How To Spend An 8-Hour Layover in Dubai

By Shontel Horne


Not all layovers are created equal. Unless you’re traveling to an international destination from cities like New York City, Los Angeles or Atlanta, you’ll likely have at least one layover during your journey, and while some are barely long enough to make your connecting flight, others may be long enough for you to see an extra city.

Dubai may be one of the best cities to explore while on a layover that is at least eight hours long, so if you find yourself with some downtime in Dubai, leave your checked bag at the airport and get ready to see the city, even if you only have a few hours to spare.

Leaving Dubai International Airport

Dubai is a great city to explore during a long over simply because it’s easy to reach from the airport. Unlike London, where the cost and time it takes to get to the city from Heathrow or Gatwick make leaving the airports unappealing, the metro in Dubai takes passengers from Dubai Airport’s terminals 1 and 3 right into the city for just 8 United Arab Emirates Dirham (roughly $2.18) each way, and the trip from the airport into town is a straight shot that takes less than 30 minutes.


Go To The Dubai Mall

You don’t have to be a big shopper to enjoy the sights and sounds of the bustling Dubai Mall. At more than 3.77 million square feet, the Dubai Mall welcomes more than 80 million visitors annually and is home to more than 1,300 stores, an aquarium, a movie theatre, and even an ice skating rink. The Dubai Mall is also great for people watching if you want to see a world of cultures all in one place. Here you’ll find the finest clothes, shoes, and jewelry in the world next to affordable stores like Zara, and there are plenty of mid-level priced restaurants in and around the mall if you want to have global fare like, like authentic Lebanese kabobs from Wafi Gourmet.

RELATED: 4 Airport Restaurants In The US That Will Make Your Layover Worth It

Photo courtesy of Shontel Horne


Visit The Burj Khalifa

You can’t visit Dubai without making a stop at the world’s tallest building. From the Dubai Mall, make your way to the fountains to get a gorgeous, up-close view of the Burj Khalifa, and if you have at least two hours and between $37 and $57 to spare, make your way to the 125th floor of the 160-story building for a view like no other.


Photo courtesy of Shontel Horne


Go Souk Seeing

From the Gold Souk to the Spice Souk, Dubai’s dazzling markets are an experience all their own, and even if you don’t plan to shop the vibrant vendors, the aroma, sounds, visuals, and energy in the souks will stay with you long after you head home.


Head Back To The Airport

It’s a breeze to get to the Downtown Dubai from the airport, but if you want to save time, catch an Uber and head to the airport at least 2.5 hours before your flight’s planned departure. From the car, you’ll also get a view of the city that you may have missed during your train ride, and you’re sure to be inspired to make Dubai your next destination for your next travel adventure.


RELATED: Live in the Moment: Sky Dive Dubai

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Shontel Horne

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