Travelling to Dubai with kids is great fun because the City has been built to attract families and workers for their thriving financial sector. We visited in September when George was 10 months old and the City has activities galore!
Due to the heat, almost everything is indoors and the public transport is cheap, accessible and easy to use. Safe, clean and modern, you will see faces and tourists from all over the world. Dubai is very different from anywhere else in the world.
A classy display of wealth, culture and determination to raise a City, literally from the sand. With a skyline to rival Singapore and Vegas combined, the architecture is futuristic. Activities on the sand, in the water or 828m above sea level, there is something for everyone of all ages and abilities.
Looking for more Middle East destinations? Consider visiting Abu Dhabi.
Table of Contents
BOOKING YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT?
Dubai’s climate is consistently hot throughout the year, so there is no particular peak or off season. The Summer months of July to October can get so hot, you won’t want to be outside for longer than 15 minutes! December to March has manageable weather, you might want to choose this time of year to visit, based on the cultural events that the country hosts.
The Dubai Shopping Festival takes place every year across January and February, it’s a shopaholic’s idea of paradise! It’s not only famous for its large shopping discounts, but has music concerts, fashion shows and children’s events. It can be a really busy and popular time to visit, with tourists wanting to kick off the new year in style.
February sees the annual Omega Dubai Desert Classic, a world class golfing event. With some of the biggest names from the past and present, golf fans seek out cheap flights early. Big music fan? then why not attend the Dubai Jazz Festival. A fantastic line-up of artists and aims to spread the city’s love for jazz to all of its visitors.
BEST TIME TO BOOK FLIGHTS?
There are multiple factors that influence the price of a flight so comparing airlines, departure airports and times can help keep costs down. June is the cheapest month to book, with flights ranging from £330 to £350pp. August is the most expensive month, with flights costing on average £440. We recommend using Skyscanner as a starting place and then searching other providers to see if you can beat their price.
Tuesday is the most economical day to take a flight to Dubai. To get the best value, try booking a flight in the morning . Generally the prices will increase for flights after midday as these tend to have higher demand. If you’re visiting during a festival, make sure to book as early as you possibly can to avoid paying over the odds.
HOW LONG IS THE FLIGHT?
Average flight from London to Dubai: 6 hours 40 minutes
The currency in Dubai is Dirham. Exchange rates vary, so be sure to check prior to your trip.The Bank of England has an extensive list that is updated every day. If you intend on using your credit charge, you may incur charges for payments and cash withdrawals. We often use the Post Office for our exchange or use ATM’s in our destinations.
POPULAR TRAVEL DESTINATIONS
DUBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (DXB)
Dubai International Airport (DXB) is the main airport in the United Arab Emirates city and is the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger traffic. Acting as a hub for Emirates, FlyDubai and Qantas, DXB serves over 70 million passengers per year.
Passengers who are connecting flights through the same airline will automatically be guided to the necessary transport between terminals. Passengers who have separate flights can make use of the free 24-hour shuttle bus that operates between all three terminals. Passengers in terminals 1 and 3 also have the option of the Metro that runs between them.
TRANSPORT FROM DUBAI AIRPORT
DXB is very close to the city centre, so the public transport service from the airport is unsurprisingly very good. Outside terminal 1, there is a bus stop across the road to the right as you exit customs (approximately 50m away); at terminal 3, there is a bus stop on the second level of the terminal. You will need to leave the terminal, head towards the car park, take the lift up and turn back on yourself to get back to the terminal building; the bus stop is on your right.
Taxis and limos are a popular alternative, albeit more expensive, whilst many hotels offer free shuttle transport from the airport, but, in many cases, you will need to arrange this in advance.
HINTS AND TIPS
- You cannot pay in cash on the bus from the airport (or in the city, for that matter), so you will need to buy a NOL card, which is an electronic payment card that works by touch-and-go technology.
- NOL cards come in four different colours, each with different access to modes and frequency of transport: silver, blue, gold and red. The silver card is the best option for those who want to travel regularly between different points in the city.
The type of visa you need will depend on factors such as your nationality, the purpose of your visit and the length of your stay. Citizens of the UK can obtain a visa on arrival valid for 30 days. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the UAE.
If you have entered Dubai on a visit visa and you wish to work then you should get a probationary work permit, valid for up to 3 months, from the Ministry of Labour. If you don’t get this permit and are caught working while on a visit visa, then you risk being jailed or fined and deported.
If you’re planning to travel with any prescribed or over the counter medicines for personal use, you’ll need to meet the UAE’s specific requirements for your medicine to be allowed into the country.
Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. Thermal scanning is in operation at airports. Departing passengers may be subject to testing, quarantine and medical treatment in the UAE.
Public transport, Taxis and Uber are all present in Dubai, reliable and safe. Should you wish to rent a car, (we did and drove to Abu Dhabi for a day) then all you will need is a deposit and your passport/drivers license. There are rental shops everywhere and the price is pretty cheap in comparison to other countries we have visited and rented in. We tend to use Avis for car hire whenever we travel.
THINGS TO DO
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s one of the top attractions in Dubai. Accessible through the mall, tickets aren’t cheap but the view is surreal and something that only money can buy. On the way to the top, interactive boards display and inform visitors of the hard work, ingenuity and time that went into achieving the masterpiece.
