectacular views with a taste of history. You’ll be aboard a replica of the same boats that were so important to Dubai’s trading center all those years ago.
When you alight, make the most of your time by exploring Marsa Al Seef. It’s an exciting, newly restored part of Old Dubai. It combines delightful shopping with a range of dining experiences. Created to celebrate the rich history of Dubai, Marsa Al Seef features traditional settings. Visit the floating venues and pontoons on the creek-side.
The Al Bastakiya Quarter
This fascinating, charming maze of alleyways is the oldest residential district in Dubai. The area features dozens of Arabian courtyard-style buildings, along with customary wind towers. These would have once been homes to the city merchants.
The Al Bastakiya Quarter is now home to a plethora of art galleries and cafes. Catch an exhibition of a highly-regarded local artist at the XVA gallery, browse the interesting boutiques, and refresh at one of the many traditional cafes.
The area’s Coffee Museum is also an interesting place to visit. Arabian coffee is extremely important to local culture and visitors can learn all about it here.
The Gold Souk
Dubai is still home to several traditional souks, including the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk, the Perfume Souk, and the Textile Souk. Seek out as many as you have time for; all offer fascinating glimpses of timeless Arabian markets.
However, the Gold Souk is a particular highlight. Be prepared to witness more gold in one small area than you could ever imagine. The place is a true treasure trove.
It’s a brilliant place to shop for a gift or two to take away with you. Quality is assured by the Dubai government for all pieces purchased. And if you haggle well enough, you’ll secure an excellent price.
The Dubai Museum
For all history lovers, a trip to The Dubai Museum is a must. Get a complete picture of the city’s development through pictures and models. They illustrate Dubai’s rise from the small beginnings of Bur Dubai and Deira to the modern metropolis it is now.
The museum itself is found in a historic building: the Al Fahidi Fort. It was once a spectacular royal residence. But, it also served as a prison and a weapons arsenal before being turned into a museum.
An Arabian Style Hotel
To complete your exploration of Bur Dubai, try staying in a more traditional hotel. An Arabian-style hotel close to Marsa Al Seef will offer warm Arabian hospitality alongside all the luxury you can expect from the city.
Bur Dubai should be on the itinerary of any visitor to Dubai. To miss it would mean missing some of the most interesting, welcoming and relaxing experiences the city has to offer.
Habib Khan is a seasoned Hotelier, currently the CEO of Planet Hospitality and General Manager of Arabian Courtyard Hotel and Spa. Khan has more than 30 years of diversified international experience in the hospitality industry. He is an expert in developing, transforming, and managing hotels, with an ability to analyze and solve problems in a challenging work environment.