Stopovers are amazing things. They break up an incredibly long journey and give you time to recuperate. And you cannot beat that feeling of stepping off a 14 hour flight knowing that you can have a short rest and a much needed shower, before falling into a clean and comfortable bed. So when we planned our trip to Australia we broke the trip up by spending 2 days in Dubai. Our time was short, but we did see a lot, so here is our 2 day Dubai itinerary to help you plan your own trip.
- Dubai Factsheet
- How much money do I need for 2 days in Dubai?
- Weather in Dubai
- When to visit Dubai
- What to pack for your 2 days in Dubai
- 2 days in Dubai- Getting around
- Choosing your hotel for your 2 days in Dubai
- Dubai Itinerary 2 days
- Romantic things to do in Dubai
- Dubai in 2 days – A recap
- Things you should know before you go to Dubai
Country: United Arab Emirates
Languages Spoken: Arabic, although English is widely spoken
Currency: AED or Arab Emirate Dirham
Famous for: Tall buildings, luxury travel
Visit if you like: Shopping, great views, hotel resorts
How much money do I need for 2 days in Dubai?
We found Dubai expensive. Although oddly the cheapest thing about our trip was taxi travel. Hotels have been designed to fit a range of budgets from the ultra glamorous Burj Al Arab, which happens to be one of the most expensive hotels in the world, to the more affordable options the city offers. Dubai is known for its luxury so it is easy to get caught up paying a lot of money for things. We ate at restaurants as opposed to going for cheaper meals. A meal for 2 on average set us back around £40 – £50.
Weather in Dubai
We visited Dubai in June and we seriously struggled with the heat. In the summer months it can get to around 40 degrees Celsius, although everything is air conditioned so that certainly helps. Peak travel season is from October to April when the weather is a lot milder. On average in winter it usually sits around the mid 20’s (Celsius).
When to visit Dubai
As mentioned above peak travel season in Dubai is October to April. If you visit in the summer you will struggle. We found it really difficult to be outside for long periods of time, unless of course we were sitting in the hotel pool. Another thing to check before visiting Dubai is to avoid visiting during Ramadan. UAE is a Muslim country and Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast during the day. It is probably best to avoid visiting during this time because a lot of places will close.
What to pack for your 2 days in Dubai
Apart from the obvious travel items here is our list of things that you should consider bringing during your 2 days in Dubai.
- Light clothes to get you through the heat
- Women should consider wearing something light that covers their shoulders
- Men should consider bringing shorts, but also longer trousers when they are away from the beach
- Pack at least one nice outfit for going to restaurants
- Bring flip flops for the beach and good walking shoes for the rest of your trip
2 days in Dubai- Getting around
The easiest way to get around Dubai is via taxi. It’s a lot cheaper than you think, and realistically public transport isn’t great especially when you are limited with time. Our hotel had the option for us to book a private car to pick us up from the airport and take us straight there. This was perfect because we didn’t have to think much after arriving. We just followed the man holding a card with our names on it. The drive from the airport is incredible and we spent most of the time just staring out the window soaking it all in. There is sand everywhere constantly reminding you, you are in a desert but then you have the modern buildings giving Dubai that oasis feel.
Choosing your hotel for your 2 days in Dubai
The hotels in Dubai are flashy and luxurious. Ours alone had several pools, numerous restaurants, as well as a Marina view. You could actually spend days at the hotel just sipping cocktails and floating in one of the many pools. Unfortunately for us time was not a luxury we could afford, however we did spend an afternoon lounging around the hotel. I mean if you are looking for a cure for jet lag what could be better? If you are going to splash out and stay in a resort definitely make sure you give yourself some time to enjoy it.
Dubai Itinerary 2 days
Of course our first stop after settling into the hotel was the Burj Khalifa. It is accessible through the Dubai Mall, and at 828 metres high it certainly has its place in the Dubai skyline. You need to pre-purchase a time stamped ticket, so sometimes this means it is not always possible to go up straight away. If you are unable to book online prior and do have to wait then it is not the end of the world because the Mall of Dubai is certainly on the list of things to see in Dubai anyway.
