Dubai

Camels on Jumeirah beach Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture: RastoS / Shutterstock

Dubai is jam-packed with big-city hustle and bustle. Skyscrapers, extravagant night life and luxury shopping. 

We asked a few Dubai locals what they think kids will love in their city. It turns out, Dubai has loads for families to do. You may need a whole week here to see it all. 

Here are the top 12 things to do in Dubai with kids. 

 


The Big Bus Tour

If you’re after a fun but super easy way to get around the city, a Big Bus Tour is top of the list. Families can pick one of three routes through Dubai’s most famous landmarks and attractions. The red tour takes you through the city, the blue tour through the Marina and the green tour goes past the beaches. The red has English-speaking guides. On the blue and green tours, you will get a pre-recorded commentary in 12 languages.

Big Bus Dubai.

Big Bus Dubai. Picture: Vladyslav Danilin / Shutterstock

Choose red to see the Dubai Mall, the City Walk, the old Souk and the Dubai museum. Choose blue to see the Mall of the Emirates, the Marina Walk, Atlantis the Palm and Al Ittihad Park. Choose green to see Jumeirah Public Beach, Burj Al Arab, the Souk and the Mall of the Emirates, home to Ski Dubai. 

With a big bus ticket you can hop on and hop off at any attraction you like. The tickets also include various museum admissions, night tours and a dhow cruise. 

 

Aquaventure

Just when we thought the Atlantis Dubai couldn’t get any better – we remembered there’s a waterpark. And it’s just about as insane as they get.

Panoramic view of Dubai from Palm Island, UAE. Picture: PureSolution / Shutterstock.

Get ready to take a plunge.

The vertical drop slide Leap of Faith sees daredevils slide nine stories to floor. And because that just wasn’t scary enough, the slide plummets through an enclosure of sharks and rays. You can also try your luck on the ultimate Zoomerango, or on the Slitherine.

View of the Aquaventure waterpark of Atlantis Hotel Dubai. Picture: Victor Maschek / Shutterstock.

And there’s no need to worry if waterslides aren’t your cup of tea. Aquaventure has over 700 metres of pristine private beach. Splashers Play Area is the perfect place for little madcaps, filled with mini slides, climbing frames and plenty of other water games and activities. There’s also a gentle wave pool and lazy river for those who would rather chill out. Mum, we’re looking at you.

 

Wild Wadi Waterpark

For those who can’t get enough of the waterpark madness, Wild Wadi is a similar but smaller – and slightly more relaxed – waterpark in Jumeirah. It’s the perfect place to escape the Dubai heat, this water extravaganza home to 17 water slides and three pools.

The waterpark has over 100 kids rides, including inflatable raft slides and water rollercoasters. Splash in the man made beach and enjoy spectacular views of the Burj Al Arab. At Wild Wadi, you can try stand up or lie down surfing at the Wipeout Flowrider, currently one of few indoor surf experiences in the world.

Visitor enjoys a surf on the flowerier. Picture: Tappasan Phurisamrit / Shutterstock.

You can also chill out at Juha’s Dhow, a whopping 360 metres of lazy river for those after something more relaxed. Face the rapids at Flood River, or head to Dubai’s highest ride. Jumeirah Sceirah is a 33-metre vertical drop beginning in a launch chamber with a trap door fall.

 

Ski Dubai

At Ski Dubai, there’s always snow much to do.

Ski Dubai inside the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, UAE. Picture: outcast85 / Shutterstock

Transport from city chaos to winter wonderland in this replica world of European chalet style grounds and snowy pine tries. This indoor ski resort is a 22,500 metre snow paradise of jumps, slopes and chairlifts.

Ski Dubai – an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of ski area. Part of the Mall of the Emirates. Picture: S-F / Shutterstock.

Situated in Dubai’s Mall of Emirates, the ski area has fully functioning chairlifts and is set to a permanent -1 degree. Ski and snowboard instructors and slopes cater for all ages and abilities, so anyone can have a go. For little ski devils there are plenty of jumps, and beginners can enjoy multiple snow plow areas.

Picture: S-F / Shutterstock.

There’s also an ice train maze, a donut spin ride, snow bumpers and wall climbing. Join in the fun with bobsledding, tubing, tobogganing and even zorbing. There is also a penguin march at Ski Dubai every single day.

 

IFly Dubai

It’s 2019 and apparently, human flight is a reality. Dubai’s ultimate indoor skydiving experience IFly Dubai hovers you four metres in the air of a vertical glass tunnel.

Picture: ViktorKozlov / Shutterstock.

Indoor skydiving is said to be similar to bungee jumping, skydiving and base jumping. Instructors are there to guide you during the process, but it shouldn’t take you long to get the gist. The trick is to be gentle with your manoeuvres, as any movement is amplified in the tunnel.

The unique design of IFly Dubai stands 10 metres tall and is surrounded by acrylic glass walls. IFly Dubai takes all flyers: beginners and pros.

 

Kidzania

Fast track your way into the exciting adult world in this child-sized city. With realistic uniform dress ups and guided tasks, the little ones can participate in fun activities and earn their wage.

Kidzania Dubai provides children and their parents a safe and very realistic educational environment. Picture: S-F / Shutterstock.

Kids aged 4 to 16 can learn all about jobs, money and the real world in this 7,000m2 scaled replica of a city. The mini world has over 40 role play activities to choose from.

Picture: S-F / Shutterstock.

