Though no one likes a layover, if you have to have one somewhere, the Dubai International Airport (DXB) is an ideal place. For those who don’t have enough time to leave the airport, there are spas, gardens, a hotel, and enough stores to fill a mall. For those with a layover longer than 6 hours, leaving the airport to explore Dubai is easy to do with taxi stands at every terminal ($6-$25) and the metro running to Terminals 1 and 3 ($2.50 each way). Because the airport is only a couple miles from the city centre, any form of transportation into the city tends to be quick. Here are seven ideas for how you can use your layover.
What To Do On Your Dubai Layover
1. Get a massage
There are three Timeless Spas in Terminal 3 of the airport — one for Emirates first class passengers, one for Emirates business class passengers, and one for anyone who happens to be traveling through the airport. Treatments and services include facials, massages, manicures, and pedicures. Book online in advance.
2. Take a nap
If you only have a few hours to kill and you can’t sleep on planes, DXB has multiple options for taking a snooze between flights. In Terminal 1 there are “Snooze Cubes,” sound-proofed micro-hotels with a simple bed and TV. If you’re looking for a step up, the airport as its own five-star hotel in Terminals 1 and 3. Just make sure you wake up in time!
3. Take a helicopter tour
If you have a 6 hour layover, you have time to sneak out of the airport and see the city from the sky. Helicopter tour operators are located between 10-30 minutes from the airport, meaning you can grab a taxi and go. Helidubai offers tours that are either 12 or 22 minutes long, just enough time to see the skyscrapers and still make it to your next flight.
4. Visit the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, welcomes visitors daily to its observation deck. The building is conveniently located along the metro, and it is possible to purchase fast track tickets or advance tickets to make sure you get in on time. If you’re really in a hurry, grab a cab — it will get you there in about 15 minutes compared to 30+ on the metro.
5. Go skiing
Dubai is known for huge malls, and though Mall of the Emirates isn’t it’s biggest, it does have an indoor skiing facility for those who don’t want to leave the Middle East to hit the slopes. If you have a long layover, you can get a two-hour lift ticket along with clothing and ski rentals to burn some time — and calories — while you wait for your flight.
6. Shop in a Dubai mall
You can also go shopping at one of Mall of the Emirates 700+ stores. Or, head to the bigger Dubai Mall, one of the biggest in the world, which has an ice rink, aquarium movie theater, and indoor theme park.
7. Visit the Old Souqs
Despite the rest of this list, not everything in Dubai is modern, and one spot to appreciate the heritage of the city is one of the old souqs. The Gold Souq has shops on shops of gold jewelery, while the Spice Souq has more spices than you’ve ever likely seen in one place before. Other souqs are known for their textiles and souvenirs.
This article was written by Isabella Sayyah.