Best Area to Stay in Dubai for first-time Travellers

Dubai is the largest city, and one of the Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Just like Jordan, this is another must-see city in the middle east.

It’s a thriving metropolis, and home to the tallest building in the world –  the Burj Khalifa. This one-of-a-kind shopping destination is filled with modern architecture and technological wonders.

If you’re looking to explore Dubai, there are many areas you need to take into consideration. Each of these offers a slightly different experience. If you have the time, it’s worth your while to stay in a few of these neighbourhoods before you leave.

Essentially these neighborhoods can be split between modern and old dubai. Two of the neighborhoods are located in the heart of some of Dubai’s most famous and over the top tourist attractions. These include the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall, the amazing Dubai aquarium and some of the hottest restaurants in Dubai.

If you are looking to discover traditional Dubai then two of these neighborhood will take you into what life used to be like in Dubai before skyscrapers with souqs, classic boats and the lovely Dubai creek.

Check out the list below and see which ones work the best for you.

View from bathtub at Voco hotel dubai a perfect place to stay if you have one day in dubai
The wow view from my bathtub at the Voco Hotel

Jumeirah Beach Residence

This area is best known for its wide variety of resorts and hotels located along the stunning beachfront. Many award-winning restaurants are located in this area too, so you can remain well-fed on the best delicacies that Dubai has to offer.

Several of the eateries also provide belly dancing entertainment to accompany your meal, so you can enjoy a show while you dine.

This area is also extremely close to several of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai.

gates at top of burj khalifa dubai
Viewing deck at Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is Dubai’s famous skyscraper. Standing 828 metres high, it’s currently the world’s tallest building. It opened in 2010 and has since become an iconic symbol of the city.

Dubai Mall 

The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall and a must visit on any Dubai itinerary. It spans an area of more than 1 million square metres and is filled with over 1,200 shops, as well as hundreds of food and drink options. Whether you want to pick up something fancy from a high-end retailer, or a souvenir to remember your trip by, you’ll easily find whatever you’re looking for.

And, if you’re not super keen on shopping, the mall also houses an Olympic size ice rink, a movie theatre, a haunted house, and an amusement park. It is almost quite overwhelming to visit this mall as it is so very large. Make sure you wear sensible shoes.

⇒ Another great Middle Eastern country to visit is Dubai. Check out my posts on One Day in Dubai and my Ultimate Dubai Itinerary.

view of burj khalifa over mall of america dubai
Burj Khalifa with the Mall of Dubai in the foreground

Discover an Underwater World at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

Located inside the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are not to be missed. The aquarium is one of the world’s largest, and home to many exotic fish species. You’ll feel as if you’re in another world as you admire 33,000 aquatic animals.

Dubai-Aquarium

Aquaventure Waterpark

There is no better place to spend a hot day in Dubai than at Aquaventure Waterpark. It claims the title of the largest waterpark in the Middle East. It’s perfect for all ages. There are thrilling rides and tidal waves for adults and splash areas and water playgrounds designed for kids.

There is also a private beach and a lazy river. When you need to refuel, the on-site restaurants serve snacks and cooling refreshments.

Where to Stay in Jumeirah Beach Residence

If you’re a real foodie, Jumeirah Beach Residence is certainly an ideal location to base yourself during your time in Dubai. Here are some of the best accommodation options in the area.

view of dubai harbour from top of burj khalifa near one of the best area to stay in dubai options
Dubai Harbour from the top of Burj Khalifa

Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach

Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach is located just a 2-minute walk from the beachfront, boasting magnificent sea views. This 5-star hotel offers celebrity style treatment with an outdoor pool and uncapped free WiFi.

The rooms are spacious and come with their own private balconies, flat-screen TVs, sound systems, and minibars. During your stay, be sure to make use of the state-of-the-art fitness centre as well as the sauna chamber for the ultimate relaxation.

With the Beach Mall, Dubai Marina, Wild Wadi Waterpark, and Mall of the Emirates just a short drive away, you’ll struggle to run out of entertainment at this wonderful hotel.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Atlantis-The-Palm.jpg

Roda Amwaj Suites Jumeirah Beach Residence

Roda Amwaj Suites Jumeirah Beach Residence is an absolutely beautiful hotel, offering an outdoor pool and fitness centre in the heart of Jumeirah Beach Residence. This self-catering accommodation has a full kitchen with a microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator.

The rooms come with free WiFi, and the private bathrooms come with a shower, bath and hairdryer. The rooms have a flat-screen TV, and some even have a balcony providing magnificent views of the surrounding area.

