A stopover overview
With time, Dubai International Airport has grown into the world’s busiest and fastest growing airport. The airport itself, no doubt, is a sight to behold, but those with a layover in Dubai of over 4-5 hours should likely consider checking in their luggage and exploring the attention-grabbing city centre.
With plenty of sights ready to be explored independently – guided tours organised by Emirates and cosmos Holidays – a prolonged, possibly monotonous Dubai layover will transform into something fun as you marvel at the ultra-modern gulf city. Most of the major attractions are located within the same region, making it easier for you to reach the city centre in little time via public or private transport.
At the airport
- Special features
Including the luxe new Emirates Terminal 3, the airport is divided into three terminals. It is usually a quick trip across the terminal to your next flight since an underground train carefully connects the Emirates A380 hub to other gates. The place is home to three main Timeless Spas where you can pass the time with a relaxing massage and manicure.
In case you’re a Muslim, you can seek a spiritual escape at any of the dedicated prayer rooms spread throughout the airport. Other passengers can settle into meditation in one of the two indoor Zen gardens by gates B7 and B27.
- Luggage storage
Depending on the size of your luggage, terminals 1 and 3 offer luggage storage facilities for 20-25 AED – for up to 12 hours and it is open 24/7.
You can easily skip the hassle of lugging your bags at the airport, if you’re flying via Emirates, opting to have them delivered anywhere in the UAE. The delivery arrangement is easy at the arrivals hall of Terminal 3, costing up to 250 AED for a maximum of four bags.
There are a total of 80 diners at the Dubai Airport, ranging from gourmet sit-down restaurants to fast food eateries. You can never go wrong with the Belgian ‘sweet chain’ in order to satisfy the sugar cravings. Boulangerie Le Pain Quotidien is famous for serving organic French fare to go into Terminal 3 departure A Gates.
If you’re in the mood for something speedy and upscale, try Terminal 3’s Caviar House & Prunier’s Seafood Bar or the Moët & Chandon Champagne Bar Le Lounge in Terminal 3 Gate A.
The UK favourite Giraffe is situated near gates A and B – a bistro with everything from fast food sandwiches to BBQ rack ribs. For the taste of Southern, Comfort Jack Daniel’s special diner is on tap, situated in Terminal 3, A Gates.
The Emirates Terminal 3 duty free is open to any foreign brand shop you can think of, and the best part is that it is open 24/7. Passengers can shop from a wide selection of designer sunglasses, timepieces and top-name luggage from brands like Rolex and Breitling.
For wine lovers, the extensive collection of vintage, fine wines, and New World is available at the Le Clos shop in Terminal 3.
If you have half/whole day
- Transport to the city centre
With just two lines running throughout the entire city, Dubai’s metro system is one of the most convenient transport realms to make use of. Passengers can hop on the red line from Terminals 1 and 3, running every 10 minutes starting from 5:50 am in the morning (5:30 am on Thursdays) until midnight (or 1 am on Thursdays and Fridays). The fares differ depending on the distance and number of transfers, usually ranging from 1.80 AED to 5.80 AED.
The major stops include grand tourist destinations like the Burj Khalifa or Dubai Mall and the grand downtown of Dubai Marina. From Khalid Bin Al Waleed or the Union Square, travellers can connect over to the green line, which usually stops in Deira near the Dubai Creek.
Dubai’s streamlined transportation system comes as a blessing to passengers since they can catch a bus headed straight to main city centre from the metro. Buses depart every 30 minutes from all three main airport terminals, heading to Deira (Bus 401). Fares are 3 AED depending on the distance.
On the other hand, for the hitch-hiking souls, taxi stands are at each terminal, fares starting around 20 AED. A typical ride from the airport to Dubai Marina costs around 100 AED. There is an option for female travellers to hail a woman-only taxi by booking one of the pink cabs.
- Touring Burj Khalifa
If we have to name one tourist attraction worth seeing in Dubai, it would be the Burj Khalifa, standing 2716.5 feet above, considered to be the tallest building in the world (at the moment). The towers holds up to 160 stories, however, visitors can only go up to the observation deck, right at the Top, which is known as the highest observation deck in the world occupying the 124th and 158th floors with 360 degree views of the city. Those short on time can purchase a quick ticket so they don’t have to wait in regular long lines. Once you reach the observation deck, feel free to spend some time around absorbing the mesmerizing sights.
- The Dubai Fountain
The world’s largest choreographed fountain is situated right within the shadow of the world’s tallest building. Better described as the spectacle, these fountains shoot water up to 125 metres in the air, with a sombre music show accompanying the movement of the water throughout the day and night. Along the board walk, unsurprisingly, the fountains are clearly visible from any point that lines the perimeter of the historical yet manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, making this place a perfect spot for a nice in-transit stroll.
Time Required: The visit to the fountains can last from five minutes onwards – mainly depending on your preferences and timeframe. The actual water, light and sound show plays in 5minute intervals during specific periods of the day. The trip can be easily coupled with a tour of the top section of the towering Burj Khalifa. It is important to note that this does include the time taken to travel from and to the airport.
All in all
In order to travel around comfortably to the major, nearest attractions and to reach the airport back in time for the next flight, it is advisable to have a layover time of at least 8 hours; It is also advised to keep the city’s crazy traffic in mind.
Travellers with a true wandering soul, however, make the best of every opportunity to explore. And this is one of the main reasons why many of them plan their prolonged stop overs in a way that they get to enjoy a new city during their journey. Dubai makes for such a perfect opportunity, therefore, whenever you fly next time, a tour to Asia from the US for example, make sure to give yourself enough hours to take a thorough tour of the gulf city on your way to the world!