At Kidzania Dubai there’s a kid-sized hospital, bank and radio station, as well as a mini dental clinic and hospital.  Star FM Radio Station produce radio shows and report news bulletins that play on the airwaves throughout the city for everyone to hear. Little ones can join in the fun and become a radio host. There’s also options to build a house on a construction site, do the weekly shopping or become a cashier at the supermarket. You can even ride safely home on the public bus. Become a dentists or healthcare practitioner, learn to bake at the Tiffany Cookie Station, or even get your driver’s license at the Emirates Driving Institute.

 

The Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure and building in the world. Also known as The Vertical City, the magnificent building stands at 828 metres tall. And you can visit the top.

The Vertical City. Picture: Kirill Neiezhmakov / Shutterstock.

Conquer the 160 storeys to the Sky Lounge by elevator. Feel as if you’re flying across global landmarks with the specially designed projections inside. And when you reach the top, the projections become a reality.

Spectacular 360 degree views of the magical city of Dubai can be seen from the top. You can enjoy a meal, or just sit back and take in the view.

Packages begin at $38/child and $51/adult for a sunrise breakfast.

 

Arabian Adventures: Sandboarding

It’s time to attempt the ultimate Arabian survival challenge: sandboarding. Just like snowboarding – but on sand – this desert adventure activity is a 30 minute drive from the city. Feel the wind in your hair as you fly down the slopes; starting as a beginner and finishing as an absolute pro.

Picture: Getyourguide.com

Fly over sand dunes and hurtle down steep hills: strap in your feet and you’re set to go. For the less daring, sitting and lying on your board are still great fun.

Picture: Getyourguide.com

Sandboarding takes place in the morning, so there’s always a spectacular view as the sun rises across the rolling dunes. Packages also include camel strolls and 4-wheel-drive bashes through the Arabian desert.


Visit Old Dubai

Dubai is known for its modern architecture, skyscrapers and activity. But the prosperous city that we see today didn’t come from nowhere. The historic district known as Old Dubai is located on the Western side of the Dubai Creek and is covered in winding walkways, classical buildings and traditional eateries.

Old Town Dubai. Picture: Laborant / Shutterstock.

It’s worth wandering the streets of the Al Bastakiya Quarter and admiring the traditional buildings of Dubai. You can also visit the XVA Gallery for some contemporary Middle Eastern art, or stop for lunch in a traditional Arabic Tea house.

Kid plays in Old Dubai. Picture: Mustafa Ahmed Jindi / Shutterstock.

Old Dubai is also home to the Gold Souk; a traditional Arabian marketplace spread through covered walkways. Whether you’re trying to barter the price of gold jewellery or you’re just there to join the hustle and bustle – it’s well worth a visit. It’s also famous for the resident Guinness World Record holder, the largest gold ring in the world.

Gold store in the famous “Golden Souk” in Dubai Deira market. Picture: Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock.

Old’s Dubai’s spice marketplace the Spice Souk is still popular with the locals. Wander the lanes to find colourful spices and other souvenirs.

 

Visit a souk

Even if you don’t make it to Old Dubai, it is worth visiting a souk at some point on your trip. The traditional marketplaces are a great place to search for gold, spices, perfumes, textiles and more.

Beautiful Traditional Ramadan Light Lamp from Dubai Spice Souk. Picture: Sarath Maroli / Shutterstock

The Dubai government legally assures the quality of all jewellery pieces, so shopping in comfort is a no brainer.

Shops and vendors in the ancient covered textile souq Bur Dubai in the old city centre. Picture: TasfotoNL / Shutterstock.


Take a water taxi

Dubai’s popularity comes at a cost – it’s hard to get around. Why not escape the traffic and catch a Water Taxi? With 43 stations spread across the city, it’s one of the easiest and most popular ways to travel.

Water taxi speeds through the waterways of Dubai. Picture: Shutterstock.

And it’s more than just a mode of transport. Speeding through the heart of the city by water offers sweeping skyline views and the opportunity to see landmarks up-close.

The taxis also have reclining seats and LCD monitors, so there’s really no reason to say no.

 

Shopping at Dubai Mall

The world’s largest and most visited mall is located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa and is home to 1,200 retail stores, two anchor department stores and hundreds of food and beverage outlets. If shopping isn’t your thing, there is also an abundance of leisure and entertainment venues such as the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. In fact, there’s not much you can’t do.

The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area. In 2011 it was the most visited building on the planet. Picture: Gordon Bell / Shutterstock.

The 5.9 million square foot mall hosts fashion names such as Valentino, Gucci, Chanel and Ralph Lauren. 

World’s largest shopping mall, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture: S-F / Shutterstock

The world’s largest aquarium and aquatic zoo live here, complete with a 270-degree fish tank tunnel to walk through.

Tunnel under the Dubai aquarium. Picture: Ayman alakhras / Shutterstock.

The mall is also home to the indoor Dubai fountain – the most photographed spot in the mall. Stop by The Village, which features an open roof in the winter months to offer an outdoor shopping experience.

Don’t miss the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink, the mini world ‘edutainment’ concept Kidzania, and the giant indoor cinema complex.

The Dubai Fountain, the world largest choreographed fountain on Burj Khalifa Lake, performs at sunset, to the beat of the selected music. On background, skyscrapers of Old Town Island near Dubai Mall. Picture: Benny Marty / Shutterstock.