Dubai Travel Guide
Dubai is considered by some as the Las Vegas of the Middle East - with luxury hotels, all day entertainment and high-end shopping. It may be the playground of the rich and famous, but it is possible to visit on a budget. Here's what we cover in our Dubai Travel Guide!
The weather in Dubai
Getting to Dubai
Getting around Dubai
Top things to do in Dubai
Best Dubai beaches
Important things to know
Dubai for LGBTQ+ travellers
Accessibility in Dubai
United Arab Emirates dirham (AED)
Type G (same as UK)
Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Check out our handy map of Dubai below to get a better feel for the city.
Some facts about Dubai
Dubai is the most visited city and emirate within the United Arab Emirates - it is home to the world's tallest building the Burj Khalifa. The city is known for luxury, entertainment and modern architecture - and has become an increasingly popular holiday destination.Top
The desert climate means that whenever you visit you're sure for warm temperatures - if you visit in summer be prepared for scorching heat. Most UK tourists are more comfortable visiting between December and March when temperatures are more bearable.
Dubai weather in December, January, February (Winter). Winter is a popular time to visit Dubai as the weather is sunny and comfortably warm, with an average daytime temperature of 25 °C. Much of Dubai's (very little) annual rainfall occurs during the winter months, with the rainiest month being February. But don't worry though, showers are brief. Dubai only gets a total of 4 inches of rain per year!
Dubai weather in March, April, May (Spring). In Spring temperatures start to rise and can get as high as 38°C towards the end of May. Sunshine hours are getting longer and it's very rare to get any rain from the end of March. Dubai can be hit with strong winds, causing sand and dust storms, throughout the year, but they're most common in spring.
Dubai weather in June, July, August (Summer). Dubai in summer gets hot. Very hot. Temperatures range from 40-45°C in the day and drop to around 30°C at night, so we only recommend going at this time of year if you love the heat. Remember to drink plenty of water and use a high factor sun cream.
Dubai weather in September, October, November (Autumn). September and October feel like an extension of summer with temperatures around 36-38°C. In November it's still warm, around 30°C, but it's definitely less humid and more comfortable than the summer months.Top
Getting to Dubai
Dubai is served by Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest airport by passenger numbers. It's a great modern airport, with plenty of shops to keep you busy on departure.
The easiest way to get from the airport to your hotel is to ride in an Uber - there's even a designated drop-off and pick-up area for Ubers, and we waited no more than five minutes for ours. We took about a 20-minute journey and it cost 85 dirhams, which is about £17. It's a very convenient way to get to your hotel, but there are of course cheaper options or alternatives if you don't wish to use Uber.
If you prefer to have the trip to your hotel sorted before you fly we recommend booking an airport transfer.Top
Getting around Dubai
Dubai is a city that has been built around the car. Multi-lane highways criss-cross the city and using Uber or local taxi app, Careem, is generally the quickest way to get around. If you're looking to rent a car in Dubai you can hire one for as little as £16 a day. This is the city of fast and fancy cars so we recommend taking a look at the luxury cars section!
If you prefer to use public transport Dubai has some of the cheapest public transport tickets in the world - so if you'd rather save cash than time, then getting the metro can be a good idea. We recommend getting a NOL card for your trip, which is the equivalent to an Oyster card in London. You load up the card with an amount for your stay and then simply tap in and out when you ride the metro. They also cover buses and trains and even give you entry to some of the parks.
There are two lines, red and green, with more lines either under construction or being planned. As a tourist you're most likely to use the red line, which runs parallel to the coast and stops at major sites such as the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. In fact, at 52km the red line holds the very specific world record for the longest driverless single metro line.
Tips for riding the metro:
- The front carriage is often for women and children only.
- Eating or chewing gum on the metro is not allowed.
- There's free wifi on board.
- And of course, no smoking.
Dubai Airport Transfers
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Dubai Ultimate Experiences
Make the most of your trip and pre-book the top Dubai experiences before you fly.
Top things to do in Dubai
No trip to Dubai is complete without a trip to the Burj Khalifa, after all it dominates the skyline wherever you go. If you've got a head for heights then you can ascend the tower - most people will book tickets for floors 124 and 125 as these are the main observation decks, though you can pay a little extra and head as high as floor 148. The busiest time to visit is at sunset so to avoid crowds head there during the day on weekdays as this tends to be the quietest time.
Mall of the Emirates
Now visiting a shopping centre might not sound like your idea of a holiday, but this really is like no other! There are of course hundreds of shops to browse, but not only that this is home to Ski Dubai - an indoor ski slope with real snow. You can hit the slopes here on skis, snowboards, snow tubes and zorbs. Plus, you can have breakfast with penguins, as Ski Dubai is home to a colony of King and Gentoo penguins!
