Not just concrete and skyscrapers as many imagine, there are plenty of fun things to do in Dubai with kids that don’t involve just hanging around shopping malls all day.
With Dubai International Airport now the third busiest in the world in terms of passenger numbers it’s little wonder that a Dubai stopover is also one of the hottest (figuratively and literally!) choices for a family stopover.
If you are planning a short family holiday in Dubai with kids, we turned to our friend Keri at Our Globetrotters who is not only an awesome family travel blogger but is also an expat mum of three living and working in the UAE, to give us the low down on all the best family activities in Dubai.
Keri shares with us some of her favourite kids activities in Dubai, giving us insider tips on visiting some of the best Dubai attractions for kids, all in one handy 2 day Dubai itinerary.
So, if you are looking for the best places to visit in Dubai for kids, let’s get out and explore the amazing Arabian city that (almost) never sleeps, with Keri’s two day guide of what to do in Dubai with kids.
Not just concrete and skyscrapers as many imagine, there are plenty of fun ways to explore the bustling city of Dubai that don’t involve just hanging around shopping malls all day. So, if you have 48 hours in Dubai with kids, let’s get out and explore the amazing Arabian city that (almost) never sleeps, with this two-day Dubai itinerary.
Dubai Stopover Day One
With such a short time frame this family trip to Dubai is going to be action packed! But don’t worry, water fun and relaxation will come into it too. Let’s kick off your Dubai city tour though by getting your bearings.
Morning – Burj Khalifa and Dubai Downtown
Now you can hardly have a Dubai stopover and not visit the tallest building in the world, right? The Burj Khalifa is where to go in Dubai to enjoy spectacular views over the vast expanses of Dubai. From At The Top observation deck on the 124thfloor you can see just how large and sprawling the city really is.
This is one of the Dubai attractions for families that you really must book in advance to ensure your spot (they can book out weeks in advance over peak periods).
It gets busy and crowded as the day goes on so I recommend this Dubai attraction comes early in the day’s agenda before the kids start to complain about queuing! You will queue no matter what time of day, but it is worth it for those views.
Lunchtime – Dubai Mall
While we’re in the Downtown area and Dubai Mall, lets stick around for Lunch. Timing your visit for lunchtime will also allow you to see the Dubai Fountain show – the world’s largest performing fountain!
Day time performances are only on at 1pm, 1.30pm and 2pm (1.30pm, 2pm and 2.30pm on a Friday. Shows run every 30 minutes in the evenings from 6pm – 11pm. Click here to check timings.
There are a lot of Dubai kid friendly restaurants here, and they are purpose-built with views and terraces that spill out on to the waterfront. Some of our family favourites include Carluccio’s, Social House and Five Guys Burgers & Fries.
When the kids have had enough – take a quick tour around the Mall. In fact you could spend the entire day in Dubai with kids. Some of the Dubai Mall children’s activities include a full-sized ice rink, Sega World and the indoor aquarium.
However, if you are planning a Dubai family vacation in the cooler months, there are many more places to visit in Dubai with family.
Afternoon – Dubai Parks & Resorts
There are literally dozens of places for kids in Dubai, but the most engaging for the younger crowd is likely to be the Dubai Parks and Resorts.
This amazing complex in Jebel Ali – about a 30-minute cab ride from Downtown Dubai is actually 4 action adventure parks in one! These include Legoland, Legoland Waterpark, Motiongate (think your favourite Dreamworks and film characters) and the world’s first Bollywood theme park, Bollywood Parks! This is kids entertainment in Dubai on steroids!
You won’t have time in an afternoon for them all, but as a guide younger kids will probably prefer Legoland where as your 9+ kids may get more out of Motiongate.
Dinner at Madinat Jumeirah
Madinet Jumeirah is a recreation of an ancient marketplace, giving you a touch of Arabian architecture but in a luxurious modern setting.
As well as Souk Madinat – a modern take on traditional Arabian Souks, you can take a traditional Abra along the waterways and choose from plenty of family friendly restaurants.
You can also catch some stunning views from here back to the Burj al Arab (THAT iconic sail looking building!).
One thing you will notice is the Emirati’s have a very stay up late culture. Children can be seen out playing until quite late into the evening – perfect for when jet lag has hit, as you won’t feel out of place dining with them late at night. Pretty much everywhere is equipped for families with the likes of high chairs available.
Dubai Stopover Day Two
On day two of our kids fun in Dubai itinerary, you are going to get more of a taste of traditional Emirati culture and get away from the concrete city.
Morning – Bur Dubai and the Souqs
If you are looking for places to visit in UAE with family where you can learn more about the Emirati and Muslim culture, be sure to check out the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). Twice a week they offer a traditional Emirati Breakfast, as well a daily program of events and educational experiences.
Next up, it’s time to take yourselves on a little tour of Al Bastakiya – also known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. Located on the Bur Dubai side of Dubai Creek this is one of the most historic parts of Dubai and is one of the best places to go in Dubai to get a feel for what the city was like mere decades ago.
A trip to the Dubai Museum should also easily fit into a morning – its only 3dhs (1dh for children) to enter and gives you a guided tour of traditional Bedouin life.
If the kids are getting a little bored by this point, they are bound to be excited by taking a traditional dhow across Dubai creek to the Deira side.
Lunchtime – Visit JBR
After checking out the Gold and Spice Souqs in Deira (note around lunch time they are not as bustling as in the evenings, due largely to the midday heat most of the year), it’s time to take a taxi across Dubai.
