9 experiences and attractions to try for family fun in Dubai
We've listed down the best family-friendly activities you can try in Dubai!
If you are planning to go on a Dubai holiday with kids, read on. If not, read on anyway because this list may make you consider the city as your next family holiday destination!
Dubai is known as a playground for adults being a well-known shopping haven and for having a pulsing night-life. However, this part of the Arabian Peninsula offers not just retail options in biblical proportions and a happening club scene. It also has a large variety of family-friendly attractions and experiences—enough for the city to be considered as a playground for the little ones.
We recently visited Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and tried out these family-friendly places and narrowed down nine (9) activities and attractions you need to check out when you go on a Dubai holiday with kids.
Things to do when on a Dubai holiday with kids
1. Learn about Dubai’s rich culture and customs over a meal at the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)
Going on overseas trips with your kids is one of the best ways you can teach them about cultures different from what they are used to. By going on a Dubai holiday with kids, you can do so, over authentic Emirati cuisines or through easy walking tours along the Al Fahidi Historic District with the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU).
Their programs are catered to both locals and tourists alike, and for all ages, making the learning experience accessible to all.
Pro tip: Join the cultural lunch. Afterwards, check out the Arabian Camel Show where the kids can learn fascinating facts about the Arabian camel. They will have the opportunity to interact, feed and even take selfies with these beautiful animals! Prefer a tour of the neighbourhood instead? The Al Fahidi Historic District offers a plethora of cultural activities, museums, art galleries, and traditional food options for the whole family to explore.
2. Elevate your Dubai holiday with kids experience to new heights at the Burj Khalifa
No Dubai holiday is ever complete without a visit to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
Take a speedy elevator to the 124th floor of our iconic landmark for 360-degree views of Dubai.
The kids will enjoy the visit here because aside from the views, there’s also an interactive screen where you see different Dubai landmarks by hovering your hands over high-tech sensors. There is also a VR experience on the 125th floor. Here, you and your kids can see Dubai from a birds-eye perspective through the Falcon’s Eye View.
Tickets to the observation deck start at SGD 77 per adult and SGD 69 for children ages 4-11. Children below 3 years enter for free.
Pro-tip: Pre-book your tickets to Burj Khalifa’s observation deck to avoid paying peak rates (of up to 4 times the price!). If possible, book your tickets as far as 30 days in advance. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen if you plan to go out the indoor viewing deck up at the top!
3. Do more than just shopping at Dubai Mall
Retail therapy will come easy in Dubai with 65 malls currently operating in the city. But let’s face it, shopping isn’t exactly what many of us would consider the most ideal family-bonding time with our kids—especially overseas. So why head to the Dubai Mall, you may ask?
Well, apart from over 1,200 retail stores, Dubai Mall also houses some of the city’s most family-friendly attractions. These are the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, and The Dubai Fountain.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Here, your kids can get up-close the glorious marine life and learn about aquatic animals. The Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. It features over 140 species of marine creatures that the kids will be able to see in the walk-through Tunnel as well as the glass-bottom boat ride.
Tickets start at SGD 36. Book your entry and other activities at the Dubai Aquarium here.
The Dubai Fountain
This dancing fountain is a great way to end your evening after a fun-filled day exploring the Dubai Mall. Your kids will enjoy a spectacular show of water grooving like graceful dancers and arcs like dolphins. The water reaches as high as 140m—making it the largest choreographed fountain system in the world.
Watch the show of lights and sounds from various vantage points within downtown Dubai. Your family can also set sail on a traditional Abra ride on the Burj Lake where you and your kids can enjoy front-row seats to this beautiful sight. What’s more, children below 3 ride free. Yass!
Book your tickets for the Dubai Fountain show. Prices start at SGD 18.
Pro tip: We’re not kidding when we said the Dubai Mall is huge. It helps to do some advanced planning to avoid delays and potential tantrums.
4. Enter a new world of fun and excitement during your Dubai holiday with kids at the IMG Worlds of Adventure
Dubai does everything big. As it begins to bill itself the theme park capital of the world, it is not surprising that you can find the world’s biggest indoor theme park here: IMG Worlds of Adventure. It spreads across an area the size of some 28 football field.
The theme park comprises of four zones—Marvel, IMG Boulevard, the dinosaur-themed zone Lost World, and Cartoon Network, which is great for the tiny tots. It also comes with a 12-screen cinema complex equipped with 3D IMAX that promises a 7-star comfort for the whole family.
Admissions to IMG Worlds of Adventures start at SGD 77 per adult and SG 69 per children under 1.2m in height.
Pro-tip: If you’re travelling with preschoolers, make sure to take them to the Cartoon Network zone. This part of the theme park has activities for smaller children that will help them stimulate their imagination. Here, they can fight robots with the Powerpuff Girls and cheer on Ben 10 in a smell- and touch-enhanced 5D cinema.
5. Enjoy winter all-year-round at Ski Dubai
Looking to escape the tropical weather in Singapore? Well, you don’t have to wait for winter to go experience snow in Dubai with Ski Dubai.
