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Dubai Layover

| January 1, 2015

Stuck on a Dubai layover in the United Arab Emirates? Dubai is the fastest-growing transit hub in the world, and has one of the nicest airports. The Dubai International Airport is located roughly 3 miles outside Dubai, which makes the city a very accessible destination for those stuck on long layovers. If you’re trying to determine whether you can leave the airport during your Dubai layover, click here for useful tips.

Dubai layoverThe Dubai airport is lined with palm trees and offers upscale shopping and restaurants. The Dubai International Airport also has many services including a Women’s Lounge & Children’s Play Area located between gates 12 and 14, internet kiosks near Gate 9 and Gate 23, a medical center on the ground level of the Concourse, post office near Gate 18 (open 24 hours), four prayer rooms in Arrivals and the main Concourse, and banking and currency exchange located near Gates 8, 18 and 22. There are also complimentary shower facilities on the departures level of Terminal 1 (between gates C18 & C22) and Terminal 3 (between gates B13 & B19 and gates A1 & A24). You can also find the Dubai airport’s Zen Gardens, an indoor garden that offers peace and tranquility, located near gates B7 and B27.

There are also many lounges to keep you occupied during your Dubai layover. There’s an International First Class Lounge between Gates 114 and 112, a Business Class Lounge beside Gate 108, and lounges for the following airlines: Air France, Gulf Air, Emirates, British Airways, KLM and Star Alliance between Gates 21 and 26. In addition there are two Quiet Lounges in the Sheikh Rashid Terminal near Gates 9 and 23 free of charge.

For the tired traveler, inside the hotel is the five-star, Dubai International Airport Hotel. You can pay by the hour (starting at $40) or the entire night (from $200) and offers a health club, business center, 24 hour laundry and room service. You are also, for a fee, able to take a dip in the swimming pool, and access a fully equipped gym, jacuzzi, sauna and shower facilities, without booking a room. For additional Dubai hotels of varying price points, click here and for hotels specifically near the airport, click here.

And if you’re looking to catch a quick snooze in the airport during your Dubai layover, check out the Snoozecubes, where you can sleep in a bed, before catching your connecting flight. Snoozecubes are located next to gate C22 in Terminal 1, and there are 10 Snooze Cubes available to rent by the hour.

If you’re planning on seeing some sights during your Dubai layover, keep in mind that Dubai has some strict laws. The slightest amount of any illegal substance can land you in jail for many years, even life. In addition, don’t walk in front of somebody when they are praying, don’t drink alcohol in the street or in any public place (alcohol is only allowed in hotels or private clubs), avoid passionate displays of affection in public, and women should not dress suggestively to avoid any hassle.

Immigration can be long, as well as taxi lines. Give yourself plenty of time for delays. Depending on what city you’re coming from, you may also need to get a visa, and pay permissions to enter the country. (You can check out Visa Requirements in the widget on the right hand column of this page.)

Stuck on an overnight layover in Dubai? Click here for things to do in Dubai at night!

There are a number of transportation options if you plan to leave the airport and travel into Dubai. There are official taxi ranks at each terminal, with taxis available 24/7. There’s an AED20 taxi charge from the airport, and a ride to the more distant areas of the city, such as Dubai Marina, would be around AED100.  Trains run every 10 minutes from Terminals 1 and 3, starting at 5:50am and stopping at midnight (with no service Friday mornings). In addition, buses leave from stations opposite Terminal 1, 2 and 3. For routes and times visit the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). You can also book a private transfer.

Layover Guide’s Suggestions Of Things To Do On A Dubai Layover:

Dubai layover stopover

Dubai Tours

There are an endless amount of activities and tours available in Dubai during your layover. You can book anything from hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours, to camel safaris and shopping excursions. To find and book Dubai tours, click here!

Dubai layovers stopover

Big Bus Tours

Tickets for Big Bus Tours are valid for 24 hours and you can hop on and off whenever you’d like. One ticket covers both routes, which includes the Red Route (Dubai Creek, Al Fahidi Fort & Dubai Museum, the Souks (bazaars) and a few shopping malls) and The Blue Route (5-star hotels & the fanciest shopping malls.) Both tours offer live commentary or a choice of eight digitally recorded languages.

Night Dubai Layover

Old Souqs

Although many people head straight to the modern mall, check out the Old Souqs along the creek in the older part of town that is what made Dubai the trading capital it is. On the Deira side of the Creek, don’t miss the Gold Souq which has over 300 outlets including all the gold jewelry you can imagine seeing as well as drain covers with diamonds on them. Also on this side is the Spice Souq which has spices from all over the Middle East. On the other side, check out the Bur Dubai Souq with textile and souvenir shops.

The Dubai Mall

Shopping & Skiing

The Mall of the Emirates is a shoppers’ paradise, and for those who prefer to hit the slopes, the mall features the first indoor ski slope in the Middle East. For $40 per person you can get a lift ticket good for 2 hours, ski rentals, ski pants and jackets and even socks (gloves and hats are not provided). You can ski, snowboard and toboggan here, down the over 1300 foot slope. The mall is open 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm.

