Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina – Where is Better?

Two hugely popular places to live and vacation in Dubai, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina. But where is better to stay? Where is better to live? Where has more entertainment? Here we face them against each other to see where is better, Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina.

We looked at living in the area, things to do, cost and location and the clear winner was Downtown Dubai.

Read on below to see the full breakdown of why Downtown Dubai is better than Dubai Marina.

Which is in the Best Location?

There are a few things to consider when looking at location. Proximity to nearby attractions / things to do and beaches for one. Then we need to look at any scenery aspects too.

Downtown Dubai is located in the heart of the city with Dubai Creek wrapping around the area. Jumeirah Beach is probably the closest tourist destination.

Downtown Dubai is one of the places to be. You sure will not be able to get bored in this area. Everything from Burj Khalifa to Dubai Mall is right on your doorstep. Dubai Creek has many restaurants and bars to take a seat, whilst Safa Park is also not too far away if you’re looking for some greenery.

With the high volume of shops & bars as well as essentials like banks, bus stops and the metro, Downtown Dubai has everything you need in one spot.

We would say the only downside to this location would be that it is 8Km away from Jumeirah Beach. A little closer, and this would probably be considered the best location in Dubai!

Dubai Marina is located to the south of the city, just behind Jumeirah Beach Residence.

Dubai Marina is in a great location to be able to experience a mix between Dubai city life and Dubai beach life. Jumeirah Beach Residence is only a short ten minute walk away.

Dubai Marina at night is something to behold with all of the skyscrapers, bars and restaurants lighting up the water. Add to this, the lit up river boats and yachts that cruise by and you really do have a fantastic setting.

Much like Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina isn’t short of things to do. Whether you take a stroll into JBR or you head into Dubai Marina Mall, there is no shortage of things going on in this location. The one downside to Dubai Marina in comparison to Downtown Dubai would be that it doesn’t have so many essential travel links and isn’t in such close proximity to major attractions.

Dubai Marina is closer to the beach and offers a mix of city life and beach life. Downtown Dubai has everything at your fingertips, and within walking distance, but isn’t close to a beach. For this reason we call this one a tie.

Where is Better to Live?

This question can come down to personal preference, but let us take a look at some of the fundamentals, starting with cost.

The average 2 Bedroom Apartment in Downtown Dubai can be had for around 2.5m AED. Rental costs for the same apartment stand at 120,000AED per year.

The average 2 Bedroom Apartment in Dubai Marina costs 1.6m AED and rental prices are around 90,000AED per year.

As you an see, the difference in rental costs isn’t too high but the difference in purchasing is huge! Are you willing to pay the upraise to have city life at your doorstep, or are you happy to take a 20 minute taxi drive from Dubai Marina to Downtown if you work there?

Let me make this one easy for you! If you were to live in Dubai Marina but need to commute into the downtown area every day for work, this would cost you 100AED return. Over 1 year that is 24,000AED! Which would swallow your time, and your rental savings by living outside of the area.

However, when it comes to purchasing, a huge saving can still be had by opting for the Dubai Marina area.

Next we take a look at jobs.

If you’re looking to work in Dubai you are more than likely going to be heading north of Dubai Marina for work. The Downtown area and north of this, towards Sharjah (Industrial Area) are where most businesses operate, unless you are in the hospitality industry.

For that reason, Downtown Dubai is better located for work than Dubai Marina. You can get to most places in Dubai within half an hour from Downtown, whereas Dubai Marina is further south, and out of the way.

When we put cost and jobs to one side and we begin to look at the quality of living, both put together a strong case. As you’ve read above in the location guide, both area’s have something different to offer and for that reason this would be down to personal preference.

Overall though, Downtown Dubai is the better place to live when taking the cost of living, jobs and quality of life all into account.

Where Has Better Things to Do?

Downtown Dubai isn’t far from Dubai Creek, has Dubai Mall in the centre and there are literally thousands of restaurant and bar options. Downtown Dubai does also have Burj Khalifa, but once you’ve been up once or twice are you going to keep doing it? Probably not. It’s not like Jumeirah Beach, where you could easily make it your Friday afternoon habit.

Downtown Dubai contains your typical city life, which in turn can cost you a lot of money. Between shopping and eating, there isn’t actually that much else to do. Dubai Mall has many fantastic things to do, but again, at a big expense.

