The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has achieved a lot of fame and popularity as a world-class travel destination. Dubai’s strategic position in the Middle East also makes it a popular layover destination for several inter-continental flights that ply between North America, South America, Africa, and Europe and flies to Asia and the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand. Dubai’s International Airport is the preferred choice for several travellers to opt for a layover and stopover before continuing their journeys.
This is a city that sparkles with stylish skyscrapers, plush luxurious malls housing some of the world’s biggest and niche brands, Michelin-stars rated restaurants, indoor attractions and plenty of unique experiences like Dune Basing in 4×4 SUVs in Dubai’s desert, Hot Air Balloon ride over Dubai’s Hajar Mountains, sailing in a Dhow Boat or a stylish Catamaran cruise in the Dubai Creek and the Arabian Gulf, and have a memorable experience of stargazing in Dubai’s desert with food, folklore, and traditional music.
In case you are travelling across the continent and planning to break your long-haul flight journey in Dubai with a 24-hour layover, we present a 24-hour itinerary recommendation that will give you plenty of opportunities to explore the best of Dubai holidays within a very short span of time.
24-hours in Dubai: Itinerary and Recommended Activities
1. Dubai Desert Safari
Start the day early, get fresh, book a cab, and make your way to Dubai’s desert. The famed ochre-coloured sand dunes of the Dubai Desert are highly photographic and offer plenty of activities like Dune Bashing in a 4×4 wheel Drive Sports Utility Vehicle that drives aggressively over the sand dunes with rapid climbing and driving down the tall heaps of sand dunes. If it’s too much to bear, we recommend a camel safari with falconry experience.
Take a camel ride and learn how these majestic creatures transported goods and people across the desert before the advent of vehicles and learn about the country’s national passion for falconry. Another highly recommended activity is a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Dubai if you can start your day early at 4 AM. Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over Dubai’s Margham Desert and the Hajar Mountains and admire the sunrise and check out the various wildlife of camels, oryx, gazelles, and much more.
2. Explore the Souks of Bur Dubai
Return back to the city and visit the Bur Dubai area of the city. This historic area is known for its long maritime trade, traditional souks (markets) selling carpets, leather goods, gold, silver, diamond ornaments, perfumes, spices and herbs, electronics, handicrafts, and colourful fabrics. Bur Dubai is a historic district in Dubai that lies on the western side of Dubai Creek. Check out the Al Bastakiya, a historic area and the Al Fahidi Fort which now houses the Dubai Museum and showcases the city’s old courtyard-style house, wind towers that act as natural air conditioners, and the erstwhile family house of the rulers of Dubai.
We recommend that you enjoy breakfast in a restaurant in Bur Dubai before exploring the Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Perfume Souk, and Textile Souk. It is also recommended to take an Abra ride in Dubai Creek (Abra is a traditional wooden boat with a motor). Admire the city’s futuristic and modern skyline and the old, historic neighbourhood on each end of Dubai Creek.
3. Check out the Miracle Garden or the Museum of the Future
Following breakfast and exploring the colourful and fragrant souks of Bur Dubai, if you are still in the mood for some outdoor exploration, we recommend a visit to Dubai Miracle Garden. However, if you are not interested in being outdoors, we recommend that you check out the stylish and futuristic Museum of the Future.
The Dubai Miracle Garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden with over 50 million flowers and over 250 million plants in a huge area. Check out the kaleidoscope of colourful flowers and flower decorations including heart-shaped floral passages and umbrella tunnels, the world’s largest floral statue of the Emirates A380 plane, floral villas, castles, a giant teddy bear, flower parade, Disney characters in a floral makeover, cars, trains, pyramids, and plenty of Instagram-worthy spots, plenty of food stalls, and ample kids-friendly activities.
The Museum of the Future is the latest entrant to Dubai’s ever-growing list of world-class attractions. The Museum of the Future (MOTF) was launched on 22nd February and explores how society could evolve in the coming decades by using science and technology. The architecture is unique, designed in steel and glass structure with Arabic calligraphy on the exterior. Check out the Atrium covered in white light and see the calligraphic panels, check out ‘The Vault of Life’ in the DNA Library, Tomorrow Today, Future Heroes, OSS Hope, and Al Waha. Learn about futuristic technologies, new ideas, and the confluence of technology and ideas.
4. Visit Dubai Mall for lunch, entertainment, and shopping
Following your exploration of Dubai Miracle Garden or The Museum of the Future, we recommend that you visit the Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest malls. Dubai Mall is home to several amazing restaurants like Peppermill, Nando’s, Texas Road House, Social House, Gia, Carluccio’s, and Chili’s. some of the restaurants also offer sprawling views of the Dubai Fountain and the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscrapers in the world. Following a hearty lunch, we recommend that you indulge in some retail therapy as the Dubai Mall is home to several renowned luxury, fashion, and electronics brands.
In case you are travelling with kids, check out the Dubai Aquarium Underwater Zoo is located inside the Dubai Mall and is a highly popular kids-friendly attraction in the city. This gigantic Aquarium is home to thousands of aquatic animals with over 140 species of marine life inside a glass aquatic tank with over 10 million litres of water. Here, kids will see marine species like Sand Tiger Sharks, Giant Groupers, Sting Rays, etc. For some entertainment, we recommend catching the famed Dubai Fountain Show or catching a movie in the THX-certified Reel Cinemas or catching an opera show at the Dubai Opera
5. At The Top Observation Deck and Dinner
Following your shopping and entertainment in Dubai Mall, we recommend that you visit the At The Top Observation Deck in Burj Khalifa which lies adjacent to Dubai Mall. The observation deck offers stunning views of the city and looks even more stunning during the night with evening lights on. We also recommend that you enjoy a dinner at the iconic Armani/Ristorante, a classy Michelin-star restaurant that is present inside the Armani Hotel inside the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
This authentic Italian establishment is the ultimate restaurant in Dubai to enjoy a glamorous dining experience in Dubai. The restaurant is elegant and opulent with high ceilings, plush furnishings, marble flooring and a central glass-fronted kitchen where guests can watch the chefs doing magic. The food served here is modern Italian cooking with the best quality ingredients and incredible presentation keeping colour, flavour, and textures.