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Old Dubai Tour

tour in old dubai

Tour Information

Old dubai highlights.

  • Al Fahidi Courtyard Houses in Al Bastakiya
  • Dubai Museum
  • The Ruler’s Court
  • Dubai Old Textile Souk called Mina Bazar
  • Traditional Abra Ride (wooden boat) to ride across the creek
  • Dubai Creek

This two-hour walking tour is the perfect introduction to the history and culture of the UAE.  

You will learn first hand about unique Gulf Arab traditions and you will see the historic buildings and souks that pre-date modern times.  Specifically, you will see:

  • Historical neighborhood Al Fahidi District
  • Coffee Museum and Dubai Museum
  • Textile, Spice, and Gold Souks
  • Traditional Abra Ride (wooden boat) across the creek

Tour Information:

Old Dubai Heritage and Souks Walking Tour

When:   Offered throughout the week - please click on Book Now to see the calendar.

Price:    AED 175 per person for a group tour. Book a private tour for AED 275 per person (use Book Now link below).

Duration:   Approximately 2 hours

Departure Point: Meet outside Arabian Tea House Restaurant in Al Fahidi District, Bur Dubai

Book the Old Dubai Tour

Reservations Required! Click here to reserve…

Our Old Dubai and Souk Tour begins on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek outside the Al Fahidi District. Guests can easily get here by Metro or by taxi.

After walking through Al Fahidi Courtyard Houses, we walk by to the Dubai Museum (currently closed for renovation), pass by the Ruler's Court and then experience the famous Hindi Lane. After learning about the Old Textile Souk, Meena Bazaar and the Indian community's influence on Dubai, we get to the Creek Waterfront Abra Taxi Stand.

We look out onto Sheikh Saeed's House and Heritage Village as we enjoy a traditional boat ride to get to Deira. Here we learn about the historic trading activities that go on even till today in the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk. The tour ends at the Gold Souk. From here guests can enjoy a traditional Emirati meal if they choose.

The Al Ras Metro is close by and provides connectivity to the rest of the city.

Built in mid-1800s, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood was once a bustling trading hub for merchants. It was conveniently situated near the banks of the Dubai Creek and furthermore is protected from attack by ancient forts and watchtowers. Traditional Emirati architecture is characteristic in these restored and preserved houses.

These have now been restored to serve as boutique hotels, art studios and cafes. We will walk through these houses, and understand their simplicity in design, functionality and relevance to the seasons.


The larger Old Dubai area plays host to traditional architecture, multiple museums, gorgeous street art, in addition to ancient fortifications. Our Old Dubai Tour delves into the city’s heritage and explores what early life was like in this desert trading town. It’s a great way to learn about the traditions of Dubai.

Dubai Gold Souq, Spice Souk and Abra Ride

Dubai is particularly famous for its Gold Souk. Most visitors come here out of curiosity and eagerness to purchase some very high quality gold jewelry at very fair prices.

The styles of jewelry offer a range from Western modern designs to traditional eastern sets. You can find pearls and precious stones and furthermore the helpful shopkeepers can help you choose something from their vast choices of ingots to intricate jewelry designs. The elaborate displays of gold are a sight in themselves.

Savory spices, fresh fragrances, glittering gold and silken shawls.

Old Dubai boasts a cluster of traditional marketplaces ( souks ) with a variety of wares on offer. Whether you a looking for a souvenir knickknack or a diamond necklace, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit you here.

Our world-famous guides will give you the history and significance of the souqs and the role they played in the growth of Dubai. Furthermore, during our walking tour, we tell you all about Dubai’s history as a trading hub as well.

We’ll guide you through the various goods on offer, from agarwood to zaatar and mouth-watering Shawarmas.

Video Courtesy: Gulf News Tabloid

In order to get a deeper sense of some of the attractions covered on this tour, you can read our blog on Heritage Attractions of Dubai.

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Not sure which Dubai Tour to take? Shoot us an email on [email protected] and let us know of your interests. We’ll be happy to help you find the walking tour of Dubai that is right for you.

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A walking tour of Old Dubai, the city's historic heart

By Pearl Yan

Dubai United Arab Emirates  May 3 2013 Deira old town and traditional Abra ferry along Dubai Creek.The creek divides the...

A city of futuristic architectural wonders and grand ambitions, Dubai has evolved far beyond its origins as a fishing and pearling village, and trading port. An area on the banks of the Dubai Creek tells a different story, however; fondly referred to as Old Dubai, the heritage district is where you can retreat from the shining towers of the metropolis and journey into the emirate’s past. Take a glimpse into a more traditional way of life in the maze-like alleyways of this part of Dubai where surprises await. Here are the best places to eat, see and stay in Dubai's old town.

Take a walking tour

Bayt Al Khanyar or the Dagger Museum is dedicated to this traditional ornamental weapon

Bayt Al Khanyar or the Dagger Museum is dedicated to this traditional ornamental weapon

Start your exploration in Old Dubai with its plethora of museums. In Al Fahidi, a historical neighbourhood that dates back to the 19th century, you should start your journey at Bayt Al Khanyar Museum , also known as the dagger museum, where you can unpack the cultural significance of the Arabian dagger and linger over a collection of photographs portraying generations of UAE rulers proudly sporting their khanyar . Don’t forget to stop by the museum's cosy coffee shop that's decorated with wooden furniture, patterned tablecloths, and shelves filled with dallah (traditional Arabic coffee pots) of all shapes and sizes.

Raw and roasted Arabic coffee beans on display at the Coffee Museum

Raw and roasted Arabic coffee beans on display at the Coffee Museum

Next door, coffee lovers will rejoice over the Coffee Museum , a showcase of the treasured tradition, featuring local antiques such as coffee grinders used in the First World War and from an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Upstairs, you will find a lounge and library housing a selection of coffee books from around the world. Then, continue walking in the direction of Dubai Creek, where you will find the Coin Museum on your left. Here, over 470 rare coins from the Middle East dating back to the 7th century are on exhibit in eight galleries. From here, follow the winding streets in the direction of the XVA Gallery , which plays host to an regularly changing calendar of art exhibitions, an artisanal boutique that supports small and local businesses, and a courtyard cafe serving freshly prepared vegetarian food.

Fresh bags of spices and herbs at the Dubai Spice Market

Fresh bags of spices and herbs, at the Dubai Spice Market

After a stroll through the maze-like pathways and traditional wind towers, make your way to the banks of Dubai Creek and hop aboard an abra for one dirham ($0.27) or two dirhams ($0.54) if you opt for an air-conditioned cabin. With each abra seating 20 people on narrow wooden benches, the ride offers a unique perspective on the juxtaposition of the city’s modern skyline and historical waterfront buildings. Hop off at Deira Old Souk Abra Station and cross Baniyas Road, and you’ll find yourself in the Spice Souk, soaking up the atmosphere as you trail past shopfronts stacked high with bright and colourful herbs and spices, accompanied by the smell of burning incense. Vendors will call you by Hollywood celebrities' names to get your attention, and a friendly haggle is expected. For those looking to shop for souvenirs, a variety of fragrances are also on sale, from oud perfume and Arabian-style incense burners, to bakhoor , a more gentle way of enjoying the aroma of oud by burning agarwood chips soaked with jasmine and sandalwood.

Old Dubai's Gold Souk is busy from dawn til dusk

Old Dubai's Gold Souk is busy from dawn til dusk

However, your souk shop is not complete without a visit to the Gold Souk - one of Dubai’s oldest trading spots. Whether you’re just browsing or looking to make a serious investment, the Gold Souk is renowned for its impressive range of gold, jewellery, gemstones and other rare metals, and what's on sale has been authenticated by the Dubai government for buyers' peace of mind.

Where to eat

When it comes to dining options in Old Dubai, you are in for some of the best Emirati restaurants in town. Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant is a culinary gem with an extensive menu which features authentic Emirati dishes, from local favourites such as machboos (Emirati spiced rice), sizzling grills and fried seafood dishes in a traditional courtyard setting. Everything is freshly made, with live cooking stations demonstrating the preparation of r egag (bread) and luqaimat (fried dough balls). You can also book a breakfast cooking class and try your hand at preparing your own Emirati breakfast including balaleet (sweetened vermicelli served with egg) and khubz tannour (Arabic flatbread) with the guidance of a chef.

