A few times on my travels I’ve planned a stopover in Dubai; and I’ve used this, “3 days in Dubai itinerary” – that I’m about to share with you – to venture out of the airport and explore the city.
Dubai is a common stopover city; especially if you are flying from Europe to Asia or vice versa.
This leaves travelers with a prime opportunity to plan an extra few days in Dubai; without the extra cost or booking multiple plane tickets.
Follow along this itinerary and you’ll get a good grasp of many fun things this futuristic city has to offer.
What is a Dubai Stopover Itinerary?
At this point, you might be thinking “What’s the difference between a stopover and a layover?”.
Let me tell you!
A stopover is basically an extremely long layover. Typically layovers tend to last somewhere between 2 to 6 hours, where a stopover might last from 2 to 5 days!
And that’s way too long to live in an airport! Sadly, I know, from experience.
Choosing a stopover is a great way to add a new country or lesser-known city to your itinerary.
In fact, some airlines encourage stopovers, like TAP Air. Why, because it lets travelers see another city at no extra cost. Plus, it helps boost tourism! Some countries even have special easy-to-get visas just for stopovers.
Lisbon, Porto, Reykjavik, Tokyo, Mumbai, and Dubai are all common examples of stopover cities.
So a stopover is a layover where you have enough time to leave the airport and experience the city.
How to Plan a Stopover in Dubai
Ready to start planning your stopover! Luckily it’s easy.
The first thing you need is to get to Dubai. Dozens of airlines, like Air India Express, have flights into and out of Dubai daily. Plan your flight, and look for stopover options.
Next, you’ll need a visa.
As far as visas go you have a few different options. One option is to get a visa on arrival. It’s the quickest and easiest, but not allowed for every country!
Another option is to apply for a transit visa after landing. Although, you need to inquiry about the latest rules and countries that are granted the transit visa. These are shorter visas that last between 48 to 96 hours.
You can also contact a local tour company that will help you plan your entire stopover on the cheap.
It is important to note that visa rules vary by country of origin, and change often, so it is vital to research your visa rules, and transit visa options when traveling to Dubai.
It’s also important that you have a flight leaving Dubai. Immigration officers often ask for it and could deny you entry if you don’t show proof you are leaving the country.
Dubai Stopover Itinerary
Stopover: Day 1 in Dubai
Hop on the Hop on Hop Off Bus
Ok, so we found, and took one of the cheap flights to Dubai, got off the plane, went through customs, and have checked into our hotel. What now? Well, it’s time to start exploring!
One of the best and quickest ways to see all the major attractions in the city is by getting a pass on the hop on hop off bus. They have 1 – 7 day passes so there are options to meet any stopover.
The bus stops let your get between 40+ attractions without wasting time figuring out yourself. These buses tell you facts about the city so it gives you insights into Dubai as you go.
Take in the view from the Observation Deck of the World’s Tallest Building
The towering sight of Dubai is the Burj Khalifa. And when I say towering I mean it… literally.
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world.
This decade-old building has two observation decks on the 125th and 148th floors. The total height of the building is 2,716 feet (828 meters). It’s huge! In total it has 163 floors, and the project cost 1.5 billion dollars.
Shop Till You Drop at the Dubai Mall
Dubai doesn’t only have the largest building in the world it also has the world’s largest shopping mall.
The mall covers more than 1 million square meters (That’s almost 4 million square feet!). Inside the mall, you’ll find over 1,200 shops and more food options than you could eat in a lifetime.
But wait, there is much more to The Dubai Mall than just shopping and eating. Inside the mall, there’s an ice rink, a 5-star hotel, and a massive arcade, and an indoor aquarium.
Dinner Inside the Mall
Day 1 is an easy day because you might be fighting jet lag, or got in late. Instead of getting dressed up for a 5-course restaurant meal, I suggest looking for something in the Dubai Mall – since we are already there.
There are over 100 food options from fast to fancy so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding your perfect dinner place.
Stopover: Day 2 in Dubai
Wander the Bastakiya Quarter
Start your 2nd day in Dubai at the old Bastakiya Quarter. The Al Fahidi Historical District (better known as the Bastakiya Quarter) section of the city differs greatly from the modern-day skyscrapers, malls, and theme parks.
This area of the city gives you a glimpse into the old Dubai before the sea of wealth flooded the city. Here you can find history, souvenirs, and even a textile souk to wander through.
This is the oldest residential area left standing in the city. It dates back to the end of the 19th century. The area is beautiful, a reminder of the past, and a maze of scenic buildings. This area is nearby by the Bur District of Dubai and a site I heartily recommend adding to any 3 days in Dubai itinerary.
Get Wild at Aquaventure Waterpark
History is good, but let’s be honest, Dubai is all about fun! And once we’ve wandered through the historical district of Bastakiya Quarter it’s time to turn out attention to a wild and wet adventure.
The Aquaventure Waterpark, located on the Palm Island nearby the Atlantis. It is the largest, craziest waterpark in the Middle East. I seriously never get tired of this place! And if you are looking to wash away what little jet lag you have left, then head here straight away!
There’s a lot of things to do, epic slides, and a rapid river. There are over 30 slides and water-related attractions. And It’s a great choice for travelers with children in tow.
Explore a Tropical Rainforest at The Green Planet
Check out one of the most extraordinary spots in the entire city. The Green Planet is a 4 story building. But the interior is a mammoth rainforest.
Green Planet is dedicated to the conversation and education of the rainforest. The buildings filled with diverse flora and fauna. There are creatures and critters like tropical birds, butterflies, and frogs.
The Green Planet Dubai brings the rainforest to this desert oasis. It’s a fully immersive, vertical rain forest. Or to put it in fewer words… simply amazing.
As a bonus, this unique site is a wonderful way to escape the heat.
Enjoy the Bateaux Dubai Gourmet Dinner Cruise
After the Green, Planet head back to the hotel and gets ready for dinner. Tonight head to Bateaux Dubai for a Gourmet Dinner Cruise.
These floating restaurants give you a sunset view of the city along the Dubai Creek. Along the cruise, you have a 4-course epic meal.
It’s the perfect way to end night 2 of our 3 days in Dubai Stopover Itinerary.
There are a lot of different dinner cruises to choose from; so take your pick. But make sure to research before booking.
Stopover: Day 3 in Dubai
See Dubai from the Water with SeaYou
Kayaking around the Palm Jumeirah. They also offer other water activities like windsurfing.
Eat Traditional Sweets at the Habiba Al Nablus
This restaurant is famous in the city for its desert. Guaranteed to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Have a Blast at IMG World of Adventures
This is the largest indoor theme park in the entire world. Very cool and worth checking out.
More Things to add to your 3 Days in Dubai Stopover Itinerary
Have More than 3 days? Looking for alternative things to do on your Dubai Stopover. Here are some alternative things to do in Dubai.
You can mix and match with the 3 Days above and craft your own itinerary.
Lost Chambers Aquarium – An Aquarium inside the Atlantis Hotel.
Hub Zero Entertainment Cafe – A totally immersive experience full of entertaining arcade games, laser tag, and climbing walls.
Ski Dubai – Ski Dubai is the biggest indoor ski resort in the middle east. There are five different ski slopes to choose from.
Flyboarding – Jumeirah beach is known for its Flyboarding. Which is basically a water jet pack.
And you fly high, up to 10 meters above the sea.
There we have it! You have everything you need to plan your 3 days in Dubai Stopover Itinerary. Personally, I’ve planned 3 stopovers in this beautiful city. And the futuristic city never ceases to amaze me.
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