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Dubai submerged in fog | © mohamed alwerdany/Shutterstock
Dubai submerged in fog | © mohamed alwerdany/Shutterstock
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What to Do On a Layover in Dubai

Picture of Thais Kelly
Updated: 18 September 2017
Emirates Airlines has turned Dubai into an international hub for travellers from all over the world by connecting flights between the Western and Eastern hemispheres. With hours to spare between flights, this is a great opportunity for people to take in as much of Dubai as possible. Even if you just have a few hours to kill, there are plenty of options that will make your brief visit to Dubai unforgettable.

If you have three hours…

With only three hours in the city, there’s not much time to visit Dubai’s main attractions, but you could relax and grab a drink at The Irish Village. This Irish-inspired pub is one of the hottest locations to chill with a pint of beer, and it’s only a five-minute ride from the airport. The pub has outstanding outdoor sitting for the winter months, as well as air-conditioned indoors for the hot Dubai summer and is open from 11am until 1am, making it ideal for flights arriving at most times of day.

The Irish Village, 10 31 A Street, Dubai +971 4282 4750

Irish Village in Dubai | © Rus S/Shutterstock
Irish Village in Dubai | © Rus S/Shutterstock

If you have five hours…

Two of Dubai’s most popular attractions are its gold and spice markets. Located in Dubai’s Old Quarter and only a 15-minute drive from the airport, the Gold Souk and Spice Souk give visitors an insight as to what Dubai was like before the city boomed with skyscrapers. The Gold Souk is populated with hundreds of jewelry stores in a traditional market setting and is home to the largest gold ring in the world, according to the Guinness World Records. the Spice Souk is the perfect place to shop for regional spices and purchase souvenirs for friends and family back home. This is also a great opportunity to cross the Dubai Creek via abra, a traditional water taxi for only 1 AED.

Gold and Spice Souk, 26 34 St, Dubai, +971 056 622 2982

Gold & Spice Souk in Old Dubai | © Martchan/Shutterstock
Gold & Spice Souk in Old Dubai | © Martchan/Shutterstock

If you have seven hours…

With seven hours to spare, a great idea is to hop on the Dubai Metro and head to Dubai Mall. This is the largest shopping mall in the world with 1,200 outlets and plenty to see and do. At the Dubai Mall, visitors are able to spend hours shopping, catch a movie, ice skate and even go up the Burj Khalifa tower. You can go up to the 148th floor of the tallest building in the world, where you’ll be able to see Dubai from sea to desert and take in one of the most striking views of the city.

Dubai Mall, Financial Centre Road, Downtown Dubai, +971 800 382 246 255

Downtown Dubai | © Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock
Downtown Dubai | © Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock

If you have 12 hours…

With time to kill, 12 hours is more than enough to take in a full view of the city and visit most of Dubai’s main attractions. Whether you choose a more exclusive experience, by hiring a private hour of the city from one of the various travel agencies, or you opt for a budget trip in the Big Bus Tour, this is a chance to see some of Dubai’s postcard destinations such as the Burj Al Arab resort, Atlantis the Palm hotel and the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. If you have 12 hours, this is a great opportunity for travelers to turn a layover in Dubai into a full-blown visit to the city.

Burj Al Arab, Jumeira Road, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai +971 4301 7777

Atlantis the Palm, Crescent Road, Dubai +971 4426 2000

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Al Sufouh Road, Dubai +971 4366 8888

Madinat Jumeirah and the Burj Al Arab, Dubai | © Angelika Smile/Shutterstock
Madinat Jumeirah and the Burj Al Arab, Dubai | © Angelika Smile/Shutterstock