A Complete Guide to Activities and Hotels in Old Dubai

Old Dubai Shops

There is a wide variety of attractions in Dubai, from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, to an indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai. But in the past, Dubai was a little fishing community centered on a creek. Dubai’s Old Quarter is the best spot to learn about the history and heritage of this Emirate and get a glimpse of what life was like before the city began its fast rise.

Indulge in the various listed activities to get a different taste of Dubai:

Best Things to Do in Old Dubai:

1. Explore the gold souk

Gold Souks

There are exotic souks in Old Dubai, including the biggest gold market.  In the gold souks, tourists may see the largest gold chain in the world (according to Guinness World Records) and shop for reasonably priced pieces, all while getting a taste of a typical Arabic market and learning more about the gold and jewelry industry in Dubai. Haggling is encouraged to achieve the best pricing as the Dubai government guarantees the quality of every piece sold in the souk’s hundreds of retail outlets.

2. Take a stroll through the Al Bastakiya Neighborhood

Bastakiya Quarters

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood  (formerly called Al Bastakiya)  is the oldest residential area in Dubai, with its origins in the nineteenth century. The winding lanes of this merchant-founded neighborhood are a delight for curious sightseers. Wind towers, relics from an era before air conditioning, marked the completion of the buildings. The area used to be home to merchants who conducted business along Dubai Creek, but that has changed in recent years. However, it is full of tourist destinations, including museums and traditional shops.

3. Visit the XVA Gallery to see some local artwork

The XVA Gallery in Al Bastakiya is one of the city’s most remarkable and distinctive landmarks. Here you may get acquainted with foreign artists and check out the local art scene. The gallery infuses the neighborhood’s old and traditional vibe with a touch of art through shows by prominent local artists. The juxtaposition of the historic structure, originally constructed with elements like coral, with the bright and eye-catching artwork creates a fascinating blend of art and history.

4. See the Coffee Gallery

Coffee Museum

The Coffee Museum in Al Bastakiya is a must-see for caffeine addicts from all over the world. Visitors can have a cup of coffee with a mix of regional and international flavors in a cozy, classic setting at this museum. The Coffee Museum has a wide variety of coffees from throughout the world, including local Arabic, Ethiopian, and Japanese types. Visitors can learn the ins and outs of coffee roasting and brewing while also perusing interesting antiques.

5. Take part in a typical Arabic meal in a tea house

In the historical district of Al Bastakiya, you will find the enchanting Basta Art Café, which features a cozy and stylish ambiance in the heart of the Old Quarter. You can experience authentic Arabic cuisine and culture to the fullest at this restaurant. The Arabian Tea House, also known simply as the Tea House, is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai and features a patio where tourists may enjoy traditional meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

6. Go to the Dubai Museum

dubai museum

One of the iconic museums in Dubai is housed in the ancient Al Fahidi Fort, whose origin dates back to 1787 and is perhaps the city’s most visited attraction. Originally the palace of a ruling family, the fort also served as a prison and a military stronghold over Dubai’s long and eventful history. The museum now features various replicas of early Dubai, allowing visitors to experience the city’s transformation into its modern form.

7. Buy gifts at souk’s souvenir shop

In Dubai, you can get various gifts for friends and family back home from the Meena bazaar. The city has everything from standard souvenirs like fridge magnets and coffee mugs to more unusual finds like camel-milk soap and authentic Emirati apparel. The souk is an excellent destination for acquiring family-friendly trinkets of various descriptions. Unlike shopping in a modern mall, visitors to this traditional market can barter for the best deal.

8. Get your shopping done at the spice souk

Spice SouksVisiting the spice souk is like nothing else you have ever done. The spice souk in Dubai is a traditional market where visitors can buy traditional and rare spices in a classic setting and acquire some of the highest quality spices in the region, from the mix of scents that accentuate the flavors of the region to the vivid colors of the different spices brought to Dubai from neighboring countries through the creek.

9. Take a boat ride across Dubai Creek for just one dirham

For everyone from fishermen to merchants, the saltwater channel known as Dubai Creek marks the beginning of the city. The stream, which eventually empties into the Persian Gulf, served as an important commercial artery for the once-small city that is today a large metropolis. For just one dirham (about $0.22), tourists and locals alike can take a shared abra across Dubai Creek. This paves the way for residents of Al Bastakiya to visit the souks.

10. Enjoy the show as the locals load the ships with goods for export and import

Few things visitors can do today in Dubai will give them a better sense of the city’s history than watching locals pack cargo ships. Shipping containers are traditional wooden dhows, which have been utilized for commerce for centuries and continue to do so today. Although the rest of life in this gleaming contemporary Emirate is quite sophisticated, the boats and the packing process are decidedly not.

Facts of Old Dubai That Are Worth Noting:

Dubai Museum is located in the former home of Dubai’s royal family, and the Al Fahidi Historic District is home to several medieval wind towers, an early form of air conditioning. Dubai Creek, also known as Khor Dubai, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Spice Souk is the best place to acquire traditional Arabic ingredients like saffron and dates, while the Gold Souk is one of the largest gold markets in the world, selling an estimated 10 tons of gold annually.

Hotels in Bur Dubai:

Stay at one of the best hotels in Bur Dubai, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, which combines modern amenities with traditional Arabian hospitality and is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood.

To experience an authentic Arabian courtyard home, book a room at the XVA Art Hotel, a boutique property in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood.

The Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights is a five-star establishment near the city’s historic quarter and boasts breathtaking views of Dubai Creek.


In conclusion, those who are curious about the city’s past and culture owe it to themselves to visit Old Dubai. If you follow these suggestions, you will have a fantastic time in this exciting area.

About Vidya

I am a restless soul. The only time I am sitting, still is when I am reviewing all the various places I’ve travelled. Yes, I love to travel, shop, eat good food, and write about it. I am truly living a blessed life.

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