The indoor ski park features a temperature constantly at -4 degrees, allowing for family fun in the snow all-year-round. Here, the whole family can enjoy winter wonderland and do sledding and tobogganing, or just build a snowman and play with penguins!
Ski Dubai is located at the Mall of the Emirates. Tickets and packages are available online.
Pro-tip: If you don’t own ski gears, it’s okay. Ski Dubai offers rental of ski gears for the whole family. Make sure to book your outfits and equipment 24 hours prior to your visit there.
6. Experience the cultures of the world at the Global Village
As much as possible, we want to take our kids to different destinations every time we plan for a holiday. Unfortunately, for many of us, we can only tick out the countries from our lists one at a time.
Fortunately, in Dubai, you and your family can discover more than 75 countries displaying traditional handicrafts and snacks across 30+ pavilions in one destination: Global Village.
The kids will enjoy the lively vibe and bright lights, as well as the multiple activities (with 50 games and thrilling rides), all in the midst of Global Village’s mini versions of London’s Big Ben, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Taj Mahal and Ancient Egypt.
Available only during the winter season, this festival park is definitely a must-see for families.
Admissions to the Global Village is at SGD 4.
Pro-tip: The theme park spans a wide area. Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable footwear so you can visit all the pavilions. Don’t forget your jacket! It can get a bit chilly at night!
7. Eat, play and unwind at La Mer
Dubai’s has a desert climate which means that most activities are indoors. However, this doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of outdoor attractions and experiences for your mini-travellers.
The city’s beachfront destination, La Mer, is designed to put emphasis on water activities and beach sports for the whole family. It features two (2) key attractions. One is the Japanese-inspired inflatable playground called Hawa Hawa. La Mer also features the new Laguna Waterpark which features five water slides, a surf machine and more play areas for children.
Pro-tip: If you are looking for a more laid-back beach time with the fam, head to the destination’s beach-side cabanas where parents can sit back and relax while the kids can build sand castles or play around the colourful boats on the sand. Don’t forget to bring beach toys and extra clothes!
8. See the old and new Dubai through the Dubai Frame
More than just a rectangular picture frame. this landmark, which stands at 150m up in the sky, offers panoramic views of both the old and the new Dubai. The whole family can opt to join a one-hour tour which revolves around the city’s past, present and future, here.
The frame is now open daily from 10 am until 7 pm and is priced at just SGD 18 for adults and SGD 8 for children. Free admissions apply to infants (under the age of 3) and people of determination plus their 2 companions.
Fun fact! Did you know that instead of “people with disabilities,” the UAE introduced the term “people of determination” as part of the national strategy for empowering people with disabilities? It’s a great value to teach our kids that disabilities should not hinder us from doing things that we think are not possible, and that determination and strong will can do the impossible!
Pro-tip: Make sure you are hand-in-hand with your child when walking on the glass bridge. The middle panel on this bridge may look like a typical floor but it actually clears when you stand on it and shows exactly what is under!
9. Explore the great outdoors at Dubai’s deserts
And what’s a holiday in Dubai without going to the Arabian deserts? Be it an overnight stay at one of the camps or a day excursion, you and your family can experience the best desert adventures just 45 minutes away from Dubai’s city centre.
Take a tour of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where the whole family can explore the wildlife and see native animals like gazelles, camels and the Arabian oryx through a drive in vintage Land Rovers.
Through the Desert Safari, the kids can learn about the cultural heritage and natural environment—the may come with possible close encounters with the desert animals—with the help of the conservation guide who leads the drive across the Royal desert.
Pro-tip: Morning Dune Drives are ideal for visitors with children, or those looking for more relaxed desert activities. This morning desert safari, offered by Platinum Heritage in Dubai, includes a variety of kid-friendly activities such as spotting desert wildlife, a camel ride and sand-boarding (during the winter months).
Hot Air Balloon Flight
Take flight on a hot air balloon with the whole family, catch the glorious Dubai sunrise and watch the surrounding landscapes come alive 4,000ft from the ground. Every balloon flight can accommodate about 20 pax and children from the age of 5 can take the flight.
What makes hot air balloon flights in Dubai is that it comes with a falconry show up in every flight. It’s an experience that is one-of-a-kind in the world. The kids will find it most fascinating when the falcon is released from the hot air balloon. Here, the falcon demonstrates speed and agility by flying below, above and around the balloon.
Pro-tip: Balloon Adventures Dubai offers packages from the basic hot air balloon ride to an overnight stay at a desert camp with a sunrise flight that ends with a lavish breakfast spread in an authentic Heritage camp nestled in the desert.
With this list, we hope that you find Dubai holiday with kids easy like a child’s play.
One final tip: There is plenty to do in Dubai—from theme parks to cultural tours. Make sure you involve your kids in planning the day-to-day schedule of your trip. This stimulates their curiosity and excitement and lessens the possibility of them throwing tantrums during the trip.
* Our trip to Dubai was arranged by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing of Dubai. We flew to Dubai via Emirates.