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Layover in Dubai – the ultimate guide 2021

19 August, 2021by Bounce

Having a layover in Dubai International Airport is great if it's a long layover. A short one could leave you either twiddling your thumbs or running for the shuttle bus if your connection is leaving from a different terminal to the one you landed in. However, if you have a few hours to spare, you'll find getting into Dubai from the airport can be done in a few minutes by taxi or in less than half an hour on the metro.

Keep in mind the fact that Dubai International Airport is the busiest in the world passenger-wise so avoiding queues at passport controls, security checks and in the baggage reclaim area is almost an impossibility. If you go out of the airport on your layover you'll need to be back for checking-in at least a couple of hours before your flight time to be able to have a stress-free transition.

6 hour layover in Dubai

A six-hour layover in Dubai is short, but you'll still have time to get into the city and see something if you go by taxi. Using any other form of transport will eat into your layover time and it'll be gone before you know it. Drop your bags at a Dubai luggage locker service and take your taxi directly to the Al Majara marina. At the marina, you can board a luxury yacht for a two-hour cruise that includes breakfast or lunch. Feast away while sailing past such iconic landmarks as the world's biggest Ferris wheel, the Ain Dubai, and the man-made island, Palm Jumeirah.

  • A taxi ride into Dubai from the airport takes approximately twelve minutes.

  • Using a taxi incurs a flag charge of 25.00 AED and every kilometer traveled after that costs 1,96 AED.

  • The Dubai Metro operates from Terminals 1 and 3 with frequent services running every ten minutes that take twenty-five minutes to get to the city. Single or multiple journey tickets can be purchased in the station.

  • Before making plans for your short layover in Dubai make sure you’re eligible for a transit visa and have applied for it before arriving.

8 hour layover in Dubai

When your short layover at Dubai Airport is around eight hours long, you'll have a little more time to play with. Two things in Dubai that shouldn't be missed by any visitor to the city are Dubai Mall and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

To make your layover excursion easy, leave your baggage in a luggage locker before jumping on the metro service. Use the red line and you'll be at the Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station in less than twenty-five minutes and from there it's just a quick walk across the pedestrian walkway to both of these world-famous buildings.


  • If you landed in Terminal 2, you'll need to use the free airport shuttle bus to either terminal 1 or 3 to catch the Metro.

  • You'll need to purchase a No1 Red Card at the station before boarding. The card costs 2 AED and the fare from the airport to Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station is around 5 AED. You'll need to charge the card with enough funds to cover the fare there and back.

10 hour layover in Dubai

If your layover in Dubai is for ten hours then you can estimate having between six to seven hours free for sightseeing. That's more than enough time to take a half-day tour of the city followed by a sky-high meal in a rooftop restaurant like Twenty Three or the Pure Sky Lounge and Dining. If you've been to Dubai before and don't want to go sightseeing, leave your luggage in a bag storage facility, and go on a four-hour-long 4WD adventure into the desert instead. The jeep safaris are all-inclusive so you'll be fed a big barbecue, get the chance to do some dune bashing, see some belly dancing and have a camel ride too.

  • It's advisable to pre-book your table well in advance of arriving if you're thinking of eating in any of the rooftop restaurants in Dubai.

  • Jeep safari companies will pick you up from the airport for a small additional fee if you prearrange it with them. That's a major time saver when you’re on a short layover and gives you the option of enjoying a seven rather than four-hour outing.

12 hour layover in Dubai

When your layover in Dubai is twelve hours or thereabouts, you can start to think about doing some relaxed exploring. One way to get to know the city a little better is by taking a walking tour led by a professional guide. This type of tour can last anywhere from two to four hours and mostly includes an exploration of Dubai's historic areas, a couple of souks, and at least one museum visit. You can freshen up your layover by hitting somewhere like the Aquaventure waterpark for a few hours of diversion on the chutes and in the wave pool or get a bigger thrill by racing across Dubai marina in a speedboat.

  • The luggage lockers at the waterpark aren't suitable for suitcases so leave yours in a bag storage facility at the airport.

  • The ninety-minute speedboat tours leave from Al Seba Street in Dubai Marina. This activity is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or back problems.

24 hour layover in Dubai

A great way of getting to see what Dubai has to offer when you have a long layover or an overnight layover is by using the Hop-On Hop-Off bus. The top deck is open-air, so there's no windows to get in the way of your camera lens either. You can spend all day going round Dubai getting off every time you see something which piques your interest like the souks, a museum or when you want a refreshing drink.

For a total change of atmosphere on your layover, and a chance to cool off while getting some exercise, go to Ski Dubai. This indoor ski center is the world's biggest indoor snow park and you can let rip on the ski slopes, snowboard, try tobogganing or just build a snowman.

  • The Hop-On Hop-Off bus has a tour commentary in twelve languages so you'll always know exactly what you're seeing.

  • You don't need winter clothes to go to Ski Dubai. Jackets, gloves, and hats are provided at the entrance and any equipment you'll need such as skis can be rented for the duration of your visit.

  • While you're at Ski Dubai you can meet penguins or catch a movie at the Snow Cinema. 

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