The city of Dubai is strategically located at a junction between Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Often, when traveling from one continent to another, you have a long layover in Dubai. And since our city is one of the most iconic metropolises in the world, it would be such a pity not to take advantage of visiting some of its main attractions even if you only have a couple of hours to allocate.
I agree a few hours might seem not enough, and the truth is that they are not. However, it is possible to mark some of the main tourist attractions, which is why I am here. To help and guide you through your 24 hours layover (or less) in the best city in the Middle East: Dubai, also known for its shortcut DXB.
I visited Dubai for the first time in 2013. I came from an extended Asia trip, and I stayed a few days in Abu Dhabi for a salsa festival. One of my friends took me and Franco (my boss) on a half-day trip to Dubai. It was love at first sight, and that was the first time it crossed my mind that I could live in #mydubai.
We didn’t have much time, maybe around 6 hours. However, we managed to visit a few hot spots, do some shopping and have a delicious Asian lunch.
Half-Day, And Scrolling More, You Can Find The Recommendations I Have For You.#1 Palm Jumeirah
The first stop was on the iconic Palm. We drove to the end close to Atlantis for a short walk and obviously some quick shots.#2 Souk Madinat
On the way to Dubai Downtown, our next stop was at Souk Madinat, close to Burj Al Arab. Therefore for amazing pictures, let’s say you catch two rabbits at once. There we roamed around the Arabic galleries, bought some (overpriced) souvenirs, and had a lovely Asian lunch at the Noodle House.
#3 Downtown Palace
Shortly after, we reached Dubai Downtown, which is the city’s business district, and because most hotels in Dubai are so luxurious and look fantastic, we just dropped by the Palace Downtown for a little bit. And it was all worth it.
#4 Dubai Mall
We had a bit of time for some quick shopping (well, I had some time shopping while I was dragging 3 guys after me that were nice enough to have the patience and wait for me :D) and we saw the mall’s famous aquarium.
#5 Burj Khalifa
Our last stop was, of course, at the tallest building in the world, which is conveniently located right next to Dubai Mall. There was no time to go inside, plus at that time, I had no idea about the Atmosphere Lounge and that we could actually go up to the 123rd floor. However, I felt lucky to take some cool pictures outside Souk al Bahar and the Fountains area.
The above was my experience, and I was grateful as traveling was (still is) in my blood. Now, if I look back, I am even more thankful as it opened my appetite to relocate and to dream that I could live in such a beautiful place.
If you happen to have to travel to another country and have a 24 h layover, I warmly recommend choosing a hotel in Dubai Downtown or Business Bay are.
Don’t choose accommodation in Deira or Bur Dubai just because they are slightly cheaper and you will be closer to the airport. The areas are safe, but it’s not that nice, and they are part of the old city.
All hotels in Dubai have high standards, and they offer good services. For one night stay, of course, it depending on your budget, you can find decent places in a good area starting from 100 USD/night.
A lot of tourists are concerned about transportation. Don’t be. You will find taxis on every corner.
When you get out of the airport, you have two options:
- Hala Taxi starts from AED 25, and there is a long line, so there is plenty to find. From the airport to Downtown / Business Bay, it will take you around 20 minutes, and you will pay around AED 60 for the trip. On the way back to the airport, you will pay less as the journey starts from AED 5 or 12 dirhams.
- Lexus. I am not sure how much it is, but usually, it is 30-50% more than what you would pay for Hala Taxi. So I recommend the first option.
5 Things You Can Cover On A 24 H Layover
It will be difficult to draw a step-by-step itinerary because it depends on where your hotel is located, the exact time you will have, and your preference.
However, below are 5 top attractions that I warmly recommend, and with moving from one place to another (and depending on the traffic), you should be done in 8-10 hours.
#1 Burj Khalifa – 1.5 Hours
The best is to go up to floor 123, where the Atmosphere Lounge is located. Have a drink, take some nice pictures, and of course, take some shots from outside the building.
#2 The Fountains & Dinner With A View 1.5 Hours
The Dubai fountains show runs every day from 6-11 pm every 30 minutes. If you want and time allows, you can watch it from a more personal environment and combine it with dinner. Some of the restaurants in Dubai Mall have a terrace with a direct view of the fountains. I recommend Babel as the menu is Arabic and enhances the middle eastern experience. Plus, it’s a great restaurant offering excellent services.
#3 Souk Madinat & Burj Al Arab 1 Hour
If you manage to Souk Madinat on your list, you will see that Burj Al Arab is super close by, so just like me, you can take advantage and take some pictures with the only 7****** star hotel in the world.
Otherwise, you can take a walk through their enchanting Arabic galleries filled with souvenirs. Furthermore, they have plenty of lovely restaurants, pubs and coffee shops.
#4 Dubai Mall – 2 Hours
It must be everyone’s dream to shop till they drop into the world’s largest mall. By the way, everyone is getting lost in Dubai Mall. Locals, tourists, residents 😀 so don’t panic, take around 2 hours there. You can also use the buggy service, which will save you some precious time – for about 20 DHS.
Yes, you heard well, Dubai Mall is so big that it has its own internal taxi operating.
#5 Palm Jumeirah – 2 Hours
First, go up to the end close to Atlantis where you can take a nice walk and very nice pictures with Atlantis Hotel and Marina and JBR skyline.
On your way, you can stop for a quick coffee in Fairmont Hotel and have a coffee at one of their terraces or at Five Hotel. Both have a lovely view of the same skyline, Marina and JBR.
The above schedule is packed and slightly overwhelming. If you have around 8 hours, I think you can make it, but you might be on the run. However, if you don’t plan to come back to Dubai anytime soon, give it your best shot.
If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a comment. I would love to help.