The UAE is a country of fascinating contrasts. Between the Arabian deserts to the cool breezes of the Persian Gulf shores, you will be able to experience a variety of modern, cultural, and adventure experiences that this unique country has to offer. You are never far from a desert safari, a beach shore, or a dazzling modern wonder in its exquisite emirates. While the UAE has many attractions distributed across its seven emirates, it is best for first-time visitors and families to stick to the primary emirates of the UAE – Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When traveling with kids, it is essential to space out your travel itinerary and also add attractions that keep little minds interested. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have incredible attractions and experiences that will keep both children and adults engaged and amazed during their trip. The schedule below is a sample itinerary for a 4-night/5-day visit in the UAE.
Why choose Abu Dhabi and Dubai for a family holiday in the UAE?
- There are several reasons but the main ones are that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only emirates in the UAE that have surpassed excellence when it comes to extraordinary, ground-breaking attractions and leisure experiences. Combined, you can find a plethora of attractions in these two emirates, and deciding where to go and what to do from these two emirates alone will be challenging. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most prominent places with plenty of family-suited, kid-friendly attractions and recreational venues.
- The second reason is the connectivity between these two emirates is amazing and easy. Being neighboring emirates with impeccable and efficient infrastructure, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are easily accessible and are just two hours by road from each other.
- Finally, the hotels and resorts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among the most stunning, with world-class quality and service. There are various resorts and hotels that have been developed keeping family vacationers in mind and are fitted with amenities for a comfortable stay. These hotel choices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai also suit any budget and even provide unique features such as play areas and children’s menus, making them kid-friendly places to stay in the UAE.
Before we begin, take into account that the itinerary below is prepared with the assumption that the tourist would arrive in Dubai early in the morning and depart late at night on the last day. If you arrive late at night on the first day of your trip, check in to the hotel and relax. Start fresh from the next day.
Day 1 – Explore Dubai Downtown
Highlights: Jumeirah Public Beach – Oli Oli or Green Planet- Dubai Mall – Burj Khalifa – Dubai Fountain
Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Then head to Jumeirah Public Beach to enjoy sprawling views of the Persian Gulf flanked by sandy shores and an incredibly beautiful Dubai city skyline including the impressive Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.
Once you have had your fill of this breathtaking panorama, it’s time for the kids to have some fun. Depending on the age of your kids, you can pre-book Oli-Oli or Green Planet experience in Dubai. Oli Oli is an interesting and vivid play museum that will appeal to younger children. Choose Green Planet Dubai if you are visiting Dubai with tweens or teens. Green Planet Dubai is a fascinating attraction where you can explore a verdant rainforest and waterfalls teeming with exotic birds and wildlife.
Later, take a lunch break and then set forth for a wonderful time at Dubai Mall. Here, spend ample time exploring the wonderful creatures of the marine world at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Once you are done with this great experience, take time to explore the mall and shop if you desire.
As dusk arrives, make your way to the majestic Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain, which shimmer and sparkle in colorful lights at night. View this extravaganza from the ‘At The Top Burj Khalifa’ tour, which provides panoramic views of the illuminated Dubai Fountains, the city, and beyond. Stay back for a supper experience at Dubai Downtown before returning to the hotel.
Insiders Tip: There is also a Burj Lake cruise available for guests at an extra cost, where you could meander on the very lake on which Dubai Fountain is located and enjoy the water fountain spectacle up close.
Day 2 – A trip to the desert, a mind-boggling museum, and a magnificent show.
Highlights: Morning Half day Desert Safari in Dubai – Museum of the Future – La Perle By Dragone Show
Day 2 begins early with a long journey beyond the city limits of Dubai and into the undulating golden dunes of the Arabian desert. Spend your leisurely mornings admiring the serene beauty of the desert landscape bathed in the early morning sun. Then go on a desert safari and try out some amazing desert sports like sand boarding, quad biking, and camel rides.
Return to the city in the afternoon for a sumptuous lunch. You had such an interesting time in a slice of Dubai’s past before it became a contemporary city during the first half of the day. The second portion of the day allows you to see how far Dubai has progressed as a futuristic city. Discover the Museum of the Future, a one-of-a-kind architectural marvel, as well as a museum committed to envisioning the future and striving to make it a better place for humanity.
End your second day in Dubai with an astonishing aqua show at La Perle by Dragone, where you will be amazed at the fluid acrobatic moves and choreography in an aqua theatre, followed by a dinner.
Insiders Tip: If you and your family prefer not to go on an adventurous desert safari, you can substitute a hot air ballooning trip with breakfast instead.