Next door, Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) hosts a range of activities to promote the Emirati culture and traditions, including meals with a local to welcome you and answer any questions about the emirate. During the holy month of Ramadan, SMCCU also holds iftar, the fast-breaking meal held at sunset, which includes a visit to the Diwan mosque and an Emirati feast of specialty dishes, desserts and tea.

Arabian Tea House nearby is also a popular choice - it’s a quaint cafe in a courtyard setting with turquoise benches, white rattan chairs, lace curtains and an open-air thatched roof. The tea house proudly serves a wide variety of popular Emirati dishes, from saloona (Arabic stew) to its Arabian Tea House Special Wrap filled with roasted lamb. The desserts are just as tasty, ranging from ferni (rose water rice pudding) and khabees (toasted flour sweet) to date cake. Don’t leave without enjoying a piping hot cup of qahwa (Arabic coffee).

Mazmi restaurant in Old Dubai is a great spot for watching the river traffic

Mazmi restaurant in Old Dubai is a great spot for watching the river traffic

For casual food made with quality ingredients, look no further than Mazmi , an Italian-owned cafe that oozes Mediterranean charm. With an expansive terrace overlooking the waters of Dubai Creek, Mazmi provides an idyllic setting for a non-alcoholic sundowner as you watch the passing abras; even better, it serves freshly baked cakes and croissants filled with homemade jams imported from Italy.

Wokyo Noodle Bar serves excellent ramen

Wokyo Noodle Bar serves excellent ramen

Japanese food might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re in Old Dubai, but Wokyo Noodle Bar is not to be missed - especially if you are a ramen lover. The restaurant features tatami-style seating indoors and wooden benches on the terrace perfect for al fresco dining. Its menu has a selection of specialty broths with ramen and sauces for stir-fried noodles to choose from, as well as matcha soft-serve ice cream and homemade iced teas for those with a sweet tooth.

Where to stay

Relax at the XVA Art Hotel which has an excellent cafe and gallery space

Relax at the XVA Art Hotel which has an excellent cafe and gallery space

A day trip is enough to feel the charm of Old Dubai, but for those who want to take a slower pace and savour the stories behind every mud brick, a stay in one of the hotels in the area will render a true sense of place. XVA Art Hotel in Al Fahidi is a chic property with 15 rooms spread out around three shaded courtyards, each individually designed by established creatives and artists, such as Zayan Ghandour, the designer behind award-winning lifestyle concept S*uce. Breakfast is served at XVA Cafe, where well-executed vegetarian dishes meet Arabic influences.

Al Seef Heritage Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton makes a good base for your explorations

Al Seef Heritage Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton makes a good base for your explorations

Another fantastic option is Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton , which combines traditional, bedouin-style design which draws deeply on the emirate’s rich heritage with thoughtful, contemporary service. Located in Al Seef, the hotel provides an ideal base to explore the area, from modern gift shops to waterfront restaurants from where you can take an abra just a few minutes away on foot. Sabaa is the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, offering authentic Middle Eastern fare in a homely setting.

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  • Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

Last updated: 05/18/2022

Discover Old Dubai, the old city area of Dubai that is home to some of the most traditional sites of this historic city, including the neighborhoods of Deira and Bur Dubai.

The city of Dubai was founded in the early 18th century as a small fishing village on the shores of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai Creek, a creek that divides the old city area into two main parts: deira , to the east, and Bur Dubai west. Other areas that are also part of Old Dubai are Karama and Satwa, but they are less touristy.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

For centuries, traders moored their boats on the banks of Dubai Creek, bringing perfumes, spices, coffee and gold from distant countries for trade. In the early 20th century, the creek, while unable to support large-scale transport, served as a minor port for dhows, sailing ships from places like India and East Africa. Dubai's pearl industry, which formed the main sector of the city's economy, was primarily based on expeditions on Dubai Creek. Fishing, also an important industry at the time, was also based along Dubai Creek, whose warm, shallow waters supported a wide variety of marine life.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Crossing from one side of Dubai Creek to the other is done by small motorized traditional wooden boats called “Abra”, which take up to 12 people at a time at a cost of 1 dirham each way, paid directly in currency to the boatman. . Users sit on a wooden bench with their backs to each other, while the boatman is in the center. Abras in Dubai Creek are used daily not only by tourists, but by the general population, as they are cheap and time-saving in crossing the canal from one side to the other. Abras operate between the Deira Old Souk Abra Station , on the Deira side and the Bur Dubai Abra Station on the side of Bur Dubai.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Many of the old trading places and facilities have been renovated and their use changed. The area is super friendly for tourists, who can look for bargains on clothing, souvenirs, spices, gold items, perfumes, decoration items, handicrafts, crockery, among others. See the interactive map brings attractions in Deira (in purple), attractions in Bur Dubai (in blue), attractions in Al Seef (in orange), attractions in Al Shindagha (in pink), in addition to subway stations (in green), transport tips (black and hosting tips (in grey). Then, learn more about the main attractions on both sides of Dubai Creek.

Deira is an area known historically as Dubai shopping center , although much of the place has undergone major modernization over the years, there is still a more traditional feel to the area, which attracts many tourists in search of good bargains. The main highlights of Deira are the souks (or souqs), the traditional markets that, in addition to housing traders, also have the presence of artisans and local producers.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

It is possible to know the Grand Souk – Deira (souvenirs and apparel),  Spice Souk (spices and spices)  Gold Souk (gold items) and Deira Perfume Souk (perfumes), in addition to others such as Herbs Souk (herbs), Utensils Souk (utensils), Matterss Souk. For those who like to negotiate prices, it is the perfect place. Many report that they are able to buy items for up to half the price initially advertised by the seller. I confess that I don't really like this practice of having to keep negotiating because I don't have much patience. Prepare to be approached by salespeople eager to do business who will cross your path offering a little bit of everything.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

Another important attraction in Deira is Museum of the Poet Al Oqaili , the historic home of Saudi poet Mubarak Bin Al Oqaili that has been restored into a museum. Then check out more information about the souks:


Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


It provides a colorful, aromatic and sensorial nostalgic experience. It is a return to the past that allows visitors to discover different aromatic herbs and spices. Vendors help identify spice types and give tips on where to use them. There are many exotic specimens, not so common in our daily lives, with vibrant colors and unique aromas. There is also a wide variety of fragrant teas from around the world, as well as nuts and oils. Spices are sold by weight and in packages.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Discover new fragrances, very important in Arab life, presenting an exotic variety of milder and more evident aromas. Thousands of traditional Arabian aromas are offered, which can be used as incense, but can also be purchased in powder, crystal, rock, chopsticks or wood. You can even ask them to create a unique scent, completely personalized based on your skin type and personality.


The Gold Souk is one of the oldest traditional markets in Dubai. Even if you're not looking to buy anything, it's worth taking a walk through the souk to learn more about the work of local artisans and their unique designs made with gold, gemstones, diamonds, pearls, silver and platinum. A curiosity is that all goods are carefully regulated by the government of Dubai to ensure quality authenticity.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

In the souk it is possible to see up close the Najmat Taliba (Star of Taliba), the heaviest gold ring in the world, with 5.17 kg of precious stones and 58,686 kg of 21-karat gold, totaling 63,856 kg!

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


A little further away from the other souks is the Naif Souk, a place that was once home to a camel market, an excellent market that offers a range of authentic Arab goods and services that include clothing items, henna designs, leather goods, electronics and a large selection of Islamic abayas (typical clothing worn by women).


Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Opened in 1971, Dubai Museum is located inside the old Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in the city, built in 1781. Around it you can find ancient walls built around 1800. They were built of coral and gypsum, had about 50 cm thick, 600 meters long and 2.5 meters high. At the beginning of the 20th century, the walls were demolished to accommodate the expansion of the city.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

From the fort, there is a path to the galleries, which showcase the general culture of Dubai, especially in the 19th century. The museum aims to introduce the traditional way of life of the Emirate of Dubai. It includes local antiquities as well as artifacts from African and Asian countries that traded with Dubai. It also includes several mockups showing life in the emirate before the advent of oil, as well as artifacts from recent discoveries from 3000 BC In late 2021, the museum closed for renovations.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Located along Dubai Creek, the Al Fahidi Historic District (also known as Al Bastakiya) is an important Dubai heritage site that has much of the original infrastructure preserved and intact as of the mid-19th century. The neighborhood is full of alleys, alleys, winding paths and traditional wind towers built in stone, teak, plaster, palm wood and sandalwood.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

There are more than 50 buildings that can be explored, including the  Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding , where you can take an immersive cultural tour of the neighborhood; O Coins Museum Bur Dubai (Museum of Coins), where more than 470 rare coins are on display, including coins from the British Empire, India and countries in the region before independence; O Coffee Museum , which tells the story of coffee ; The Symposium House and the Events House , which usually holds cultural events; The Arabic Calligraphy House (Dar Al Khatt Alarabi), specializing in Arabic calligraphy and creative art; The Philately House (exhibition of postage stamp collections); The Municipality House , which is an example of traditional Dubai architecture; and the Bastakia Mosque , one of Dubai's most astonishing mosques that, while not the largest, has latticework and intricate detailing.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

keep an eye on the calendar so as not to miss the events offered in the neighborhood, especially the Sikka Air Fair (art exhibition by emerging artists) and Heritage Week (which involves a range of organizations to provide a broad view of the country's past and the Emirati way of life.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Located between the Textile Souk and the Dubai Museum, it is right in front of Shiva Temple, a Hindu temple. It was originally built in 1998 and can accommodate 1,200 worshippers. Initially, this mosque was built as a school to study the Quran. The architecture consists of a 70 meter high minaret, the tallest in Dubai. In addition, there are 45 small domes and nine larger ones covering its roof. Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter, except for the minaret, where photographs can be taken. The Grand Mosque is considered the center of Dubai's religious and cultural life.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


  • BUR DUBAI SOUK: This busy bazaar where you can find a little bit of everything, including fabrics, clothes, lamps, bags, shoes, souvenirs, spices, typical snacks and much more. He is also known as Textile Souk and Old Souk. Here you can find different colored fabrics in silk, cotton and embroidered fabrics. There is also a wide range of clothing made by local designers, as well as a huge selection of buttons, stones, lace, sequins and other decorative items to add a special touch. If you prefer, on site it is easy to find a qualified seamstress/tailor who can produce any type of clothing from the chosen material.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

  • AL FAHIDI SOUK :   This two-story souk is a good place to haggle in a quieter way, without huge crowds. You can find clothing stores made by local designers, perfumes, cosmetics, shoes, accessories, gifts, antiques, and electronics. Also, there are several restaurants in a food court.
  • MEENA BAZAR BUR DUBAI:  Considered the “Little India of Dubai”, Meena Bazaar has some of the best prices for shopping for traditional textiles, gold items, jewelry and souvenirs. Located between Al Fahidi Street and Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, Meena Bazar transports visitors to the past with colorful shops and views of Dubai Creek. Meena Jewelers is one of the oldest and most famous gold shops, known for its legacy and craftsmanship. There are also stores selling furniture, ceramics, perfumes and spices. For those looking to save money, there are several stalls selling traditional snacks at very affordable prices.

Opened in 2017, Al Seef it is another district that is on the side of Bur Dubai, next to the Al Fahidi Historic District. Stretching 1.8 km along Dubai Creek, it has become one of Dubai's most popular leisure districts, offering in this space steeped in history, plenty of options. purchases , gastronomy and accommodation . Include in the tour a pass through the Al Seef Heritage Souq , which offers a variety of options for admiring local art, crafts and traditional crafts. The perfume souks are worth a visit. Also visit the rooftop terrace of the Mamikonyan restaurant. The events plaza in Al Seef has a full calendar of activities, including plays, live bands, dance performances and children's shows. Take the opportunity to walk through the alleys and admire Dubai Creek.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


Al Shindagha is a neighborhood in Old Dubai where Sheikh Saeed Al Moktoum, ruler of Dubai, lived with his family between 1912 and 1958. His reconstructed residence in Al Shindagha is now open to the public as a museum, called House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum . Another attraction in the neighborhood is the  Saruq Al Hadid Museum , which displays exhibited findings that were found at an archaeological site on the edge of the Rub Al-Khali Desert, and were discovered by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum while piloting his helicopter. Archaeologists and historians have discovered various iron tools, bronze pots, precious stones, gold jewelry and fossils, all of which are part of the museum's collection. Visitors can even do their own excavation in a simulated archaeological dig.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

At the Al Shindagha Museum , visitors can learn more about the city's maritime history, including diverse histories of the country's past and traditions. Next to it is Perfume House , where visitors have the opportunity to discover the legacy of UAE perfumery. A little further away is Dubai Heritage Village , created in 1997 to display a souvenir of ancient traditional life in the UAE. Visitors can get in touch with the country's old traditional customs and the special features of the old houses, crafts and everyday life.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


There are several dining options in the Old Dubai area. Here are some of these options:

  • Al Bait ALqadeem Restaurant and Cafe : Restaurant and Café in the Deira region that offers a wide variety of Persian, Indian and, of course, typical UAE dishes.
  • XVA Coffee : Delicious outdoor cafe serving a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes in a leafy courtyard. There is also a hotel in the complex. XV Art Hotel , a shop offering local handicrafts, bags and jewelry; and the XVA Art Gallery, a contemporary art gallery. Read about our experience in this post .

XVA Café: Restaurant in Dubai's Al Fahidi Historic District

  • Bayt Al Wakeel Restaurant : Located right on the banks of Dubai Creek on the Bur Dubai side, overlooking the canal, this traditional restaurant, opened in 1935, offers Middle Eastern dishes that include seafood and Arabic cuisine.
  • Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe – Al Fahidi : Beautiful Café located in Al Fahidi variety of more than 150 types of teas that can be accompanied by rooms, sandwiches and desserts. Among the highlights of the teas are the mint lemonade and a house blend made of black tea with herbs and fruits.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

  • Saravana Bhavan, Bur Dubai : The restaurant belongs to a large Indian vegetarian food chain, with several units around the world, and is located near Dubai Creek.


Below are some of the top rated accommodation options in Old Dubai.

  • Super 8 by Wyndham Dubai Deira : Located on the side of Deira, this hotel of the Super 8 chain of budget hotels, offers air-conditioned rooms, free wifi and 24-hour reception.
  • XVA Art Hotel : Located in the heart of the Al Fahidi Historical District (Bastakiya), it offers elegant rooms individually decorated with art by renowned designers and artists of the region. In the complex there is also a delicious vegetarian restaurant, the XVA Coffee , a shop offering local handicrafts, bags and jewelry; and the XVA Art Gallery, a contemporary art gallery.

XVA Café: Restaurant in Dubai's Al Fahidi Historic District

  • MAZMI HOME : A B&B (Bed and Breakfast) very well located near the Dubai Museum that offers rooms with views of the famous Dubai Creek canal and has a restaurant and bar on the property.
  • Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton : Located in the historic district of Al Seef, a little further from the historic center of Al Fahidi, it offers views of Dubai Creek and an immersion in the cultural wonders of the city. It houses the Meshawi and Sabaa restaurants.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


We parked our rental car in a parking lot relatively close to the Al Fahidi Fort/Dubai Museum which cost AED 10 per hour and proceeded on foot, past the Dubai Museum and on to the Al Fahidi Historic District, our favorite area in Old Dubai. There we had lunch in the charming XVA Coffee , a super cute open-air restaurant that serves vegetarian food. We walked through the neighborhood and started back, passing by the Bur Dubai Mosque (Grand Bur Dubai Masjid) and the Bur Dubai Souk Market.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city

We walked to Abras station to cross Dubai Creek and disembark in Deira. Then we visited the Deira souks walking through them until we took Abra back to Bur Dubai, paid for parking and took our car and headed to the Dubai Frame , the largest frame in the world, which divides Old Dubai from modern Dubai. We don't stop to shop in the souks and our tour took almost 4 hours . If you are planning to buy (and trade with traders) plan on staying longer.

