With Dubai seemingly one of the hottest travel destinations for influencers to visit in 2018, when we spotted Life With Three lifestyle influencer Rachel Barwick visiting the United Arab Emirates city in October – we decided to track her down and find out just what was the city’s big allure.
Here, Rachel talks us through the top 10 things to see and do in Dubai – from riding hot air balloons in the desert to visiting the colourful Spice Markets to sunsets views from Burj Khalifa.
1. Hot air ballooning
This was by far our favourite experience that we had in Dubai. Although the start was early, it was definitely worth it! Once we arrived in the desert – about a 40 minute drive from Dubai – we could see our balloons waiting for us in the distance. Both Dan and I had both been hot air ballooning before but nothing really compares to gliding over the desert with the most beautiful golden sunrise filling the sky. It was pure magic. Our driver made it even more special by dropping very low over the sand dunes so it felt like we could almost reach out and touch them. It really felt like we were floating on a magic carpet!
2. Breakfast in the desert
After the most amazing experience in the air, we were driven over to our breakfast oasis in the cutest vintage land rovers. We were greeted with delicious traditional tea and dates and washed our hands in divine rose-scented water. Think woven rugs, palm trees, beautifully crafted tea cups and pots… a scene from a movie set.
3. Hero boats
This is best experienced at sunset! Dan and I shared a boat, which had been specially designed for this purpose in Dubai. They are basically like a jet ski with the comfort of a blow-up outer (a mini boat) so you feel very secure and they cannot flip over. We travelled along the Dubai Coast and saw the Burj Al Arab and city skyline from the water.
4. Burj Khalifa for sunset
We didn’t intentionally arrive here for sunset, but we sure were lucky we did! It had the perfect view of the sun as we didn’t have any buildings blocking our view at 828m. The golden hour glow seemed to last forever here, so there was plenty of time to get the perfect pic!
5. Old Dubai
Old Dubai really gave us a feel for the rich cultural history that the city has to offer. On the morning we visited, we had breakfast in what was once an original outdoor courtyard of a family home. Here we learned a little about the history of how the city came to be and also about the architecture and how the wind tunnels seen throughout the area help to circulate air on those hot desert days.
6. Spice Markets
After filling up on some delicious fresh dates and traditional breakfast food in Old Dubai, we made our way over to the Spice Markets. There was vibrant colour everywhere! Aside from the amazing scents that wafted through the little alleyways, there was also beautiful crafts of all sorts. Woven rugs and pillows, shoes, decorated dresses and scarves hung everywhere!
7. The Frame
As we drove up to The Frame, the sun was starting to set and the golden texture on the exterior was shimmering all over like magic. It only took a matter of seconds for us to reach the top, which is over 100m high. The centre part of the frame is what you walk through once you reach the top floor. This is all glass and there is also a fun game to play in the centre – as you walk across, the glass becomes frosted (or clear again) with touch!
8. Pier Chic
The entrance to this fully sustainable restaurant is nothing short of amazing! The Pier Chic walkway is surrounded by the most iridescent aqua blue water. On one side you can see The Palm in the distance and the other sits the Burj Al Arab. Our meals here were incredible – all made on the spot with the daily ingredients. My vegan dishes were so intricate and carefully put together.
9. Fish Beach Taverna
Stepping into Fish was just like walking through the little laneways of Mykonos. The paved floors, blue accents, hanging lights and waterside setting made us feel like we were back in Greece! Our meals were amazing and so fresh! Definitely a little oasis in the middle of such a big city.
10. La Perle
On our last night, only hours before we were due to fly home, we saw the spectacular La Perle. Dan and I have been to a few Cirque Du Soleil productions, but nothing like this! The auditorium has been specially built for the show – where water floods the stage floor in seconds and even falls like waterfalls from the balcony seating!
All images: Life With Three