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24 Hours – 1 Day in Dubai – Complete Stopover Guide

What can you do and see with a full day in Dubai? Answer: Almost everything! We tell you everything you need to know.

Are you having a stopover in Dubai? Are you forced to spend hours in Dubai or is it part of your plan? Either way, Dubai makes a destination for a layover of several hours.

We have traveled several times via Dubai airport and finally decided to publish our perfect itinerary for several hours in this city of the United Arab Emirates.

Leave your luggage at the airport

If you are traveling with hand luggage you can leave your bags at the airport. Ideally, you check in your luggage so you don’t have to think about that once you arrive at Dubai airport. There is a luggage deposit. Keep in mind that the costs are 13 Dollars per bag for every 12 hours. If you spend more than 12 hours in Dubai this amount is added, even if you use the luggage deposit for example for 13 hours only. It’s not a cheap option, however, you don’t want to carry a backpack or suitcase around in the heat of Dubai.

Get a 24-hour ticket of the Dubai Metro

There is no way around this. You need to take the Metro, distances in Dubai are just way too far, even if it weren’t that hot. The Metro is also the cheapest and most convenient way to travel around Dubai. It is air-conditioned and you will use it several times throughout your stopover. If you are lucky you meet someone there who doesn’t need it’s ticket anymore and you can use it. Otherwise, it’s around 10 Dollars – a good investment.

Keep in mind the heat

Depending on the time of the year you travel, Dubai can get crazy hot. Really crazy hot! If you are travelling during the high time of the summer (June, July, August), temperatures are well above 40° Celsius. In Dubai, this feels even much warmer. This is the reason why you won’t see people on the streets during this time of the year. When you take the Metro to the city, you will notice that there is literally no one in the streets – apart of some construction worker. Once you get out of the metro, you will know what it feels like – it’s really difficult to imagine beforehand.

Cash or Credit Card?

You can easily spend your whole stay without touching the local currency Dirhams. You can pay everywhere by credit card – no need to get cash. There is one spot where it gets a bit tricky and you are most likely to go – we show you where.

Beaches in Dubai – Bikini or not?

Dubai is relatively open to western cultures. If you want to go to the beach you don’t need to wear a Burkini – your Biking is perfectly fine. There are many Westerners living in the city – you won’t be the only one wearing a bikini.

English in Dubai

English in Dubai is widely spoken. Not always perfectly, but you won’t have any problems to go by with English.


Dubai is very safe. It’s very cosmopolitan with people from all over the world. It’s very unlikely that something will happen to you here or that you will get robbed or anything like that. So that’s nothing you need to worry about.

From Dubai Airport to Dubai Marina (optional)

Once you land, take the Dubai Metro to the Dubai Marina. This stop is the furthest one and a bit of a ride in the metro. Get off at Jumeirah Lakes Towers. We make this stop optional because it’s not one of the most popular spots in Dubai. However, you get a feeling of the Dubai skyline and there is also a nice beach nearby – the Marina Beach Dubai. Be aware that during high summer, not many people go to the beach here and that’s because the water is nothing refreshing. We are not sure about the exact temperature, but it’s pretty much just like the outside temperature – really hot if you are in the water. There are tabs nearby (no showers) if you want to clean yourself from the saltwater. Attention, this water is really hot! Hotter than you want it in your hot tub!

Tip: If the heat is getting to much, have a stop at the Projecto Acai and have some delicious and refreshing Brazilian Acai (a type of fruit from the Amazonas which is served ice cold, a bit like icecream).

In this area commutes also a tram. The use of the tram is included in your 24 hour ticket. If you skip this stop you can get off at the Jumeirah Palm stop.

Dubai Marina to Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis Hotel

From the Dubai Marina, you can go to the Jumeirah Palm. It looks like a short walk on the map, but it’s not. Take the Tram or the Metro. The Jumeirah Palm is pretty much only used for residential buildings. There is a mall in the center (just like everywhere in Dubai) and the Atlantis Hotel at the top of the Palm. The Palm is huge – around five kilometers from top to bottoms. That’s also not just like a short walk in Dubai’s heat. You want to take the monorail taking you to the Atlantis hotel – the only place you really like to visit there.

The monorail is not included in the 24-hour ticket. You have to pay it extra – and they don’t take cash. This is the one spot where it gets a bit tricky without cash.  But don’t worry, some of the people working there will change your Euros or Dollars for you. Now that I am writing this, I wonder if we have been ripped off. A place which doesn’t accept Credit Card in Dubai? Unimaginable. People trying to rip you off in Dubai? Also. So if you know anything about this, please let us know.

Once you are in the Monorail go all the way to the Atlantis hotel. No need to get off at the stops in between. Also not at the mall – you are going to the biggest mall in the world later today.

The Atlantis Hotel at the Palm is probably a must-do stop. However, we are a bit disappointed by it. There is a huge Aquarium and a water park. While the Aquarium is quite impressive (not sure worth the money though), the water park is rather small and not so exciting.

The area of the hotel open to the public is the area of the mall. While we believe it’s nice the famous Atlantis Hotel and the Palm of Dubai, we haven’t been too impressed by it.

Atlantis Hotel to Burj al Arab Hotel

Palm is about 5km away from the Burj al Arab. The hotel, looking like a windsurf kite, is one of the most iconic sights of Dubai. It’s quite impressive to see hotel from close. You will already see it from the Metro. The hotel is close to nice beaches (look for Kite Beach), where you can also find showers to get rid of the saltwater.

Burj al Arab to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall

Burj Khalifa, the highest building of the world with well above 800 meters in height is also located next to the Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world.

If you plan to go up the Burj Khalifa, plan in sufficient time. The Dubai Mall is huge and the exit to Burj Khalifa not well signed. And if you aren’t there in time you will lose out on your opportunity to see Dubai from above.

Our issue with seeing Dubai from Burj Khalifa is the fact that Dubai is very often very foggy and dusty. The views are therefore not that good as from other buildings in the world.

If you decide not to go up, you can always enjoy the biggest building in the world from below – it’s also very impressive and it’s free. There are fountains which every 15 minutes or so perform a show including music.

We are not much of shoppers so we just went to eat in the nearby Dubai Mall. That have been big enough for us.

Burj Khalifa to Dubai Old Town (optional)

Yes Dubai has an old town! It’s very different than the typical skyline of Dubai. If you have time and energy to see it, we recommend to do it. Otherwise we don’t believe you are missing out big. The old town is definitely not the reason you want to visit Dubai.

The old town is located near the airport, only a few stops away.

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  1. Thanks for this information! I had a 21 hour layover and was able to see the city all due to your site. I made the mistake of taking a cab from the airport to the mall. The driver said that was the only place open at 7AM on a Friday. At the mall I found your site and purchased a 24 hour pass for the Metro. Great suggestion for the Metro! I loved my short visit and it was due to your suggestions. Thank you.


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