There’s something very special about Dubai Creek. Away from all the glitz and glamour that Dubai has in abundance is the contrasting old, traditional Dubai and it’s definitely worth a visit.
It’s an easy journey on the metro or alternatively you can get a taxi which are pretty reasonable in Dubai. You can do the tour suggested below in the same order or in reverse depending on what you fancy. If on the metro then head for Al Fahidi station (on the Green Line) and then walk up Al Mussallah Street (North) towards the Creek. You might be a bit underwhelmed at this point but keep with it. A ten minute walk will bring you to a roundabout (Al Fahidi roundabout). Turn left and then cross the road and you’ll be at your first stop:
I actually missed this main area on my first visit which is a shocker as it’s really one of the highlights. This is old Dubai with the neighbourhood dating back to the 1890s. There’s a small number of museums and art galleries in the area offering free entry (also check out the art as you walk through the alleyways). I didn’t look too closely at the museum content if I’m honest but that’s only because I was so taken with looking at the museum buildings themselves. The area is refreshingly calm after the hustle and bustle of the busy road you’ve just left so take your time to explore the area. If you fancy a bite to eat or a drink head to the Arabian Tea House Cafe.
Once you’ve had a good wander, head back towards the roundabout and stroll along Al Fahidi road to Dubai Museum (you want to head right along this road if your back is to the Al Bastakiya). It’s definitely worth a visit and for 3 AED you can’t complain. It’s actually a real labyrinth inside with lots of interesting displays which also provide a welcome relief from the heat outside. Note – everyone wants a selfie with the camel (it’s not real!) so you can get held up quite a bit by this so be patient or get in the queue if you want that shot!
Textile and the Old Souk
Next carry on towards the Creek, turning down the street beside the Dubai Grand Mosque. This is the Textile Souk with lots of beautiful fabrics to look at as you walk through. Be ready for the hustle and bustle (and haggling) that greets you around the corner in the Old Souk, and be prepared to have scarves draped across you, hats put on your head and bags on your wrists. Be firm if you’re not interested but there are bargains to be had if you haggle which is part of the fun and an expectation.
Once you’re stocked up (or have made it through the stalls empty handed – well done if so), head down to the Creek itself and see the abras lined up ready to take you across the water (more on that later). This is a perfect photo spot and a chance to see the Creek at work.
Heritage Village and the House of Sheik Saeed Al Maktoum
Stroll along the front of the Creek to the far end to visit the Heritage Village which gives you further insight into Bedouin culture. It’s also free to visit. You also pass the House of Sheik Saeed Al Maktoum, once the residence of the former ruler of Dubai. The house is now open to the public as a museum and is definitely worth a visit (3 AED entry).
You might want to stop for a bite to eat at Barjeel Heritage Guest House or back near the souk in Bait Al Wakeel. Yes they are touristy but they do some good traditional dishes so are worth a look.
Abra to the other side
Don’t leave the Creek without a trip to the other side on an Abra (from Bur Dubai Abra Station). This is probably the best experience for the lowest price you are going to come across in Dubai. 1 dirham will get you a seat (alongside 50 other people) on a small wooden traditional boat across the water to the Spice souk and the Gold souk. Get your seat quickly, there’s no waiting around or safety demonstration here!
Spice and Gold Souk
Get off at Deira Old Souk Abra station located on Baniyas Road and very close to the Spice Souk. You’ll smell the spice souk before you see it and it really is an experience for all your senses. Feast your eyes on the huge lumps of frankincense, smell the fresh peppermint mixed with all the other spices on offer. Remember if you are going to stop and chat to the shopkeepers and explore the stores you might want to consider buying something in return.
Stocked up on spices, head to the Gold Souk. It’s a shame there’s so many people trying to sell fake handbags and watches here (you’ll find them around the other Souks too but they seem to multiply here), but don’t be put off by these sellers, you never feel threatened, it’s just annoying more than anything but the sights of the dazzling gold and jaw dropping amounts of jewellery on offer is definitely worth any annoyance.
Didn’t have anything to eat earlier? Check out Al Bait Al Qadeem not too far from Al Ras Metro station for a selection of delicious traditional dishes.
You can then either walk to the nearby Al Ras metro or hop in a taxi home.
The Guestbook comment: “A tour of the Creek – an essential part of anyone’s visit to Dubai to get a glimpse of the old Dubai that still exists alongside the sparkly lights and skyscrapers down the road and it’s every bit as special.”