Many Dubai parks and resorts are just a ±10-minute drive away, making it an incredibly convenient place to stay.

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entrance to aquaventure at the Palm Jumeirah dubai
Entrance to Aquaventure

Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach

Amwaj Rotana, Jumeirah Beach offers luxury at its finest. It’s located along the retail and leisure strip known as the walk, which juts out into the ocean. Meaning you’ll have 360-degree views of the water that surrounds you.

The hotel’s large and spacious rooms have private balconies which face either the Arabian Gulf or the Palm Jumeirah. There are also a lot of dining options onsite. Choose between American, Japanese, Italian, British, and International cuisines for your meals each day.

With a fitness centre and outdoor pool as entertainment options, there’s no need to leave the hotel. But when you do, there’s a myriad of activities right on your doorstep, saving you time and money on transportation.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

view of dubai buildings from burj khalifa
The other buildings in Dubai look so short from Burj Khalifa

Bur Dubai

Spice-Souk dubai

If you’re a sightseeing fanatic, Bur Dubai is the perfect location for your stay in the city. This neighbourhood is an old inner-city suburb that hosts a whole selection of truly authentic attractions.

You can stroll through real souks (markets), and visit Dubai Creek with its traditional boats and floating restaurants. This area gives you a taste of how Dubai used to be before it was modernised.

The Al Bastakiya Quarter is a historic district in Dubai that dates back to the 1890s. Walk through the old labyrinth of streets and see the original architecture of the city. Have lunch at a traditional Arab tea house and visit a local museum, like the Coffee Museum.

street sign and building in dubai old town
Dubai Old Town

Visit the Souks

The Spice Souk is a great market to visit if you’re into cooking. You’ll find top-quality traditional and rare spices from Dubai and neighbouring regions.

And of course no visit to Dubai would be compete without visiting the gold souq. There are many stores in the souq – as a westerner the biggest challenge is finding a store which carries the type of designs that you will find attractive.

grand souq dubai

I am a big Georg Jensen fan so I like my jewellry simple. I did manage to get some great gold hoops. The store will quote you a gold price for the day and that plus the weight of the item that you are purchasing will generate a price. I felt very safe making the purchase and felt like the process for providing a price was above board.

Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek is another area in the old town you don’t want to miss. Walk along the saltwater creek and watch the sunset.

Dubai-boat.
Dubai Old and New

For a special treat, book an evening Dhow cruise and dinner. Ride on a traditional Arabian dhow and enjoy a buffet-style feast of Arabic and international cuisine. See the sights of Dubai from a different perspective.

Take an Amazing Food tour

Perhaps the biggest highlight of my first trip to Dubai and of this Dubai Itinerary was taking an evening food tour with Frying Pan Adventures. This local tour company is a fantastic insiders guide to a very non touristy side of the Dubai food scene.

⇒ When you book your Frying Pan Adventure Food Tour be sure to give them the code BOUTIQUE5 to receive a 5% discount on the Middle Eastern Pilgrimmage tour that I went on or their Dubai Souks and Creekside Tour or their Little India Tour.

many plates of mediterranean appetisers

For those looking for an authentic Dubai experience, this is the best place to locate yourself.

Where to Stay in Bur Dubai

If you’re ready to experience the city in the most authentic way possible, here’s where you should be staying in Bur Dubai.

Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights

Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights offers modern accommodation and stunningly designed interiors. The hotel has an outdoor pool, luxurious spa, fitness centre, and a kids club to give parents a break.

There’s free WiFi for all guests, and the bedrooms overlook either the Dubai Creek or the glimmering city skyline. The rooms also contain a walk-in rain shower, bathtub, air-conditioning, toiletries, slippers, and a safety deposit box. Just a 20-minute drive from Jumeirah Beach, this hotel is an incredible choice.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

inside the dubai souq

Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai

Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai is located within the historic district of Dubai. It’s less than one kilometre from Dubai Creek and features a rooftop pool and a well-equipped fitness centre. As well as free parking and uncapped WiFi.

The rooms are spacious with their own private bathrooms, and the beds have thick, luxurious mattresses to ensure you sleep in ultimate comfort. The on-site restaurants serve Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisines and the 24-hour coffee house serves refreshments at all hours of the day and night.