Once up the observation deck is located on the 124th floor of the building. The view is just incredible although ours was slightly skewed as there was a lot of dust in the air. It is definitely not for the faint hearted, as when you look down cars become comparable in size to ants. I am not the best person when it comes to heights and when we step into a lift to get to the top of a tall building I do tend to panic. I then somehow manage to stress Dave out and we are both nervous wrecks by the time we reach the top. In the Burj Khalifa however you are treated to a multimedia presentation in the lift whilst making your way up. It was a welcome yet informative distraction to me.
Back on solid ground it’s a great time to explore the Dubai Mall. It’s actually the world’s largest shopping centre which includes all your usual shops and restaurants as well as an amusement park and an aquarium and an ice skating rink. It is well worth the visit especially in those summer months when you learn that air-conditioning is your friend. Next to the mall is the Souq-Al-Bahar with more shopping options as well as some waterfront dining. It’s a great experience and is more traditional in design that the mall itself.
Because it was so hot (and yes we realise now visiting Dubai in June is not ideal) we decided to head back to our hotel and float around in the pool with a cocktail in hand. The hotels in Dubai really are incredible and as mentioned above you should definitely try and make time to enjoy it. After lounging around in the afternoon we had dinner at one of the many hotel restaurants and a few drinks at the outdoor hotel bar. Dubai is quite strict when it comes to drinking so if you do want to drink one of the main places to do this is in a hotel.
Explore the Souks
Dubai has a lot of man made and modern wonders so we definitely recommend embracing the traditional side with a visit to the Gold Souk and Old Dubai. We decided to do this as early as possible because of the heat, so we hopped in a taxi first thing in the morning and were whisked away to the souk. The souk has over 300 retailers and most of these do trade exclusively in jewellery however you can also purchases souvenirs such as genie lamps and shisha pipes. Across the creek is Bur Dubai which is the historic part of Dubai where you can get a boat across and explore the many souks and museums.
The monorail to the Atlantis
We definitely wanted to checkout the Palm islands and the Atlantis hotel in Dubai. We got the monorail over and this gives you a fantastic view of the island. The Atlantis itself is such an incredible building and the coolest thing about it has to be the water park. Due to our time constraints we didn’t get to spend a lot of time here so it might be one of those things that we add to our never ending “next time” list. Still it was worth the monorail ride. There are a number of taxis near the monorail station as well so you can get one to your next destination.
Mall of the Emirates
If you get time we also recommend exploring the Mall of the Emirates. It is home to over 600 retail outlets as well as Ski Dubai. It is a large indoor ski resort offering skiing and snowboarding lessons, and to be honest it is a welcome relief from the heat outside. Due to the heat residents flock to the malls especially in the summer months.
With time running out and a 3am flight to catch this brings us to the highlight of our trip- the dune bashing. A 4x 4 picked us up from our hotel in the evening along with 2 other couples and we headed towards the desert. Eventually you lose sight of the flat scrubland and start to see waves of orange sand dunes. You drive in a convoy with quite a few other 4 x 4’s and it is such a thrilling experience. It can also be quite sickly so be prepared. A few of us in our car went incredibly pale afterwards. You also get a chance to take pictures and walk around in the dunes towards the end. It reminds you how vast and incredible the desert really is.
Afterwards you are driven to a desert camp to enjoy dinner and a show under the stars. It is such a beautiful experience and one that we will never forget. You also get the option to go camel riding or sand boarding. We chose the camel ride which I actually really regret as we are now more conscious of trying to be ethical travellers.
Romantic things to do in Dubai
If you are visiting Dubai with your significant other here are some of the most romantic things to do, to add to your 2 day Dubai itinerary.
- Enjoy a romantic meal
- Enjoy a day at a resort including a full pamper session
- Go on a desert safari (if you have more than 2 days you can actually do an overnight one)
- Do a cruise along Dubai Creek
- Enjoy a fountain show at the base of the Burj Khalifa
- Head up the Burj Khalifa and admire the views
Dubai in 2 days – A recap
Dubai is a wonderful place to visit and we fell in love even for the short time that we were there. It is a great place for a stopover, and you can do this with any Emirates flight at no extra charge. So the next time you need a break between flights look no further than Dubai. Below is a list of things that you should know before visiting to ensure that your trip goes smoothly.
