Dubai is an astonishing city with a lot on the offer and it can surprise many visitors with its diversity, culture and nature. One of my favourite areas to visit is the old Dubai – a place where you immediately feel like you stepped 50 years back in the past.
From my experience you will need a good 6-7 hours to get a good grasp of the area. And very comfortable shoes and clothes. I always suggest to start your day earlier to enjoy the area to the fullest and avoid the tourist traffic and extreme heat.
Breakfast. Before you set off, start with a wholesome breakfast. The Arabian Tea House in Bastakiya, is an awe-worthy restaurant serving delicious Arabic breakfast trays, Arabic coffee and karak tea is my personal favourite! The dishes are pure delish and the decor and atmosphere just makes it an even better experience.
Bastakiya also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is probably the most authentic place you can find in Dubai. Narrow alleys, low rise sandy-coloured buildings, barjeels (towers serving as cooling systems) and plenty of galleries giving a bit of an insight into Dubai’s history and art.
Sightseeing. My favourite thing to do in Bastakiya is actually getting lost. Every time I go I discover a new spot – be it a coffee shop, museum I never knew existed, a new local gallery or exhibition or a shop with hand-made produce. I just cannot recommend this place enough.
Once you find your way back to the main street, venture towards Dubai Museum and Al Fahdi Fort. It is definitely worth a visit however it can get quite busy with tours coming in all day long so bear in mind that you might have to queue for a bit.
Souks. Following your visit find your way towards the Bur Dubai Old Souk Market. It’s quite an experience and can be quite cumbersome if you are not used to the hustle and bustle of markets. You will be called by sellers a lot and if you decide to get into a conversation with them (or even eye contact), be prepared to spend hours there testing your assertiveness. It is all worth it if you want to bag some nice souvenirs, spices or simply see what a local market looks like.
Bonus: If you haven’t seen an Iranian Mosque yet, there is one called Ali Ibn Abi Talib Mosque tucked away off the main street and it is indeed breathtaking.
From there, you can take an abra (local boat) for 2 dirhams and go across the creek to Gold Souk and Old Souk with variety of spices on the offer. Indulge yourself in the scents of spices from all around the world and bag a bargain on gold jewellery, even a 24-carat one.
Al Seef. If you still have the energy, visit Al Seef district. This relatively new (opened in 2017) area is a replica of old Dubai and it is a great spot to grab a light bite or a coffee while you enjoy Dubai Creek views. It’s also a great spot for photography lovers so get your camera ready and strike a pose by one of its many colourful doors.
For those who are not the biggest fans of getting lost I created a map with points of interest.