The hotel is located close to several souks, the Dubai World Trade Centre, and the famed Burjuman Mall – for your ultimate convenience.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

arabian style sweets with pistachios and nuts

Premier Inn Dubai Al Jaddaf

Premier Inn Dubai Al Jaddaf is a 3-star hotel with wonderful city views. It has an outdoor pool and fitness centre as well as a great on-site restaurant and free parking for guests.

If you stay at this cosy hotel, you’ll have access to the terrace and bar, which show off stunning views of the surrounding area. Rooms are fitted with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a kettle, shower, hairdryer and desk.

A buffet breakfast is served each morning. So if you can drag yourself up out of the ever-so-comfy bed, you’ll be in for an absolutely mouth-watering treat.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

arabian style lights

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina is where the parties are at. If you want to stay in an area with a thriving nightlife, this is the place to be. With nightclubs, bars and vibey restaurants, you’ll always have something to do in the way of socialising.

This vibrant area is relatively near Jumeirah Beach (they are each kind of different sides of Burj Khalifa) so all of the tourist attractions I mentioned in the Jumeriah beach section are close to the Dubai Marina.

Marina Walk is an outdoor area of Dubai that stretches for 7 km along the city’s waterfront. The paved walkway is well-landscaped and lined with palm-trees. It’s one of the best areas to enjoy a leisurely walk or a cycle ride.

Dubai La Mer shops

You’ll find a wide range of restaurants, from fine-dining to casual. And, for the particularly hot days, there are plenty of ice cream shops. It’s also a popular departing point for water-themed entertainment activities, like speed-boat sightseeing tours, wakeboarding, and jet skiing.

Do be warned, although Dubai is more flexible around alcohol than many of the other surrounding cities, it can be a very pricy activity to take part in.

Dubai-waterfront
The Dubai Waterfront

Dubai is one of the most expensive places in the world to drink booze, so if you’re up for a party, note that it could cost an arm and a leg (not literally).

Where to Stay in Dubai Marina

If you’re looking to party your way through Dubai, the marina is ideal. Here’s where you should be resting your head in this neighbourhood.

Wyndham Dubai Marina

Wyndham Dubai Marina has breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea as well as Dubai Marina. It offers free shuttles to the beach, malls, metro station and other nearby attractions. The hotel also boasts a wide variety of food and beverage options, even featuring a pool bar.

While you’re there, make use of the spa, sauna and steam rooms to relax and rejuvenate. There is also a fitness centre and an outdoor pool.

The rooms contain air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a minibar, desk, and safety deposit box. As well as tea and coffee-making facilities. This hotel is located within a 10-minute walk from many of the city’s famous attractions and landmarks. Making it easy to get around and see all the highlights.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Dubai-night
Dubai is stunning at night

Marina Byblos Hotel

Marina Byblos Hotel is a 4-star hotel that offers air-conditioned rooms and six on-site restaurants, meaning the dining options are almost endless. There’s also a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the surrounding area, the perfect place to enjoy sunny days.

The rooms feature a minibar, flat-screen TV, bathrobes, and slippers. The hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Jumeirah Lakes Towers Metro Station, the Yacht Club, Marina Mall, and Emirates Golf Club. With so much to do in such close proximity, there’s no need to travel for extended lengths of time.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

Dubai-cityscape

Signature Hotel Apartments and Spa

Signature Hotel Apartments and Spa overlooks the stunning waterfront and provides each room with magical waterfront views. The hotel offers self-catering apartments as well as a luxurious spa treatment facility.

These rooms have a modern design and a kitchenette equipped with a stove, fridge and dishwasher. All rooms also have a flat-screen TV and tea and coffee-making facilities.

The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and health club, as well as a sauna and beauty treatment rooms. If you’re looking to live in the lap of luxury during your time in Dubai, Signature Hotel Apartments and Spa could just be the place for you.   

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

The Dubai Frame
The well known Instagram favourite Dubai Frame

Deira

Dubai old town area 1

Diera is the oldest district in Dubai. It’s marked by mud-brick buildings and Arabian style wind towers. Many of the houses have been converted into museums, galleries, cafes and guesthouses, so it’s a fun and exciting area to explore.

If you love a good history lesson while you’re staying in a city, then Deira is the place to be in Dubai. There’s something to be learned around just about every street corner, and its old town charm is sure to creep into your heart sooner or later.

dubai old town harbour

Diera is located next to Bur Dubai so most of the tourist attractions that I mentioned in that section are very conveniently located if you are staying in Diera.

With authentic souks selling spices and gold, you’ll have an experience unlike any other in Dubai.