Things you should know before you go to Dubai
The UAE can be a strict country when it comes to certain things, and we always get a lot of questions when we talk about visiting Dubai. Here are some things you should know before you visit.
It might sound obvious but Dubai has a zero tolerance policy on drugs. This includes your usual narcotics but also some that are legal in your own country. A big example is codeine. Whilst it is legal in the UK it definitely is not in Dubai. We also read a story of a tourist who arrived in Dubai with poppy seeds on his clothes. These had come from eating a bread roll in an airport abroad. He was allegedly imprisoned. It is clearly no joke. If you have prescription medicine that you are bringing always bring a doctor’s note, and check what you can and can’t bring into the country. Otherwise you could end up in serious trouble . If in doubt, leave it out.
When visiting the UAE there are some places where alcohol is not allowed at all. Dubai is slightly more lenient and non muslims can drink in licensed areas such as hotels. You should be aware that drink driving is a serious no-no. If you are caught driving with even the slightest trace of alcohol in your system you will be arrested. It is also really important to keep in mind that public drunkenness is not tolerated, so try to stay within your limits and avoid making a spectacle of yourself.
Despite what some people may believe you do not have to cover yourself from head to toe in Dubai. It is however advised that you dress conservatively. When we visited I was quite conscious of this so I checked with staff at our hotel to find out what was appropriate. They advised not to wear short shorts or skirts, and to make sure that my shoulders were covered. I basically wore leggings under my skirts and made sure my t-shirts covered my shoulders at all times and had no incident. The same rule applied to men. They should dress conservatively and walking around with no shirt is a complete no no (you might think this is obvious but try visiting England when the temperature hits above 20 degrees). Bathing suits are perfectly acceptable though, provided you are at the beach or a pool, anywhere else is not.
It is really not acceptable to be kissing and hugging in public even in the malls. It is disrespectful and can be an arrestable offence. Because we weren’t married Dave and I avoided holding hands in public, not because we thought someone would stop us and ask to see our marriage license but more so because we felt uncomfortable.
In Dubai unless you are married you are not allowed to live together. The same goes for sharing a hotel room. Now realistically hotels do not ask for marriage certificates when you check in, and Dave and I had different surnames on our passports and nothing was said. I’m sure hotels are aware that non married couples share rooms, and probably wouldn’t say anything, but it’s important that you do not draw attention to it either. There have been instances where unmarried couples living in Dubai have conceived and then faced imprisonment so it is something you need to be aware of and take seriously.
It is important to be aware that a western man (or any man really) should not address a local woman in public. It is viewed as very disrespectful behaviour. Additionally if you are a women travelling solo or even in a couple for that matter it is best not to draw attention to yourself sexually. I say this even though I strongly believe women should dress how they want. The problem is in places like Dubai there have been instances where women have been raped, reported this and then been arrested themselves. Unfortunately the UAE has some different rules and ideas around feminism then we do in the west. It is important to know this when visiting.
The UAE is a predominately Muslim country. Whilst it is ok for you to practice a different religion, insulting Islam will not be tolerated. Muslims are expected to pray 5 times a day and this is something you should respect. Do not interrupt someone in the middle of prayer. It is also advisable to avoid visiting during the month of Ramadan. This is when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It could be seen as disrespectful if you eat during these times. That being said there are so many westerners in Dubai that it probably isn’t a problem, but just something to be mindful of.
All in all though most trips to Dubai go by without a hitch. It’s just important that you are aware of the laws especially because what may be seen as normal in your country may be illegal in the UAE.
Lizzie is one half of Wanderlust and Life. Usually the voice behind the blog posts she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication (Public Relations & Advertising). She has lived in Australia, Canada & England, and is pretty travel obsessed. She is also a crazy cat lady in the making.