Travel changed after the lockdown lifted in Dubai. I was not sure whether there were any safe places to visit in Dubai. Especially those locales that were worth the risk of going outside. Still, I wanted to explore a side of Dubai that nobody had access to.
I called this my social-distancing exercise for traveling. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t want to escape into the wilderness. After being shut in at home, though, I wanted to feel connected with humanity again. This only meant one thing:
While I wanted to eat and click pictures of places and food. My priority was to have fun. But at a comfortable distance from other people.
Maybe I did not find places that were totally deserted. But here is a list of places to visit in Dubai where you can escape crowds. These offbeat locales are fun even though they are less visited. I know you have waited for a post-lockdown getaway for far too long. So, without further ado, let’s literally take the road less travelled.
Places To Visit In Dubai for free: Let’s check it out
Here is a list of 6 offbeat places to visit in Dubai, which I will recommend for everyone who is here or will be visiting Dubai soon.
I found this spot after I frequented the Mamzar Beach Park maybe six or seven times. The beach park here attracts the crowds and leaves the corniche out of sight. Only a few people who jog or cycle haunt this corniche. Most of the time you won’t even notice the quiet joggers passing by. But what you will notice are the birds.
The corniche comes dotted with a few trees which are home to tiny birds. They chirp and sing in unison especially before sunset. Notes of sweet-smelling flowers hang in the air. The floral scent will disappear as you walk further in towards the water. Speaking of which, the corniche has a quiet shore but an incredible view of the Sharjah skyline.
Clean, white sand peppered with shells makes it a relaxing spot to stretch your feet. Tea and wraps from the nearby shop is the only grub that complements this place. There are no other cafes around. Remember it’s not very popular among tourists and residents in the city.
Travel Tip: Bring your own beach mat, chair or snacks for a quaint evening at Mamzar corniche.
Places To Visit in Dubai: Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
Formerly known as Bastakiya Quarters, Al Fahidi is a heritage area best reserved for those long walks after supper. Al Fahidi is next to Al Seef Street, the waterfront tourist spot in Dubai. That makes us, socially distant travellers, very lucky. The waterfront spot is a magnet to tourists from all over the world and locals too.
But in Al Fahidi, traffic fades to a quiet hum into its narrow lanes. Stoned pathways are flanked with sand-coloured houses. There are giant wind towers that rise from the top of these buildings. Wind-towers, which provide natural air-conditioning is also proof of the quarter’s history.
Back in the day, the quarters used to be houses. Al Fahidi dates back to the early 1900s. Persian settlers who hailed from Bastak, a city in Iran, built the quarters here. Today the houses in Al Fahidi exhibit artefacts that will one day end up in museums of the future. But not all buildings here are art galleries. Some quarters serve the best coffee in their courtyard cafes.
Travel tip: This place is home to Sikka, an annual art festival in Dubai. Be sure to visit this low-key event if you are visiting.
Places to Visit In Dubai On A Tight Budget
Here are some places to visit in Dubai on an absolutely low budget, let’s check them below.
Last Exit At Al Qudra
Last Exit is not a travel destination. Rather, it is a pit stop for food lovers. Even before the lockdown, and the COVID-19 situation, Last Exit was always isolated. The so-called food park has trailers filled with juicy grilled burgers and melting cheese pizzas.
Last Exit has a calming ambience. Hay bales and cacti add to the slow pace and laid back vibes here. Abandoned trucks and cars on display come to life with plants growing inside the roofless vehicles. Don’t forget to walk around the horse track or check out the horse trailers. Last Exit does not fail to give you the feel of the Wild Wild West.
Last Exit is one place on this list best enjoyed in winter. Since everything is outdoor here. In summer, people prefer to use Last Exit’s drive-through services. Trailers here serve the best smoothies and crepes on the go. It is one of the places to visit in Dubai if you are a foodie!
Travel Tip: For more social distancing avoid the weekend (Friday and Saturday) crowd. If you and your friends or family want to be the only people at Last Exit, come here on a weekday.
Ibn Battuta Mall
Ibn Battuta is one of the final destinations on the Dubai metro. Since the mall is so far out, Ibn Batutta feels cut off from the rest of the city. It always feels like the end of a journey by the time I reach this mall.
The mall is a homage to the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta. Each section inside the mall has a theme. The themes are based on the destinations Ibn Battuta visited. Certain parts of the mall remind you of China, India, and Persia. While other zones are dedicated to cultures from Egypt, Tunisia and Andalusia.
Each of these zones has it’s theme-based retail and entertainment offerings. You can try out the cuisine of the country the section represents too. Most of all, the shopping mall is big enough to explore the world, all under one roof.
Places to Visit In Dubai If You Like Luxury: Dubai Design District
People who visit Dubai Design District are probably its employees. But I am way out of line here by calling the few people who come here as employees. Known as d3, this urban sprawl is the home of Dubai’s fashion and design sector. Aimless wander will lead you to the Harper’s Bazaar cafe, by the famous fashion publisher. While art studios will pop up at every corner.
d3 has other places other than fashion and art studios. Hotels and premium apartments don’t mind if you saunter by. And, then there’s the lesser-known shopping promenade at d3. Only a handful of people come to Dubai Design District. Shopping from the high-end luxury retailers here isn’t for the common folks. But that doesn’t stop people from taking a look.
The boutique stores are a sight for sore eyes and Instagram worthy too. If you are a photographer then take advantage of local designs out here in the open. But I come to d3 for its hip cafes. With international palettes to please, the Molecule cafe in d3 serves the best French fare in the city. It’s also one of the few eateries in Dubai where you can enjoy a wholesome vegan meal on a budget.
Travel tip: If you’re lucky you can bump into a familiar face from the world of fashion here. So stick around even if you are not shopping or eating much!
Places to visit in Dubai: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
I did not know that in spite of its arid landscape a desert could hold so much life in it. They say that the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is best seen with a tour operator. But that doesn’t mean it is a crowded spot. The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve usually allows a select few operators here.
Once you sort out the logistics of getting here there is plenty of fun in store. And everything can be done is the quietness and isolation of the desert.
You can drive deep into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. There are natural sandy dunes that contrast with the clear blue skies above. If driving is not your thing, you can journey on foot, with the help of your guide. You can take part in traditional pursuits. Like falconry, camel treks, horse riding, and archery. If you are feeling adventurous then give sand-skiing a shot. It is one of the most isolated places to visit in Dubai for sure!
Desert safaris usually organise dinners at sunsets. The fare is mostly Arabic accompanied by the shisha. While there are no souvenirs to take back. You can have your hands painted with henna. Or, share some laughs while watching a belly dancer perform to Arabian music.
Travel Tip: Plan ahead before you book your safari. Going on your own means missing out all the above activities.
Final Opinion On Places To Visit In Dubai
Dubai has always been the city of crowds and tourists. But it is soon adapting to the post-pandemic world. Now that you know about these lesser-known places to visit in Dubai. I hope you have fun while social distancing…in these places off the beaten track.
If you could, which one of these destinations would you like to see next? Chime in the comments below.