Dubai layover stopover

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab looks like a giant sail and claims to be “The Best Hotel in the World” with a rating of 7 stars. It is the world’s tallest dedicated hotel, with all the rooms hosting incredible views. The inside of the hotel has a dancing fountain, two massive fish-tank walls, and a soaring atrium. To visit the Burj Al Arab during your Dubai layover, you need to be staying there, or have advance reservations to eat at one of the restaurants or to have a drink at one of the bars (tip – the most budget friendly option is to book afternoon tea). Photos are only allowed in the lobby area.

Dubai tour layover stopover

Desert Safari & Camel Racing

If you have a lengthy layover in Dubai, you might want to check out the camel racing and desert safaris offered outside Abu Dhabi city. Camel races are usually held early on Fridays or on national holidays. Safaris are half a day, and offer overnight options to stay in a Bedouin tent. Wadi-Driving explores the wadis or dry beds of streams that flow from the Hajar mountains. Dune driving allows you to try your hand at sand driving, with four-wheel-drive vehicles provided, and an expert guide. Or, try Sand-Skiing down the dunes of the Dubai desert. You can also sign on for a Desert Feasts which follow the safari with evening with an Arab barbecue under the stars.

Have a suggestion for a Dubai Layover? Leave a comment below!

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Category: Featured, Layover Guides, Middle East, things to do, visa

Comments (21)

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  1. Mary Liepold says:

    Wondering if anyone has been on the Emirates flight to Johannesburg that has a 20 hours layover. I would like to leave the airport and go golfing between flights. Any golf or other advice?

  2. Ellesar says:

    Those fist 2 comments are obviously from ‘industry’. Nothing in this article makes me want to stop in Dubai at all, so I will have to book flights that make it as short a wait as possible!

  3. JES says:

    I can’t wait to have a long layover in Dubai! To go see the Old Souks and market! I’m intentionally working a 20 hour layover into my plans for Thailand so I can visit this exotic place! And, for the record, I’m not from “industry!”

  4. Angela Lea says:

    I just love the dune bashing in Dubai. Desert Safari always remained favorite. Me and my husband love visiting their. I think its fun for kids also.
    I am just dying for my this trip to Dubai

  5. Moni says:

    Hey, have a 14 hr layover in Abu Dhabi (07.15 – 22.00) as flying with Etihad. Has been suggested that I go across to Dubai on the shuttle that’s provided… Am travelling with my two young teen.girls. Any suggestions on where to stay to just freshen up n then see some of Dubai?

  6. I really enjoyed reading this! I had a similar experience with a 14hr layover which gave me a good chance to see Dubai for the first time! It was better than I expected.
    Greetings from Athens!

  7. Dave says:

    Have a 8 hour lay over in Dubai. Is there enough time to do any sight seeing or resturants to go to. We get in 7:30 pm

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  9. ADA says:

    We have now the best desert safari in Dubai. This is one experience you can not miss when in Dubai. Select the 3 options we offer! Our desert safari dubai drivers are common professional and have a passion for giving you a fascinating ride. So all you need to do is mail us and we will take care of the remainder.

  10. Andrew says:

    Hi guys,I have a 14 hour layover in Dubai. Any suggestions as it’s my first time there and please bear in mind that I must not miss my flight,so I must not wounded off too far from the airport.
    Thanks in advance.

  11. Rowan says:

    Hi! My family and I have a 10-hours layover in Dubai, going to Venice. We’re not planning to leave the airport for sight-seeing (we’ve already been to Dubai a couple of times). I just want to know if we’re still required to get visa (we’re coming from the Philippines) for the layover?

  12. sissi says:

    hey guys!! having a 12 hour stopover in dubai…. the 21 st of JUNE, which is the beginning of ramadan. what will be restricted , do tourist attractions work normal hours? we want to get prepared and not get disappointed for arriving places and finding them shut down.. as we are in town from 7am to 5pm . thanks for your help

  13. Parvez Ahmed says:

    Good evening please inform me that next week dubai have 21.00hrs layover in dubai airport , my destination Dhaka , Bangladesh. So can I permission to visit sightseeing in dubai city ? What can I do ?

  14. Pamela says:

    I have a 10 hour layover in Dubai on the way from Australia to France. I am tempted to get out of the airport and see a bit of the city and the old souks as I have not been to Dubai before. Is 10 hours long enough to achieve anything or will most of my time be spent in queue to get a taxi / bus and at security / customs when I come back to the airport?

  15. Noor says:

    Hi.. i hav 3 hours layover in dubai. How can i trasit .. my first time in dubaii. Plz tell me if any one know.. tanks

  16. Maddie says:


    I will likely have a 22 hr layover in Dubai in August from 5am to 3am the next day, and am looking to do something exciting or see some sights. However, I’m a young girl travelling by myself, is there anything I should do to stay safe, any areas to avoid, or just general tips to ease my mom’s worries? Thanks!

  17. Adil says:

    Hi All,

    I have layover in Dubai from 7pm to 3pm next day, likely 20hrs to kill somehow. Any suggestions? Do we need transit visa to go out? how expensive is it to see around and eat?


  18. anita roets says:

    I have a three hour lay over from a flight from south africa to london do i need a visa as i am not planning to leave airport…