Dubai For Families: Too Much To Do?

Dubai camel

When my husband arrived home from work declaring that he wanted to go to Dubai, I immediately said I wasn’t sure. “It’s far too hot, and what is there for the kids to do? Besides it is far too expensive and you can’t even drink there!” was my negative reply.

Ok, ok I REALLY hadn’t done my research. Yes it is hot, it’s in the desert, but there are certain times of the year that are hotter than others. As it is so used to being hot, it is all set up for it. Massive air conditioned malls, trips at sunrise and sunset to avoid the heat of the day. Lots of water to cool you down. You can even go skiing and have a penguin encounter!

As it turns out there are endless activities for the children to enjoy. Big man reveled in taking Mummy down a dark water slide that ended up in a tunnel with sharks swimming past at Aquaadventure. We bought a combined ticket so we also visited the Lost Chambers Aquarium. Yes Dubai can be expensive but so can anywhere. It only costs a taxi ride to stroll through the huge malls. It is worth pointing out at this point that if you are viewing Dubai Mall from floor 125 of the Burj Khalifa, it doesn’t look that big. Infact you could be tempted to turn to your husband and comment how disappointed you were by the size of it as it doesn’t look much bigger than your local shopping centre. All I will advise you is that being on an observation deck on the tallest building in the world, plays with perspective. Huge skyscrapers look small. When you later get lost in Dubai Mall, you will be wishing that it is smaller, or thinking of getting one of the buggy taxis that is has to get you to an exit.

At the top the burj kalhifa

At Dubai Mall you can window shop to your hearts content, or splash out if you wish. You can watch scuba divers in the aquarium. It really is mesmerizing. Then outside are the fountains, majestically dancing to water.  All at no extra cost. As for alcohol, well you can have a drink in the hotel, but who wants to be hungover when there is so much to see and do?

Dubai aquarium from the mall

Our trip to Dubai blew away my preconceptions. It is an amazing place to visit at any age. It is full of things to do. Most of all the people are welcoming. Some of the best customer service I have ever experienced. You may not have the movie star bank balance, but you are made to feel like you are special. Although there are things you can do for free, there is no getting away from the fact that it is very expensive. I would personally recommend a hotel that is half board to help ease the cost.

When it comes to holidays, my husband doesn’t like to go back to the same place twice. The problem is that we haven’t done all that Dubai has to offer. We haven’t even done half of it! Dubai is somewhere you want to revisit, there really is too much to do!

So what would I want to do if I were to visit Dubai again?

Whilst so much of Dubai is new, I would love to see some of the history of the emirate. I would to head to Dubai Creek, to get a sense of the real Dubai, away from the 5* hotels. Although I believe the gold souks are just as bling!

As a bit of a foodie, I can imagine the smells of the spice souk. Whilst you don’t have to spend a penny (or dirham) here, the resist to barter may become too much! Then an Abra (water taxi) can take you across to the other side of the Creek for a very small fee.

Having seen Dubai fountains in the day, I would love to go back at night. With lights and lasers I believe that the show would be even more magical. You can even take a boat ride whilst the show is taking place. It would give a totally new angle to what is already an amazing show.

Dubai Fountains

When we visited previously we had a quick ride on a camel at The Beach, but at the time, little man was too small for us to take an evening trip to the dessert.  As if the rolling ochre sands aren’t beautiful enough, then imagine the exhilarating ride of a 4×4 with deflated tyres, on a roller-coaster ride of dune bashing. I would love a go at sand surfing on the dunes as well. In my head it has to be easier than catching a wave or snowboarding, but I imagine I could be proved wrong. To end the evening, I would love to take part in a camel safari and dine under the stars, after watching a glorious sunset. A truly memorable experience that dreams are made of.

And finally to make my boys happy a water park would be in order. Maybe we would return to Atlantis and combine it with a dolphin experience. Or we could  try body boarding at Wild Waldi. A swim out to the giant inflatables at The Beach would be a fun afternoon. As long as there is water there will be fun and the whole family will be happy.

the rapids at aquaadventure

So what would you do if you were to visit Dubai? Trust me one visit to Dubai is not enough, there is too much to do. The only limit it your bank balance and your time.  You will want to go back.

This is my entry to the Tots 100/Dubai Dreams Blogger challenge. However, there is a way you could win too! Travel Dubai are giving a second prize (of a trip to Dubai this summer for a family of 4) to the best comment on their chosen winning entry. So get commenting and dreaming of Dubai for your chance to win. All details about this competition can be found by clicking the link above. Check out Visit Dubai for some inspiration and have a look at my Pinterest board for more Dubai Dreams.