Day 3: Say hello to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Highlights: Prebook tickets for Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi theme park or Yas Waterworld as per your interest. Spend the day in either of these enchanting parks.
After spending the first two days enjoying Dubai’s sights and adventures, it’s time to visit the UAE’s capital emirate, Abu Dhabi. After breakfast, check out of the hotel and embark on an exciting journey to Abu Dhabi. Check-in at your accommodation on Yas Island. The rest of the day is spent enjoying the many attractions and adventure rides at Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi or Yas Waterworld – depending on which attraction you have pre-booked and suits your family’s interests.
The entire day will fly by because there are so many rides and activities to keep you and your family entertained. Have lunch at one of the theme park’s fantastic restaurants or food outlets. After a lovely day here, wind down for the day, have supper and transfer back to your hotel in Abu Dhabi for the night. You can also book a stay within Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi at the opulent WB Hotel Yas Island Abu Dhabi.
Day 4: Journey back to Dubai
Highlights: Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi – Palm Jumeirah – Ain Dubai – Global Village
After breakfast on Day 4, visit one of the UAE’s most beautiful landmarks, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Spend some time strolling among the breathtaking views of white and gold domes and pillars, as well as the grandeur they emanate.
Later, return to Dubai and settle into your hotel before visiting Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest manmade island. Spend your time at Palm Towers viewing the unrivaled panorama of the Palm Jumeirah from the ‘View at the Palm’ observatory deck. You can spend the day browsing the restaurants for a delicious lunch at Dubai Marina or Palm Jumeirah or head to the beach for some amazing water sports. Later, take a ride on Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observatory wheel, to get a spectacular view of Dubai city and the Persian Gulf from a unique vantage point.
Spend the rest of the day at Global Village, a one-of-a-kind world carnival that offers incredible cultural and culinary experiences from over 90 nations. This is the perfect place for your family to meet new people, learn about other nations, and enjoy an incredible variety of culinary delights from across the world.
Day 5: A journey to the past before saying goodbye to Dubai.
Highlights: Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and Dubai Souks – return to the airport
On your last day in Dubai, before you bid adieu to this suave emirate, it is essential for you to experience the contrasting side of Dubai – a time before all the sophisticated modernity emerged as the highlight of the emirate. After you have your breakfast and check out from the hotel, take a quick stop at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and Dubai Creek to experience a contrasting ambiance of Dubai that stands extraordinarily apart from the modern Dubai you have experienced till now. Stop by the Dubai Souks to get some souvenirs to take back home with you as a token of reminiscence of your wonderful time in the UAE. Your trip to the UAE concludes with a transfer to Dubai International Airport for your onward flight.
Accommodation options for families
There are plenty of great accommodations in the UAE, and choosing which one is perfect for your holiday can be cumbersome. Here is a list of hand-picked hotels apt for families in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for your reference.
At Dubai Downtown and Old Dubai
At Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach, and Palm Jumeirah
At Yas Island Abu Dhabi
Doubletree by Hilton Yas Island, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Crown Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Park Inn By Radisson Yas Island, Radisson Blu Hotel Abu Dhabi, Yas Island Rotana, W Abu Dhabi Yas Island.
Essential travel tips for UAE family vacationers
Before you plan your holiday, check if the passports of all your family members accompanying you on the holiday are valid for more than 6 months after your arrival date in Dubai. If the passport does not have a 6 month validity, your UAE visa can be rejected.
Plan your holiday during the cooler months of Dubai, which is from October to March. This is also the only time of the year when you can explore seasonal attractions like Global Village. December and January are festive times in the UAE, particularly in Dubai, and you will find it crowded and expensive.
Travel light as there is every possibility that you will come home with extra luggage. Dress up modestly and in light, airy cotton clothes, as Dubai is hot any time of the year. It is best to dress in layers so that you can add a layer of clothing while indoors and remove it when you feel hot. Keeping hydrated, slathering sunscreen, and carrying a water bottle, sunglasses and hat are non-negotiable essentials and should be with you at all times during your UAE trip.
Lastly, there is a saying -’ When in Rome, do as the Romans do…’ and the same need to be followed when you visit any foreign country. It gains significance in the UAE as the destination has a set of norms and rules that everyone should follow, irrespective of whether they are local or a tourist. It is necessary to keep in mind which items are allowed to be carried along with you to the UAE as the country has a strict policy about drugs, even those used for medicinal purposes. If you really have to carry medicines, even for children, a prescription from a doctor is highly recommended.