Old Dubai: A tour of the traditional areas of the city


  • CAR: For those who are driving, one option is to leave the car in a parking lot in Bur Dubai (there are also options in Deira) and explore the region on foot, as we did in the previous report.
  • SUBWAY: Another interesting option is to use the Green Line from the Dubai Metro. The closest station to the Deira souks is Al Ras and the season baniyas square is closer to Naif Souk. In Bur Dubai, the closest stations are Al Ghubaiba (closer to Abra station) and Al Fahidi (closest to Al Fahidi Historical District – Bastakiya). For those who want to visit Al Seef, the tip is to get off at the station Al Fahidi or Burjuman and walk to Dubai Creek.

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United Arab Emirates: Discover 10 Shopping Centers in Dubai

United Arab Emirates: 8 souks in Dubai for shopping

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Frying Pan Adventures

Dubai Souks and Creekside Food Walk

  • AED435 • AED 3056+ Private groups
  • Deira and Bur Dubai, Dubai


  • Where to Meet
  • Terms & Conditions

Explore Dubai's historic souks while indulging in nostalgic foods and hearing stories of the city's first communities - the perfect mix of sightseeing and food!

  • Cover the Old Dubai ‘must-do’s’—the spice souk, abra ride, textile souk and Old Fahidi neighborhood—along a well-paced 3.5-hour route.
  • Experience Old Dubai like our friends would, only the stuff you have to see and eat rather than a standard touristy checklist.
  • Stand apart from the mammoth groups herded with a flag; our group is small and intimate, with only 10 to 14 fellow explorers.
  • Savour popular local snacks, tangy Indian treats and indigenous Emirati dishes.
  • Meet a local resident guide who thrives on stories and passion, not commissions from the souk; never feel pressured to spend!
  • Ride the abra, Dubai’s oldest form of water transportation across the historic Creek.
  • Play SPINGO, our proprietary spice game that transforms the touristy souk into a fun, easy-to-play and immersive experience.
  • **May-Sept tours: Summer tours are shortened by one stop to reduce the walking and to make them more summer-friendly. Instead, we order an extra dish at our final main course stop. We also replace outdoor SPINGO with an indoor spice shop discussion of saffron to avoid the heat!

Meet & Greet Meet our friendly food tour guide at the historic Spice Souk & learn about the significance of the Al Ras neighbourhood.

Egg Rolls & Tea Fuel up with an Old Dubai nostalgic treat washed down with sweet milky tea in the back alleys of the souk. (G/D)

Abra Ride Cross the creek from Deira to Bur Dubai in a traditional wooden boat.

1970s Cafeteria Lane We walk into a narrow lane bustling with hawkers selling delicious crunchy snacks—you can’t leave without trying one (or five)! (G/D)

Allergens Key: Contains G-Gluten; D-Dairy; N-Nuts; M-Meat (Beef/Lamb); P-Poultry; F-Fish; S-Shellfish. We regret that there may not be substitutes for dishes. Even if specific dishes do not contain these ingredients, we cannot guarantee against cross-contamination of allergens in the restaurant kitchens.

All prices below include 5% VAT and all the food and water that the guide orders for the group on the tour. Soft beverages are not included.

Shared Tour:

We offer 2 ticket types. The non-refundable ticket may not be changed/refunded for any reason once booked.

On public tours, the flex ticket may be either (a) rescheduled or (b) refunded minus a 35 AED cancellation fee per ticket, anytime up to an hour before the tour commences. Within an hour of the tour start time, no changes are possible on a flex ticket. Once rescheduled, a flex ticket will become non-refundable/non-reschedulable.

  • Non-refundable option: AED 435 per person
  • Flex option: AED 478.50 per person

Private Tour:

Rates per private group based on group size below:

6 guests or fewer – AED 3056 7 guests – AED 3484 8 guests – AED 3982 9 guests – AED 4480 10 guests – AED 4893 11 guests – AED 5382 12 guests – AED 5871 13 guests – AED 6361 14 guests – AED 6882

Refund/Rescheduling Policy on Private Tours:

  • 21 days or more before tour date:  All tickets may be fully refunded or rescheduled.
  • 8 to 21 days before tour date:  Tour may either (a) be rescheduled for a fee of AED 25% of the original group ticket price paid or (b) partially refunded (70% of total price paid).
  • 7 or less days before tour date:  No changes possible.
  • Only one date reschedule possible per private group booking, depending on availability.
  • In the case of reductions in the group size, the same refund policy as above applies. A full refund 21 days or more before tour date; partial refund (70% of the difference) 8 to 21 days before tour date; no changes 7 days or less before tour date.
  • If gift cards or gifted tickets have been used for any portion of the private tour booking, any full or partial refunds due will be made to the original gift card or gifted ticket.

As an example, if the tour is on the 25th of November:

  • Full refunds/free rescheduling is possible up until the 4th of November only (= 25th Nov minus 21 days)
  • Between the 5th of November and 17th of November ( = 25th Nov – 7 days), the partial refund/pay-to-reschedule policy applies.
  • 18th November onwards, no changes would be possible.

For Children in Private Tour Groups:

  • We recommend this tour for children 8 years and above. However we do take children younger than 8 years on the tour if their parent/guardian feel they can manage through the duration of the experience.
  • Children 4 years and above are to be included as regular guests in the group size. Children below 4 go free.
  • We do offer children discounts for children between the ages of 4 and 8. This option will be provided while booking the tour online.
  • Diaper changing facilities are not available on the tour.

We meet right by the benches in front of Jafer Biman Ali Cafeteria at the Spice Souk.

GPS link:

Please be on time, we don’t wait for latecomers! Given traffic, limited parking and different starting/ending locations, we strongly recommend that you take the metro rather than driving to the trail. If you plan to take a taxi, please budget extra time for traffic.

Nearby metro: Al Ras (start) and Al Fahidi (end).

Here’s What Past Guests on This Tour Are Saying

Go321598 Avatar

Can I book this tour as a private experience?

Yes, we’d love to serve you and any companions on a private tour! We need a minimum of 3 people and a maximum of 12 to run this tour as a private experience. You may book out an existing date on our tour calendar as a private tour if no one else has already booked spots on it. Alternatively, please email us at [email protected] with your preferred dates so we may schedule a private tour for you.

Should I join this tour if I am vegetarian?

Yes. There is 1 main course on our Souks and Creekside tour which has both a meat pilaf as well as a vegetarian stew. 2 tastings featured are vegetarian-friendly while a 3rd tasting features an egg and cheese sandwich.

How do I get to the tour?

We recommend taking the Al Ras metro and walking down to the starting point at the Spice Souk.

If you plan to drive, please note that parking is challenging to find and our starting point and ending point on this tour are different from each other.

If you plan to take a taxi, please budget extra time for traffic on the roads especially between 5PM and 7PM.

Do we only walk around and sample food?

Absolutely not! Our walking food tours are immersive experiences that combine food tastings with history, culture and personal stories of the city.

What should I bring with me?

Earphones with a 3.5mm jack for the portable audio system that helps you hear the guide clearly.

Please don’t carry anything too heavy as we will be walking. If you plan to purchase edible souvenirs during the tour, please make sure to carry both cash/your credit card (most, but not all, locations accept credit card).

What if I have dietary restrictions or allergies?

Please be sure to let us know if you (or anyone in your group) have a dietary restriction (e.g. vegetarian, diabetic, allergy, etc.) when you purchase your tickets. In most cases, nuts, lactose and gluten may be in the foods featured on our experiences and there is a risk of cross-contamination. If you have a serious allergy, we recommend contacting us at [email protected]  prior to purchasing tickets to enable us to advise you if our tours are suitable for you.