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Dubai for families

37 Replies to “Dubai For Families: Too Much To Do?”

  1. Nicola Morgan says: Reply

    We also had an amazing time in Dubai with a 6 and 10 year old and we stayed in Atlantis. My children are always asking when we can go back! We hired a local to give us a private tour of Dubai ( and was well worth the money, and we managed an evening safari in the desert. We didn’t see the fountains or explore the malls as we ran out of time which was disappointing. I was sceptical about taking children but they loved it! An amazing place to visit and somewhere I could go again and again.

    1. I didn’t realise you never made it to the fountains! Trying to fit everything in one trip is pretty impossible isn’t it? You want some time to relax on the beach as well. We only made it to Dubai Mall so will have to do the Emirates one if we go back. I didn’t realise you could do a penguin encounter there!

  2. We’ve been once before but not with the children. It was August and everyone asked us where we were from. When we said the UK they laughed at us and said no one from the UK goes to Dubai in August because it is too hot lol!

    Anyway we’d love to go back and hit the waterparks and take part in a dolphin experience, all my children are real waterbabies so that would go down a storm with them and my eldest is the only one who have done a dolphin encounter before.

    Good luck with your entry x
    Mummy Fever recently posted…Handy helpersMy Profile

    1. I was worried about it being too hot in February, but now wouldn’t be phased. There was a lot of shade where our pool was because of the tall buildings and it is just a matter of doing things a bit differently. Oh I would love to take the boys on a dolphin encounter.

  3. There’s so much to do – you certainly need another visit! Dubai is somewhere that makes your jaw drop everyday and kids of all ages just love it. Your trip looked fab. Good luck with winning another one!

    1. Yes, originally we weren’t going to go as we were worried that little man was too young. But with that attitude you would never go anywhere and there was plenty for him to do. I think he would be ok with the evening safari now though and that would have been fantastic.

  4. You have lots of great ideas for a trip to Dubai, and it is nice to hear the perspective of someone who has already been.
    I agree with you about the heat. Here in the UK we are so used to ‘middling’ weather than any kind of hot or cold extreme has us stuck. But we just aren’t prepared for it. In Dubai, it would be amazing to swim in the warm sea, and cool off in one of the many water parks.
    I believe you can take young children on some of the desert safari’s, and I would love to take my children to experience the culture of a Bedouin camp. I have done this previously, and it definitely makes you want to give up t.v. and live a bit of a nomadic lifestyle.
    I would also just adore seeing the fountains. I find moving water so mesmerising, my biggest problem would be whether to go in the day or at night!
    So much to do, Dubai really is a place to make dreams come true. Good luck.
    Mel @mydaysni recently posted…Fantasies, Football and The Fall. #LittleLovesMy Profile

  5. Yes you are right! It’s like when we panic over 1cm of snow! We just aren’t used to it. Yes we could have taken him on the dessert safari but it went on until quite late in the evening and at the time it would have meant he would have got over tired so we decided to do a camel ride on the beach instead. I would definitely do it now he is older. Again with the fountains we went for day as it fitted in better with little man but it looks even more amazing at night.

  6. How old were your kids when you went? I love your photos – it really looks like you had a great time, especially relaxing in the pool at Atlantis. I definitely didn’t realise how much there was to do there, and still can’t believe it is possible to go skiing! My dream Dubai trip didn’t include any water parks, but actually now I see the photos and think about it more, I think it is probably a must! Would be a perfect way to cool down and relax, plus all kids just seem to love water don’t they!

    1. They had just turned 3,5 and 7. The sea is lovely to go in too and free! My boys are happiest when they are splashing around, so some kind of play in the sea/slides/pool is pretty much a must on any sunny holiday.

  7. Wow, it looks like you had an amazing trip. Those divers in the tank – just wow. I think I could stand there and happily watch them for hours x

    1. We were there a good 10 minutes or so! That;s just what you can see of the aquarium from the mall!

  8. Dubai has been a dream destination of mine, ever since I clapped eyes on the ‘millionaires playground’ on tv when I was younger! My ambition of becoming a millionaire in life has never quite materialised, so I don’t think I’ll be living the life of the rich and famous. But, the possibility of visiting this vibrant city and having a taste of this lifestyle would be ridiculously amazing.
    I haven’t had the opportunity to go to Dubai, yet! I’ve been busy having babies over the past 3 years. But being able to share my passion with them and creating unforgettable memories of visiting such a spectacular city would mean the world to me.

    There are too many adventures I want to experience to write about here. But my top 2 would have to be:
    The Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo which makes me so excited to even think about! You would hear my sons squeal with excitement, and possible me too! I dont think I’d be brave enough to come face to face with the sharks, but the glass bottom boat would be a safe enough distance to observe these amazing creatures. Oh, and of course the fact that this Aquarium is located in the shopping mall is a small (ahem) bonus for me.

    Mamzer beach sounds so idilic. I can just imagine the golden sand beneath my feet or trying to build a large sandcastle with my excitable boys. But thinking about the practicalities of the hot climate, I love the fact there is a swimming pool to cool off in also!

