You haven’t really been to Dubai until you’ve been to the Creek… but before you go you should really make a list of things to do and see, or it can be a little overwhelming. This post provides you a quick guide of things to do at the Dubai Creek… but comes from someone who knows it very well.
Having lived in Dubai for many years we have visited the Creek countless times, each time discovering new things to do. From cultural and heritage sites, to the best shopping, restaurants and street food. We even give you a map to the Dubai Creek to get you on your way.
With our recommendations of places to visit in the Creek, it may end up being one of your favourite experiences in Dubai. Make sure you save this post in preparation for your visit and explore the Dubai Creek like a pro with insider tips and knowledge.
So are you ready to get into the Creek in more detail? Let’s do it…
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Al Fahidi Historical District (Bastakiya)
This area is built around the original city walls and is the best place for culture and a bit of history. It isn’t a huge area, so it is explored on foot pretty quickly, but it is one of my favourite parts of the city to take visitors. Look out for the restaurant the Arabian Tea House, for a funky little place to sit for lunch, dinner or a snack.
Once again, the best time of the day to visit is in the early evening. If you visit mid week and early in the day many of the shops are closed. Often in the cooler months there are things happening here from art to music… Fahidi District is a great place for an insight into local artisan talents.
If you are looking for a super alternative place to stay, then I recommend the XVA Art Hotel. Wake up to the sound of the mosques early in the morning and get a real taste of life in the Middle East.
The Dubai Museum
This museum provides a great overall historical background to life in the Emirates. It’s a small museum and won’t take more than a couple of hours at most. They showcase examples of local heritage and tradition from Arab homes, through to mosques and date farms.
But what I love most is the building itself. It is the oldest building in the city and has been restored, so it’s a bit of a privilege to walk through and around it, for such a small entrance fee.
I would definitely recommend the Dubai museum if culture and history is your buzz.
Catch an Abra
Abra’s are the solid traditional wooden boats that transport people from one side of the Creek to the other. This is a great thing to do if you have kids, they will love it. From either side of the creek head to the Abra wharf. You can’t miss it as locals and tourists will be lining up to get across.
And here is a tip for the budget lover… there are two ways to explore the Dubai Creek by abra.
The first is to hire the abra all for yourself, family and friends. An hour tour of the Creek will cost you around 100 dirhams and will transport you up and down so that you may admire old town from the water.
The second option however, if you are looking to save your dirhams is to jump on the abra with everyone else for 1 dirham. Head for the busy lines, keep a dirham handy and jump on the abra when instructed. Sit tight and within 5 minutes you’ll be on the other side of the Creek in Deira. Read below for how to shop in the souks like a pro. When you are shopped out and ready to return, catch the abra back to the Bur Dubai side of the Creek for another dirham.
It’s a fun way to feel like you are exploring the city like a local. And it’s super pretty to do at dusk with the call to prayer echoing through the city in the background.
The Shindagha Museum and Heritage District
From the Bur Dubai side, follow the Creek towards the Shindagha area for another heritage area of Fahidi. I have always found this area quieter but every now and again there is something happening down here.
If there is nothing happening, it’s a nice stroll and provides a different perspective as you look back up the Creek.
On the way towards the Shindagha district, you will pass the Dubai Ferry station. This can be a great excursion to and from the Dubai Marina to the Creek. Ferries depart twice daily at 1pm and 6pm from this point, the Ghubaiba station, for a one way trip. These trips cost 50 dirhams per person and it takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. It is a great way to see the full length of the Dubai city from the ocean. See the Roads and Transport Authority website for more.
Shopping at the Creek
The touts will be out in force, trying to sell you fake watches and handbags. Shop owners will try to lure you into their store with trinkets and offers of pashminas and all sorts. But just go with it, and give a polite smile and thank you as you walk past.
Unless of course you see something you want then wander in. But be sure to bargain HARD. Cut their price atleast by half and enjoy the back and forward dance of bartering. Your secret weapon should be to seem unsure and walk away. Never let on exactly how keen you are for the item you are bargaining over.
Most importantly – Just go with the flow and have fun with it!
The Spice Souk Deira
When you’ve reached Deira you will be ready to explore the spice souks and maybe also the gold souk. I will stress here, that the only time to do this is in the evening. We have visited the Deira souks during the middle of the day and there is just no atmosphere. You certainly want to stroll through the narrow market lanes when there are lots of people about. As they say, it’s all part of the charm.
Bur Dubai Souk Market
This market is much like the spice souk on the Deira side, just a little smaller. There is a long walkway with shops lining each side. From touristy gifts, to clothes, spices and perfumes they have a little bit of everything to tempt.
If you love Afghani or middle eastern shopping then don’t miss Chuk Palu. This has been my favourite shop for carpets, cushion covers, light fittings, handbags and more over the years. Rahim is the store owner and he brings everything from his home country of Afghanistan. I absolutely cannot recommend this shop enough. Check the map for his location.
