Dubai is the most well-known city in the Middle East made famous for its wealth and extravagance. It is a safe city that can be easily navigated in a short time span. The city offers a lot to do for families visiting with kids. Every corner of the city is a dazzling skyscraper or a man-made waterway. The kids will be delighted to learn of all the world’s tallest, biggest and most expensive experiences that are possible in Dubai. Here are a few ideas for getting a taste of Dubai with some affordable or free activities when traveling with kids.
7 Things to Do in Dubai with Kids
With the world’s only seven star hotel and tallest building Dubai has catapulted as one of the must see cosmopolitan destinations. As a hub for its national carrier Emirates Airlines and an easy transfer point between East and West, Dubai has become very accessible for a quick visit between international flights.
On a recent trip from New York to Colombo, Sri Lanka, we decided to take an extended layover in Dubai for two nights. It was just the right amount of time to get a taste for Dubai’s luxurious and culturally rich lifestyle while sightseeing with our toddler. Here are 7 things to do in Dubai with kids.
1. Visit the Dubai Mall
If you can only see one spot in Dubai, it should be the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest mall by total area.
It is an entertainment hub as much as a shopping complex with an interactive children’s center (KidZania), an Ice rink, Dubai Aquarium and Under Water Zoo.
If you only have a few hours like we did, I recommend walking through the mall’s highlights such as the waterfall, Dinosaur skeleton (known as Dubai Dinosaur), Gold souk (market) and Fashion Avenue with high end designer stores. These attractions are free for browsing and a fun way to keep the kids from getting bored walking through stores.
You can easily find every type of familiar food from home in many of the chain restaurants located throughout the mall. If you’re so inclined to stop at a store, the world’s largest sweet store, “Candylicious” or the toy store “Hamley’s” will certainly be a hit with the kids.
2. Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
Opposite Dubai Mall is the manmade Burj Khalifa Lake where the world’s largest choreographed fountain show takes place several times a day. Visiting in the evening and getting a spot on the lake promenade will give you a good view of the show in the backdrop of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
3. Visit Gold Souk and Spice Souk
Visiting these traditional markets known as souks adjacent to each other featuring a variety of gold jewelry and spices will be an interesting cultural experience. The souk comprises of narrow lanes lined with store fronts and open area stalls.
The displays will give the kids an idea of the different kinds of spices, jewels and clothing items that are used in this part of the world. As no prices are listed, buying is done via haggling, which will also be a new encounter for kids.
4. Visit Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood
This conservation area of restored buildings along the Dubai Creek provides a glimpse into historic Dubai. Built in the 19th century by Persian merchants, these structures are a stark contrast to the modern skyscrapers seen throughout Dubai.
The cluster of buildings consist of both public, private and religious areas. Walking along the narrow alley ways gives you an opportunity to admire the historic architecture. Look out for wind towers, an effective way of air conditioning in earlier times. If time permits you can visit the Dubai museum, art galleries and have a cup of Arabian tea at a café.
5. Walk by Dubai Marina
Built along the Persian Gulf Shoreline, the Dubai Marina is ideal for a leisurely walk with kids. With magnificent buildings as the backdrop, it is a great place to grab a bite while dining al fresco.
6. Ride the Palm Jumeirah monorail
The best way to get a good view of the manmade archipelago in the shape of a Palm tree is by riding the monorail that connects the Atlantis hotel located on the apex of Palm Jumeirah to the gateway towers at the foot of the island.
The Palm Atlantis is a resort themed on the myth of Atlantis and modeled after the original hotel in Bahamas. The highlights at the resort include the 12 slide Aquaventure water park and a Dolphin encounter. You can experience these attractions by obtaining a daypass to the resort.
7. Relax at the Dubai Beaches
Being located in the Middle East, Dubai is typically identified with the desert. But the beaches in Dubai are a must see attraction especially in the more moderate temperature conditions from October to April.
With reasonable entrance fees, bathroom facilities and cafes, Jumeirah Beach is a great spot for families.
From this beach you can also get a good view of Burj Al Arab, the seven star hotel built in the shape of a sail.
Have you visited Dubai? What are other must see attractions in the city? Here are some tips for saving money while visiting.