Aren’t layovers the best? Said nobody ever. Well, if you are in that situation, you need to check this itinerary on how to explore Dubai in one day.
Apart from the fact that the airport here is one of the best in the world, your one day stay in Dubai would fly quite fast just exploring the place!
Can I get a Dubai Visa in one day?
If your next flight is more than a 10-hour wait, I’d suggest you make your way to the visa registration for a one day Dubai city tour! You will need a visa to get out of the airport which is pretty easy and free from 8 hours up to 48 hours. The visa requirements differ according to nationality so make sure to familiarize yourself with the formalities. For most nationalities, visa in Dubai is free on arrival. If you do not fall into the category of countries allowed, click here to read all about documents required and the costs to get a transit visa in Dubai (this procedure needs to be done in advance).
If you’d like a detailed guide on traveling to UAE with medication, click here.
Before you step out of the airport it is important to remember if you have the currency of Dubai which is called “Dirhams”. It is written as “AED” or “Dhs” as abbreviations. The usual Dubai exchange rate is AED 3.67 for $1. Find the guide to everything you need to know about exchanging money in Dubai.
How to Travel in Dubai:
After getting your visa, the next step for you would be to find out things to do in Dubai in one day.
If you prefer private traveling, I’d suggest booking a tour taxi or better, hiring a car on rent if you have an international driving license.
(If you choose to rent a car at affordable rates, click here)
There are also ways to travel on public transport as the bus station is located on the ground floor of the airport and there are metros connected to Airport Terminals 1 & 3.
Download a PDF version of the Dubai Metro Guide which shows the rules and guidelines with the map of the Dubai Metro stations attached. Screenshot it on your phones or better, print a copy for easy access during travel. The guide also has information about NOL cards which are required to use any kind of public transport in Dubai.
Dubai is known for traffic! The peak timings on weekdays are in the morning from 7PM-9PM and evenings from 4:30 PM – 6 PM. These are mostly office goers and the school crowd.
It is important to plan your timings as you don’t want to spend time waiting in queues or traffic for that matter! Visiting malls and tourist spots are better to be visited in the mornings.
Explore Dubai in One Day:
If you look at the options near Dubai International Airport, there are a variety available.
The tourist destinations you must visit in Dubai are Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall. This city is popular for being the best at setting records. No visit to Dubai would be complete if you haven’t seen the tallest building in the world or shopped at the biggest mall.
Start your one day trip in Dubai by exploring the most talked about building. Getting to Burj Khalifa through metro is easy. There is a stop named Burj Khalifa/ Dubai Mall metro station after which reaching Burj Khalifa is around a 20-minute walk.
Not only can you see the stunning tower, but you can experience what being on top of the world feels like at Level 124 and Level 125 for AED 155 per person. The panoramic views of the city are just breathtaking and the experience can never be forgotten.
Time duration: About 1.5 hours
Cost per person: From AED 155 or US $42
Click here to book a tour to visit At The Top at Burj Khalifa at a discounted rate.
After your memorable experience, you can head for a meal at the award-winning Asado located in Palace Downtown. The restaurant is known for its baby goat which is cooked for several hours. Another must-try dish from here is the mixed platter which is enough for fill 4 tummies! If you’re fortunate to get a table at the outdoor seating area, you can catch a few glimpses of the dancing fountains from The Dubai Mall (more on that below)
If you aren’t feeling like heading to a steakhouse, you can relax with Afternoon Tea at Al Bayt with the stunning view of Burj Khalifa. Yes, it looks just as beautiful from the outside as indoors!
Time duration: 2 hours approx.
Cost for 2 people: Roughly AED 300-600 or US $80-160
With the calories you’ve packed on, visit The Dubai Mall which is just a 10-minute drive through taxi. If you prefer walking, Souk Al Bahar bridge is connected to the mall and you can see some sights on the way.
Most people wouldn’t know that The Dubai Mall also has the largest OLED screen in the world atop its famous aquarium, which is also one of the largest in the world. Another record set by U.A.E! If you fancy sea creatures, then the aquarium is a wonderful place to visit. It should also be on your list if you are traveling to Dubai with kids.
If you want to explore the 10 million liter aquarium tank from the inside, find your ticket information here with prices starting from AED 100 or US $27.
The next attraction that should be in your one day in Dubai itinerary are the Dubai fountains that are located on the ground floor of The Dubai Mall. These tourist spots are technically in the same area so you aren’t spending too many hours traveling from one place to the other. The fountains are a crowd-pleaser and you will always find the area filled with tourists and residents alike. It is FREE to watch the fountains dance to the light and tunes playing every 30 minutes in the evenings.
Time duration: 5 hours approx.
If you still have a few hours to spare or aren’t ready to tire to your bed, here are a few options included to end your Dubai one day trip:
- A tour of the spice souq located in Old Dubai. Get to know more about Dubai and how people used to live before the modern culture now. This tour is for 3 hours with a stop at the Coffee Museum, Dubai Museum, and ending with a ride across Dubai creek in an abra. There are plenty of restaurants located offering cheap eats where you can try the popular street food “shawarma” in Dubai. Click here to find the discounted cost for the tour.
- If you are more into exploring the food scene here and indulging in some delectable traditional fare, book yourselves a private food tour which runs up to 3 hours.
- The last option would be to enjoy a safari in Dubai. It is pretty popular and would totally seal the deal for your itinerary of what to do in Dubai in one day.
All costs and details mentioned in their respective links. Click on them for more information.
Where to relax/stay:
If you have more than a day and just want to relax for a couple of hours, then you can check the closest hotels from Dubai International Airport.
(To rent a car at affordable rates from your hotel, click here)
According to my experience and research, I have compiled the top 3 recommended hotels from the above list for your convenience:
- Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre – Le Meridien is the closest hotel to Dubai International Airport and takes only about 5 minutes by taxi. You can get discounted rates by clicking on the link here.
- Hyatt Regency Creek Heights Residences – The next closest airport is the Hyatt Regency. There are a few great restaurants to experience if you have some time to grab a snack. Check out La Tablita if you’re staying there.
- Address Boulevard – Your best choice would be Address Boulevard and it is something I recommend. Simply, because it is located in Downtown Dubai where The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa are only walkable distance. This would make all of your tours easy and save a lot of travel expenditure. If you would like to see the rates, click here.
Things to do in Dubai International Airport:
Here you can find some of the things to do in Dubai International Airport if you have a few hours before your next connecting flight. The airport only allows travelers on transit for more than 8 hours to explore the city so if you have a shorter duration to wait, do check out this detailed guide.
Travel guides for Dubai that I love:
I love travel guides as they are so helpful and help me learn a lot about the country even before visiting. Like the planner I am, I always make an itinerary in advance, download maps, and estimate costs. I have researched a couple of travel guides that may make your list of things to see in Dubai in one day even better!
However you’d like to spend your time in Dubai, I guarantee that it will be great and you will definitely want to come back! If you are interested in extending your travel visa for up to 96 hours, the cost is AED 50 or roughly US $14.
Hope you enjoyed reading and planning a trip to visit Dubai in one day. Do share with me your travels or more ideas of places that could be added to the list.
Tip: If you’re staying longer, then you might want to read this one week in Dubai itinerary.
Until then, happy traveling! xx
P.S. Here’s a pinnable version of the post in case you want to save and read later!
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