Dubai is one of those places that people either love or, like Marmite, just can’t quite get on board with. One thing’s for sure, however, and that is that Dubai is a brilliant place for families. Whether you go for a longer holiday, a quick half-term break or as a stopover en route to another destination, children big and small will love it. And, if you’re worried that it’s all skyscrapers and shopping malls, don’t be, there’s more to this glitzy city than meets the eye. This guide has been created in partnership with Wego.ae and has been designed to help you navigate your way through 48-hours in one of the world’s most visited cities.
Day One in Dubai
Enjoy the view
The two best ways to see Dubai are from up high and from the water. For a birds-eye-view, take the lift to the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The At The Top observation deck sits on the 124th floor and provides an incredible view over the sprawling Emirati city. Make sure you book your tickets ahead of time as they can sell out weeks in advance during peak periods. It’s also worth timing your visit for the morning to avoid some of the crowds (it’s always busy just a little less busy early on!).
For an alternative view of the city, take to the waters of Dubai Creek. A trip on a wooden abra (water taxi) is a great way to get a feel for what Dubai was like when it was still a sleepy town, albeit with a significant seafaring port. On one side of the water you can visit the gold and spice souks and then, once you’ve crossed the creek, you can visit the Dubai Museum, textile souk and a lovely little area called Bastakiya, one of the most historic parts of Dubai that was created in the 19th century by pearl traders from Bastak, Iran.
Take a tour
If you’re still feeling a little lost, tour downtown’s main sights by the bright red hop-on-hop-off, hydrogen-powered, double-decker Dubai Trolley. The route runs mainly along the Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard, starting at The Address Hotel and ending at Old Town Island. Along the way you’ll pass some of the city’s main sights including the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the Opera District.
Dine with the locals
There are more than 5,000 restaurants in Dubai so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. To get a real feel for local flavours, take a walking tour with Frying Pan Adventures. The outfit runs a number of tours including a Middle Eastern Food Pilgrimmage and a Little India on a Plate tour that samples some of the best street stalls in Dubai’s oldest Indian neighbourhood.
After all that sightseeing, no doubt the kids will be dragging their feet a little. So, it’s time to retreat to your hotel and go for a swim. Dubai has an incredible number of fabulous family-friendly hotels that pull out all the stops for kids. So, even if you’re more of a boutique hotel kind of family when you usually travel, we say go to town in Dubai! Here, the hotels come with water parks, all singing and dancing kids’ clubs, babysitting services and much more.
Time to Dine
Dinner options are endless; head to the marina for something more upscale or join the queues outside Bu Qtair on 4D street. Although it looks unassuming, the throngs of people that line up round the block give the game away; this is the place to come for fried fish curry.
Day 2 in Dubai
Sand, sand everywhere
Today’s the day to head into the desert and explore the sands from which Dubai rose. There are many tour companies offering hotel pick-up services from Dubai that get rave reviews. Some of the more popular outfits include Platinum Heritage that organise early morning wildlife drives in original, 1950s Land Rovers. They also arrange camel safaris, falcon safaris and much more. Another company that gets consistently good reviews is Arabian Nights. If time permits, then it would definitely be worth spending the night in the desert for an otherworldly view of the night stars.
Take to the skies
If you’re looking to end your 48-hours in Dubai with a bang then how about a helicopter flight? HeliDubai run scenic flights that soar over some of the city’s most iconic buildings including the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel and The Palm.
Of course, there is far more to do in Dubai than what’s listed here; you could spend weeks and still not discover all that the city has to offer. Which means you’ll just have to come back!
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