Dubai has excellent family friendly attractions such as zoos, aquariums and more making it a popular destination for parents with young kids
There are also loads of family friendly hotels with excellent services for parents travelling with babies and kids under 4. See Where to Stay. You will be able to find all your baby and toddler essentials in Dubai also. The city is filled with expats and supermarkets tend to stock international baby food and powdered formula. See Baby and Toddler Essentials for more information on where to buy your necessities. There are also plenty of baby changing facilities (albeit in female restrooms) and you will also find high chairs in family restaurants together with local and international cuisine.
When to Go
The weather in Dubai can be extremely hot so make sure you take precautions for little ones in the heat/ sun. August is particularly hot and you will find most residents seeking to get out of the city at this time of year as temperatures average at 36 degrees Celsius and can go much higher. If possible, travel during the winter months to ensure you and your family are comfortable and safe. Click here for average temperatures for Dubai
Flying to Dubai from the UK and Ireland
Flight time is approximately 6.5 hours from the UK and Ireland making it manageable with babies. Toddlers can be tricky on flights of this durantion so make sure to book an evening flight so they can sleep and plenty of distractions and snacks for the plane.
Dubai’s main airport is the Dubai International Airport . You can also enter Dubai by using Sharjah International Airport in the nearby emirate of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi International Airport in nearby Abu Dhabi. Frequent visitors from countries granted automatic visa on entry may wish to purchase an e-gate card to speed up immigration formalities and save passport pages. The e-gate card office is situated in the upstairs food court area of the terminal 1 departures concourse. You can fly to Dubai with Emirates, which is the state’s national airline and many other airlines. Etihad is the national carrier for Abu Dhabi which is about a 1 hour drive from Dubai.
On Arrival – Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport is the largest hub in the Middle East and the home base of Dubai’s flag carrier Emirates and its low-cost wing FlyDubai. In fact, it has grown at such a furious pace that the present terminals are bursting at the seams, especially during the peak hours around midnight. The Dubai International Airport has three terminals and another one in the making as of end 2010. The airport is excellent for those travelling with babies and toddlers, offering all the facilities you will need from changing areas to nursing rooms fantastic children’s play areas. There are also plenty of restaurants within the airport selling a variety of international cuisines.
Getting to your hotel from the Airport
Most visitors will opt for public taxis from the airport, which are readily available just outside arrivals, which use the meter and start at AED25. Taxis are on the left when you come out of terminal 1. It is always best to pre book a taxi with a car seat if you are travelling with little ones to ensure availability (if you are not bringing your own with you). You can book these from Dubai Taxi Corporation.
Terminals 1 and 3 are served by the Dubai Metro. There are also public bus stations a few hundred metres away from the main terminal building and a shared door-to-door shuttle service that departs whenever the bus fills up. Note that a transit card is required. These can bought at the Metro station or, after closing time, at the downstairs Information desk. The Metro is stroller accessible however, it is easier to get a taxi or shuttle if you are travelling with babies or toddlers as you will be transported straight to your accommodation.
Especially after the launch of the metro, Dubai’s public transport system is probably the best in the Middle East, but it’s still a very car-oriented city and most visitors end up taking taxis quite often. The Wojhati journey planner can suggest the best way to travel.
The Nol Card is a prepaid debit card that can be used to pay for the metro, trams, buses and water buses, and for paid parking provided by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The Nol Card can also be used on taxis. Currently, only 20 taxis and 1000 airport taxis accept the Nol Card. From mid-2015 onwards, all taxis will be equipped with an upgraded system to accept the Nol Card.
Dubai has a 75km automated Metro network. The 52km long Red Line, opened in September 2009 and is driverless and fully automated. While the line does not serve the old city centre, it’s handy for zipping along Dubai’s long coastline and includes stops at the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Mall of the Emirates. The Green Line, which goes through the city core, has been open since September 2011. Transfers are possible at the Union and Burjuman stations. Single tickets range from AED2-8.50, or double that for use of the “Gold” first class carriage. Trains run every 3-5 minutes from 05:50 to Midnight every day except Thursday and Friday, when services are extended to 05:50-01:00 and limited to 13:00-23:59, respectively. All stations are air-conditioned and trains are stroller accessible.
The Dubai Tram
The Dubai Tram opened in November 2014, and currently links Dubai Marina with the Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates. The tram interchanges with Jumeirah Lakes Towers Station and Dubai Marina Station of the Dubai Metro’s Red Line, and two more metro station are expected to connect with the tram in the future. Additionally, in the near future, the Dubai Tram will also connect with the Palm Jumeirah Monorail at the entrance of the Palm from Sufouh Road. Like the Metro, the trams have Gold Class, Silver Class and a separate area for women and children. The tram has a fixed fare of AED3 per ride (AED4 for Red Nol Card holders) regardless of the distance traveled. A Nol Card can be used by passengers to check-in and check-out of the tram by scanning the card at the platform screen doors.
Dubai has a very large bus network run by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which provides a cheaper means of travelling within the several districts in Dubai. A map of the bus system can be found online, as well as detailed route maps and timetables. The buses are clean and cheap, but unfortunately not very comprehensive and (on some routes) quite infrequent. The flat fare is AED2, but might be higher for hour-long rides to distant suburbs. Clear route maps and timetables are placed inside a few bus stands. Ramadan timings differ. The front seats are reserved for women.
Hop on – hop off Buses
Bus tours are a great option if you are travelling with young children as they allow you to travel to the major sites on a stroller accessible bus. For a good, hop on – hop off, type tour try the Big Bus Company. It runs two routes; the blue route through Jumeirah and the recently constructed areas, and the red route centred on the older parts of Dubai. The hub for both routes is Wafi City mall, and an AED175 ticket covers 24 hours of travel.
A 5 km monorail system shuttles passengers across the Palm Jumeirah to the Atlantis hotel, but it’s not yet connected to the metro network or tram line, and is thus of very limited utility.
Taxis ply the streets of Dubai and are relatively easy to spot. The easiest place to find them is at the taxi queue at one of the malls or outside a hotel. Waving down a taxi on the road is possible, but can be difficult during rush hours. Women should travel in the back of the taxi. It is always best to pre book a taxi with a car seat if you are travelling with little ones to ensure availability (if you are not bringing your own with you). You can book these from Dubai Taxi Corporation.
There are a countless number of Rent-A-Cars that will provide a mode of transportation for very cheap rates and very little paperwork. An International Driving Permit is not necessarily required, but hire companies may not rent a car without one. Some agencies will hire out cars complete with drivers.