15 of the most underrated things in Dubai
Dubai is a place full of noteworthy attractions, restaurants, buildings and events that gain media attention across the world. But there’s plenty of stuff that doesn’t make the headlines that’s still worthy of recognition. Take Bastakia Quarter for example - we bet there are plenty of residents who have never even been. Here’s our round up of the unsung heroes of Dubai that deserve a bit of love.
1. Creekside Café
This place is so close to the creek that if you lean too far over you might fall in the water. It’s located in one of Dubai’s oldest buildings, passed down through families of shop owners. The café is the perfect spot for a quiet Saturday morning breakfast with a great views of the creek and old fishing boats across the water. The menu isn’t massive but it is varied – mainly between Arabic favourites like Posh Beith Temat and classics such as eggs benedict. Get the right Saturday and you can stroll around the markets afterwards – it that happens just next to it.
2. Bastakiya Quarter
While we're at Dubai Creek, let's take a look at this tiny neighborhood. The Bastakiya quarter is a great place to pick up the vibes of old Dubai, having been established in the 19th century by traders. You’ll find a picturesque little area with restored merchant’s houses, and it’s on the doorstep of Dubai’s Spice Souk.
3. Bike stations on The Palm
BYKYstations let you grab a bike for as little as AED15 (or AED20 for an hour), and cycle around as much of The Palm as you fancy. There are multiple bike return stations that you can hook the bike back into, so it’s up to you whether you do the whole thing or just go for a leisurely cycle. What’s more, there are some great photo opportunities along the way.
4. Al Khail Road
The way people talk about transport in Dubai, you’d think that Sheikh Zayed Road was the only motorway in the emirate. What about the often ignored Al Khail Road, which runs parallel, is toll free, and if you avoid rush hour it’s a great way to get to the likes of Dubai Airport and Meydan.
OK, you’re going to need to hear us out. Yes, summer is hot, but it also has some great advantages. There’s a mass migration of people out of the city meaning all your favourite places are quieter, it’s totally acceptable to stay in at weekends, your commute to work is cut in half, hotels slash their prices, and Ramadan brings a charitable, community vibe to the whole city.
Surrounded by popular areas such as Dubai Marina, JLT and The Greens, poor old Tecom is often forgotten about. Let’s not forget that rent is cheaper here than in many of its next-door neighbourhoods, and it’s extremely close to the likes of Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Marina. The restaurants and cafes are pretty underrated too. Take the newly opened Lock Stock & Barrel for example, which is well worth a visit.
7. Going straight home after Friday brunch
You don’t always have to go “out out”. Coming home after Friday brunch to catch up on the latest episodes of your favourite series, have a cup of tea and get to bed at a decent hour makes you feel as though you’ve gained an extra day of the weekend.
8. Ibn Battuta Mall
Dubai Mall may be the biggest, Mall of the Emirates may be one of the favourites, and Marina Mall may be extremely handy, but Ibn Battuta Mall definitely shouldn’t be ignored. It’s never too busy, has some great shops, a massive cinema and somehow the whole shopping experience seems a lot less stressful.
9. Getting an abra at Dubai Creek for AED1
We're back at Dubai Creek again... It’s hard to believe that anything in Dubai costs just AED1, but this does and it’s a massively underrated way to get around. Take an abra from Deira Old Souk Station, which is near the Spice Souk, across to Bur Dubai Abra Station, which is near the Gold Souk. It’s a novel way to hop between markets, especially if you have tourists in town.
10. Outlet Mall
Yes, we know, we’ve got another mall on the list. It’s well worth it though, as Outlet Mall has some massive discounts on designer and high street brands. It’s the ideal place to grab a bargain wedding guest outfit, stock up on some sports gear from brands like Nike and Adidas, or just get some end of season discount from popular stores.
11. 2nd December Street
Renamed in 2011 to mark the UAE’s 40th National Day, 2nd December Street is the jewel of Satwa. It’s a buzz of activity, with small diners, community centres and some great tailors. It’s definitely not one of Dubai’s fancier spots, but it’s got a lot of personality. After dark people flock to Legends Sports Bar which is always screening big sports games.
12. Thursday evening brunch
Don’t get us wrong, Friday brunches can be great but sometimes getting dressed up during the day seems like a whole lot of effort. Heading straight out on a Thursday allows you to celebrate the start of the weekend, without having to wake up the next day with that dreaded back-to-work-fear.
13. Al Barsha Park
Popular with joggers, families and picnickers, Al Barsha Park may not be big, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in peace and quiet. There’s plenty to do there, with a jogging track, tennis courts, fitness machines and bike rentals, making it a great (and cheap) way to work out in your time off.
14. Being able to order everything
How often do you stop to appreciate the fact that you can order almost anything to your door? Whether you can’t be bothered dropping off your own dry cleaning, or you just fancy a latte from Costa, you (almost) need never have to pause your programme on Netflix and leave the comfort of your sofa.
15. Book Munch Café
As a community café, this place is about much more than coffee and cakes. There are plenty of books for all ages, as well as some great events for bookworms such as book clubs, readings, book signings and other arty get-togethers.