Heading for a holiday in Europe, or going to visit the family back in the UK? Why not drop by the modern desert city of Dubai for some R&R on the way? Whether it’s just for a couple of hours or a day or two, here are some ways you can make the most of your stopover.
0 to 5 hours
If you’re can’t make it out of Dubai International Airport before your connecting flight, don’t fret. Pick up some cosmetics or a new read at the Dubai Duty Free shops. After which, settle down for a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafés, from typical fast food joints such as Burger King and Subway if you just need a quick bite, to the likes of Jones the Grocer and Taste of India. Pick up a coffee and head to the Zen Garden. Or get rid of those travelling aches and pains with a massage at the spa.
For a quick bit of shut-eye, the SnoozeCube is just the thing. It’s located at Concourse D at Terminal 1, and you can book a comfy cube for a minimum of two hours.
5 to 10 hours
Dubai is known for its mega malls – you’ve got to see them to believe them! Just 15 minutes from Dubai International Airport is The Dubai Mall, touted as the largest mall in the world. You’ll find all types of international brands, including big names such as Chanel and Gucci. There are also over 140 species of marine life at the Dubai Aquarium tank, located on the ground floor of the massive complex. For a closer look, head into the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. You will have the chance to be surrounded by sharks in a walk-through tunnel, enjoy a glass-bottom boat or conquer your fears with a shark dive.
While you’re in the vicinity, why not head up to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa? Take in gorgeous, unimpeded views of this amazing city. The deck is at 555 metres, while the building itself stands at over 828 metres (more than 160 stories!).
Another shopping spot that’s not to be missed is the Mall of the Emirates. Also located close to the airport (just 20 minutes away), it houses a theme park and an indoor snow park. Both young and old will have a blast on the rides and attractions at Magic Planet, which includes a 4D theatre. Who says you can’t ski in the desert? Go tubing, skiing, snowboarding and more at Ski Dubai. Just slip on the provided snow suits, shoes and gloves, and you’ll be ready to hit the slopes!
10 to 15 hours
If you’ve got a little more time to spare, get your racing face on at the Dubai Kartdrome. It’s only 25 minutes from the airport! You’ll feel like an F1 driver as you get all decked out in suits, helmets and gloves as part of the experience. Great for ages seven and up, it has both an indoor and an outdoor circuit.
For a bit of local culture and history, visit the Dubai Museum and Al Fahidi Fort. The fort was built back in 1787 and used to sit at the fringes of urban Dubai. It is a great place to find out more about the various civilisations, view ancient samples and artefacts. Across the Dubai Creek from the fort is the spice souk. Hop on an abra, a traditional wooden boat, for a breezy five-minute ride. You’ll be in for a feast for the senses, with the souk’s baskets of fragrant herb, spices, incense and traditional medicine.
After exploring, take a short walk to the nearby gold souk. There are hundreds of vendors peddling gold, silver and precious stone jewellery. Or drop by the perfume souk and search for your ideal scent.
A day and beyond
If you’ve got the chance to spend a night (or more), why not book a stay at the Atlantis, The Palm? The five-star property houses the well-known Aquaventure Waterpark. You an enjoy dozens of rides and slides, including the heart-stopping Poseidon’s Revenge with an almost vertical drop. Or, for some extra indulgence, splurge on a night at Burj Al Arab, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. At this extravagant property, you can even choose to arrive by helicopter!
Finally, no visitor to the UAE should miss a desert safari. These trips typically include dune bashing, camel rides and sand boarding. Ut ends off with a campfire dinner and a belly-dancing performance.
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