Dubai Marina may not have the volume of shops and restaurants of Downtown Dubai, but nevertheless still has fantastic options. Add to this the close proximity to JBR which has a tremendous amount of things to do from The Beach, Beach Gyms, Skydiving and lots of water sports.

Some Things to do in Downtown Dubai

  • Dubai Mall
  • Burj Khalifa
  • Dubai Opera House
  • Skate at the Ice Rink
  • Mozaiic Art Gallery

Some Things to do in Dubai Marina

  • Dubai Marina Mall
  • The Beach JBR
  • Rent a boat
  • TEPFactor
  • Natureland Spa
  • Drinks at any of the rooftop bars

As Dubai Marina offers a good mix of things to do, it is the clear winner of this round.

For a full round-up of things to do in both areas check out the TripAdvisor Links below:

Things to do in Dubai Marina
Things to do in Downtown Dubai

Where Has the Best Hotels?

There are a few factors to consider when judging the best hotels. Cost, Standard and Choice.

The Downtown area of Dubai comes with many luxurious hotels with fantastic views of The Burj Khalifa in many cases. This comes at a price and you are looking at 700AED+ per night. The Dubai Marina area offers a good standard of hotels too, but at a reduced cost. You would be looking in the region of 400AED per night here. However the closer you move to JBR the more the price will raise for a good quality beach hotel.

When it comes to cost, Dubai Marina generally has cheaper options. This doesn’t mean that you cannot find a reasonably priced hotel in the downtown area though. It is just that Downtown Dubai has many luxury hotels which drive up the average cost per night.

Below are a few of the best hotels in each area. (Please note these are our choice of the best hotels in each area and do not necessarily reflect the average cost as above).

Wyndham – Dubai Marina

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has the Best Hotels | The Vacation Builder

Star Rating – 4*
Trip Advisor Rating – 4.5 / 5
Average Price – 365AED Per Night
Website: Wyndham Dubai Marina

Key Features: Views of Dubai Marina and the Arabian Gulf. Steakhouse and bar, spa, gym and swimming pool with pool bar; meeting space; an executive lounge; as well as a coffee shop and souvenir outlet.

Address Dubai Marina

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has The Best Hotels | The Vacation Builder
Photo Courtesy of Hotels.com

Star Rating – 5*
Trip Advisor Rating – 5 / 5
Average Price – 750AED
Website: Address Dubai Marina

Key Features: Five restaurants and lounges, a relaxing spa, spectacular infinity pool and state of the art meeting and event facilities.

Radisson Blu Residences Dubai Marina

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has Better Hotels | The Vacation Builder

Star Rating – 4*
Trip Advisor Rating – 4 / 5
Average Price – 350AED
Website: Radisson Blu Residence Dubai Marina

Key Features: A great affordable apartment option in the Dubai Marina area. Apartments at this Dubai accommodation provide a kitchenette and balcony with expansive views of the marina.

Palace – Downtown

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has Better Hotels | The Vacation Builder

Star Rating – 5*
Trip Advisor Rating – 4.5 / 5
Average Price – 1,125AED
Website: Palace Downtown Dubai

Key Features: Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera and Souk Al Bahar are all on this hotels doorstep. Modern yet contemporary Arabian rooms are the theme here.

Sofitel Dubai Downtown

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has Better Hotels | The Vacation Builder

Star Rating – 5*
Trip Advisor Rating – 4.5 / 5
Average Price – 750AED
Website: Sofitel Downtown Dubai

Key Features: Linked to the Dubai Mall with an airconditioned sky walk. Incredible views of Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina. Award winning food and amazing spa and pool facilities.

Renaissance Downtown Dubai Hotel

Downtown Dubai or Dubai Marina - Where Has The Best Hotels

Star Rating – 5*
Trip Advisor Rating – 5 / 5
Average Price – 750AED
Website: Renaissance Downtown Dubai Hotel

Key Features: Canal views, 4 restaurants, spa, outdoor pool. Celebrity chef-led restaurants, including Morimoto Dubai, Bleu Blanc and BASTA.

Overall Downtown Dubai definitely has the best hotels. Dubai Marina offers many fantastic stays, but there isn’t a comparison on quality in this round.

Dubai Marina or Downtown Dubai?

So Downtown Dubai wins the face off. Both Dubai Marina and Downtown present a fantastic location. Dubai Marina offered more to do, but Downtown Dubai is a better place to live and has better hotels.

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