Are toilet facilities available on the tour?

Yes, toilet facilities are available on most of our tours at selected stops – however we do recommend using a restroom before arriving at the tour as not all tours will have a toilet break at the start.

Is the tour offered in different languages?

At this time, the tour is only offered in English.

Is the tour wheelchair accessible?

Are children allowed, what do we do in case of bad weather.

The tours are very rarely cancelled due to bad weather. We will email you at least 4 hours prior to the tour should it not be advisable to walk outside due to a thunderstorm or sandstorm; please make sure to check your email if you are aware of bad weather. We also advise you to check weather conditions for your tour and dress appropriately and carry an umbrella if required.

Do I need to purchase tickets in advance?

Yes, advance ticket purchase is required through this website. Our experiences, typically, sell out quickly during the peak season (November to April). To maximize your chances of getting the date, time, and number of tickets you prefer, please book well in advance.

If a tour is sold out, can I get on a waiting list?

If the date and time of your choice is sold out, we recommend emailing us at [email protected] so we can let you know in case any spots open up for your preferred date and time.

What are the change policies on my booking?

Please review our cancellation policies under our Terms and Conditions here .

Do I need to tip?

Gratuities are always appreciated but are not mandatory.

Please note that our tour routes and featured stops, including restaurants and other establishments, are subject to change. These changes can occur due to unforeseen circumstances such as lack of availability, closures or operational adjustments at any of our planned locations. In the event of such changes, our team will adapt the tour to offer a comparable experience. However, we do not offer refunds due to these alterations, as they are beyond our control. We appreciate your understanding and flexibility, and are committed to ensuring you have a delightful and memorable experience with us.

Please click here for our complete list of terms and conditions.

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Dubai old town: TOP 10 Best Things to do + Tips

The 10 best things to do in old dubai – all best places to visit.

You want to visit Dubai Old Town during your stay in Dubai? You’re looking for the best things to do in Old Dubai?

You’re at the right place!

Consisting of several districts located on both side of the Dubai Creek, this vibrant neighborhood is home to a variety of souks and traditional markets , where you can shop for everything from spices and textiles to gold and electronics.

In order to help you plan your visit , I have prepared for you this guide of the 10 best places to visit in Dubai Old Town , with all points of interest and must-see attractions.

In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you all my best tips as well as my selection of the best accommodations in Dubai depending on your budget.

So, what to do in Old Dubai? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

1. Deira District

2. dubai gold souk, 3. the spice souk, 4. the perfume souk, 5. take a ride on an abra, 6. dubai creek, 7. bur dubai, 8. al fahidi historical district / al bastakiya quarter, 9. dubai museum, 10. visit the sheikh mohammed centre for cultural understanding, 11. bonus: eat like a local in dubai old town, the best itinerary to visit dubai old town, where to stay in dubai to visit old dubai, you’re traveling to dubai these articles will help you .

Advice: When visiting Dubai Old Town, make sure to dress modestly and respect local customs.

You should also bring cash , as many of the shops in the souks and small restaurants don’t accept credit cards.

You should start your visit of Dubai Old Town in Deira District , especially famous for its souks.

The souks are the best way to explore Deira and get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of the area! There are many souks in Deira, such as:

  • The Gold Souk, where you will find rows of shops selling glittering gold jewelry
  • The Spice Souk, where you will be transported to a world of exotic scents and flavors. The stalls are selling a wide variety of spices, herbs, and teas, as well as other ingredients used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • The Perfume Souk, home to dozens of shops selling a wide range of perfumes, oils and incense.

When visiting Deira district, you should also take the time to explore some of the other stores in the area. The neighborhood is home to many traditional shops selling spices, perfumes and traditional clothing , as well as antique stores and art galleries.

You can also find restaurants, cafes and shisha bars where you can take a break from shopping and enjoy some traditional Middle Eastern cuisine.

To get to Deira , take the metro and stop at Al Ras Metro Station.

To visit the Old Dubai and Deira , the best is clearly to book a guided tour!

During this 3-hour tour , your guide will show you the souks as well as Dubai Museum , which I mention a bit further down this article.

The guide is really amazing, he will teach you everything about the culture, religion, daily life and history of Dubai.

You simply need to click on the button below to book your tour of ancient Dubai :

Souk Dubai

Deira Gold Souk is an absolute must-visit for any traveler to the city.

Located in the heart of the Old Dubai , this bustling souk is home to over 300 shops and is renowned for its vast selection of jewelry and precious stones.

For those looking to buy gold, the Deira Gold Souk is the perfect place. You can find everything from necklaces and earrings to watches and bangles.

Gold prices are based on the current market rate , but you can often get a good deal if you’re willing to haggle.

You can also find a wide range of other precious stones such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires.

Most traders are very friendly, so really don’t be afraid to ask questions and barter for the best price!

Deira Gold Souk is a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home. From traditional Emirati jewelry to modern pieces with a Middle Eastern twist, you’ll find something for everyone.

Deira Gold Souk Dubai

While you’re in Deira, you should definitely visit to the Spice Souk .

This vibrant and colorful market is full of exotic spices, incense and herbs . You can find everything from cardamom and turmeric to frankincense and saffron.

It’s an incredible sensory experience, with merchants calling out to you and the aroma of spices in the air.

Just like in the gold souk, you can bargain with the merchants and get a great deal on your spices and herbs.

Be sure to bring some home with you, as they make great souvenirs for family, friends or yourself!

Spice souk Dubai

To discover new smells, let’s now head to the Perfume souk!

Traditional Emirati perfume are made from Oud (a fragrent oil derived from resin), but many other ingredients are used to make the various perfumes: musk, amber, saffron, rose, Jasmin… You will for sure find something that suits your taste.

For high quality traditional Arabic perfumes , you should go to Ajmal Store or Swiss Arabian, 2 of the most famous stores.

And if you’re looking for something more unique, you can also create your own personalized perfume at Khadlaj Perfumes , another renowned store.

While you’re in Deira, you should take a ride on an abra, the traditional water taxi that is commonly used by locals to cross the Dubai Creek.

Riding an abra is an inexpensive and fun way to experience the creek from the water!

It’s also the best way to cross from Deira to Bur Dubai, another district of Dubai Old Town.

You can hop on an abra at any of the stations along Dubai creek and take a short ride to the other side. You will discover the city from a different perspective and be able to interact with the locals.

The ride will just cost you a few dirhams and is a great experience!

abra Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek is a historical waterway that runs through the city of Dubai.

The creek is a popular destination for travelers who want to experience the traditional side of Dubai, as it’s part of what we commonly call Dubai Old Town.

In addition to crossing Dubai Creek on an Abra to get from Deira to Bur Dubai, the Creek can be explored during a traditional dhow cruise.

A dhow is a traditional Arabic sailing vessel , and taking a cruise on one is a great way to see the creek and the surrounding areas!

You can choose from a variety of different cruise options, ranging from dinner cruises to sightseeing cruises. While on board, you can enjoy the beautiful views of the creek and the Dubai skyline , as well as learn more about the history and culture of the city.

The Creek is the starting point of dinner cruises in Dubai. It’s a great way to enjoy a boat ride on the river and discover the city from another angle!

This boat trip is offered in 2 versions (click on the orange links for more details):

  • A traditional boat cruise + Buffet dinner + Demonstration of local folk dances
  • A luxury cruise with gourmet dinner .

A cruise is also included in the Dubai Explorer Pass .

Dubai Creek

Located on the Western side of Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai (which literally translates as “mainland Dubai”) forms the other half of the Old Dubai.

