3 days in Dubai: Family trip Itinerary to the City of Gold

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Dubai is culturally rich enough to satisfy your cravings for a deeper connection while being glam enough to indulge your greedy side. Dubai has what your heart and mind desire – luxurious accommodations, uber-glamourous attractions and myriad activities for both grownups and kids. This Dubai Itinerary has the best attractions and things to do in the city. This Dubai family trip itinerary is a carefully crafted plan that takes visitors on a whirlwind tour of the city’s cultural immersion, show-stopping landmarks, and thrilling outdoor activities. There are so many attractions in Dubai for kids that 3 days would whiz past.

Dubai is a city that never fails to impress with its stunning skyline, luxurious resorts, and vibrant culture. With so much to see and do, planning a 3-day itinerary in Dubai can be overwhelming. However, this family trip itinerary to the city of gold offers the best attractions to make the most of your stay. The city offers excitement for all age groups to keep them on the edge of their seats till they go home!  If you’ve got 3 days in Dubai, you won’t be wasting a moment. Dive into this Dubai Trip Itinerary right away!

This iconic uber-luxury hotel defined the glam city much before Burj Khalifa came up.

This itinerary offers the best of Dubai that fits the desires of both adults and kids on a family trip. And when you have had your fill of the city, you could consider these 7 fabulous day trips from Dubai to take.

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Dubai Itinerary for 3 days

Visiting Dubai in 3 days, you will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the city’s rich culture, witness its show-stopping landmarks, and enjoy thrilling outdoor activities.

Day 1: Begin with a Cultural Tour (Morning & afternoon)

The Dubai Creek divides Dubai into Old and New Dubai. On one side of the creek lies Bur Dubai and the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, and on the other side, Deira and the rest of modern Dubai.

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The traditional houses and wind towers are lovely.

Begin your Dubai Itinerary exploring the old Al Fahidi or the Bastikaya neighbourhood. Stroll the meandering pathways scattered with wind towers and traditional Arabian homes. Here is a detailed itinerary of what to do and see in this area –

  • Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to learn more about the Emirati culture.
  • Check out the Majlis Gallery, Dubai’s very first art gallery.
  • Stop for a coffee at the famous Basta Art Café.
  • Visit the Al-Fahidi Fort, which is the oldest surviving building in Dubai, which now houses the Dubai Museum. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and traditions of Dubai.
  • Do some marketing at the Bur Dubai Souq, where you can purchase every kind of spice that was ever grown.
  • There’s also a bustling textile market here that’s been in business since the 1830s.
  • Take the short abra ride from Bur Dubai to Deira. Watch the colourful dhows on the creek, and explore the Grand Souq and the Spice Souq of Deira.
  • Explore the Heritage House and the Al-Ahmadiya School, both of which are excellent examples of late-19th-century Arabian architecture.

The thing about Dubai is that even a cultural tour is not boring – your kids will enjoy it if you educate them as to the significance. Old Dubai has many lovely cafes that your kids will love. You can opt for a DIY walk ini the area or take a cultural tour:

Day 1: Take a Dinner Dhow Cruise (evening)

This evening dhow cruise makes for an enjoyable affair for the whole family.

A dhow dinner cruise is a fabulous way to finish off your first day in Dubai. The beautifully renovated and decorated dhow cruise, either on the Dubai Creek or the Dubai Marina, takes you past some of the finest landmarks in the city. The 2-hour dinner dhow cruise allows you to take in the Dubai skyline from a unique perspective.

Watch the city lights sparkling, their reflections glittering on the dark water as you enjoy some on-board belly dancing, henna painting and a full Emirati buffet dinner. A dhow dinner cruise is a must-do in your Dubai itinerary for 3 days. Here are some cruise options to book:

Check out this guide to where to stay in Dubai across all budgets.

Day 2: Hop on Hop off Big Bus Tour (morning)

Broaden your exposure to Dubai on the second day by taking a hop-on-hop-off big bus tour. There are several bus tour routes – choose the one that fits your timelines best. If you choose a route that takes you to most of Dubai’s landmarks, you can see a great deal of the city in just half a day.

