For many people, Dubai is simply a stopover on the way to Europe, Asia or Australia and not enough people are taking advantage of this unique city. Being one of the main layover stops, many people aim to have a break from the cabin of the plane before continuing their journey – in my case, I regularly fly from Europe to Australia which is normally around 22 hours in total and even a short break in Dubai is more than welcome. Sure, getting to your destination as quick as possible is good but why not slow down a bit and explore a new place on your way, taking advantage of layovers is becoming more and more popular with travellers around the world.
In this post, I will be sharing the top 5 things you can do when you have a long layover in Dubai!
For many people, one can’t visit a city without checking out the major attractions and Dubai has one of the biggest in the world. The Burj Khalifa is the worlds tallest building which houses exhibitions, a shopping mall, fine dining restaurants, the Armani Hotel, a deli/bakery, an observation deck and spectacular views of over the city. Great news for photography enthusiasts, you are allowed to take a trip onto the observation deck meaning you can spend some time taking long exposures after dark or capturing the perfect panorama with the city and the beaches – remember to check the opening times and make your plans accordingly. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets before making your way to the Burj Khalifa, tickets for the observation deck start at 135 AED for adults and 100 for children (4-12 years old), children under 4 are free according to the current information available on burjkhalifa.ae.
You may wish to check out the natural landscape during your visit to Dubai, what better way to do this than in a four-wheel drive! A desert safari gives visitors the opportunity to experience Dubai before the metropolis we know today came into existence. Many of the tours begin in the afternoon with plenty of photo opportunities on the way to the perfect spot to watch the sunset and enjoy a barbecue and shisha, ride on a camels back, go sand boarding or tapping into your inner artist with henna design. If the adventure activities or art aren’t your thing and you simply want to relax while watching the stars in the sky above, you can do so. Make sure to do your research as there are plenty of companies offering a desert safari to accommodate most budgets, don’t forget to ask about what’s included, the cost of extras and pick up/drop off times before making your choice.
If you have space in your luggage you could take advantage of the extravagant shopping malls in Dubai where you can find an endless amount of shops and restaurant alongside an indoor theme-parks, ice rinks, an indoor waterfall, a choreographed fountain display, an aquarium and many more things. Unlike the common shopping mall, the Dubai Mall actually has a dress code stating that visitors can’t wear short skirts or pants, so make sure you’re dressing appropriately and avoid public displays of affection to avoid making a scene. If you’re travelling with pint-sized humans you may find KidZania to your liking as this wonderful play club offers a safe place for children (4-16 years old) to act out their dreams or play their part in a small city located in the Dubai Mall.
Do you enjoy exploring the old parts of cities and towns during your travels? Al Bastakiya is the oldest residential area in Dubai, constructed in the 1690s, it was housed 60 units at its peak which were owned by Persian merchants. Winding through narrow lanes, and wind towers (the original method of air-conditioning) makes you feel like you’re stepping back in time. During the 1970s, Al Bastakiya went through some major changes as the city of Dubai begun to expand and create the metropolis we know of today as half of the city was destroyed in order to create modern offices and the wind towers that were left behind were used as storage or homes for foreign workers. Thanks to Prince Charles and the efforts of Rayner Otter, the city of Dubai decided to keep and maintain what’s left of Al Bastakiya rather than destroy it. In more recent years, the city of Dubai decided to enhance their efforts in maintaining the old buildings and lanes and as a result, it is now one of the most recommended places for tourists to visit and get a glimpse at the way life in Dubai used to be.
There are plenty of water-based activities to participate in while staying in Dubai such as dinner cruises, regular water taxis (Abras) to take passengers from Deira to Bur Dubai and back. Alongside the regular tourist activities you can find in most cities with waterways, Dubai also offers plenty of activities to get your adrenaline pumping. Check out Deep Blue Sea Diving who offer a range of courses to accommodate most people, Deep Sea Fishing if fishing is your passion, try your hand at Flyboarding where you can propel yourself about 10 meters above the water, if you can surf, snowboard or ski, why not have a go at Wake Boarding?
As you can see from this list, Dubai is the type of place that can accommodate everyone with their different interests, budgets and preferences. Let me know in the comment section below what your favourite thing about Dubai!