South of Dubai Creek, the Bastakia Quarter—aka the Al Fahidi Historic District—is comprised of wind tower (barjeel) houses, courtyards, and lanes dating from the late 1800s when Persian merchants first settled the area. As Dubai’s oldest district, it’s filled with museums and cultural attractions.
Named after the south Iran town of Bastak by its Persian settlers, Bastakia is a web of restored mud-and-stone houses, squares, and narrow alleys. Among them are wind tower houses, whose towers circulate breezes around the interiors, plus museums, art galleries, shops, and cafes. Explore for an authentic feel of bygone Dubai, when the city was little more than a small pearl-trading port.
Many city tours that encompass Old Dubai include Bastakia, often as a brief stop after Dubai Museum, in the nearby 19th-century Al Fahidi Fort. Tours devoted to Dubai’s heritage usually incorporate a stroll through Bastakia, while others focus wholly on walking tours around the enclave. Other travelers come here independently to relax and explore.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bastakia is a must for history fans, art buffs, and souvenir hunters keen on uncovering Old Dubai.
- Opt to explore on a guided walk, as part of a tour, or independently.
- Bring comfy shoes and sunscreen to browse the lanes and squares.
- Combine a walk here with a visit to Dubai Museum, located in nearby Al Fahidi Fort.
- Admission to Bastakia is free, so you can come and go as you wish.
How to Get There
Driving to Bastakia isn’t ideal as there’s only limited parking nearby. Cabs are best: Ask for a drop-off where Al Mankhool Road meets Al Fahidi Street in Bur Dubai. Alternatively, catch the metro or bus to its relevant Al Fahidi stops, or ride an abra water taxi from Deira Old Souk dock to Bur Dubai dock. Bastakia is a 15-minute walk from all three, which may be too much in summer’s heat.
When to Get There
Bastakia is open all day, every day, although its museums and shops follow their own opening times. To enjoy the quarter at its best, visit between 9am and 2pm, Sundays–Thursdays, when the museums and attractions are open. It’s also good for evening strolling, when some cafes are still open and you can admire the creekside sunset.
Tips for Exploring Bastakia
While in Bastakia, you can also visit the Coin Museum, explore the roots of Arabic coffee at the Coffee Museum, or peruse the craft shops and galleries that showcase local artists. Finish with a lemon-and-mint drink—a Dubai classic—at a cafe.