The viewing platform takes you outside and has glass walls. Then you can walk around 360 degrees inside and take in the view from every angle. It’s pretty spectacular and they have created some beautiful spots for ‘instagram loving’ travellers, in the form of butterfly wings.
£55 | Skip The Queue Burj Khalifa
THE DUBAI FOUNTAIN
The Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain system similar to the ones you see in Vegas. It is set on the 12 hectare manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, at the center of the Downtown Dubai development. hen it’s time for the fountains to go off the area gets very busy and crowed, especially around the entrance/exit of The Dubai Mall.
The performances are free, running at both 1pm and 1.30pm. Followed by a show every 30 minutes from 6pm to 11pm. You can see the fountains from several spots around the mall and walkways. But if you want to see them in VIP style, take a water taxi and see them from the luxury of your own boat!
£21 | Water Taxi
THE DUBAI MALL
At over 12 million square feet, it is the largest shopping mall in the world. This is the place to be seen and the has every shop you can think of. As well as the best restaurants and famous eatery chains from around the world. We made the most of cheesecake factory, which is directly opposite the aquarium (so you can eat cake and see sharks at the same time).
The mall has an ice rink, cinema, designer shops, high street shops, virtual reality area and go karts. It is air conditioned and has a supermarket, with direct links to public transport and the Burj Khalifa, you don’t need to go outside here and can easily spend all day (or several days) exploring.
£27 | Ultimate VR Experience
DUBAI MIRACLE GARDEN
Every year from November to May, the miracle garden blooms into life. It was launched on Valentine’s Day, 2013, and will capture you heart with its display and ingenuity of flowery displays, from Mickey Mouse, to Emirates planes, it is genuinely breathe taking.
Walking through the gardens in full bloom, you’ll smell and witness over 150 million flowers arranged in colourful arches and patterns, and the myriad shapes they form, is truly magnificent.
£22 | Miracle Bay with Transfers
Dubai’s original family shopping and entertainment destination, this place has it all. Shopping, food and entertainment. Be sure to check the days and times of your visit as Mondays are allocated for families and women only. With over 25 pavilions representing more than 78 countries and thousands of shopping outlets to explore, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The fairground has over 60 rides, including a 60m-tall ‘Wheel of the World’, which features a giant LED screen showcasing scenic views of Dubai. There’s something for everyone here, including families with young children and older teenagers who want to channel their inner daredevils on city-themed rides.
£3.50 | Global Village Entrance
The Dubai Frame is an architectural landmark rising 150 metres above Zabeel Park, encrusted with swirling golden motifs that glisten in the desert sunshine. For 50 dirhams (£10), visitors are treated to an immersive exhibition of the emirate’s history, before taking an elevator to a 93-metre long viewing gallery at the top of the frame.
You can walk along a precipitous glass-floored walkway and enjoy views back to the old city of Deira to the north and the teetering towers of Sheikh Zayed Road to the south. Take pictures and soak it all in. Morning and dusj provide the best views.
£35 | Dubai Frame with Private Taxi
ATLANTIS AQUAVENTURE WATERPARK
Part of the Atlantis The Palm resort, the Aquaventure is home to impressive water rides and adventures fit for all ages. It is the biggest of its kind in the Middle East and was awarded ‘Best Waterpark in the Middle East’ in 2015. Affordable and has enough rides, eateries and things to keep the whole family entertained from dawn to dusk.
Hurtle down the hair-raising, 90-foot (27.5 meter) Leap of Faith into the shark lagoon, and thrill as you conquer the chutes of the Tower of Poseidon. Twist down the serpentine Aquaconda, take the plunge on the Zoomerango and multi-track Slitherine; and waft through the shark-infested Shark Tunnel on a raft.
£50 | Aquaventure General Admission
DUBAI AQUARIUM & UNDERWATER ZOO
You will find mixed reviews on this attraction. Small, hefty price tag and lasts a couple of hours. Yet the underwater tunnel is very impressive and the crocodiles in the aquarium are absolute giants. They have an array of creature, species and fish that are on display in state of the art homes.
Form start to finish, it will take a maximum of 2 hours but that being said, it really was enjoyable and George loved it. We even paid for the photograph/memory box because somehow the ladies managed to get him to look at the exact spot a CGI crocodile emerges from the sea. The magnet is on our fridge as I type!
£25 | Aquarium & Underwater Tunnel
BURJ AL ARAB
It’s become a global icon of 7 star luxury in Dubai and will set you back a small fortune to stay there. A guest’s every desire is attended to, the architecture and design astounds with colour, patterns, and vertigo, and extravagances like caviar and truffles find their way into numerous dishes at the hotel’s restaurants.
However, there are plenty of packages on offer with a more affordable price tag, such as high tea or a massage in from their spa and wellness centre. Or you can spend the day on the beach and take in the 1 billion building from the comfort of a sun lounger.
Burj Al Arab | EXPLORE EXPERIENCES
RITZ CARLTON BUFFET
Eat and drink in style without breaking the bank, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. For a set price, you can select food and drinks from a set menu (which include oysters) as many times as you like. With entrees, mains and deserts available plus a range of beers and cocktails. This should be on every visitors ‘must do’ list.
Family and baby friendly, they have high chairs and families from all walks of life and nationalities. The restaurant is accessible via the main entrance to the hotel (just take right once through the doors) and has a large outdoor area and can seat table of 8, 10 and 12.