Heading to Dubai? Today I’m looking back at our recent trip to the city with young kids. Keep reading for my top tips on visiting Dubai with children and Dubai on a budget.
Driving to Dubai from Muscat? Check out this blog for a great detailed rundown on how it’s done. A note- Maps.me has a very different idea of “straight” and “slight,” so keep an eye on the map itself once in the city.
Dubai Mall was a big attraction for us as much of the other area things are easy to access in Oman (mosques, souk, desert camping). It is HUGE! We walked 8 miles just inside the mall and still didn’t see it all. Ice skating, a dinosaur skeleton, an aquarium, and more. Check Groupon for available deals for attractions like Kidzania. The earlier you can get to the mall, the more enjoyable it will be. Evening crowds are intense! There are more food options than you could imagine. Expats will enjoy easy access to Texas Roadhouse, PF Changs, and more.
Dubai Fountain is located just outside Dubai Mall and has a wonderful water show every half hour each evening (and afternoons on Friday). You can grab a table at one of the nearby restaurants or watch from the platform at the Apple store. The closer you are to the Burj, the less crowded it will be. Stay for two shows, as the music alternates between Arabic and Western. Well worth your time! Festival City Mall also had a fantastic show that was much less crowded. If you want a fountain show away from some of the craziness, choose that one.
The Burj Khalifa can be viewed from outside by the fountain or you can enter it by purchasing a ticket in the mall (cheaper to book online ahead of time, but still $$$). We opted to view it from outside and it’s big. Easy to spot from anywhere in the city!
The Entertainer app can save you some money in Dubai, even if you have another country’s version. We used our Oman version to take advantage of a BOGO hotel offer for a Roda property directly across from the mall.
Cabs/Uber/Metro are all possible ways to explore the city. We opted to park at the hotel and mostly walk, utilizing cabs when necessary. For us, the metro wasn’t convenient to our sites, so be sure to check the map and see how far the stop is from your destination. The beach stop would have had us walking about an hour to get down to the beach!
The RTA offers two popular tourist routes for their Dubai Ferry, which makes for a nice economical boat ride from Jumeriah Beach. For a family of 4, the ticket is 150AED for silver class and 210AED for gold. The ticket office is just outside the Carrefour, and near a shaded playground that is perfect to burn off some energy while you wait for your boat. Our boat started running at 3pm and gave a 1 hour ride out to Atlantis and back.
Pro tip: Bring food and snacks to save some cash. Dubai is an expensive city. If you can eat breakfast in your room (most hotels will provide bottled water), you’ll save quite a bit of money!
We opted to spend our final night at Atlantis the Palm with some Christmas money. If you can swing it, I highly recommend it! It was a nice end to a busy weekend. Staying at Atlantis gives you access to the pools, water park, and aquarium for a little more than you’d pay for a day pass alone. Next time, we would/will stay for two days to give us more time to do all the activities.
Looking to save some money on Atlantis? Atlantis deals do exist! The best deal we found was via Emirates frequent flyer program. Sign up and take your card with you (Some places will accept your number as a digital card, but not all.) to take full advantage. Booking through this program saved us about 50% on our room alone. Once there, the deal allowed for kids to eat free with the purchase of an adult meal. Big savings!
Get to Aquaventure early! Be at the kiosk to get your wristband at 9:40 (golf carts can drive you there from the pool). Hop on the first cart you can get to head to the water park at 9:45 opening. You’ll want to grab your towels for the day and secure chairs right away. If you plan to ride the tower slides, do that first before lines form. Smaller kids won’t be able to ride the tower slides, but there is a large children’s area with plenty to do, pools, a playground, plenty of beach, and more!
The aquarium is fun to visit and doesn’t take too long. Visit after breakfast or dinner when you are water park-ed out. There are helpful screens in each section to tell you about what’s inside.
Atlantis offers a Kid’s Club, with an afternoon session (2-5) included for each night of the stay in Deluxe (regular) rooms. It’s a great time for mom and dad to hang at the pool, enjoy the big slides at the water park, or even take a nap!
Pro tip: Check in as early as possible. If they don’t have a room available, they will hold your bags and you can use the facilities. On check out day we took our things down before heading to the park and they held them until 2pm when we were ready to leave. Utilizing the baggage hold really helps you make the most of your time.