What We Did with One Day in Dubai with Kids

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When flying from the US to India, we knew we’d likely need a layover or two. One day in Dubai with kids seemed like a wonderful option! We’d never been to Dubai before but had been wanting to go. Plus, we had a couple kiddos (and adults!) who were absolutely fascinated by the Burj Khalifa and had hoped to go to the top for years. It seemed like the perfect opportunity! Here’s everything we included in our Dubai itinerary.

Flying Through the United Arab Emirates with Kids

We flew from London to Abu Dhabi, then Abu Dhabi to Delhi on Etihad Airways. We’d never flown Etihad before and we all LOVED it! Our kids keep asking if we can fly them again and saying it’s their new favorite airline. 🙂 They had wonderful kid activity bags, great food, baby meals, and incredibly kind and helpful flight attendants. Highly recommend, especially for a long-haul flight with kids!

Since we arrived to our Airbnb SO late, we all definitely needed to sleep in a bit. We finally woke everyone by around 11:30am so we could get up and going. The nice thing with getting a late start is we could also stay out late and see some night attractions in Dubai!

We had hired a driver to take us around the city, which felt easier than driving ourselves and needing to figure out parking. However, our driver was really inexperienced and honestly pretty bad, both in terms of driving skill and knowledge of the city (he took us on a 45 minute unnecessary detour at one point), so I sadly wouldn’t recommend him. However, if you find a good recommendation, hiring a driver could be a great option – especially if you’re short on time.

Packing for Dubai with Kids

We didn’t have a specific packing list for Dubai because we were on an extended trip with many stops. You can see what we packed for our toddler here. But after visiting, I have some recommendations for what to pack for Dubai.

Layers

While it might seem strange to take layers to such a hot location, I find a lightweight layer to be helpful for entering places like mosques. A simple scarf is great for this! I didn’t want to carry extra items, so I used this rain jacket, which covered both my arms and my head (though it was hot). If you’re traveling to the area during rainy season, here are jacket recommendations:  Womenmenkidstoddlerbaby.

Water

While tap water in Dubai is safe to drink, I like to filter it just to be extra safe. We usually take a few water bottles along with this filter water bottle, then decant from the filter one into the others. We really love that filter water bottle – it works so well and makes it easy to fill other bottles.

Sunscreen

The sun can be intense when exploring Dubai. This is my personal favorite facial sunscreen (use code LPF15 for 15% off). This is my very favorite sunscreen for my kids. It’s a mineral (zinc-based) sunscreen, so it protects the skin on top instead of soaking in, and rubs in so easily (so many zinc suncreens don’t). I also love this mineral sunscreen that smells amazing (or here is the spray version).

Hat

Definitely protect faces and necks from that coastal sun! I love this hat for babies, and this one for myself.

Walking Shoes

Walking in Dubai is one of the best ways to see the city! You’ll want to bring sturdy shoes. I used my favorite walking shoes and my beloved hiking sandals.

Other Dubai Packing Essentials

Here are a few other items that may be helpful to include on your Dubai packing list:

What To Do in Dubai with Kids: One Day Dubai Itinerary

Here are all the things we managed to squeeze into one short day in Dubai with kids, including Dubai activities for families. We didn’t go overboard with trying to do a million things since we were pretty tired from traveling, but we loved being able to explore the city a bit during our 24 hours in Dubai.

Jumeirah Mosque on a Dubai Layover

Our first stop for the day was visiting the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque. This one is unique because visitors are welcomed and it embraces the mindset of ‘Open Doors. Open Minds.’ It was really special to be able to go and learn here! Everyone registers at the Majlis (reception area) before entering the mosque itself. We were fortunate to arrive just in time to join a Jumeirah Mosque tour. The tour guide was excellent and so informative.

The mosque also offers full-covering clothing in the event that you’re not already wearing appropriate clothing. I was wearing short sleeves and my skirt didn’t quite reach to the ground, so I was grateful to borrow an Abaya and Sheila (head scarf), while Dan borrowed a Kandoora. They aren’t very strict with the kids, but did have smaller sizes for the older kids and the younger ones who wanted to wear them.

