Explore Dubai In One Day: Dubai Layover Tour

Last Updated on January 25, 2022 by hungryoungwoman

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 with all details on how to have the best Dubai layover tour of the city!

Apart from the fact that the airport here is one of the best in the world and one of the best airports for layover, your one day stay in Dubai would fly quite fast just exploring the place! Read on more to know just how you can make your time worthwhile with things to do in Dubai for a day in this Dubai layover tour guide.

Click below to download Dubai 1 Day Itinerary Checklist! 

Can I get a Dubai Visa in one day?

The United Arab Emirates is conveniently located almost at the center of the Earth, which makes it easy to travel from any country and also a place to transit for connecting flights. Flights are very affordable if you aren’t looking during the peak seasons. Click here to view discounted rates for your next journey.

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, a visa in Dubai is free on arrival for a Dubai transit tour.

If you’re here for Dubai Expo 2020, here’s my guide on things to do before visiting Expo 2020 until March 2022

[UPDATE 2021] Please check for updated regulations about the requirements for a Dubai day trip during your one day Dubai tour from airport in the light of recent events.

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 about medication when spending a day in Dubai, 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.

To make your trip to Dubai easier, here are some handy FREE Dubai apps you can download which will make your Dubai one day tour even easier.

It will be helpful for you to take a quick look into your suitcase to see if you are carrying the right items for your stopover in Dubai. To know all about what to wear in Dubai, read my Dubai Packing List.

Want to stay longer in Dubai? Click here for a unique itinerary for Dubai 7 days!


How to Travel for your Dubai Layover Tour:

After getting your visa, the next step for your Dubai one day itinerary 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.

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. I suggest this the best way to see Dubai in a day as it helps cut down costs!

Read this guide before using public transport and familiarize yourself with the rules and guidelines of Dubai Public Transport. Screenshot it on your phones and print a copy for easy access during travel.

The RTA website also has information about NOL cards which are required to use any kind of public transport in Dubai. I recommend getting one of these as the public transport here depends on these cards for buses, metro, and trams. The cheapest is the Silver Card that is available for AED 25 with a credit you can use for AED 19. Make sure to get this as soon as you arrive in Dubai for one day.

Dubai is known for its traffic! The peak timings on weekdays are in the morning from 7 pm-9 pm and evenings from 4:30 PM – 6 PM. These are mostly office goers and the school crowd.

It is important to plan things to do in Dubai in 1 day tour as you don’t want to spend time waiting in queues or traffic for that matter! Malls and tourist spots are better to be visited in the mornings as they are empty and visit sooks and street-side stalls in the evening to get the real feel for your Dubai itinerary 1 day.

Another step to really make your layover in Dubai worthwhile is to check what activities are happening when you are in the city. I explain that in this detailed guide about the best season to visit Dubai.

If it happens to be the Holy month of Ramadan during your Dubai layover, read some rules and regulations for visiting Dubai during Ramadan

Explore Dubai in One Day:

If you’re wondering what to see in Dubai in one day, look at the options near Dubai International Airport, there are a variety available.

If you’re a thrill-seeker and having a long layover in dubai, here’s how to spend an adventurous 2 days in Dubai

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 149 per person. The panoramic views of the city are just breathtaking and the experience can never be forgotten so book this even if you are here for a layover tour Dubai.

Time duration: About 1.5 hours 

Cost per person: From AED 149 or US $41

Click here to book a tour to visit At The Top at Burj Khalifa and skip waiting in line! 


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 to 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)

Afternoon Tea, Al Bayt - Dubai in one day

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!

[UPDATE 2020] If you want to combine your view from the Burj Khalifa with lunch at a fine dining restaurant in Dubai, why not take a trip to At.mosphere, located on the 122nd and 123rd floor of the tallest building in the world?

This visit was the highlight of my 2019 and will be yours too in this Dubai city tour itinerary. We had a beautiful view from our table 🙂

Tip: Evenings are the best time to visit At.mosphere Dubai because you can see the skies changing color and the building lighting up below


It truly is an experience to cherish and saves time if you have only a few extra hours to spare. Also, think no queues and unrestricted views and pictures! Click here to read about how you can book a table there. This surely the cherry on the top when you think about what to do in Dubai for a day.

Time duration: 2 hours approx.

Cost for 2 people: Roughly AED 300-600 or US $80-160

Read: Brunch at Palace Downtown available every Friday

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 the 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 is 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.

Click here to download a FREE One day in Dubai checklist

Explore Dubai in One Day

If you still have some time at hand and 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 this 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. If you aren’t too keen on exploring the glitzy side during a day in Dubai, I would recommend switching to this tour instead. 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, do read this Dubai Food Tour guide. Or check this guide to what to eat in old Dubai
  • 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.