We are heading to The Walk at JBR (Jumeriah Beach Resort). In steep contrast to old Dubai this is the very modern, very sleek new side of town. The Walk is home to many popular hotel chains, some of the best family restaurants in Dubai, shops and boutiques, a cinema complex and some great family entertainment in Dubai. You will be spoilt for choice!
Note with all this driving around – Dubai taxis are very cheap and easy to locate. You will also get a fair feeling for the size and scale of the city just driving around and marvelling at the amazing architecture. Kids will be in awe at the size and scale of the city!
Afternoon – Dubai Family Beach
After a busy morning of sightseeing, it’s time to cool off and head to one of the amazing family beaches in Dubai that hug the Arabian Gulf Coast.
If you’ve just finished lunch at the Walk the easiest is to head straight to The Beach at JBR (very original names I know!). You can either simply play in the luscious white sands and adjacent playparks, or maybe even squeeze in a Yellow Boats tour or some water sports.
Alternatively, if you are staying adjacent to one of the fabulous Dubai waterparks, this is a great way for the kids to let off some steam or take a float down a lazy river in a tube to get prepared for your evening ahead.
Evening – Dubai Desert Safari & Dinner
If you’re looking for things to do in Dubai with family, you cannot skip a trip out in to the desert. There are many tour companies that offer hotel pick-up services from Dubai.
Most desert safaris give you the opportunity to go 4WD dune bashing, sand boarding, camel riding, get traditional henna paint, traditional Arabic dinner and kids can even join in with some belly dancing!
Some tours offer overnight camping or glamping in the desert – if time permits this is definitely one of the most fun things for kids to do in Dubai. Experience the uninterrupted night stars is unforgettable.
What a whirlwind tour! If you have longer than two days in Dubai with kids I strongly suggest you hop on over to the Globetrotters guide to 100+ family-friendly things to do in the UAE. Beyond just Dubai, this guide covers all 7 Emirates of the UAE in detail and more suggested itineraries.
Things to do in Dubai in Summer
An Important Note:Remember the UAE is in the desert so during the summer months particularly May through to October, outside air temperatures can be extremely hot.
Some of the Dubai children’s activities listed above may be unbearable if you are visiting Dubai in Summer.
Having said that, during the Dubai summer and particularly during the holy month of Ramadan you can get some superb flight & accommodation deals, and there are plenty of Dubai indoor attractions to keep you entertained.
For Dubai holidays with kids during the summer, I would substitute Dubai Parks above for IMG Worlds of Adventure for Dubai Parks. Additionally, instead of the desert safari I would take an evening cruise on Dubai Creek with air-conditioned Bateaux Dubai.
To save on a lot of the attractions and restaurants listed in this article, pick yourself up The Entertainer Dubai before you visit – a huge collection of 2 for 1 passes that will help you save.
For more on cultural understanding and etiquettes for all the family to be aware of in the Dubai, read these important facts to know before your go. You should also read the Dress Code Advice article for Dubai and Abu Dhabi here.
Family Hotels in Dubai
There is a huge choice of family friendly hotels in Dubai. Finding a family room in Dubai is not difficult as hotel rooms are generally large. By booking a suite you can usually fit one or two children on sofa beds. Hotel apartments are also a popular choice for family accommodation in Dubai if you want separate bedrooms.
Read on for our pick of where to stay in Dubai with family.
Best area to stay in Dubai with family
If you want to be close to the beach, you will find many of the best Dubai family resorts around the Jumeirah, JBR, Dubai Marina or on the Palm.
If you want to do lots of sightseeing then there are lots of kid friendly hotels in Dubai in the downtown area.
For cheap family hotels in Dubai, look at Dubai Creek, Deira and Bur Dubai for more wallet-friendly options.
Best hotels for kids in Dubai
Atlantis the Palm
The famous Atlantis the Palm is well renowned as being one of the best family hotels in Dubai. You would think having 1.4km of beach access, two swimming pools, a kids club, teen zone and pirate playground would be enough for one resort.
But this is Dubai! And so this amazing luxury family resort in Dubai also boasts the onsite Aquaventure Waterpark, with its 40 acres of pools and waterslides, the Lost Chambers Aquarium with its 65,000 resident marine creatures and Sea Lion Point, where you can get up close and personal with South African sea lions.
Not enough to impress you? How about the 23 bars and restaurants that cover all international cuisines? Of course this includes a few celebrity restaurants such as Nobu, Hakkasan and Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. Phew!
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
The original Dubai beachfront resort, Jumeirah Beach Hotel is often named among the best Dubai hotels for kids, and it’s not difficult to see why.
This recently refurbished family resort in Dubai gives guests access to a private beach, five swimming pools, a kids club, 13 bars and restaurants, plenty of watersports and a PADI dive centre.
Another reason this is one of the best places to stay in Dubai for families, is that guests of Jumeirah Beach Hotel get free access the adjacent Wild Wadi Waterpark with its 30 waterslides and attractions for the duration of their stay.
Novotel Suites Dubai Mall of the Emirates
If you prefer to stay in downtown Dubai or you are looking for less expensive child friendly hotels in Dubai, we recommend the Novotel Suites at the Mall of the Emirates.
This downtown Dubai hotel may not have all the facilities of some of the top family reorts in Dubai, but it has an awesome location next to the Mall of the Emirates (complete with its own indoor ski centre!), a rooftop swimming pool, and free private parking. Family suites have double pull-out sofa beds.
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