Planning your next family-friendly holiday to Dubai, this could be your next dream destination. Once you land in Dubai, you will instantly see why it is the most visited city in the UAE.
Holidaymakers flock to the city looking to catch some guaranteed sunshine, supersized hotels and malls you can spend hours in. Dubai is one of our favourite family-friendly holiday destinations, it offers something for every age and budget.
When you initially think of visiting Dubai, you may be thinking; ‘5-star hotels, expensive dinners’, how is this affordable? However, we have visited multiple times on varying budgets and can honestly say with the right planning, it can be very affordable.
In this blog post, I want to break down some of the budgeting tips to help you plan your dream family-friendly holiday to Dubai and keep it within your budget.
Currency: Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
Time difference: +4hours GMT and +3hours BST
Flight time: London to Dubai is around seven hours
British Embassy: (00 971 4 309 4444; gov.uk/government/world/united-arab-emirates), Al Seef Road, Bur Dubai.
Emergency services: Dial 999 for Police, 998 for Ambulance and 997 for Fire Department
Visa – A Full British passport holder will be given a free visa on arrival. This lasts for 30 days.
Important local laws in Dubai
Dubai has some of the lowest crime rates of any city in the world. Ranked as one of the best places for personal safety. Making Dubai a great family-friendly holiday. The main threat to tourists is unknowingly breaking the local laws.
I would highly advise looking up the laws before travelling here. However, in our experience, some of the laws can be quite relaxed in places such as hotels.
- It is legal for non-Muslims to consume alcohol in Dubai. However, drinking is allowed in a licensed venue. Typically hotels, bars or restaurants. Once outside of a legal venue, if you’re seen to be drunk or disorderly in public you could be arrested.
- The official legal alcohol limit for drivers in Dubai is zero there is no leeway at all.
- Public displays of affection are frowned upon.
- Sexual relationships or unmarried couples cohabiting is illegal in Dubai. This includes staying in hotels, however, most hotels in Dubai do not enforce an ‘only married couples’ rule even if you have different surnames on your passports, I had my maiden name on my passport for all our visits even when we have Roman (I didn’t want to pay to update it until it ran out) and we were never even once asked.
- It is an offence to use rude language or aggressive hand gestures, including when driving.
Best time to visit Dubai
The best months to visit Dubai is November to February, this is the wintertime and when the heat is cooler. However, Dubai benefits from a desert climate and is still warm all year round.
Winter averages temperatures of 23 – 26 degrees in the daytime as opposed to the summer temperatures that can hit 40 Degrees. If you are travelling to Dubai with children, the summer heat and humidity can be a bit overpowering so do bare that in mind.
Tourists and residents should dress modestly when out, no matter how hot the climate. You won’t end up doing jail time for dressing inappropriately, but you will gain some stern looks from locals. It is best to just cover up to avoid offending anyone.
In some areas such as Jumeirah and Downtown Dubai, you will see people dressed more casually. In some older areas of Dubai like the spice souk, people dress much more modestly.
The majority of the dress codes are aimed at women. Although, men are advised to cover their shoulders (no vests or nips out) and shorts that cover their knees. These rules don’t apply at the beach or your hotel pools – any swimwear is appropriate once there.
Avoid wearing –
- Dresses that are tight and fitted
- Anything see-through
- Swimsuits and bikinis unless at the beach or pool
- Tops showing your bra
- Too much cleavage
- Shorts or skirts that are too short (no cheeks please)
- Clothes not covering your midriff
- T-shirts with inappropriate slogans or jokes
A family-friendly holiday to Dubai – things to see and do in Dubai for all budgets
There are so many family-friendly attractions in Dubai it would be impossible for me to list them all. I have selected some of our favourites, a mixture of free and paid-for things to do. However, we also manage to spend lots of time playing on the beaches, around the pools and in the malls which are all free.
If you are looking to get out of the heat and let your children’s dreams come true, a visit to KidZania is a must. Mainly set up for ages 4 plus, However, there is also an under 4’s area so there is something for everyone. A giant indoor playground with realistic setups you can kill hours here.
£££ – Under 2’s are free of charge. 2-3-year-olds priced at 110 AED. Ages 4 years and over cost 195 AED.
Representing the metaphorical connection between the old and new city, Dubai Frame is the largest picture frame in the world. Standing at almost 500 feet tall and boasting a panoramic glass lift that takes you up to the glass walkway along the width.
££ – Tickets are priced at AED 50 per adult. AED 20 for children ages 3 – 12 (under 3 are free).
Located In the middle of the mall or the Emirates, you can find the world’s third-largest indoor ski slope. Boasting around 6,000 tons of real snow all year round, try skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing. You will need to bring your own hat and gloves. There is a shop on site that sells them cheaply if you forgot to pack your winter bits on your desert holiday!
£££ – package prices vary from AED 150 up to AED 490 each including different things such as lift passes, food and lessons but all options cover equipment hire and gear needed.
Dubai Spice Souk
If you are looking for a truly Arabic experience then the spice souk is a must. This is a foodie and photographer’s heaven, take a walk through the narrow lanes, meet the locals and take in all the smells and colours. The Dubai Spice Souk is located in the Al Ras area of Deira, right next to the Dubai Gold Souk.