    As I sit here reading your great post and planning my family’s trip (ahem!), I have found myself becoming so excited about the possibility of making my dream come true! Sharing this with my family would be truly indescribable! .

    1. I know it has made me daydream about going back! We found that our pool was shady due to the skyscrappers too – which would be handy in Summer.

  9. Carmen Bateman says: Reply

    Our family loves Dubai and believe it is the best family holiday destination ever! An inspirational place, with so much to see and do, not just its year round sunshine and gorgeous beaches. The warm, unsurpassable hospitality you receive will guarantee it a place in your family’s heart. Dubai has the World’s best of everything, including horse racing, water parks, cuisine, shopping mall – complete with ice rink and aquarium inside, tallest building and must see musical fountain. There’s no poverty, and the public transport is easily accessible and inexpensive. Give it a go; the entire holiday will be the best family thrill ride they’ve ever been on! You’ll also be pleasantly surprised by what excellent value it is.

    1. When you are a family of 5, it sometimes works out better going mid or long haul than going to Spain for a week. That’s why we chose Dubai previously! Our apartment was amazing too!

  10. It really does look and sound like you had such a fantastic family holiday when you visited. I was always unsure about Dubai as a holiday destination as I always thought it was for the very rich as it looks so luxurious. My brother has visited Dubai many times and he adores it and every time he has visited he has found new places to visit and had an amazing time. I have been wanting to visit Dubai for some time now as I have heard nothing but good things about it and now I know it is so family friendly I want to visit even more! I hope that you get to return soon and experience all of the things that you want to as it all sounds so memorable xx
    Lindsay At Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Sophia You Are ThreeMy Profile

    1. Oh it can be expensive. We went half board and I am glad we did as eating out all the time would have cost a lot with the boys. I guess planning is the key. Some hotels give you free water parks which is worth looking into. Before going there is no way I would have even entered a competition to win a break in the heat of the summer, but now having been I am sure they have it sorted so you have a great time whenever you visit.

  11. Richard Beesley says: Reply

    Dubai looks simply amazing. So much to do, so many different worlds all wrapped up in one gorgeous place. Looking at what Dubai has to offer, I’ve been really impressed by the range of family-friendly options – theme parks, indoor fun sessions, skate parks – as well as sports, stunning beaches, and entertainment.

    What I hadn’t realised was how much variety there is in Dubai in terms of food and culture. Our son is a huge foodie, despite being only 10, and would love visiting some of the restaurants and tasting the new flavours.

    As a family we would love to be able to visit Dubai, and experience just a taste of what is on offer. Our elder son loves nature, so would enjoy the different wildlife on show. And dad… well, quad-biking in the sand dunes would suit him perfectly. As for mum… of course Dubai is a shopper’s paradise! And I’m sure we would all enjoy a tour of historic Dubai, as well as the many museums. There truly is something for everyone.

    The hardest part will be choosing what to do. It really does seem that Dubai has it all, a wealth of opportunities to explore and experience.

    Dubai really is the city of possibilities and I want to ‘Discover All That’s Possible In Dubai’.

    1. You are so right – choosing what to do is the hardest part. You want to relax and enjoy the beach and pools but want to see everything as well. I know your son is a massive foodie – and the food is fantastic. What was really nice is the boys only had chips and nuggets once in the break and that was just because it was a fast food outlet in the waterpark. They ate proper meals not kids ones every day. So much choice. x

  12. Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more!

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to
    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry!

  13. I think this is all so very true
    Dubai would be perfect – it is for me too
    Good luck with your entry and if you win
    Make room in your case, and please fit me in!

    1. I love that your comment is a poem 😀 Good Luck x

  14. Wow the Dubai fountain looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go to Dubai just to see that yet there is so much more all in one place – it is almost too hard to imagine so I will have to go there to find out for myself The beautiful beach beckons me, incredible concerts and entertainment, retail heaven and then relax and unwind by trying out traditional spa therapies at the hammam! The food in Dubai looks divine and I bet it is delicious. My husband would love the adventure sports, golf courses and falconry. There is something here for everyone. Dubai is my dream destination.

  15. I adore Dubai, and have been lucky enough to spend the past 3 years living there. Even then we still haven’t seen or done everything that was on our bucket list. We didn’t make it to the Dolphins. Or out to Al Qudra lakes. I visited Abu Dhabi mosque but I would love to see Jumeriah mosque. If visit in Ramadan and sample a family friendly Iftar this year, watching the tradition of breaking the fast with small sips of water and sugar laden dates. Oh and of course I’d love to actually be able to visit my husband who is having to stay out there without us!

    1. Yes I read your post – was lovely to have an insight from someone that has lived there. Oh gosh he is still there, that must be hard. My husband is eyeing up Abu Dhabi.

