The best hidden treasures in Dubai

Ilse de Roo - Dubai - Best-kept travel secrets

Dubai is an amazing city where absolutely everything is impetuous and big. The popular emirate of UAE is full of superlatives including world’s tallest building, most luxurious hotels, glittering gold souk, world’s largest natural flower garden and the largest man-made island: The Palm.

The entire world admires Dubai for it’s ambition and ability to dream unrealistic things and realize projects that not get off the drawings elsewhere. It’s a bustling microcosm peacefully shared by different cultures from around the world. The city has a long list of wonderful things to do. Some are known while others are still a secret that you need to explore. We will share some of these hidden treasures that nobody else will tell you.

A coffee museum

If you, just like me, have a fascination with coffee, then you can’t afford to miss out on this awesome coffee museum. It is one of the hidden places in Dubai and is mostly only known to locals and offbeat travelers. You will discover a massive selection of centuries-old artefacts relating to all things coffee. Such as recipes, books, equipment and antiques. Walk around in this amazing museum and settle down to enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the cosy majlis-style seating areas.

A desert dinner party

Most desert excursions follow the same formula: a 4X4 drive across the dunes to a campsite where you will take a photo with a falcon. Have your hands painted with henna and watch a dance show while you eat. However, if you’re looking for a more unique experience, turn to Nara Escape. The team will handle every detail based on your preferences to give you a luxe dining and entertainment experience in the desert. Complete with a table full of food made by the team’s private French chef.

Delma Island

This island is an unusual place in the UAE as it still retains much of it’s cultural heritage. Dating back 7000 years, the island is one of the oldest inhabited areas of the country. It offers a view of what the traditional Persian Gulf would have been like, without all the skyscrapers and hotels. Although Delma Island is around 500km from Dubai, there are regular ferries running from Jebel Dhanna terminal, and it is a great place to stay overnight.

Go for a ride in the Fossel Dunes

Only a 30-minute drive from the city centre, the Fossil Dunes of Al Wathba are one of Dubai’s best-kept secrets. Unknown to even some locals, the Fossil Dunes are one of the wonders of the UAE. The dunes are a place worth spending a few hours in, not only to check out the impressive rocks but also to watch an amazing sunset. So rent a 4×4 and get lost in the desert while trying to find these stunning natural creations.

Al Qudra Cycle Path

Another great way to explore Dubai off the beaten track is to go along the Al Qudra cycle path, an attraction for adventure travel lovers, consisting of a cycling trail that goes through a sand-dune desert. For almost 100km, the track goes through a vast sea of mountain dunes, making the ride and views beyond epic. There are many bikes available for renting but, of course, you can also bring your own.

Watch Dubai From Nasimi Beach

The well known Burj Khalifa is not the only place where you can enjoy the famous skyline of Dubai. There are several other places that serve as the best destination for photographers framing the picturesque Dubai. Unknown to many, Nasimi Beach on Palm Island offers a great view of the Dubai skyline.

Sunset Beach

For the quintessential ‘ holding up the Burj Al Arab’ photograph, this spot will get you the best side of Dubai’s iconic hotel. The free beach is a perpetual hive of activity and one of the emirate’s most beautiful stretches of sand, also known as Umm Suqeim Beach. Head to nearby Surf House Dubai to rent a board and discuss surf conditions over a coffee.

Some random secrets

The best place for a sunset: For one of the best-kept sunset secrets, go to the top of the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. You’ll find a great view of the skyline including the Burj. Entry is free.

A goat milk bath: Why go for a normal water bath when Dubai offers you goat milk bath? For this experience, go to one of the special Jacuzzi’s at the notorious Talissee Ottoman Spa. This tradition was related to Cleopatra who first started to take milk baths thousands years ago.

The black beach: This is an unscathed, intimate bay behind the palaces on Jumeirah Beach Road. It is usually nice and empty so you don’t have to contend with screaming kids or dodge flying footballs. To find it, look for the small pathway of Jumeirah Beach Road between the palaces.

Go to the Astronomy camp: The Dubai Astronomy camp has set up a permanent location to gaze at the stars with telescopes and equipment.

Great-value art: Al Quoz’s young artist auctions are a great Dubai secret for those wanting to buy art, but don’t know how to start without risking a fortune. This will not only allow you to practice the process of art buying, but you’ve got a good chance of picking up a collector’s item from a budding prodigy. Regular auctions take place every month and are free to attend.

Aladdin’s cave: You’ve probably never seen a store quite like this – the walls and shelves are stacked with strange looking gifts, rusty swords, Viking hats, African sculptures and other useless but extremely cool memorabilia. The owner has been collecting goodies for years on trips to the Middle East and Somalia.

A secluded yoga garden: Find your inner calm amid the bustle of the city in the tranquil setting at Life’n One. The bohemian wellness centre includes a vegan cafe, concept shop and exercise pavilion. Classes range from meditation to pilates and a variety of yoga sessions that take place on the rooftop pavilion or in an airy studio during the hotter months.


Hi there, my name is Ilse and I’m a travel enthusiast. When I travel to a destination, I like to explore the non-tourists areas and stumble upon hidden places and unknown gems. Follow my personal Instagram for more about me: @ilse.roo

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