After the tour and explanation, they offered some delicious Emirati treats in the Majlis, which our kids loved. They also had some games – I was so excited to see carrom (which I played in India many times as a kid) – as well as a photo gallery and a small museum exhibit with artifacts.

Gold Souk & Spice Souk

When planning our Abu Dhabi itinerary, we knew we wanted to include the souks in Dubai. After the mosque, we went over to the Gold Souk. Although we’re not big shoppers, nor am I particularly into jewelry, it was still really fun to see. This is such an iconic, historic part of the city that it’s definitely worthwhile to walk around even if you’re not planning on buying anything!

From there, we were planning to walk over to the Spice Souk, which is only a few minutes away. However, our driver (who I mentioned previously was very inexperienced) would not take no for an answer to drive us and insisted on pulling up at the gold souk. We felt bad sending him away so just got in the car, at which point he took a 45 minute detour all around. We were so frustrated! At this point, we were worried we’d miss being able to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, so we asked him to skip the souk and drive straight to the Burj.

Visiting Dubai Mall & the Burj Khalifa with Kids

Visiting the Burj Khalifa was at the top of our itinerary for Dubai! Since we only had one day in Dubai, we decided the best time to visit the Burj Khalifa would be after the souk. (See Burj Khalifa visiting hours here.) We’d been told getting to the top of the Burj could take quite a while and that was accurate! From the time we were dropped off by our driver to when we actually arrived at the very top was over 2.5 hours.

Our driver, again, was unfamiliar with the best spot and dropped us clear on the other side of the mall from the ticket entry. Still, that did mean that we got to walk through practically the entire Dubai Mall, which is an experience in and of itself. We weren’t actually planning to visit the mall (again with the not being interested in shopping in Dubai) but I’m glad we did. I’ve never seen so many fancy stores together (or even knew they existed)!

After walking for over half an hour quickly across the mall (and picking up some food along the way), we got to the ticket booth, which had about a 20 minute line. We debated which tickets to purchase but our kids were actually super excited for this and we figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience, so decided to go big or go home. (Spoiler alert: if you’re wondering “is Burj Khalifa worth it,” the answer is a resounding “yes!”)

Which Burj Khalifa Ticket with Kids?: Burj Khalifa Tickets Price

We knew we wanted to go very high, so we debated between:

  • “At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY” – includes levels 148, 125, 124 (399 AED at time of writing, or about $109 USD)
  • World’s Highest Lounge – Includes level 154, 153, 152 + the other levels (769 AED at time of writing, or about $210 USD)

I honestly didn’t think there would be a huge difference between 148 to 154, and it turns out there wasn’t. 148 actually had the outdoor deck and observation terrace, which I thought was cooler than the view from 154. The more expensive version did include some snacks and treats at the top lounge, which was fun, but probably not worth an extra $100 USD.

However, purchasing the more expensive ticket means we saved probably close to two hours of waiting in line after purchasing tickets. We blew right past a VERY long line to go straight to the elevator. I’d say it was worth it for that alone, especially since it was already 9pm by the time we got to the top and we were all jet lagged and exhausted. Plus, my kids just thought it was so fun being up that high and knowing it wasn’t possible to go any higher. Just the mental feeling of knowing we’d gone as high as possible was really cool! A couple of them are into buildings and architecture and this was a favorite activity from the entire summer of travel.

So in the end, I suppose I’m glad we chose the more expensive option! That said, if there’s not a big line, I think the “At the Top” version is plenty and you get the best views.

There’s also an “At the Top, Burj Khalifa” option that only goes to levels 124 + 125 – I would definitely NOT do that. It was not nearly as cool as going to the deck on level 148, and 148 was significantly less crowded, as well.

Is the Dubai Aquarium Worth It?

After the Burj, we came down and popped into the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which is inside the mall and was included in our ticket. It was fine! My kids liked walking through the water tunnel with sharks swimming overhead. But it was small and honestly not that special. I wouldn’t pay for it separately!

After that, it wasvery late, so we went back to our apartment and crashed. It was a really fun day and a great stopover in Dubai with kids!

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