Here are the best places to visit in Bur Dubai:

  • Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House: The old house of the Al Maktoum family until 1958. You will see photos and documents about the history of the city.
  • Old Souk, one of the oldest in Dubai. You can find everything there: slippers, souvenirs, traditional lamps…
  • The Textile Souk: if you are looking for traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, the Textile Souk is the place to go. Here, you can find a wide range of textiles, including beautiful embroidered fabrics and colorful carpets.
  • Meena Bazaar, a market where you can buy Indian goods: fabrics, spices, jewelry.
  • Hindi Lane and its Indian stalls. The best place to try traditional dishes at a reasonable price.
  • Sheik Mohamed Cultural Center: Here you can have lunch with an Emirati in a traditional house. The center was opened by the Sheikh to allow tourists to learn more about United Arab Emirates (UAE) traditions. Reservation is required, click here.
  • Al-Seef Market : a very nice place to take a stroll, featuring restaurants and shops in traditional houses replicas.
  • The Grand Mosque , the largest mosque of Dubai (not open to visitors, you can only see the outside if you’re not Muslim). It shouldn’t be confused with the famous Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque.
  • Hal Fahidi historical district , more info about it a bit further in this guide
  • Dubai Museum: the perfect place to learn more about the history of the city (and specifically old Dubai). I tell you more about it a bit below too.

Al Seef Dubai

If you’re visiting the Old Dubai , you should definitely take some time to explore the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood , also known as Al Bastakiya quarter.

Located in the heart of the city, Al Fahidi is full of narrow alleyways and historic buildings that offer a glimpse into the past. It’s a popular destination for travelers who want to experience the traditional side of Dubai.

Here, you can explore the city’s traditional architecture, shop for souvenirs, and sample some of the best regional cuisine.

The district is made up of over 50 historic buildings , most of which were built in the late 1800s.

You can take a guided tour of the Old Dubai to learn more about its history and architecture, or explore the area on your own.

As you wander the narrow streets, you’ll pass by traditional wind towers, sand-colored homes and small art galleries.

Al Fahidi Historical District Dubai

If you’re looking for places to visit in Old Dubai , you should head to Dubai Museum , located in Al Fahidi Fortress (Bur Dubai)

It traces the entire history of Dubai , from the first tribes who lived there through the economic boom in the 1960s, to the future plans for the coming years.

There, you will discover former fishing boats, objects from the nomads’ daily life , weapons and archaeological remains .

The museum is very interesting and allows you do get a good grasp of how the city looked like before its impressive development.

The entrance fee to the museum is 3 AED . It’s open every day except Friday morning.

To get to the Dubai museum, take the metro to Al Ghubaiba or Sharaf DG Metro Stations . Both are located around 10-15 minutes on foot from Dubai museum.

Dubai Museum

The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a great place to learn more about the culture and customs of Dubai.

The center offers cultural activities, including guided tours of the district, traditional Arabic meals , and workshops on Arabic calligraphy and henna painting.

The center also hosts regular Q&A sessions where you can ask local guides any questions you have about the city.

Every week day, a cultural lunch is organized at Sheikh Mohammed Centre . It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about Arabic culture!

You need to book your lunch by clicking on the button below:

Dubai Old town is home to numerous traditional Arabic restaurants and cafes , where you can try some of the delicious local cuisine.

Be sure to try dishes like hummus, shawarma, and falafel , which are all staples of the Arabic cuisine.

And don’t forget to wash it all down with a cup of Arabic coffee or a refreshing glass of mint tea.

If you’re more looking for Indian food, head to Hindi Lane : you won’t regret it!

To help you organize your visit, here is my recommended 1 day itinerary in Old Dubai.

  • Start by going to Deira district and visit the famous souks. You can opt for a guided tour ( click here ).
  • Take an Abra to cross Dubai Creek from Deira.
  • You will arrive in Bur Dubai . Visit the souks (including the textile souk)
  • Head to Hal Fahidi historical district and visit the Dubai Museum.

If you don’t want to spend the whole day in Old Dubai, you can do the 2 following activities at the end of the afternoon:

Let’s now go to the Dubai Frame . Ideally, plan to be there a bit before sunset. The easiest way to get there is to take a Taxi. You will need to book your tickets for the Dubai Frame in advance by clicking here.

To end your day in style, you should now go to Dubai Garden Glow , the perfect night time visit!

This large park features hundreds of sculptures coming to life every evening during light shows with musical backgrounds. I really loved it!

You need to book your ticket in advance by clicking on the button below:

Dubai Garden Glow

There are hundreds of hotels in Dubai, and choosing the best for your stay can be a bit complicated.

In order to help you out, I have selected for you the best hotels in Dubai for each district, depending on your budget. I have also made a special list of the most beautiful luxury hotels in Dubai.

As always, to get the best prices, you should book your hotel as early as possible!

The best hotels in Downtown Dubai (near the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa )

  • DoubleTree of Hilton Dubai – Business Bay: Located 1.5 km from Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. Very spacious and comfortable room, well decorated and equipped from 110€ per night, breakfast included. Strong points: free shuttle to the Dubai Mall, good breakfast, comfort, tranquility. This my favorite hotel in Dubai for its exceptional value for money!
  • Rove Downtown: Only 600 meters from the Dubai Mall. Bright and clean double room with view on Burj Khalifa, from 150€, breakfast for 15€. Strong points: Access to the Dubai Mall on foot, helpful staff, free shuttle service to the beach, Dubai Museum or Madinat Souk.
  • Taj Dubai: Located 800 meters from Burj Khalifa. Modern and luxurious room with bay window overlooking the city and marble bathroom starting at 220€ per night, breakfast at 32€. Strong points: The magnificent view from the roof, the Indian decoration, the large swimming pool. An excellent hotel in Dubai city center, perfect for a romantic stay!
  • Palace Downtown: Located on the lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, this 5-star hotel offers magnificent rooms with balcony, with an exceptional view of the Burj Khalifa. From 380€ per night, breakfast at 39€. Strong points: the exceptional location, the beautiful surroundings, the very attentive and helpful staff. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Downtown Dubai!

Palace Downtown - luxury hotel at the foot of the Burj Khalifa

The best hotels in old Dubai (Deira and Bur Dubai – Convenient to visit Dubai Old town)

  • Golden Sands Hotel Apartments : Located in Bur Dubai, 1.5 km from the Dubai Museum. Apartment equipped with kitchenette and washing machine, from 80€ per night, breakfast from 11€. Strong points: Cleanliness, the heated swimming pool, the comfortable apartments
  • Swissôtel Al Ghurair Dubai: Located in Deira district. Warm and spacious room from 115€, breakfast at 27€. Strong points: the pleasant staff, the view, the good breakfast. It’s my favourite in Old Dubai for its excellent value for money!
  • Hyatt Regency Creek Heights Residences: Located next to Creekside Park. Very spacious, super comfortable and very well equipped rooms starting at 130€ per night, breakfast at 33€. Strong points: 5 minutes walk from the metro, the warm welcome, the quiet location, the spa.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek : 5* hotel located in Deira bay. Double room with balcony overlooking the bay from 150€, breakfast at 29€. Strong points: The proximity of the metro and the shops, the beautiful swimming pool, the comfortable bed and the amazing view. This is my recommendation for a luxury stay in Old Dubai!

Dubai’s best beach hotels

  • Delta Hotels by Marriott Jumeirah Beach, Dubai: Located 300 meters from the beach. Rooms and apartments with sea view from 125€, breakfast at 27€. Strong points: The view, the comfortable beds, the location near the beach and the harbor.
  • Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach – Dubai: Located along “The Walk”. Rooms with balcony overlooking the Gulf and Palm Jumeirah from 175€, breakfast at 24€. Strong points: the exceptional view, the proximity of the tram and metro, restaurants and shops at the foot of the hotel.
  • Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach: Located 150 meters from the beach. Contemporary room with balcony and sea view from 230€, breakfast at 22€. Strong points: the infinity pool, the very good breakfast, the spa, the ideal location to enjoy the sea.
  • Grosvenor House Hotel and Apartments: Located on the port promenade. Elegant and bright double room from 290€, breakfast at 42€. Strong points: Comfort, access to the private beach, the quality of the food.