READ: 10 Must-Try Things to Eat in Dubai

Tip: If you want to visit Abu Dhabi for a one day trip from Dubai, here’s a detailed guide about how to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.



Where to stay in Dubai:

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. Here, you will find the best place to stay in Dubai for all budgets.

According to my experience and research, I have compiled the top 3 recommended hotels from the above list for your convenience:

  • Rove City Centre – If you want to save on a few bills without compromising on quality, the Rove Hotels are amazing! Think fast and friendly service, easy access, good food options, and a comfortable room at a very affordable price. Click here to see the discounted price now!
  • 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.
  • 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.

If you’re a backpacker in Dubai, here’s where you should head to find the best hotels in Dubai for backpackers

READ: Instagrammable places in Dubai that will Change Your Feed


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.

1 Day in Dubai Itinerary Checklist below! 


However you’d like to spend your time in Dubai in 1 day, 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 this list of what to do in Dubai for 1 day or a one day layover in Dubai.

Tip: If you’re staying longer, then you might want to read this one week in Dubai itinerary. Or for more a more thorough itinerary to 7 days in Dubai, read my article.

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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41 thoughts on “Explore Dubai In One Day: Dubai Layover Tour

  1. There is so much to see in Dubai which I hardly think can be covered in 24 hours. But if we have time constraint, then this is a good itinerary. Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. This is such a great idea, and so useful for people who only have a layover in which to explore the city. I’d have to check out the Burj Khalifa, even though I’m not that good with heights! 😉

    1. The Burj Kahlifa is such a beauty! Even if you don’t actually take the tour to Level 125, it makes for such a sight from below too!

  3. I have travelled extensively and I am yet to fly through Dubai. I think I need to make flying through Dubai a priority even if it is just for a layover. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. What a great idea! Usually, when I have a long layover, I plan on reading material, snacks and movies while sitting at the airport. But your idea is so much better!

  5. Very useful post as many people travel to different parts of the world via Dubai. If the layover is long then it is worth to see this beautiful city.

    1. Truly agree, Yukti! i would recommend longer, but this is the best they can do if they have around 24 hours

  6. The dancing fountains look gorgeous! I’d love to visit the spice souks. Great that Dubai offers visa on arrival to most nationalities…a layover at Dubai can be well spent!

  7. I usually do take flights with long layovers when I change continents. But tbh, I have some conflicting feelings about Dubai. It looks like a very nice place to visit, but at the same time, I am not sure how I would feel as a woman promoting the tourism of a place where women were just recently allowed to drive… What is your take on it?

    1. That is one of the misconceptions of people outside Middle East. Dubai is part of United Arab Emirates, a country where women have been allowed to drive since long long ago as well as go out even at 3 AM and come back home safe. The country you are talking about is Saudi Arabia 🙂

  8. What a great idea! I hope to one day travel to Dubai, and if I’m ever stuck in the airport there, I will definitely check out the one day visa!

  9. Very nice and comprehensive one day itinerary! I think I would have never considered doing one day in Dubai, but, after reading your post it doesn’t seems so bad even with a time constraint!

    1. Oh yes, I would recommend it for more than a week to enjoy fully. But, this is so apt for layovers 🙂

  10. This is really very helpful for those having long wait layovers in Dubai. You have covered so much of this beautiful city to be explored in one day. Loved the idea of Dubai Desert Safari.

  11. Dubai without a doubt one of the finest cities in the world. high skyscrapers, awesome beaches, and the most affordable shopping destination. I would say, Dubai is worth visiting at least once in a lifetime.

  12. 5 stars
    Dubai Desert Safari is a superlative attraction in the Arabian Desert. This tour has something for everyone, Such as 4WD Red Dunes Safari, Camel Riding, Sandboarding, Henna Art, and Desert Sunset. As well, live Belly Dance, Classic & LED Tanura, and Fire Dance shows. Loved the experience!

  13. Desert Safari you can try on the traditional dress-up options that you will be able to carry Emirates, dresses, Qandura (for the men) and the Abbaya (for the women), along with the henna tattoo artist for the bathroom, where henna tattoos will also be available to women.

  14. Excellent post! I recently got my Dubai Visa and was looking for some interesting things to do over there when I stumbled upon your blog. The top sightseeing’s that you shared in your blog look like great choices. I will be sharing this blog with my friends and then we will finalize some places that I can explore once I land in Dubai. I will most likely add the Palm Dubai to my travel itinerary as I always wanted to visit that place.

I'd love to know your thoughts!