Anytime I get the opportunity to fly Emirates airline - I always take advantage of a layover in Dubai. It is one of my favorite cities in the world and I can never pass up the opportunity to explore. Here are some tips and my itinerary from my last layover.
WHERE TO STAY. I have always loved the Old Deira area, it is cheaper and in close proximity to my favorite things in Dubai. I stayed at the Arabian Courtyard Hotel - very affordable, helpful staff and great amenities. It is about 25 minutes from the airport, opposite the Dubai Museum and a short 15-minute ride to the souks. If you want to splurge - there is an abundance of options I recommend this, this , this and this.
GETTING AROUND. Taxis are the best way to get around, the rates are fair and they run 24/7.
BEST TIME TO VISIT. Generally, any time of year as the city has an average temp of 75 F in nonsummer months. The summer month tends to be incredibly hot averaging 101 F between from June to late September so make sure to hydrate always. The heat makes visibility an issue - things get very foggy.
WHERE TO EAT. These are some of my favorite spots in the city and note if all else fails the food court and the Dubai mall has more than sixty food options. Brew cafe; Tub of Butter and Depresso coffee for your caffeine fix. Home bakery or Paper fig dessert to satisfy the sweet tooth. Meal time favorites - Aubain; Friend's avenue; Culinary Boutique; Muchachas Mexican and arrows sparrow. Head anywhere on the pier for grown up drinks.
DAY 1 - ARRIVAL, DUBAI MUSEUM, DUBAI FOUNTAIN AND AT THE TOP.
Arrived on the mid-morning flight from Lagos, customs, baggage, currency exchange took about 45 minutes. I took a cab from just outside my terminal to the hotel. As expected the room was not ready, but I was able to use the Hotel lounge waiting room to freshen up and grab a shower. I spent the next hour catching up on emails and editing pictures.
10:30 A.M. Afternoon Tea at Aldan Lounge. The hotel is several restaurants and cafes on-site, so I did not need to venture out for nourishment. I ordered tea and cakes from one of the cafes before heading out to explore the city.
11:15 A.M. Dubai Museum. Having refueled with tea (and cakes) it was time to explore, starting with the Dubai museum located across the street from the hotel. This is a great place to take in the culture and history of Dubai. I recommend this to anyone heading to these parts. The exhibition gives a great insight to the way and culture of the city.
1:30 P.M. - My room is finally ready, time to check in, get some shut eye and much-needed rest and relaxation.
5:30 P.M. - Time to head out for more sightseeing and dinner.
6:00 P.M. - Dubai fountains show at Dubai Mall. This free shows start at 6 p.m. and runs at 30 min interval until midnight. It is a spectacular show, I watched it twice.
6:40 P.M. - Very quick dinner at the food court at Dubai mall. This is not your average food court, there are over sixty food offerings. I ate at Paul's Bakery.
7:40 P.M - Head over to the "At the top" entrance located in the mall. "At the top" is the ride to the top of the world's tallest building - Burj Khalifa. The views of the city are spectacular. If you are visiting in the summer months, avoid the day tour because of fog from the heat, visibility is very low. Read more about Burj Khalifa at the top tour here.
10:00 P.M - Caught another show at the Dubai fountain and walked around the Waterfront promenade before calling it a night.
DAY 2 - THE SOUKS, DUBAI AQUARIUM, THE ATLANTIS AND THE BIG RED BUS TOUR
I was still jet-lagged from my trip the previous day so I slept in and did not start the day until 10:30. No time for a proper breakfast, I picked up muffin and tea to go from the cafe in the lobby and hurried to get on the Big Bus tour bus which has a stop in front of the Dubai Mall. You can purchase tickets on the bus or from the concierge at the hotel.
11:10 A.M. Arrived at the gold souk. This was a very quick stop for me. I have been here before and I stopped by to pick up a clasp for a necklace I got on my last visit. I recommend spending some time here - even if you don't purchase any jewelry - it is a great place to window shop and people watch. One to two hours is sufficient to explore.
12:05 P.M. Spice and Textile Souk. I spent most of my time in the spice souk. So many spices and very cheap. I purchase some rose flowers, hibiscus flowers, and Mediterranean spices before heading over to the Textile Souk for a bit of window shopping.
1:00 P.M. Back on the bus tour, there was a few place I would have loved to explore but I was running behind on my itinerary, so I cut out a few things. Specifically, with more time, I will have loved to stop by the Miracle gardens and the Pier (maybe next time).
1:45 PM. Arrived at Wafi Mall. I wanted to see this mall because of the architecture. The mall also called "the city" is styled after Ancient Egypt. I did not make my way inside the wall, just walked around it to admire the architecture which was impressive.
2:05 P.M. Back on the bus tour and off to Atlantis Dubai - we passed by the seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab (If you have got time, make a reservation to dine at one of the numerous restaurant here. Unless you make reservations for accommodations, this is the best way to get a glimpse of this lavish hotel.
3:00 P.M. Arrived at Atlantis. I hurried made my way to the entrance of the lost chambers aquarium. It was quite a spectacle. I think slightly overpriced, but still an incredible show. I was too immersed to take many photos and in too much of a hurry to fully enjoy it. I recommend planning 2 to 2.5 hours to fully get your money's worth.
4: 10 P.M. Back on the bus, arrived at Dubai mall shortly before 5 p.m. This is the largest mall in the world. There is a whole lot to see at doing, the weather was surprisingly nice so I stay outside for a little bit and people watched before heading in for shopping and nourishment.
5:45 P.M. I had been snacking all day and was not in the mood for a full meal. Instead, I headed to Laduree to pick up macaroons and for croissants and tea.
6:30 P.M.I wanted to visit the Dubai Aquarium, but I already splurged on the lost chambers aquarium. There are parts of the aquarium that can be viewed for free, so I did that instead.
7:00 P.M. Time to shop. Where to start in the world's largest mall. I stopped by Diptyque, Galeries Lafayette, and Aesops to pick up a few items to take back home for the family.
9:00 P.M Head back to the hotel to pack before heading to the airport.
10:30 P.M. Cab to the airport. Time to go home. My flight was at 2 a.m.