Not just deserts
From souks to sand dunes and historic forts to theme parks, Dubai promises a fun-packed family holiday. By Karla Courtney.
Explore the Old Town
Dubai has a lively Old Town that’s full of character – explore it on foot to soak up its history at your own pace. Check out the Al Fahidi Fort (which houses the Dubai Museum) and a couple of the markets. Then catch a traditional abra (water taxi) across the creek to Deira. This short ride costs just one dirham (about 35 cents) per person and the kids will love it. In Deira, you’ll find the famous gold and spice souks, as well as the brand-new Waterfront Market (waterfrontmarket.ae), which offers fresh produce, fashion stores and a selection of restaurants and cafés.
See Dubai from above
Looking down from the viewing platform on the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa (burjkhalifa.ae) – the world’s tallest tower – is like having your own live Google Maps view of the city. Getting there is easy; head to the lower-ground floor of the Dubai Mall, where you can buy tickets for your escorted elevator ride to the top. The mall is also home to the must-see Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (thedubaiaquarium.com).
Go wild in the sand dunes
Experience the desert with Orient Tours’ (orient-tours-uae.com) Sandboarding in the Desert adventure. The four-wheel-drive journey is exhilarating and fun for the whole family as your tour guide revs you up and down the steep hills. But wait till you get to the sandboarding part – it’s fun going down but pretty challenging climbing up so it’s better suited to older children and teens.
Visit a theme park
Motiongate (motiongatedubai. com) is a new movie-themed park with attractions from DreamWorks and other production companies. Legoland (legoland.com/dubai), another new arrival in Dubai, is packed with all the glorious models and colourful brick rides you’d expect from a toy giant.
Stay in the centre of it all
Located between the airport and Old Town to the north and the Dubai Marina and Palm Islands to the south, The St Regis Dubai (hotel.qantas.com.au/stregisdubai) is perfect for a luxurious family stay. Guests can access amenities at the W hotel as well as the Kids Club at The Westin Dubai Al Habtoor City, which has a dedicated splash pool. The St Regis is just across from Safa Park’s playgrounds, walking tracks and beautiful views looking back to the Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai.
Strap on a sandboard for some downhill dune action
The dizzying view from the top of the Burj Khalifa