Where to Stay in Deira

If you want to experience old school Dubai, here’s where you should be staying in Deira.

very colourful nuts and seeds in bowls for sale
Colourful foods on the Frying Pan Adventures tour

Al Bandar Rotana

Al Bandar Rotana is situated in the city’s original heartland and offers spectacular waterfront views. The rooms and suites offer the latest in-room amenities and technology for guests’ convenience. The five on-site restaurants all offer a different gastronomic experience, so get ready for your tastebuds to be tantalized.

Bodyline Fitness and Wellness club is the on-site fitness centre which, along with gym equipment, contains a sauna, steam room, and massage facilities.

The hotel is close to Dubai International Airport, as well as Dubai International Trade Centre.

⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

arabian sweet cake with white icing and pistachio up close

Flora Inn Hotel Dubai Airport

Flora Inn Hotel Dubai Airport is situated in Dubai, just 10 minutes from Deira City Centre Shopping Mall. The rooftop of the hotel has a temperature-controlled swimming pool with a sundeck. The perfect place to enjoy the day soaking up the sun.

Every room is equipped with a seating area, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, desk and kettle. The on-site restaurant offers Arabian, American and international cuisine to get your mouth watering.

The spa and fitness centre contains a sauna and gym to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The hotel is close to some of the best tourist attractions like the spice souk, the gold souk, and Dubai Creek Park.

            ⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

wooden boat on the water in dubai
A traditional boat on Dubai Creek

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek

Radisson Blu Hotel is a classic fixture of Old Dubai. Built in 1975, it’s become an iconic part of the Deira Creek, Dubai skyline. There are nine on-site dining venues, which can prove to be a difficult choice to choose between.

There’s a well-equipped fitness facility for those that want to stay in shape during their stay. There’s also a business centre and 21 meeting rooms for those looking for a place to stay during a business trip.

The hotel is located within walking distance of the water taxi, making it easy to get around with public transport. It’s also within walking distance of the gold souk which is one of the area’s most famed attractions.

            ⇒ Read reviews on TripAdvisorBook Now

arabian style grilled cheese sweets up close

Best Area to Stay in Dubai: Getting there and Getting Around

Dubai airport is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. It is possible to fly virtually to and from anywhere in the world. It is also the home hub for Emirates Airlines – don’t miss my Emirates Business Class Review post.

⇒ Book your flight to Dubai

If you’ve arrived at Dubai Airport at an odd time, say in the early morning, taking a taxi can be one of your best travel options as they run 24 hours a day. You’ll be in good hands because the marked cream taxis parked outside the airport exits are registered under the Dubai Taxi Corporation.

If, however, you arrive at a reasonable time the most affordable option is to hop on the Metro which is located directly outside the airport. For an extra bit of money, you can opt for a VIP ticket. A perk of this ticket is that the first-class carriages feature glass roofs, providing better viewing of the incredible skyscrapers.

traditional boat statue in Dubai old town

To reach downtown Dubai, take the red line from the airport terminal 1 or 3. A lot of the major hotels, like the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Emirates Grand Hotel, are found along this line. I found the Dubai metro very easy to use.

The city’s main forms of public transportation are all managed by the RTA. They all use the NOL card, so you don’t need to worry about buying a different ticket for whatever option you choose. This also includes the ferry and water taxi.

Road taxis are also available. Although they are more expensive than public transportation, they are well regulated by the government. This means you won’t experience a huge fluctuation in the prices. I used Uber quite a bit to get around and this worked well.

shop in dubai with blue wooden framing
Shopping in Old Dubai

Dubai also has a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus with six routes around the city. This classic red bus offers 46 well-placed departure points that follow a time table. Guests can hop-on or hop-off the bus at any stop they want.

Pre-recorded commentary (available in multiple languages) is also provided, so you can learn more about each major sight you pass.

Where Would You Like to Stay in Dubai?

Sea ceiling at Palm Jumeirah Atlantis Dubai
Sea ceiling at Palm Jumeirah

Whether you’re travelling with a significant other or taking a singles’ holiday, Dubai has something great in store for you.

Now that the best neighbourhoods have been laid out for you, where would you like to stay in Dubai? It could be the waterfront that tickles your fancy, maybe you find the party scene alluring, or it could be the historic neighbourhoods that catch your eye.

Either way, there’s an area in Dubai that’s sure to be well suited to your preferences.

burj al arab dubai

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I covered all of the costs associated with writing this best area to stay in Dubai post. However, this post does include affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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