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Culture Lover’s Guide to Dubai

Culture Lover’s Guide to Dubai

Between deserts and skyscrapers, Dubai has a rich seam of culture. From delving into museums and souks to sampling the city’s multicultural cuisine, here are some ways to discover Dubai’s way of life, art, architecture, food, and history.

 

Roam Old Dubai.

There’s no better way to get a feel for the city’s culture than wandering around Old Dubai. Book a walking tour that goes through Deira (one of Dubai’s oldest quarters), and explore the gold and spice souks. Going with a guide will help you navigate the neighborhood and hone your haggling skills, and most tours include a traditional abra boat ride across Dubai Creek, the city’s lifeblood since its pearl trading days.

 

Walk around Al Fahidi.

To see Dubai’s oldest architecture, head south of Dubai Creek to the Al Fahidi neighborhood (aka Al Bastakiya), whose alleyways and wind tower houses were trading hubs for 19th-century Persian merchants. Join a tour of the quarter to learn about its history and buildings. Al Fahidi also boasts numerous art galleries.

 

Explore Dubai’s museums.

Learn about the emirate’s pre-oil past at the Dubai Museum, and two facets of  Middle Eastern culture and history at Al Fahidi’s coin and coffee museums. Other must-visits include the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, which hosts activities and Q and A sessions spotlighting Emirati customs, and the Women’s Museum, which traces the achievements of Emirati women. Most Old Dubai tours stop by some or all of these museums. 

 

Take a food tour.

A cuisine that shakes up Indian and Middle Eastern influences, Dubai’s food is a window into the city’s past and multicultural fabric. Choose a street food tour to sample Dubai’s Asian-inspired eats, or an Emirati-slanted trip that focuses on local classics such as camel burgers and mezze (appetizers).


See Abu Dhabi’s masterpieces.

As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi offers several cultural big hitters, including the modern Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque—a vision of marble domes and courtyards—and the Louvre Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum. Both are best explored on a tour, so you can avoid the hassle of driving or public transit.

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9 Tours and Activities

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The 10 Tastings of Dubai With Locals: Private Food Tour

The 10 Tastings of Dubai With Locals: Private Food Tour

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68
Take your taste buds on a journey around Dubai’s multicultural cuisine on this private food tour. Learn about the city’s historical culinary influences while exploring souks and traditional eateries, and enjoy up to eight food stops to try local specialties and goodies. Sample fresh prawns cooked in spices, dig into a camel burger and savor saffron ice cream, lemon mint juice, stuffed vine leaves, traditional coffee, and more.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$129.85
Price varies by group size
From
$129.85
Price varies by group size

Authentic Emirati Cultural Meal and Talk in Old Dubai

Authentic Emirati Cultural Meal and Talk in Old Dubai

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74
Delve into traditional Emirati culture over a delicious local meal on an engaging experience in Dubai. Visit the charming Al-Fahidi neighborhood in old Dubai’s Al Bastakiya district, and take a seat in a delightful, wind towered courtyard. After Arabic coffee and dates, enjoy a tasty feast of local specialties, including syrup-soaked ‘ligamat’ donuts. As you eat, enjoy a question-and-answer session with a local expert, covering local culture. Learn about Emirati dress, food and daily life, and leave with a deeper understanding of Dubai’s past and present.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$32.98
From
$32.98

Cultural Tour of the Al Fahidi Al Bastakiya District in Authentic Old Dubai

Cultural Tour of the Al Fahidi Al Bastakiya District in Authentic Old Dubai

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14
Spend 1.5 hours following an expert guide through one of Dubai's oldest neighborhoods on this Al Fahidi Al Bastakiya Historical District tour. You'll visit the Ruler's Court Mosque, sample Arabic coffee, sit inside an original wind-tower house dating back to the 19th century and gain an insider's look into the culture and traditions of this incredible destination.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$29.58
From
$29.58

Middle Eastern Food & Culture Walk in Old Dubai
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Middle Eastern Food & Culture Walk in Old Dubai

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117
Exploring the Middle Eastern cuisines of old Dubai’s food scene is difficult without a guide to steer you to the right dishes and restaurants. With this small-group half-day tour, enjoy the must-tries and hear their backstories. Plus, visit a range of Middle East restaurants to ensure you experience a culinary cross-section—difficult to achieve on DIY food tours. Tastings of 10 different treats included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$115.87
From
$115.87

Old Dubai Gold Souk and Water Taxi

Old Dubai Gold Souk and Water Taxi

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13
Explore Dubai’s old neighborhoods, including its traditional bazaars and souks, on this unique 4-hour tour. Visit the small Bastakiya quarter, full of merchant houses, art galleries, cafés and boutique hotels. Discover the Dubai Museum, located in the oldest existing building in Dubai. Then take a water taxi across Dubai Creek to the Spice Market and Gold Souk. Visit the Women’s Museum, watch a private fashion show, take pictures outside Jumeirah Mosque and drive by the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel. Entrance fees plus a hotel or port pickup and drop-off included.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$45.00
From
$45.00

Abu Dhabi City Tour With Louvre Museum

Abu Dhabi City Tour With Louvre Museum

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4
Visiting Abu Dhabi from Dubai independently means hiring a car or using local buses to get you to, and then around, the UAE capital. With this tour, relax with air-conditioned transport and visits to the main sights all laid on. Admire the Grand Mosque, drive the Corniche, and get free time to explore the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. Entry to the Louvre, and hotel pickup and drop-off, is included.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$140.00
From
$140.00

Private Historic Old Dubai and Souks Walking Tour featuring Hidden Gems

Private Historic Old Dubai and Souks Walking Tour featuring Hidden Gems

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12
Discover a low-key side of Dubai on this walking tour through the old part of the city. On the first part of the tour, step inside the coffee, coin, and Dubai museums, appreciating the old forts, architecture, and street art along the way. Then, take an abra (traditional Arabian boat) ride across Dubai Creek to visit the souks—traditional markets selling everything from souvenirs to diamonds.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$101.77
From
$101.77

Full Day Dubai City Tour with Gold Souk

Full Day Dubai City Tour with Gold Souk

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28
Delve into Dubai’s oldest quarters and markets on a 7-hour Al Bastakiya heritage area and souks walking tour. Stroll around the 19th-century lanes and wind towers of Al Bastakiya, visit Dubai Museum, and explore Deira’s traditional Gold and Spice souks. Then, enjoy photo ops at Dubai’s newer sights, including the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa, before watching an evening Dubai Fountain show. Air-conditioned minivan transport and hotel pickup and drop-off included.
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  • 7 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$42.50
From
$42.50

Walking Tour: Emirati Art and Cultural Tour From Dubai
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Walking Tour: Emirati Art and Cultural Tour From Dubai

Discover traditional Emirati culture and art on a 4-hour tour of old Dubai, with a local guide. See the mud-brick wind towers and courtyards of Al Bastakiya and Al Fahidi, visit boutique art galleries, and admire the beautiful Diwan Mosque. Savor Arabic coffee and fresh dates during a fascinating interactive question and answer session about Emirati life and culture; see Deira’s glittering Gold Souk, and explore women’s role in Emirati life and art at Dubai’s Women’s Museum. Numbers are limited to 15 for a small-group experience.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$79.00
From
$79.00