Dubai skyline view

A stopover doesn’t have to be a dull affair, especially if your stopover is in Dubai, the luxurious UAE metropolis. If you are going to be stopping over in Dubai on your way to somewhere else, you will find a fascinating city with endless things to see and do. In this guide, we highlight some of the best things to enjoy on a Dubai stopover, helping you to keep busy for a short period of time. So, whether you are in Dubai for a day or more, consider some of the below suggestions before you jet off again.


Visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world


Burj Khalifa in Dubai


If you are looking at an Emirates stopover in Dubai, a visit to the Burj Khalifa is a must. This is the tallest building in the world and, as you can imagine, dominates the Dubai skyline. Dubai is a city of skyscrapers but the Burj Khalifa dwarfs them all, at 830 metres tall.


Holidays in Dubai and a trip to Burj Khalifa go hand-in-hand and it’s an easy thing to enjoy during a stopover too. You can visit the observation deck on the 148th floor, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, take a tour of the building and learn about its history and design, and visit the Burj Khalifa SKY lounge, which is located on the 125th and 148th floors of the building. You can even dine at one of the restaurants located in the building, such as At.mosphere, located on the 122nd floor, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal during your Dubai stopover.


Dubai Travel Planner, a travel blog focused on the city of Dubai, shares some insight into the best time to visit Burj Khalifa if you fancy seeing the tower for yourself: “Whilst sunrise and sunset are obviously the most popular for the gorgeous golden hour light they throw over the city, mornings particularly can be interrupted by fog and other atmospheric conditions at certain times of the year.


“As you might expect, sunset can reward visitors with beautiful pink and orange hues and the chance to see the city in detail both day and night. Staying until after 6.30 PM you can capture the spectacular nightly fountain sound and light show from above.”

ALSO READ: What you need to know about Dubai holidays


Visit the Dubai Mall and see the Dubai Fountain show


The Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain Show are both connected with the goliath Burj Khalifa, but they deserve their own spot on this list. After you’ve climbed the heights of the tower, head into the Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the world, offering a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Visitors can find luxury brands, high-street fashion, and local boutiques, as well as an ice rink, an indoor theme park, and an aquarium.


Ellie, from the travel blog, The Wandering Quinn, says the Dubai Mall is an example of how crazy this city is: “Right next to the Burj Khalifa is Dubai Mall and this being Dubai means it’s no ordinary mall… oh no, this mall has a waterfall in it, high street shops, high-end designer shops and so many food outlets. There’s even an Angelina cafe with outside seating so you can eat your macaroons and pretend you’re in Paris while in the Dubai Mall!”


Outside the mall, you will find the beautiful Dubai Fountain show, a spectacular water, light, and music show that takes place at the base of the Burj Khalifa. It features a series of fountains that shoot water up to 150 meters (500 feet) in the air, synchronized to a variety of music, including classical, Arabic, and popular songs. The fountains are illuminated with colourful lights, creating a mesmerizing display.


There are several viewpoints for the show but Sarah, from the travel blog CosmopoliClan, says the Boardwalk is her favourite: “We love the Boardwalk experience! You get front-row seats, plenty of space to move around, and a refreshing spray of water now and then. It’s just mesmerizing! We were last there on a Friday evening and while the Waterfront Promenade was packed, we felt like we had the Dubai fountain all to ourselves.”


Explore the historic district of Bastakiya


Historic district of Bastakiya in Dubai


Dubai isn’t all skyscrapers and modernity. Bastakiya, also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, is a historic district located in the heart of Dubai. This charming area offers visitors a glimpse into the city’s past, with its traditional wind tower houses, narrow winding streets, and beautiful courtyard houses.


The district was originally built in the late 1800s as a residential area for wealthy merchants, and today it is a protected heritage site. Visitors can explore the area on foot and discover the history and architecture of the houses, many of which have been restored and converted into art galleries, museums, and cafes.


With a historic fort, museums, and art galleries, Bastakiya has a lot to offer on a Dubai stopover. The district also boasts a number of traditional cafes and restaurants serving Middle Eastern cuisine, making it a great place to experience the local culture and traditional atmosphere of Dubai.


Alyson, from the travel blog, World Travel Family, has been to Dubai’s Bastakiya district and has shared her thoughts: “It’s a lovely area to explore, with cool and shady courtyards, interesting plants and plenty of photo opportunities. Some of the buildings reveal their original construction, they were built from corals and shell rocks taken from the Creek. The other style buildings, less common in this area, are made from palm tree fencing as above, not bamboo as you may think. Wind towers are the stand-out architectural feature of the area, natural air conditioning, cunningly designed and surprisingly effective.


Visit the Dubai Museum


The Dubai Museum is located in the Al Fahidi Fort, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city dating back to 1787. The museum has been designed to give visitors an insight into the history, culture and traditions of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.


One of the highlights of the museum is the traditional Arabic boat display, which provides an insight into the importance of marine life in the region. Another feature of the museum is the detailed dioramas which depict the traditional life in the region including the souks, desert and a traditional house.


The museum also features a courtyard that contains traditional structures, including a barasti (palm-frond) house, a watchtower, and a fort. The courtyard also has a traditional falaj irrigation system that was used to bring water to the city.


ALSO READ: A guide to visiting Dubai during Ramadan


Visit the Palm Jumeirah


The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai


A stopover in Dubai won’t be complete without stepping foot in the iconic Palm Jumeirah. The Palm Jumeirah is a beautiful, man-made island located on the Gulf Coast of Dubai. It’s shaped like a palm tree and is home to several luxury resorts, including the Atlantis, The Palm and the Kempinski, as well as a variety of restaurants and cafes.


There are lots of ways to enjoy Palm Jumeriah during a Dubai stopover. You can visit the famous Atlantis, The Palm resort, which features a water park, aquarium, and marine animal exhibit. Relax for a bit on the white sandy beaches or swim in the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf. Or how about simply taking a stroll along the boardwalk, which offers views of the surrounding waterways and the Dubai Marina? There are also Watersports, the Palm Jumeirah Monorail, luxury boutiques, spas, and salons, and a shopping complex.


ALSO READ:A guide to Dubai’s water parks

Is Dubai worth a stopover?


Enjoying a stopover in Dubai is definitely a good idea. Whether you want to enjoy the sights from the world’s tallest building at Burj Khalifa, relax on the beach in Palm Jumeriah, or go for a shopping blitz in the gargantuan Dubai Mall, the city has so much to see and do and plenty to keep you entertained no matter how long you are in town for.


Things to see and do during a stopover in Dubai


  • Visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
  • Visit the Dubai Mall and see the Dubai Fountain show
  • Explore the historic district of Bastakiya
  • Visit the Dubai Museum
  • Visit the Palm Jumeirah


Hopefully, this guide has given you a few ideas to choose from during a stopover in Dubai. If you want to enjoy this UAE city for a longer period of time, all-inclusive holidays to Dubai are certainly the way to go, allowing you to experience all the area has to offer.


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