all about old dubai

All You Need To Know About Old Dubai As A Solo Female Traveller

Most people travel to Dubai for its posh ambience and grandeur, but Dubai is nothing short of surprises. Undoubtedly, the country is famous for the right reasons – unique, elegant architecture, glitzy-high rise buildings, posh hotels, and beautiful malls- you name it! But there is more to Dubai than the glamourous lifestyle and modernism. 

Dubai, one of the most populous countries in the United Arab Emirates, was once a fishing village of about 800 people. Over the decades, it emerged as a global metropolitan country and a major business hub of the Middle East!

Dubai has managed to preserve its ethnicity and culture in its historical sites located in old Dubai! The other side, which consists of the beautiful architectural sites that speak of the country’s ethnicity, is definitely a must-visit on your solo trip to Dubai!

A brief history of the now glamorous country

In 1833, about 800 members of the Bani Yas tribe decided to turn the natural harbour created by the creek flowing through Dubai into a small pearling and fishing area. Later on, the Bani Yas tribe members were joined by the Arabian nomads of the Middle East, called the Bedouin. The Bedouin people decided to settle in small houses known as barasti near the creek itself.

Later, in the 1960s, revenues generated from trade and oil exploration concessions helped Dubai’s economy. History reveals that since 1969, Dubai’s development started growing rapidly as the main revenue from oil reserves started to flow in. The country started to build hospitals, schools, and offices. Over time, Dubai transformed into the glamourous country we know it today!

My solo trip to Dubai, Old Dubai in particular, turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I have ever had. From visiting the Dubai Heritage Village to spending a whole afternoon in the historic Dubai Museum, from exploring the Spice Souk to riding the abra ride, I had a blast! Honestly, Dubai is an interesting choice of destination for a solo trip. 

Now that you got a gist of how and what Dubai developed from, let’s dive into what the major attractions of Old Dubai are for you to explore!

Tourist Spots in Old Dubai

1. Abra Ride

Your visit to Old Dubai will probably be incomplete without traversing the Dubai creek. And what better way to explore the place where life started in the city than take the traditional abra ride? It is a traditional half-boat and half-raft ride. The abra ride is considered one of the most popular ways to explore Old Dubai with a unique perspective!

There are multiple rides available from multiple creek points and multiple times in an hour! All you got to do is buy a ticket for the ride and hop on an abra! Also, the ticket is just one dirham, quite inexpensive, right?

2. Spice Souk

Old Dubai’s Spice Souk is a completely different world in itself. As you explore the place, it will definitely be a unique, aromatic, colourful, and sensory experience. You can stroll along with the stalls and chat with the vendors. Every vendor will give you in-depth details of how you can use each exotic spice in your food!

Here, you can buy spices in packets or by weight. Just like every other souk in Dubai, at Spice Souk, too, you can save a lot of money when you buy the Arabian spices in bulk. Whether you are an expert at cooking or looking to experiment with spices, the Spice Souk will have plenty to offer you!

3. The Dubai Museum

The Dubai Museum is housed in the Al-Fahidi Fort at the south of the Dubai creek. It is believed that the Dubai Museum is the oldest building in the city, which makes it all the more worthwhile to visit in Old Dubai!

The United Arab Emirates was formed in the year 1971, and so was the Dubai Museum. The Dubai Museum will give you a picture of the city before the discovery of oil in the emirates. There are artifacts and historic pieces that date back to 3000BC that have been preserved carefully to ensure their increased longevity. Spend a whole afternoon here as you take a tour through the Arab mosques, houses, deserts, date farms, and marine life! 

4. The Dubai Grand Mosque

You might have heard about the beautiful mosques of Dubai. While the Jumeirah Mosque has described as the place for peace and Sheikh Zayed Mosque for its beautiful architecture, the Grand Mosque in Old Dubai is known as the sole of Dubai’s religious and cultural life!

If you want to learn more about Islam and Dubai’s culture, then you must definitely visit the Grand Mosque. You can find the Grand Mosque towards the west of the creek. It is known to have the tallest minaret in Dubai, which will make it easier for you to spot it.

In 1900, the Grand Mosque was built as a school devoted to studying the Holy Quran. However, it was later demolished to make way for another mosque. In 1998, Grand Mosque was rebuilt again in traditional Islamic style with intricate details pleasing to the eyes!

5. The Dubai Heritage Village

One of the most unique and popular places in Old Dubai, the Heritage Village is the perfect place to visit if you have a keen interest in Arab culture. The Heritage Village is believed to be more than 3,000 years old! The original glory of Old Dubai is preserved and restored in the Heritage Village to give tourists a glimpse of how the royals lived back in the days!

It is located on a mountain and has a beautiful backdrop with plenty of hills, palm trees, and a barren land around! Visiting the Heritage Village will take you back in time for sure!

The governor, Bait Al Wali, has his house inside the village. You can get a glimpse of the master bedroom, kitchen, children’s playroom, and courtyard designed in the original appearance to preserve the way people lived in those times. 