  16. Bernadette Cooke says: Reply

    I would love to take my grandsons on a Dream Trip to Dubai – a clean, safe, family-friendly holiday destination, with plenty of activities to choose from for any age range. As well as relaxing on the beautiful golden sand of JBR Beach with its warm, calm and shallow waters we would all enjoy a dune-bashing safari followed by a camel ride and BBQ dinner in a Bedouin desert camp.

    We would visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort to learn about life from a bygone era as a contrast to the amazing architecture of the modern city which we could view from the front or rear carriages of the driverless Dubai Metro system and then take it all in from the At The Top observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

    The free and impressive Dubai Fountain water, light and music show can be watched from one of many waterfront cafes just outside the Dubai Mall. The malls in Dubai have many family attractions to choose from. The boys could try ice-skating, helped by the ‘penguin pals’, visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and also see the giant 155 million year old dinosaur skeleton (DubaiDino), all in the Dubai Mall.

    The boys love theme parks and this summer Dubai will open the world’s largest indoor theme park – IMG Worlds of Adventure with four themed zones inside including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard. This will be completely enclosed and temperature-controlled with 1.5 million square feet of entertainment space!

    Our only problem will be going home with so much more left for us to see and do in beautiful Dubai

    1. Oh your Grandsons would love it – and you! We never found the dinosaur skeleton in the Mall, I had wondered if it had moved. It is so big though we could have easily missed it! You are right the hardest part is having to leave with so much you still want to do!

  17. Ooh yes it all sounds so very perfect, our boys have always wanted to ride a camel and I would love the chance to get a shot of that to show when they are older, and the wild Wadi and that lazy river, the best of luck x

  18. Rebecca Beesley says: Reply

    It was your original Dubai blogpost that put Dubai in my mind as a possible destination to visit. Since then I have been looking at the Visit Dubai website and dreaming of all the possibilities. I love how honest you are about not having done your research originally – because I would have been the same – jumping to conclusions when actually it is the most amazing place it seems and really does have something for everyone! I love your photos and your experiences and ideas – It can be of so much value to hear someone else’s tips and experiences before going somewhere on holiday. And of course the Visit Dubai website is also brilliant for planning ahead. I hope you do get to go again and it is firmly on my bucketlist too!

    1. Oh really – it was the Family Adventure Project that got me looking into it as a destination – well after my OH kept going on about it! I find a lot of people either love Dubai because they have been there or just blow it away on the grounds of it being too hot, too expensive or you can’t drink alcohol. I was never really an 18-30s kind of person anyway so it is actually quite nice not to have to worry about people getting trashed around you! I hope you get to go too!

  19. Those photos look amazing!
    My dream is for me and my family to swim with Dolphins in Dubai (it makes me tear up at the thought!). I would love to do it in a much more natural setting than in a swimming pool and I have heard there are some amazing places to swim with them! I would love to visit Atlantis too as it would be a brilliant day for everyone (and I am a big kid). I also wouldn’t mind chilling on the beach with my boys, building sandcastles too. Just heaven!

  20. Good luck with your entry lovely! I got lost for hours on the Visit Dubai website just dreaming about all the different things we could do. I don’t know how we would manage to squeeze so much into 4 days but we’d give it our best shot. I’d also really like to visit the Spice Souk; I think that would be an experience like nothing we have here in the UK. All those different smells and sounds…I can definitely imagine myself lost in the exotic souks for hours. Imagine the gorgeous photos you could capture as well!! I didn’t include the Dubai fountains on my list but they look pretty amazing…I wish I had now haha!
    Jess @ Catch A Single Thought recently posted…4 Nights in Dubai…My Profile

  21. First on my list is the Souks, I can only imagine the atmosphere, the aromas, the rich colours, the vibrancy of everything. I think my problem would be having space in my suitcase to bring all my purchases home!

    I not only would have to start a things to do on our next Dubai trip but a shopping list as well!

  22. I think I would have had the same reaction if my husband suggested Dubai for our next holiday. I would have to go out in the cooler parts of the year, but I can see that where there is water and lots of sand my family could have fun. I love the idea of spending time watching dancing fountains or shopping in the gold souks. As for food, we love our food spicey and I bet there is something for everyone. Good luck with your entry

  23. Wow, thanks for sharing your photos. i love the underwater one and the one showing the camels. What a unique experience. As you say, so much to do and I am sure, so much the children will remember.

    We have never been but it is on our wish list for one day. A friend who goes there regularly says their rules are very strict. She was out shopping in the Mall with her grandsons and took something out of her bag to eat. Some women saw her and ushered her inside the shop as it is a forbidden thing to do apparently! I wonder what they make of us eating in the street over here? Animals probably! Glad you had a lovely time.

    1. Gosh I didn’t know that! I was worried when I kissed my husband that someone might tell me off. It was more relaxed than I had expected it. It is a lovely place if extremely expensive.

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