You’ve got yourself a short stop (or a long airport layover) in Dubai, and you’re wondering what to do. Lucky for you, 9 hours is plenty of time to see some of the best city sights, and thanks to the convenient public transportation, getting around is hassle-free.
Most travelers, including those flying in using European or American passports, can enter the UAE without a visa. Citizens from other countries can have a look at visa requirements.
If you are in transit, it’s likely that your bags were checked in straight to your final destination. If that’s the case, you do not have to collect or store your bags while you run out of the airport for your quick city tour.
If you travelled with cabin bags that you do not want to drag around, it is possible to leave them at the baggage storage facilities in Dubai Airport Terminals 1 or 3. Change some money into dirhams at the currency exchange before you leave the airport.
To start your tour, you have 2 options. Taxis are available 24/7 and offer a reliable service all around the city. If you are conducting your tour between 6am and 11pm, then you I suggest you follow the signs for the Dubai Metro.
Speak to the ticketing agent to see which type of ticket best suits your needs. The metro runs in a straight line up and down the city. Get on the train in the direction of UAE Exchange.
This is the world’s longest fully automated driverless train. It is fully air conditioned, and because of the elevation, it gives you a nice bird’s eye view of the city as you pass by.
The City Beach
Actually – it’s not the city at all! The first stop is the beach. After all, there’s no better way to relax after travelling than to stretch out and enjoy the soft sand under your feet, warm sunshine on your face, and a gentle fresh ocean breeze.
Get off the metro on the other side of the city at the Jumeirah Lakes Towers stop. Walk across the highway toward the direction of Dubai Marina and cross the bridge. Ahead of you is an area known as The Walk.
This is the perfect place to fuel up for your sightseeing ahead, and there are restaurants and cafes serving up every kind of food. If you don’t fancy sandy feet, then the pedestrianised area has plenty of boutique shops to meander through, and there are trampolines and play areas for children to release some of their energy.
The Indoor Ski Slope
When you’ve had enough, head back to the metro and jump on the train in the direction of “Rashidiya.” You’re heading back in the direction of the airport, but you have some other stops ahead of you if time permits.
Get off at the ”Mall of the Emirates” stop. This mall has recently been expanded and houses all sorts of shops, ranging from souvenir shops to high street names and designer brands. This mall is also the home of the world-famous Ski Dubai.
If you’d like to try it out, then you can buy a ski pass, take part in lessons, or arrange a meet and greet with the resident penguins.
The Dubai Mall
Jump back on the metro in the direction of “Rashidiya.” Get off at the “Dubai Mall Burj Khalifa” stop. It’s a bit of a walk along an elevated tunnel that ends in the world’s biggest mall.
The Dubai mall spans 3 floors and features shops of every sort. Wander down “Fashion Avenue” to see stores like Alexander McQueen, Prada, and Gucci. You can even stop to have a coffee at the Armani café.
Avid readers must visit Book World, which is a book gallery spanning an incredible 68,000 square feet. It’s by far Dubai’s largest book store, with over half a million books and 1000 magazines for sale.
The Burj Khalifa
On the lower ground floor of the mall, you’ll find the entrance to At The Top. This is your gateway to the 124nd floor of the world’s tallest building, the spectacular Burj Khalifa. Entrance to the observation deck offers 360° panoramic views across all parts of the city, allowing you to tick off another of Dubai’s Must-See sights.
Booking in advance is recommended (through the link above). However, tickets are usually also available on the day, but may be more expensive. The view is especially magical around sunset.
The shallow lake that lies peacefully between the mall, the Burj Khalifa, and the Address Hotel is the home of the world’s largest musical fountains. The magical water fountains do their coordinated musical dance every 30 minutes in the evenings from 6pm onwards, and sporadically during the day.
The type of music varies, and includes classical instrumental pieces, opera songs by performers such as Andrea Botticelli, modern day music by artists such as Michael Jackson and Enrique, as well as a selection of celebrated Arabic artists.
For a true Dubai experience, try some traditional Arabic food at Burj al Hamam. The entrance is inside the mall on the 1st floor, but they have a large outdoor seating area which overlooks the fountains and the glittering Burj Khalifa.
If you are in a group, it is best to take several dishes to share. Start with bread and dips, such as hummus and mouttabel. For your main course, a personal favourite is the meat platter – since it serves up a delicious spread of lamb, chicken, and beef prepared in different ways.
The Gold Souk
Back on the metro and slowly making your way nearer still to the airport – if you still have a few hours to spare, jump off at Al Ras metro station. Just a short walk away (follow the signs) is the original and ever popular Gold Souk.
This myriad of alleys is teeming with vendors selling all sorts of gold, diamonds, and precious gems. The current (live) price of gold is displayed throughout the Souk, however the charge for workmanship is always negotiable – so if you are buying something, feel free to bargain.
With your whistle-stop tour of Dubai complete, your 9 hours have been well spent, trying the best of the best in the city. It’s time to jump back on the metro in the direction of Rashidiya. Get off at Terminal 3 for Emirates and Qantas departures, or Terminal 1 for all other airlines. Happy travels!