I happened to visit the Heritage Village on my solo trip to Dubai, and it turned out to be an experience of a lifetime! I would recommend you all definitely visit the Heritage Village to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity of getting to know the real Dubai.

Places to Eat in Old Dubai

1. Al Bait Al Qadeem Restaurant and Cafe

Located between the creek and the Deira’s souks, Al Bait Al Qadeem Restaurant and Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants in Old Dubai. You can find the restaurant near Dubai’s first public primary school, Al Ahmadiya, founded in 1912 but has been preserved and restored as a museum.

You can savour delicious cuisines from the Gulf and the Levant cuisines in this authentic restaurant. In addition to that, you will also get to see the Emirati hospitality while you are at the restaurant enjoying your delicious meal!

2. Al Abra Cafeteria

Perfect for snacks and drinks, Al Abra Cafeteria is located along the Deira side and the creek. You can stop by at the cafeteria for a tasty snack meal after exploring the souks in Old Dubai. The food items offered are affordable and will not burn a hole in your pocket! 

On my solo trip to Dubai, I visited the Al Abra Cafeteria after a tiring day of exploring as many places as I could in a day, and trust me, even the electrolyte-packed fresh coconut tasted like a drink from heaven! Their deep-fried chillies are a must-try as well. 

3. Geewin Cafe

Located near the Deira Old Souq Abra Station, the Geewan Cafe is one of the most famous restaurants in Old Dubai. It is an Arabic gelato kiosk and is named after the highest grade of pearl! 

Although not that affordable, the food items will be worth every penny you spend here. Their famous camel milk gelato is to die for and will cost you about 20 dirhams. However, if you do not want to spend this much on one food item, you can try out their other delicacies in flavours such as pistachios and saffron!

I happened to visit the Geewin Cafe after shopping at the nearby souks and tried their camel milk gelato. Though expensive, it tastes amazing and is a must-try dish in Old Dubai!

4. Hanoi Naturally

A perfect place for all the Vietnamese or Vietnam food-loving tourists in Dubai, Hanoi Naturally prepares some dishes exactly the way they are prepared in Vietnam! Hence giving all the foodies a taste of home.

They have a wide variety of dishes on the menu that contains Pho Ga, a type of Vietnamese noodle soup prepared with rice noodles and chicken broth. Although I have not been to Vietnam (but would love to one day), I tried this famous dish on my solo trip to Dubai, and it was very tasty! Not sure if it tastes the same as Vietnam, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Other famous dishes include Gà Cà-Ri (a type of chicken coconut curry cooked with grated coconut and juicy chicken pieces) and Chá Cá Lá Vong (a type of stir-fried fish). You may find it difficult to pronounce the dish names, but you will love every bite of every dish you try here!

5. Mc David’s Restaurant

Situated in the lower portions of BurJuman station, Mc David’s Restaurant has recently risen to be people’s favourite. It is gaining popularity with its delicious sugar-sprinkled, fluffy, buttery ensaimada! Not just delicious, these are very pocket-friendly as well. You can stop by the restaurant to have a quick meal and tasty desserts!

Even though I could not visit this place due to other commitments, being a foodie, and having a sweet tooth, it does make me regret it. Nevertheless, there’s always another time! I would highly recommend you all check out this amazing place for some tasty ensaimadas!

Hoping on to different restaurants and malls is not the only interesting part of Dubai because there’s so much more to it. Check out my blog on the top 25 things to do alone in Dubai.

My tips and advice

Here are a few tips for you as you go on exploring Old Dubai and making the most of your solo trip.

  • Try not to wear revealing outfits and dress moderately. Even though Dubai is a metropolitan city, it is still a bit conservative as compared to other countries. And you will be travelling to Old Dubai, which may turn out to be quite conservative for a lot of your tastes!
  • Maintain a polite nature towards everyone you meet. Remember, the country is very welcoming to tourists and would love to help you with whatever help you may need, and the Arabs may not tolerate any rude behaviour.
  • If you are taking pictures of the locals, be courteous and ask them for their permission first. Arabs, especially women, may find it rude to take their pictures without their permission.
  • If you happen to travel to the country during the Holy month of Ramadan, make sure you follow as many rules and regulations as possible. It may be considered rude to break the rules and regulations during their Holy month. 
  • The best time to visit the country is between October to April. Not only does the country hold plenty of festivals during these times, but the weather is also pleasant. During other months, the weather is quite warm and humid, and may interfere with your solo trip

Alright, that is it for this blog. I have been to Dubai on a solo trip and enjoyed every bit of my stay there. Exploring Old Dubai was one of the best parts of the trip. The people are extremely welcoming, and I got to interact with a lot of locals as well. The tourist places and restaurants mentioned in the blog are some of my favourites that I got to explore. 

Spread love

If you travel to Dubai, do not forget to explore Old Dubai as it holds the ethnicity and culture of the country. If you visit any other places other than the ones mentioned in the blog, do let me know about them in the comment section below. I would love to hear about your experience in the magical country!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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