The most beautiful luxury hotels in Dubai

  • Atlantis The Palm, Dubai : One of the emblematic hotels of the city, located in Palm Jumeirah. Room from 300€, breakfast from 42€. Strong points: Includes access to Aquaventure Park and The Lost Chambers aquarium, private beach, swimming pools.
  • Rixos The Palm Hotel & Suites – Ultra All Inclusive: Also located in Palm Jumeirah, this luxury hotel offers all inclusive rooms (all meals included) from 452€. Strong points: the quality of the meals, the setting, the amazing rooms.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai: Located directly on the beach of JBR Walk. Elegantly furnished rooms with balcony and sea view from 500€ per night, breakfast at 39€. Strong points: 6 swimming pools, a private beach, the spa, the very helpful staff.
  • Armani Hotel Dubai: Located in the Burj Khalifa Tower! Rooms decorated by the fashion designer Giorgio Armani, starting at 550€ per night, breakfast at 41€. Strong points: the privilege of sleeping in the Burj Khalifa, the refinement of the place, the view.
  • Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah: Located in Palm Jumeirah. Luxury suite with living room and dining room starting at 750€, breakfast included. Strong points: The private beach, the huge swimming pool and the beautiful gardens.
  • Burj Al Arab Jumeirah: THE luxury hotel, one of the rare 7* hotels in the world! The “smallest” suite is 170m² and prices start at 1290€, breakfast at 74€. I can assure you that your stay in Dubai will be truly exceptional and unforgettable!

You didn’t find your dream hotel in this selection?

You should thus have a look at my article about the best hotels in Dubai by clicking on the following link: Where to stay in Dubai?

Deira - Al Bandar Rotana - Dubaï Creek -

In order to help you plan your stay in Dubai, I have prepared detailed itineraries depending on the duration of your trip .

They are 100% free and you can find them here: simply click on the orange links to read the guides!

  • 2 days in Dubai – The perfect itinerary for 48h!
  • 3 Days in Dubai – The best 72h itinerary
  • 4 Days in Dubai – The defitinive guide to plan your trip
  • 5 Days in Dubai – How to spend 5 days in Dubai
  • 1 Week in Dubai – The best itinerary to visit Dubai in 7 days!

They will allow you to plan your trip very easily!

And if you have any question, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section, at the end of the corresponding article. I will be glad to help you plan your stay in Dubai.

Discover all my articles about Dubai : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Dubai are listed there.

  • Dubai: The 30 best places to visit – All best things to do and activities!
  • Burj Khalifa: The definitive guide to all tickets + Tips
  • Dubai Aquarium: discover one of Dubai’s must see attraction
  • Dubai Mall: How to plan your visit of this huge shopping center!
  • Dubai Old Town: 10 best things to do
  • Dubai Fountain Show: all my tips to enjoy it to the fullest!
  • Palm Jumeirah: the 15 best things to do!
  • TOP Activities in Dubai – The 30 best activities and excursions to do in Dubai!
  • Dubai Zipline – Price, info and reservations for the best experience in town!
  • The best desert safaris in Dubai – my 7 favorites! (4WD, quad, buggy and more)
  • Where to stay in Dubai? The guide to the best hotels by district, for all budgets
  • Dubai Pass: The best way to save time and money in Dubai!

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things to do Old Dubai

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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Apr 7, 2014

  • Old Dubai Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour

Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House in Old Dubai


tour in old dubai

Nice. I thought of posting something like this. Are most of the sites open on a friday?

tour in old dubai

Hi Ken! Thanks for asking. :) On Fridays, most attractions are closed in the morning and only open past 3 in the afternoon. I will place an additional note on the post. ;)

tour in old dubai

That's also the trail I recommend my visitors, though sometimes I recommend that they skip the gold souk and go there in the evening instead:)

I have never been to the Gold Souk at night. It's less crowded, I guess. :)

Great post! I like the little map. I still have never been inside the museum! Need to do that...

Thank you! Dubai Museum is definitely a must-visit attraction for tourists and residents alike.

Even being a resident for how many years, I haven't really done a cultural tour here in the UAE. Probably will give it a try before the extreme summer heat strikes. Thanks Lady for sharing!

You're welcome Hakeem! Enjoy your DIY walking tour. :)

I usually skip or should I say forgot the heritage area when I have my visitors here in Dubai. Next time for sure I'll bring them there

Hi Gina. Your visitors will surely love it. Enjoy! :)

tour in old dubai

Nice. Tnx ladyandhersweetescapes. I will be using your recommendation this friday

Miss lady ann please include opening hours especially the day of friday in your blog tnx

Hi Chokoloko! :) Will do! Thanks for the advice and the visit. :)

Amazing collection of pictures along with too informative blog post. Please provide some more posts related to online shopping in UAE or in Dubai. Souq Coupon Codes .

Grate Post. Thanks for sharing. coupon code

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The Wandering Whites

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  • Family Travel

Old Dubai Tour

tour in old dubai

Old Dubai is an historic neighbourhood full of beautiful old buildings. Full of art galleries and cafes scattered around narrow lanes. Come on an Old Dubai Tour with us to see a side to Dubai before the skyscrapers, glitz and glamour took over.

Check out the best flight deals to Dubai with Sky Scanner here.

Mum and 2 boys on an old Dubai tour.

If you are interested to learn about some of Dubai’s history before the transformation into a global city then an Old Dubai Tour is the best place to start. This old Dubai tour is a route that we regularly take visitors to Dubai on. It will require a fair amount of walking so wear comfortable shoes and avoid the hottest part of the day. Also an activity to do during the cooler parts of the year (mid October – March)

Be aware if you are visiting on a Friday nothing really opens until the afternoon, traditionally after Friday prayers (around 2pm). This area is probably best enjoyed from Saturday-Thursday.

How to get to Old Dubai

  • Public Transport – Al Fahidi metro or Al Ghubaiba Metro. Start at number 7.
  • Taxi – Get the Careem or Uber App. With the Careem App you can order the cheapest RTA (Hala) Taxis only from the app. Get dropped at Al Seef and start at number 1.
  • Parking – Al Seef Underground Car Park is the best, walk from there (start at number 1)

1. Start in Al Seef Area

Al Seef is the best area to start an old Dubai tour. Especially if you are driving as it has a huge, free underground car park.

After parking wander alongside Dubai Creek admiring the boats where there is a long promenade with multiple cafes and restaurants. Keep the Creek on your right hand-side as you walk.

The Al Seef district has been built to recreate a fishing area of old Dubai of the 1950s. It is a place where you can see both old and new Dubai together. Wander the streets browsing the souk type shops selling traditional Arabian items like lanterns, handmade crockery and spices. Try a karak tea and eat some traditional Arabic food.

Amongst all of this look out for Al Seef Starbucks which is a popular place due to the unusual old looking Arabic style exterior.

Where to get an alcoholic drink in Al Seef?

A handful of restaurants in this area have an alcohol licence too so you can stop for a beer or lunch/dinner with an alcoholic drink if you like. These restaurants are licensed:

  • 961LB – Lebanese food
  • Mitra – Indian food
  • Canopy – International food (at the Hilton Dubai Al Seef Hotel )

You can take an abra ride (2dhs each way – bring cash!) from here but we will include an abra ride to the spice and gold souk at the end of this old Dubai tour.

tour in old dubai

2. Walk down to Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Centre

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a great starting point for any visitors to Dubai who are interested in learning about Emirati traditions and cultures. Their moto is ‘Open Minds, Open Doors’ and they invite guests to ask any questions they may have about Emirati ways of life, faith and traditions.

Some of their tours include a walk around the Al Fahidi area and visits inside the Jumeirah Mosque. Breakfasts and lunches are also on offer where you can try local food and listen to stories about the local way of life. Visits to Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding have always been popular with any of our visitors to Dubai. Pre-booking is essential – you can find out more about their packages here .

3. Continue on to Al Bastakiya or Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Also known as the Al Fahidi neighbourhood, it is a village with old buildings that you can wander through. Some of the buildings have been transformed into coffee houses, art galleries or small museums. It makes for an interesting stroll around spotting street art. Recommend a visit to the XVA Gallery and Cafe which is in the stunning boutique XVA Art Hotel .

