Dubai Marina area guide: where to eat, sleep and shop

The Marina is one Dubai’s more established districts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new places to explore

A jet ski races around in a circle as the Dubai Marina is seen in the background in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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The lively Marina district needs no introduction. Many young professionals newly arrived in Dubai will settle in or around this hallowed area, if not simply because it was suggested to them, then for its well-connected location. But it's also an ever-changing beast, with new spots popping up regularly. Here's a guide to Dubai Marina in 2020 … 

Where to eat

The foodie crowd in southern Dubai seem to be a fickle bunch, given how often restaurants come and go around there. But several stalwarts have stood the test of time. Bistro Des Arts deserves a shout-out if only for its bargain brunch. For Dh99, you'll have your fill of freshly made breakfast goodies (think granola, pastries, cereals, cheese), a hot drink and a main meal. Long-term Dubai residents will tout the hummus and falafel from Reem Al Bawadi, while kebab and pide aficionados have remained loyal to Turkish spot Ruya.

Lastly, you simply can't visit the marina without a trip to one of the Pier 7 eateries. There's plenty to choose from in this circular culinary gem, but we'd recommend either Fume (try the buttermilk chicken) or Atelier M (fine French fare and views up and down the water).

Here's our map of top spots in Dubai Marina:

What activities to do

Whether it's a jaunt on one of the yachts docked metres from the boardwalk with DXB Yachts Rental, or a morning jog around its perimeter (warning: leave it any later than 9am and you'll risk playing dodgems with the tourists trying to line up photos with twisted Cayan Tower), the beauty of the marina is in its, well, beauty. If you hear the odd scream from up above, don't fret; the marina also caters to adrenalin junkies. XLine, the world's longest urban zip line, will have you hurtling from one side of the water to the other, with a top speed of close to 80 kilometres an hour. There's also a great food truck and pop-up community, both around Marina Walk and Marina Mall, so any late-afternoon stroll can be replete with gelato, Salt burgers and good coffee. There are often pop-up bookstalls and places to hire go-karts and the like.

The XLine can reach a top speed of close to 80 kilometres an hour. Courtesy XDubai
The XLine can reach a top speed of close to 80 kilometres an hour. Courtesy XDubai

Where to shop

Marina Mall is the obvious choice here, given it's stocked full of many of the same brands you'll find at larger malls, yet much quieter and with a more relaxed atmosphere. With its sparkling ceiling, expansive Waitrose and premium food outlets (Tasha's, on the ground floor, is a new and welcome addition), this is the place to shop if you're partial to a more low-key experience and don't much like crowds. Right outside, Marina Walk offers a small line of shops – a Marks & Spencer Food Hall and Spinneys – and you'll find plenty of kitschy souvenir stalls along the boardwalk.

Dubai's Marina Mall. Courtesy Marina Mall
Dubai's Marina Mall. Courtesy Marina Mall

What hotels to visit

The Address Dubai Marina is a solid choice, albeit a bit dated, with an infinity pool that looks over the water and varied dining options. Grosvenor House is another winner, with several notable restaurants (the aforementioned Ruya, plus Rhodes W1 and Indego by Vineet), the opulent B Attitude Spa and rooms from about Dh1,000 per night. Elsewhere, the Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina is the newest addition to the hotel offerings, and is a good mid-range option.