This is just a great area to walk through between the hours of 6pm and 8pm in the evening on the weekend. You may choose not to visit the temple, but a walk along this super narrow lane while worshippers have come to pay their respects at temple, is a brief glimpse into India. The smell of fresh Jasmine flowers fill the air, orange decorations and cottons hang from the street walls and brightly coloured framed pictures of hindu gods wait to be purchased.
The Ali Ibn Talib Mosque
This mosque resembles Iranian design and architecture. The blues and teals in the mosaic exterior, it is a beautiful sight in the late afternoon. Unless you are muslim you will not be able to enter, however it is certainly worth a walk-by.
Where to Eat
Part of the Dubai Creek experience and things to do here is eating. Street food is what it’s all about! And it’s quite cheap eating at the Creek compared to other places in Dubai. Below are some of the best places to grab a bit to eat. They are also marked below on the interactive map in light blue.
Okay this isn’t really street food, but the cakes (drooling face emoji). You will love the coffees and cakes here as you watch the large cargo dhows coming in and out of the Creek. These giant dhows have made their way all the way from India and they are quite an impressive sight.
Mazmi coffee is owned by a local Emirati man and his Italian wife and together they have created a special place to sit and relax. Try the orange and almond cake (it’s gluten free). And they also have a beautiful Bed and Breakfast accommodation which you can stay in right here in the heart of the Creek. See Mazmi Casa here to read the rave reviews.
Bur Dubai Souk Market
I mention the Bur Dubai Souk again as this is a great place to grab some Indian street food. In the narrow lane, side by side, two competing restaurants thrust samosas or pakora into your hand as you walk by. Do yourself a favour (and them), sit down on the bench, eat a plate of the fried snacks and sip on a karak tea. It doesn’t get much more authentic than this.
Eat at the Golden Fish or Blue Barjeel
We have been eating here for years, and the view doesn’t get any better. Restaurant tables and chairs line the narrow pathway single file along the creek side. We love the Golden Fish for service and the kitsch atmosphere – order the special tea (black tea in a brass pot). And we love the Blue Barjeel for the Arabic food. Both provide shisha, the local sweet tobacco in a hookah pipe. Try grape with mint or double apple.
Just a word on navigation, Blue Barjeel is not easy to find on maps, but Golden Fish is. So search for the Golden Fish and when you’ve found this one, then you’ve found both as they are side by side.
This is definitely my favourite Indian restaurant in Dubai. Slightly further back from the Creek this two story restaurant has a great selection of Indian dishes. I recommend the Paper Marsala Dosa, the Chole Bhaturi, Dahi Puri and the Gulab Jamun for something sweet.
Food Tour with Frying Pan Adventures
This is DEFINITELY for you if you consider yourself a foodie. Follow this link to the Frying Pan Adventures to find out how to take a real street food experience. They have a number of alternative options, we did the Deira food tour and honestly couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
These incredible ladies have created something very special. Having grown up in the district, they know the streets and the restaurants well. Sign up for the tour and you’ll find yourself trying the best falafel in town, kunafa, saffron ice cream and so so much more. In fact, you’ll be grateful for the walk between meals, as it gives you a chance to build up an appetite for the next foodie encounter. Seriously one of the most memorable food tours of my life.
Al Seef District
I add this section at the end for a reason. This is the newer district and is in fact a shopping district rather than a location of culture and heritage. Al Seef was developed to look like an historical district, so while it looks beautiful and is a lovely area to explore, it is not the real deal.
Further up the Creek on the Bur Dubai side, Al Seef District is a great place to have a nice dinner or to stroll the shops. There are some fantastic middle eastern inspired restaurants to dine at including Khaimat Jumeirah Kitchen and Al Hamidieh Marsa al Seef. Parking is easy with ample underground spaces to park up.
In a nutshell, we love Al Seef but it is more expensive and less authentic than further down the Creek. But if you are not in the mood to find a car park or up for dealing with the touts and the glorious chaos of the Creek, then this may be more suited to you.
I would definitely recommend a stay in the Curio Collection – Hilton Al Seef Heritage Hotel. This is a stunning area to stay in, and a little different than most hotels and resorts of Dubai. Or check our other dedicated post on the best places to stay in Dubai.
Private Tour of Dubai Creek
If you get to the end of this post and the Dubai is something you really want to do, but navigating the Creek sounds a bit much? Then we recommend this 3 hour private tour. This option means you still enjoy the souks, abra station and local food without the stress of finding it all.
Dubai Creek Map
Pin this guide for your visit to the Dubai Creek and you’ll know exactly where to shop, where to eat and where to visit. You won’t go wrong. Don’t forget to drop your comments below with your favourite spots to visit in the Dubai Creek.
And hey! Click here if you are thinking about going on a Dubai Desert Safari. My post shares everything you ought to know before you go, along with some cool discounts!
Or tap here if you are looking for our complete guide to all the must see places to visit in Dubai.
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