The UAE is a country of contrasts. Between the Arabian desert and the cool breezes of the Persian Gulf coast, you’ll be able to experience all the modern, cultural and adventurous experiences this unique country has to offer. Desert safaris, beach coasts or the dazzling modern wonders of a sophisticated emirate are not far from you. While there are many attractions spread across the UAE’s seven emirates, for first-time tourists and families, it’s best to choose the UAE’s main emirates – Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When traveling with children, it is imperative to make room for your travel itinerary and add attractions that will interest the little ones. Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have incredible sights and experiences to immerse and amaze children and adults alike on their journeys. 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 one is that Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only emirates in the UAE that surpass excellence in extraordinary, groundbreaking attractions and leisure experiences. Combined, you can find tons of attractions in these two emirates, and deciding where to go and what to do from just these two emirates can be a challenge. In addition, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most famous places with many family-friendly, kid-friendly attractions and places to relax.
- The second reason is that the connection between the two emirates is amazing and easy. As neighboring emirates with impeccable and efficient infrastructure, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are conveniently located just two hours away by car.
- Finally, the hotels and resorts in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most amazing, with world-class quality and service. Various resorts and hotels have been developed keeping family holidaymakers in mind and equipped with comfortable accommodation. These hotel options in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are also suitable for any budget and even offer unique features such as play areas and kids’ menus, making them a kid-friendly place to stay in the UAE.
Before we begin, please consider that the following itinerary has been prepared under the assumption that tourists will arrive in Dubai early on the last day and leave late at night. If you arrive late at night on the first day of your trip, check into the hotel and relax. Fresh from the second day.
Day 1 – Exploring Downtown Dubai
Highlights: Jumeirah Public Beach – Orioli or Green Planet – The Dubai Mall – Burj Khalifa – The Dubai Fountain
Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Then head to Jumeirah Public Beach for breathtaking views of the Persian Gulf, flanked by sand and the incredibly beautiful Dubai city skyline, including the impressive Burj Al Arab Jumeirah.
After admiring this breathtaking panorama, it’s time for the kids to have fun. Depending on your child’s age, you can book an Oli-Oli or Green Planet experience in Dubai. Oli Oli is a fun and lively game museum that will appeal to young children. If you are visiting Dubai with teens or teens, choose Green Planet Dubai. Dubai Green Planet is a fascinating attraction where you can explore verdant rainforests and waterfalls filled with exotic birds and wildlife.
Afterwards, take a lunch break before heading to The Dubai Mall for a quality time. Here, you can spend a lot of time exploring the amazing creatures of the marine world at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Once you are done with this wonderful experience, spend time exploring the mall and shopping if you wish.
Come dusk, head to the majestic Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain, which glisten in colourful lights at night. Watch this extravaganza from the “Top of the Burj Khalifa” tour, which offers panoramic views of the illuminated Dubai Fountain, the city and beyond. Enjoy a dinner experience in Downtown Dubai before returning to your hotel.
Industry insider tips: For an additional fee, guests can also take a Burj Lake cruise, where you can take a stroll on the lake where the Dubai Fountain is located and admire the wonders of the fountain up close.
Day 2 – Desert tour, incredible museum and great show.
Highlights: Half day in the morning Dubai Desert Safari – Museum of the Future – La Perle By Dragone Show
Day 2 begins early on a long journey through downtown Dubai and into the rolling golden sand dunes of the Arabian Desert. Spend a leisurely morning enjoying the serene beauty of the desert landscape bathed in the early morning sun. Then go on a desert adventure and try some amazing desert sports like sandboarding, quad biking and camel riding.
Return to the city for a hearty lunch in the afternoon. Enjoy an interesting time in Dubai’s past before your first half day in Dubai becomes a modern city. The second part of the day gives you an idea of how far Dubai has grown as a city of the future. Explore the Museum of the Future, a one-of-a-kind architectural marvel and a museum dedicated to looking to the future and working to make it a better place for humanity.
On your second day in Dubai, you’ll have a stunning water show at La Perle by Dragone, where you’ll marvel at the smooth acrobatic movements and choreography of the Water Theatre, before enjoying dinner.
