An overnight stop en route to your long-haul destination is a great option as it gives you the chance to break your journey, have a good night’s sleep and arrive feeling more rested and relaxed. A stopover can also be a great way to get an overview of a new destination or serve as a refresher for a much-loved favourite. And Dubai, ideally located to provide a relatively short onward flight to Europe, with a heady mix of ancient and ultra-modern, is definitely worth considering for your next stopover. Intrigued? Here’s a sample of some of our favourite experiences, to get you started.
Arrival and reconnaissance: a Big Bus hop-on, hop-off tour is an excellent way to get a feel for the city. As well as allowing you to explore at your own pace, hopping on and off as many times as you choose within a 24-hour period across three different routes, your pass also includes a cruise of Dubai Creek on a traditional Arab dhow and a night tour of the city.
Into the desert: Dubai is a city of steel and glass, but if you venture beyond the city limits you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped onto the set of a movie, with miles of golden dunes rippling towards the horizon. As the day goes on and the light changes, the dunes change with them, and the most magical time to experience them is at sunset. The more adventurous (and strong of stomach) can opt for some heart-stopping dune-bashing or shriek-inducing sand surfing, while those who prefer a more sedate pace may prefer the gentle sway of a camel ride. As night falls, you’ll be treated to a sumptuous dinner that features fresh dates and coffee and the best of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, and entertained by belly dancers and that incredible desert night sky.
Shop till you drop: Dubai is renowned for its amazing shopping. The Dubai Mall provides a welcome respite from the desert heat, especially if you’re travelling with kids, as it offers everything from high-end designer brands to high street labels, plus an aquarium, an ice-skating rink and even an interactive, kid-sized city called Kidzania. For a more traditional experience, Dubai’s souks offer a market experience that’s not to be missed: from the glitter of the Gold Souk to the aromas and colours of the neighbouring Spice Souk; from the exotic delights of the Fruit and Vegetable Souk to the designer knock-offs of Karama Market, you should be prepared for an assault on the senses and the pocket.
Farewell from the heights: the Dubai skyline is dominated by a progression of ever-taller buildings, whose form and scale seem to defy gravity. Say goodbye to this fascinating city from the top of one of these iconic buildings: the Burj Al Arab is no longer the tallest, but its iconic sail-like silhouette means it has retained much of its allure. Treat yourself to a farewell meal with views to die for at its 27th-floor, fine dining restaurant, Al Muntaha (Arabic for ‘the Ultimate’ or ‘The Top’), or Sky Tea at the next-door Skyview Bar.
This is just a small sample of the many experiences you can squeeze into a 24-hour stay in Dubai, but contact your personal travel manager here and they can share their own experiences with you.