£ – It is free to enter and a great place to practice your bargaining techniques. This experience is as expensive as you make it with your purchases.
At The Top Burj Khalifa
Visible from almost everywhere in Dubai is the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Whilst it is impressive to look at from the ground, you can also visit the top of the 160-story building. Prepare yourself for the thrill of the high-speed lift to the top, followed by the amazing moment you step onto the observation deck for panoramic views across the city and desert. They also opened another observation deck called At the top SKY which takes you up from the 124 and 125th floors of the normal deck up to the 148th floor.
£££ – Tickets to the first decks start from AED 150 and AED 359 to go to the SKY deck depending on the day and time that you want to visit.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
You haven’t been to an Aquarium like this one. showcasing sharks, fish and stingrays in the entrance alone you can wander through the underground tunnel and get up close to all the sea life. Above the aquarium is the underwater zoo with lots of aquatic animals such as penguins and otters.
£££ – Tickets vary, prices start from 179 AED (discount on the website) up to 400 AED and each offers different extras. Children over 2 pay for a full prices ticket.
This is great for the entire family; camels riding in the sunset, sandboarding the dunes, live performances whilst you tuck into an authentic BBQ and so much more, there are so many different companies that offer this. I would recommend having a little look around as they all offer similar things but for different prices and there can also be a few hidden extras (henna, sand bottles, shisha) so read some reviews first. We used Viator to book.
££ – Safari’s experiences can be done cheaply. Price depends on the company and what they included in the price.
Located at Dubai mall just below the Burj Khalifa, you’ll find the world’s largest choreographed fountain show. The most popular place to watch the Dubai Fountain Show is the Waterfront Promenade. It can get very crowded here, so arrive early for a good view. You can also hire a little boat on the water to get a front-row seat. Afternoon Shows: Saturday to Thursday: 1 PM, 1:30 PM (Extra Show at 2:00 PM)Friday: 1:30 PM, 2 PM (Extra Show at 2:30 PM)Evening Shows: Daily – Every 30 minutes from 6 PM to 11 PM
£ – This is a free experience.
The Dubai Pass
A great option for visiting a few different attractions in Dubai. They have a variety of options from the entrance to 3, 4 and 5 attractions from 624 AED to an unlimited 2-week pass for 1149 AED. This is a great option for families looking to get the most out of the Dubai family-friendly holiday attractions.
You can check out the full options here
Family-friendly places to eat in Dubai
Cheap Eats – Operation Falafel
When it comes to eating in the malls you have so many options for fast and cheap food. We came across a great place in the Dubai mall called Operation Falafel. They offer lots of different Arabic dishes but obviously, the falafels are the main attraction. We opted for the platters for 1 that included a bit of everything for around £4 each. Before we went in we also had a quick google and found a great discount code so it is worth checking before visiting.
Mid-Range – Mr Crab
This is our favourite place to eat when in Dubai, it is a seafood lovers’ paradise. Located just outside of the mall of the Emirates, there is plenty of parking or the metro is just on the corner. They offer freshly caught fish and shellfish daily at a really reasonable price. The menu is extensive but we highly recommend the crab tacos, they are literally to die for! For children, they also do fish and chips as well as a selection of pasta dishes if they aren’t too experimental.
Treat Meal – Texas De Brazil
A legendary feast including some of the best open flamed slow-roasted meats in Dubai. Each table gets a card that you keep up to tell them to keep coming with the meat. This includes sizzling beef, lamb, pork, chicken and Brazilian sausage. Just flip the card over when you are finished. They also have an amazing selection of salads and vegetables on offer. Prices are per person for all you can eat. It cost AED 156 – AED 195 depending on the day and whether it is lunch or dinner.
Family-friendly hotels in Dubai
Budget – Novotel Dubai Al Barsha
Al Barsha is one of our favourite areas in Dubai. Hotels are very reasonably priced for a 4/5 star hotel such as Novotel. You are also within walking distance to all amenities like the Mall of the Emirates and the Metro. The hotel itself boasts a great sundeck with a rooftop pool, a spa and really comfortable rooms as well as 4 different dining options if you don’t fancy going out. Families can opt for family rooms to add comfort, as well as in-room babysitting. They also have the option to add meal plans which can be great for pre-planning how much your holiday will come to.
Mid-range – JA Ocean View Hotel
The Walk is a great location for access to the beach I have picked out the JA Ocean View as it is an award-winning five-star property with lots of options for a family-friendly holiday to Dubai. The choices for accommodation, dining, entertainment and recreational activities are extensive. It is within a few seconds’ walking distance of the public beach and I have seen some great deals on this hotel for such a high-end feel.
Luxury – Atlantis the Palm
Nestled between the calm turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf and the majestic Dubai skyline. Atlantis offers the ultimate family-friendly holiday to Dubai. It is the crown of the world-famous Palm island. It is named Dubai’s best family hotel, you can instantly see why. Water parks, aquariums, kids clubs and so much more along with its luxurious rooms and multiple restaurant choices but it does come at a price.
How to get around Dubai
Transport options in Dubai are very similar to most big cities. Metro is a great option; it runs across most of the city and is cheap. Taxies are available everywhere and offer cheap metered trips, you can also set a price with them, however, the meters are reliable and low cost. Dubai also widely uses Uber and Careem. Drivers are easy to find and the price is clear before you get in.