Industry insider tips: If you and your family don’t want to go on an adventurous desert safari, you can replace a hot air balloon ride with breakfast.
Day 3: Say hello to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Highlights: Book your tickets to Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi or Yas Waterworld based on your interests. Spend the day in these charming parks.
After enjoying the sights and adventures of Dubai for the first two days, it’s time to visit Abu Dhabi, the capital emirate of the United Arab Emirates. After breakfast, check out and embark on an exciting journey to Abu Dhabi. Check in at your accommodation in Yas Island. The rest of the time is spent on one of the many attractions and adventures at Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi or Yas Waterworld – depending on what you book and what suits your family’s interests.
The whole day will fly by as there are plenty of rides and activities to keep you and your family entertained. Enjoy lunch at one of the theme park’s great restaurants or food outlets. After a great day here, relax and enjoy dinner before returning to your hotel in Abu Dhabi for the night. You can also book your stay at the luxurious WB Hotel Yas Island Abu Dhabi at Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.
Day 4: Return to Dubai
Highlights: Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque – Palm Jumeirah – Ain Dubai – Global Village
Day 4 After breakfast, visit one of the most beautiful landmarks in the UAE – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Spend some time strolling through the stunning views of the white and gold domes and columns, and the splendid views they radiate.
Afterwards, return to Dubai and settle in your hotel before visiting Palm Jumeirah, the largest man-made island in the world. Spend your time at the Palm Tower and enjoy unparalleled panoramic views of the Palm Jumeirah from the “Palm View” observation deck. Spend the day enjoying a delicious lunch at a restaurant in Dubai Marina or Palm Jumeirah, or head to the beach for some amazing water sports. Afterwards, ride the world’s largest Ferris wheel, Ain Dubai, and enjoy breathtaking views of Dubai city and the Persian Gulf from a unique vantage point.
Spend the rest of your time at Global Village, a one-of-a-kind world carnival offering incredible cultural and culinary experiences from over 90 countries. This is the perfect place for your family to meet new people, learn about other countries and enjoy a variety of cuisines from around the world.
Day 5: Say goodbye to a trip to the past before Dubai.
Highlights: Al Fahidi Historic District and Dubai Souks – back to the airport
On your last day in Dubai, before you say goodbye to the suave emirate, you must experience a different side of Dubai – a time before all the sophisticated modernity becomes the emirate’s highlight. After your breakfast and check-out from your hotel, take a short stop in the Al Fahidi Historic District and Dubai Creek to experience the contrasting atmosphere of Dubai, unlike the modern Dubai you’ve experienced so far. Stop at the Dubai Souks to pick up some souvenirs to take home to remember your wonderful time in the UAE. Your trip to the UAE will end with a connecting flight to Dubai International Airport for your subsequent flight.
There are so many great accommodations in the UAE, and choosing which one is best for your vacation can be a hassle. Below is a list of featured family-friendly hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for your reference.
In Downtown Dubai and Old Dubai
at Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach and Palm Jumeirah
Abu Dhabi on Yas Island
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 holidaymakers
Before you plan your holiday, please check that the passports of all your family members are valid within 6 months of your arrival in Dubai. If your passport is not valid for 6 months, your UAE visa may be refused.
Plan your vacation during Dubai’s cool months from October to March. It’s also the only time of year that you can explore seasonal attractions like the Global Village. December and January are festivals in the UAE, especially in Dubai where you will find it crowded and expensive.
Pack light as you will most likely be going home with extra luggage luggage. Dress in plain, airy cotton clothing as Dubai can be hot at any time of year. It is best to wear several layers, so that you can add an extra layer of clothing indoors, and take it off when you feel hot. Staying hydrated, applying sunscreen and carrying a water bottle, sunglasses and hat are non-negotiable necessities and should always be with you on your trip to the UAE.
Finally, there is a proverb – “In Rome, be Roman…” The same needs to be followed when you visit any foreign country. It has significance in the UAE because the destination has a set of norms and rules that everyone should follow, whether they are locals or tourists. It is necessary to remember what items can be brought with you into the UAE as the country has strict policies on medicines, even those used for medicinal purposes. If you really must carry medication, even a child, it is highly recommended that you use your doctor’s prescription.