9 Family-friendly things to do in Dubai

Dubai is one of the most visited cities on earth, famous for its man-made islands, huge skyscrapers and shopping malls. According to the latest Euromonitor rankings, more tourists now go to Dubai than Paris, New York or Tokyo. It is a constantly expanding destination. There are so many things to do in Dubai . New attractions are created every year and records are broken all the time. Anything seems possible. With only three days there, we had to plan our itinerary very carefully. This is what we chose to do.

9 Family-friendly things to do in Dubai

1. Explore the city with City Sightseeing Dubai

I’m a big fan of hop-on hop-off buses around the world. So naturally, the City Sightseeing Dubai bus was one of the first activities on my Dubai itinerary. It was a great way to see Dubai’s main attractions in a short period of time and the informative on-board commentary taught us several things about Dubai that we didn’t know. We drove through the old and new parts of Dubai and saw most of Dubai’s most iconic symbols, like the Burj-Al-Arab, The Palm, the Dubai Creek, Jumeirah Mosque and more. Book tickets here.

City Sightseeing Bus Dubai

City Sightseeing Bus Dubai

2. Get on top of the world at the Burj Khalifa

According to Tripadvisor, the top 3 attractions in Dubai are the Dubai Fountains (at the Burj Khalifa), the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa itself. All of them are linked to each other. Having done the first two, it was time to see the views from the tallest building in the world. We shot up 125 floors in 1 minute in one of the fastest elevators in the world and spent over an hour savouring the views from the top. The panoramic city skyline views extend to the deserts and the ocean.  At the top, you can take drool-worthy Instagram selfies to brag with, or buy refreshments and souvenirs. This is definitely one for the bucket list.

3. Enjoy a delicious dinner while cruising


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One of my most memorable experiences from my first visit to Dubai, back in 2006, was a dinner cruise. When I returned to Dubai with my children, I wanted them to experience it too. JA Bateaux is a highly rated dinner cruise offering fine dining on a luxury glass-walled boat. We had a five-star dinner cruise experience where we sailed on the Dubai Creek and got to see old Dubai by night. The food was delicious, the service was impeccable and there was live entertainment on board. This is a must do in Dubai.

4. Have water fun @ Aquaventure in Atlantis The Palm

Atlantis The Palm is one of the most recognisable symbols of Dubai. It is situated on the furthest tip of The Palm, a man-made palm-shaped island. The magnificent palm tree-lined resort spans 46 hectares. It is also home to the Aquaventure Waterpark, which has won the award for the Middle East's Leading Waterpark in the World Travel Awards, several times. We spent many fun-filled hours at Aquaventure and ended our day there with a delicious late lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. Book your tickets here.

Atlantis The Palm

Tower of Neptune

5. Learn about the history of Dubai at the Dubai Museum

Although we visited the Dubai Museum with the City Sightseeing Bus, it is a must-see attraction even if you are not travelling with the bus. The museum was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. Housed in the Al Fahidi Fort which is near the Al-Fahidi Souk, it has some fascinating exhibits of life in Dubai before the oil boom. Book your tours here.

Dubai in one day - Dubai Museum

Dubai Museum

6. Feel enchanted at the Dubai Miracle Garden

The Dubai Miracle Garden is the world's largest natural flower garden and one of the most Instagram-worthy too. I had seen umpteen pictures of the beautiful landscaped garden on social media over the past few years and it had been on my Dubai bucket list for ages. The popular garden consists of floral sculptures and installation of all shapes and sizes, including a life-size Emirates A380 airbus. It is only open during Dubai’s cooler months, between November and April. What makes this garden most unusual though is that it was built on desert land. My daughter and I walked around admiring the blooms while my husband and son sipped karak chai at a shaded outdoor café. Book your tickets here.

Dubai in one day Miracle Gardens

Miracle Gardens

7. Be mesmerised at La Perle

La Perle is a permanent live show which takes place in a state-of-the-art 1300 seat aqua-theatre. Launched in September 2017, it was created by Franco Dragone who is known for his work with Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion. In less than six months, the show was ranked as Dubai’s number one show on TripAdvisor. We first heard about the show on a BBC documentary before we went to Dubai and it was promptly added to our itinerary. We watched mesmerised as talented artists, death-defying stunts and amazing special effects combined to transport us to a magical world. Book your tickets here.

Things to do in Dubai

La Perle

8. Experience the world's largest mall - the Dubai Mall & marvel at the Dubai Fountains

Dubai is known for its shopping but I am no mall rat. However, I had to visit Dubai Mall - not to shop - but to experience some of its more unique attractions. Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area. It contains one of the largest suspended indoor aquariums in the world, and an indoor waterfall adorned with silver sculptures of divers. Between the mall and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, are the Dubai Fountains, the world's largest choreographed fountains, which attract hundreds of visitors every evening.

9. Get your adrenalin pumping on a Desert Safari

A desert safari is a must-do when in the UAE. Although, we did ours from Abu Dhabi on this trip, a Dubai desert safari is pretty similar. It typically combines dune-bashing in the desert, with desert activities like sand-boarding and quad-biking, followed by a Bedouin-style dinner in a desert camp with live entertainment. It certainly was one of the highlights of our trip. Book your desert safari here.

Things to do in Dubai

Desert Safari

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The best things to do in Dubai

See here for the best things to do in Dubai in summer .

Where to eat in Dubai

PF Changs - for their authentic Asian cuisine
Shake Shack – for their delicious burgers
Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen - because Gordon Ramsay is a legendary chef

Where to stay in Dubai

The Westin Dubai – Al Habtoor City , a great family-friendly hotel
W Dubai – an ultra-cool hotel for young people

Or book here.

Click here for how to apply for a UAE visa online .

Click here for things to do in Abu Dhabi.

Click here for cheap flights to Dubai.

Download the app guide here.

Have you been there? What are your favourite things to do in Dubai ?

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