Shop in the souks
There are a number of different souks to explore within the city. If you're looking for some statement jewellery to remember your trip then head to the gold souk. Or visit the vibrant spice souk for some authentic middle eastern spices to take home with you. Just remember prices aren't set in stone, so don't be afraid to haggle for a better price!
Where are the best beaches in Dubai?
There's no shortage of beaches in Dubai and most of them are free to visit. There are however some private beach clubs you can pay to enter and some are well worth the expense.
La Mer is without a doubt one of the best beachside neighbourhoods in Dubai, especially for families. There's dining, shopping, an inflatable play park, a cinema and a water park. There's really no need to go anywhere else in the day!
This used to be a hidden gem amongst expats but now it's a very popular and well known place to hang out, with great beach side amenities, including free wifi and food trucks. The beach offers loads of different watersports for you to try, including kite boarding which gives the beach its name! There are fantastic views of the Burj al Arab and a beach front running track, if you like to keep fit even when on holiday!Top
Important things to know before you visit Dubai
UAE laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. Before you visit it's important to familiarise yourself with what is and what's not appropriate, to avoid offending anyone or inadvertently breaking the law.
- Check your prescriptions. There is a strict, zero-tolerance drug policy and this can extend to a number of prescription medicines. Be sure to check UAE's official website to see which medicines that are allowed.
- Avoid PDA. Public displays of affection, including holding hands and kissing, are considered offensive and could lead to arrest, so it's best to wait until you're back in your accommodation before snuggling up with your partner.
- Unmarried couples cohabiting is illegal in Dubai. And this applies to hotel rooms too, so please bear this in mind when deciding room arrangements. In reality, this is not strictly enforced and it's unlikely you'll be challenged on it. We recommend researching hotels that are known for being more accommodating to unmarried couples.
- Dress conservatively in public spaces. At the beaches and resorts it's fine to wear swimwear and shorts etc, however it's best to keep shoulders and knees covered when in public spaces.
- Avoid swearing in public . Swearing, arguments and fighting in public areas are all offences that could see you getting in trouble with the law.
- No being drunk in public spaces. It's illegal to drink in public or be tipsy in public, so if you've had a boozy evening enjoying the clubs and bars, once you're done be sure to take a taxi straight back to your hotel.
- Don't take photos of people without permission. As you're snapping away, be cautious of people in your frame. Taking pictures of people, especially women and children, without permission is illegal. Taking pictures of government and military buildings is also prohibited.
- Abide by the rules of Ramadan. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. If you visit during this time, it's important to know that eating, drinking, and smoking is strictly forbidden during daylight hours. Dining in your hotel room or restaurants where there's designated areas screened off, is allowed.
Is Dubai safe for LGBTQ+ travellers?
Homosexuality is illegal in Dubai and is punishable by prison sentence and/or fines. Many LGBTQ+ related websites, including dating apps, are blocked and not accessible from inside the UAE. If you do decide to travel there you must avoid all public displays of affection. This rule applies to heterosexual people too. Being trans or gender diverse is punishable too, with people facing up to a year in prison and a large fine.
The UAE ranks at 142 out of 150 for safest destinations for LGBTQ travellers. That being said, there is a large expat community in Dubai, many with more liberal beliefs - it is probably more tolerant than other places in the UAE. Whether you wish to boycott countries that have poor human rights for LGBTQ+ communities is your choice, we just advise as always please be safe and do your research.Top
Is Dubai an accessible tourist destination?
Dubai had ambitions to become the most accessible city by 2020 and to showcase this at the 2020 World Expo, however that expo has now been delayed until October 2021.
That being said, the city is already well set up for travellers with accessibility needs. Dubai is famous for being an ultra-modern city, which means that many of the buildings, sites and attractions have been built with accessibility in mind.
The Dubai Metro has dedicated spaces for wheelchair users on each train, and the ticket machines are set up with audio-visual accessibility options too. The metro doesn't cover the entirety of the city though, so there may be some distance to cover between the stations and sites you are visiting. There are accessible taxis available - but these must be booked in advance.
Most of the sites are accessible, including the Burj Khalifa. There are also accessible beaches throughout the city - at Al Mamzar Creek, Al Mamzar Corniche, Jumeirah 2 and 3, as well as at Umm Suqeim Beach.Top
Dubai FAQsHow long is the flight to Dubai?
The average flight time from the UK to Dubai is about 7 hours.
What is the time difference between Dubai and the UK?
Dubai is 4 hours ahead of the UK.
What is the tallest building in Dubai?
Burj Khalifa is not only the tallest building in Dubai but also the world, standing at an impressive 828 m (2,717 ft).
What cars are used as police cars in Dubai?
Some of the most luxurious Dubai police cars include supercars such as Ferrari FF, Lamborghini Aventador, Bentley Continental GT and an Aston Martin One-77. Spotting cars from the ever-growing and impressive fleet has become a popular thing to do in Dubai for many car-loving tourists.