The next stop is a refreshment stop so you might want to just have a cold drink here before moving on.

Rumour has it that this area was planned to be demolished and turned from old Dubai into new Dubai. However, King Charles (Prince at the time) was in Dubai on a visit. He went to this area and recommended that it should be preserved, so demolition was apparently cancelled!

2 boys standing against a wall with arabic street art during an old Dubai tour.

4. Stop for Refreshments at Arabian Tea House Al Fahidi

After walking around for a while on your old Dubai tour this cafe is the perfect stopping point. It is a famous, traditional Emirati restaurant nestled in the Al Fahidi area. It is instantly recognisable by the white walls, lace, flowers and blue seating. A perfect escape from the heat offering outdoor style seating inside a lovely, cool building.

The Arabian Tea House menu is varied. The food is delicious – chicken kebab, biryani, hummus, falafel and beetroot salad especially. Try the traditional lemon lime drink. It is popular so expect to have to wait for a table during a weekend. They have a buzzer system where you can wait outside. A quaint, calm oasis in the middle of a tourist hot-spot. We love all the old Dubai pictures in black-and-white on the walls at the entrance.

They have other branches around Dubai in Jumeirah, Sharjah and Mercato. Although Arabian Tea House Al Fahidi was the original. You can read more about the Arabian Tea House Al Fahidi here.

Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi a must stop on an old Dubai tour

5. Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort

The next stop on your old Dubai tour would be the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort. An inexpensive museum (around 3dhs per adult) with a lot of Dubai history and old Dubai pictures. The museum was built about 200 years ago as the monarch’s premises and fort of defense. It provides a full history of Dubai and its people as well as showcasing monuments, relics and documents.

Unfortunately as of October 2022 the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort is temporarily closed due to renovations.

Al Fahidi fort

6. Walk through Bur Dubai Souk Market

Continuing on the old Dubai tour you should wander through Bur Dubai Souk Market. To get there you will need to walk past the shops and streets of Bur Dubai, noticing how it is a bit less shiny than new Dubai. However, full of character and lots of bargains to be had!

Bur Dubai Souk Market isn’t the biggest souk and is geared towards tourists with the usual Dubai souvenirs. However it is still a nice, bright colourful place to walk through and maybe buy something. We love the handmade pots and bowls and usually pick one up on every trip! Don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit to get the best price. Another bonus of this walk to the Abra Ride is that it is undercover so you will get respite from the heat!

7. Take an Abra Ride over to the Spice and Gold Souk

This is an experience in itself and something that we always with do with visitors who are coming to Dubai for the first time. When you arrive at Al Ghubaiba Transport station you will see many different types of boats. There will be a lot of shouting and people trying to get you to take a tour or private boat, just ask for the RTA Abra to the Spice and Gold Souk (2dhs each way – carry cash!). Unless you want to go on a tour of the Creek of course! You can take buggies/prams with you, just pass the child and quickly fold it down. I have also taken my aging parents with a walking stick – everyone is helpful! The abra is only a quick 10minute journey from one side of the creek to the other.

It is worth nothing that there is another RTA ferry type boat that arrives here from the Marina. If you get a Metro / taxi to this area you could get the boat back – if you are staying near that area.

Wander the souks of old Dubai

8. Do a Spice Market Tour of Old Dubai

Once you get off the Abra you will need to cross the road and will come straight to the Spice Market. You don’t have to be a chef to enjoy the spice souk, not all the spices are for cooking – many are teas/nuts/dates etc. Be ready for a sensory explosion as you wander down the alleyways and smell the pungent array of spices and herbs, the traditional Oud burners and the vibrant colours of the spices catching your eyes. You will also hear the shouts of vendors trying to get you to buy something. This mixed with the noises and lights of plastic toys on display to lure the children can be a sensory overload but it is well worth the trip. Saffron is a very popular spice here – be sure to haggle!

9. Spend your money at the Gold Souk

The first thing you will notice when you enter the gold souk, on the opposite side of the road to the spice souk, is the colour of the gold. Gold in Dubai is very yellow! The jewelry has mainly Indian and Arabic designs. Due to the UAE being tax free buying gold, silver, diamonds and gems in Dubai is cheaper than other countries. Be ready for people calling you and asking you to come and look. Prepare to haggle and bargain if you are going to buy.

If you are window shopping you will be amazed at the size of some of the items of jewelry!

Also watch out for the men offering you business cards with replica bags and sunglasses. They operate with rooms above the souk full of ‘genuine-fake’ designer goods and will lead you up to warehouse type rooms. It is not something I have ever bought but I have heard that there are good copies to be found.

Stunning decor and doors in Old Dubai

10. Return to the Start at Al Seef

If you got a taxi to start the old Dubai tour then jump in an RTA, use the Careem or Uber App and head back home after this. Alternatively, get an abra back to Al Seef. If you ask the abra guys back at the Creek where to get an abra directly back to Al Seef to save walking through they will show you the way. Another option is to get an abra back over to Al Ghubaiba station where there is a Metro stop or the ferry boat back to Dubai Marina.

11. Finish off with a Sundowner at Canopy

Before heading back to the car why not rest your feet with a drink at Canopy by Hilton Dubai . They have lovely outdoor seating overlooking Dubai Creek and have regular drinks deals. I was drawn in by their bright orange Aperol Spritz umbrellas – my favourite!

Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Centre an important part of an old Dubai tour.

Where to stay when in Dubai?

Dubai is FULL of wonderful hotels and resorts. It is an absolute minefield trying to navigate your way through the pages of

Over our time living in Dubai we have tried out many hotels on staycations so have listed some of our favourites here to help you decide….depending on your budget.

Luxury Resorts

  • Rixos The Palm – stunning all inclusive beach hotel on the palm
  • Anantara The Palm – a Thai beach style hotel on the palm, get a lagoon room
  • St Regis The Palm – a stunning city hotel at the start of the palm attached to a mall
  • The Atlantis – probably the most famous family hotel in Dubai, for a reason!
  • Jumeirah Beach Hotel – Jumeirah hotels are incredible, this is the best family hotel
  • Al Qasr Hotel – top-end luxurious Jumeirah hotel

Mid Range Hotel

  • Five The Palm – a party hotel for more of a young crowd
  • Riu Dubai – a family all inclusive hotel with all the entertainment and family entertainment
  • Centara Mirage – a very family resort with entertainment
  • Jumeirah Creekside – close to the Creek and Irish Village hotel, more affordable Jumeirah service
  • Zabeel House – small Jumeirah hotel close to the marina with small rooftop pool
  • Grand Hyatt Hotel – an older hotel but a great family option

Affordable Hotel

  • Novotel Barsha – it has apartments and a lovely rooftop pool
  • Studio One Hotel – a bit further out but great, fun restaurant options and pool
  • Park Inn Motor City – overlooking the race course in Motor City
  • Premier Inn Ibn Battuta – budget option close to the mall
  • Al Seef Heritage Hotel – in the middle of Al Seef

The closest hotels to old Dubai out of these options would be Jumeirah Creekside , Grand Hyatt , Al Seef Heritage Hotel . Also, Riu Hotel and Centara Mirage Hotel are both in this end of Dubai.

Enjoy your old Dubai tour, it is truly our favourite area of Dubai. A place we have returned to many times and taken lots of friends and family on this exact tour of Old Dubai. It is where you will find more character, traditions and history – enjoy!

If you have enjoyed this post of an old Dubai Tour then check out our 50 Activities to do in Dubai post. If you are looking for other different things to do in Dubai have a look at our Day Trips from Dubai page and 6 Family Hikes in the UAE . We know Dubai is an expensive place to holiday so check out our tips on how to have a cheap holiday in Dubai. Here are 17 free activities in Dubai. For more Dubai tips go back to everything you need to know about Dubai .


I’ve never thought about visiting Dubai before but actually all of these places sounds so cultural and historical that I now want to visit. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you! It really is a great place to visit, so much to see and do! Let us know if we can help at all if you decide to come one day 🙂

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tour in old dubai


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