Make your layover in Dubai an exciting mini vacation!

Make your layover in Dubai an exciting mini vacation!

by | Apr 30, 2017 | Destinations, Dubai | 0 comments

What to do on a 16 hour layover in Dubai? Go explore the city and turn your layover into an exciting mini-vacation! At least… That’s what I did. I booked my ticket to India and saw that I had a layover in Dubai. The first time in all my flying around, I was flying over the busiest airport in the world! I was so excited! The best thing about not having a direct flight is that you can add an extra stop to your vacation, because most of the time you can extend your layover. So I did. Instead of 3 hours waiting on the airport, I choose for a 16 hour layover in Dubai and couldn’t wait to make the most of this mini-vacation! I spent a full day, saw almost all the incredible sights, definitely got the Dubai feeling while I only spent 70 euro (incl. Burj Khalifa €30).


THE WAY TO GET AROUND, the metro for sure!

If you’re on a budget, but also if you want to have the perfect view over the city and no traffic, take metro’s. The Metro to the city leaves from terminal 1 and terminal 3, which runs every 10 minutes starting at 5:50am. If you fly with a low cost airline, like me 🙂 , you most likely end up flying in and out from terminal 2. In between terminal 2 and the other terminals is a (not so frequently) bus what is really cheap or a taxi what is also not that expensive. To use the public transport you can buy a Nol card, which can be topped off with credit and includes discounts on the standard fare. I bought a card for around 20 euro what lasted me the full day metro-ing and bussing around.

If you have a big bag or suitcase, don’t worry! Terminals 1 and 3 offer 24/7 luggage storage. You have to go there anyway to catch the metro and for 20-25 AED, depending on the size of your luggage, you can store it up to 12 hours. I would not carry your bags around while you’re on a 16 hour layover in Dubai!

16 hour layover dubai metro


BURJ KHALIFA, the highest building in the world!

If you want to see the best view of the city, you can make your way to the top of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building (828 meters). To get to the observation deck you’ll take the high speed elevator what goes 10 meters per second to the 124th floor. The view from the top spans from the desert through the city to the ocean, and is probably the most magical at night. Because I was leaving around 8PM and not able to see the sunset and Dubai by night I decided to go early in the morning when the light is the best for photos. TIP: If you book your tickets online you save almost 70 euro! So definitely book in advanced. I didn’t know what time I would be arriving so I booked it 30 min before while drinking a coffee in the Dubai Mall which is located at the ground floor of the Burj Khalifa. Easy and it saves you a lot of money!

Burj Khalifa view


THE FOUNTAINS, only in the night!

I had a 16 hour layover in Dubai in the day time and needed to go back to the airport during sunset, so no sunset from the Burj Khalifa and no fountains for me! But if you can, I think it is a must see! Within the shadow of the world’s tallest building are these world’s largest choreographed fountains and also the most expensive ones ever built. The fountains consist out of 6,600 lights, 25 colour projectors 83,000 liters of water what shoot up to 125 meters. The fountains are visible from any point along the boardwalk, I only saw them from above, with no water coming out… 🙁

Burj Khalifa top


THE MALLS, a big playground!

The malls in Dubai are insane! They are jammed with shops, restaurants, ice-rinks, movie theaters, underwater zoos, indoor theme parks, massive kid zones, ski lifts, etc. etc. The Dubai Mall is the world’s biggest shopping mall. I only had a 16 hour layover in Dubai but I think I could spent 16 days just shopping around. But it’s already an attraction to walk through them.. Definitely check one or some of them out!

Dubai shopping


CHILL AT THE BEACH, instead of booking a hotel!?

I guess it depends when your layover is but if you can save on accommodation, I would… There were people who had the same layover and booked a ho(s)tel for that night but the check out time is at 12:00 so you can only have a couple of hours sleep. And sleeping means less time to spend in this amazing city, you only have a 16 hour layover in Dubai! You can always sleep in the airplane later! But, there is a lot of walking involved, and you will get tired and you will feel your feet! This is the best time to check out the the beach, take a break and maybe even dip in the ocean! TIP: Pack your bathing suit!

layover dubai


THE DUBAI MARINA, probably the best place to spent your money!

Whole Dubai is full of awe-striking buildings, but the Dubai Marina stands out as the home to some of Dubai’s newest and most fascinating buildings and attractions where you can relax in comfort and luxury along the waterfront. While I didn’t eat or drink something I really enjoyed this part of the city. The best way to see Dubai Marina is probably just by walking around and enjoying the skyline and all the big expensive yachts. The marina area has been built with several kilometres of walkways, so even here you could spent a whole day, I only did a small afternoon stroll before I headed to my last stop…

dubai marina


BURJ AL ARAB, a ******* hotel!

The last stop, and I didn’t even feel like it anymore, was the Burj al Arab. Happy that I did it! This famous sailing-boat shaped hotel is the world’s only seven-star hotel. It is repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel and I was tempted to just walk in and pretend that I was a guest but I was too tired to go in a discussion with one of the many security people.. So I took a picture and I finally made my way back to the airport..

dubai burj al arab


SPLURGE A NIGHT, in the city of gold..

If you have a 16 hour layover in Dubai (or longer) in the night, you can check out some good deals on booking! There are some amazing hotels, sometimes for pretty affordable prices… I would maybe splurge for one night in the city of gold! 🙂 But, If you just wanna have a cheap place, check out Hostelworld.

Time for a mini vacation?


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Hi! I’m Maartje, a Dutchie who left her home to explore the world slowly, thoroughly and never came back. I’m just a little obsessed with travelling, photography, scuba diving and enjoying life.

(read more about me)


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