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See the major landmarks.

The beauty of this bus tour is that you can get off at various stops and explore attractions on foot. There’s another bus lining up at the next stop every 15 minutes so it’s easy for you to get back on the tour. You can opt for a 24, 48 or 72 Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus tour.

Day 2: Desert Safari Tour (evening)

No Dubai trip itinerary is complete without a visit to the famed sand dunes! Book a desert safari for your second evening in Dubai and by 4pm, you’ll be on the road to the majestic dunes for your evening desert safari.

You have to see a sunset in a desert to admire nature’s beauty.

If you like, you can participate in various desert sports such as dune bashing, quad biking, sand boarding and camel riding on the dunes of the Arabian Desert. You’ll camp at a typical Arabian Bedouin campsite and enjoy the live in-tent entertainment, including belly dancing, Tanura show and henna artists. When it’s time for sunset, be sure to get your tripod out and take some scintillating, Instagram-worthy pictures of a desert sunset.

Browse through these desert safari options:


Day 3: Ski Dubai (morning)

Nothing seems more incongruous and fantastical in Dubai than an indoor ski resort in the middle of a desert. Incongruous or not, it’s there, and worth a visit on your 3-day trip. The huge indoor manmade mountain has several ski slopes, even offering different scales of challenges, from beginner to expert-level. You can book a 2-hour or a Full day pass (includes clothing and equipment) for Ski Dubai.

There’s a snow playground for kids that has live penguins scampering about. There’s a café on the tallest mountain for those who want to sip their hot coffees and watch the fun. You can ski, toboggan, snowboard or just enjoy the show as you wish.

Day 3: Wild Wadi Water Park (noon)

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Family fun!

Here’s something for the kids – Dubai’s most exciting water park just as the sweltering sun hits an all-time high at noon. When it’s 40 degrees and more outside, nothing feels better than cool water as you gush through a sky-high slide.

Grown-ups will delight in the perfect view of the Burj Al Arab from the Wild Wadi Water Park – another attraction to see on your list. The water park has a lazy river, a shallow wave pool, a surf machine, and a number of adrenalin-pumping rides that both kids and grownups will enjoy in your party. The scariest ride is the Jumeirah Sceirah, wherein you get into an upright capsule, and then the floor gives away beneath you as you tumble into a pool of water below. Book a Wild Wadi Full-Day entrance ticket.

Check out this post on other amazing water parks in UAE.

Day 3: Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountains

End your Dubai trip in style! From the Wild Wadi Waterpark, head to the incomparable Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building. The city of world records has many more interesting facts.

At the Burj Khalifa, visit the observation deck on level 125, which is 465 metres above the ground. Enjoy a falcon’s eye view of the city from here. Make use of the telescopes that are placed in different spots to gaze into the distance.

On the ground floor, explore the Dubai Mall and its many retail outlets and food court eateries. The Dubai Mall has 1200 plus retail outlets and it’s not possible to take them all in one afternoon, so don’t even try. Just follow the map and visit only those stores that you absolutely want to. Don’t miss a visit to the gold souqs – you’ll never see so much gold anywhere else!

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The tallest building in the world.

Outside, the Dubai Fountain – a choreographed fantasy of laser lights and fountain jets – awaits to thrill you. The Dubai Fountain has been designed by the same people who set up the Las Vegas Bellagio fountain show. It’s a delightful show that plays to some of the fanciest tunes in the world.

Cultural immersion, show-stopping landmarks, an evening in the open desert, skiing in the morning, a water-park in the afternoon and the world’s tallest building and a fantastical show to end your evening – where else will you experience so much in just 3 days!

Travel Tips for Dubai Itinerary

Visitors planning their family trip to Dubai can fully experience the best attractions the city has to offer and create lifelong memories. While planning your travel to UAE, you should also consider Dubai Tourist Visa or Dubai Visa on arrival. Make the most of the trip via these travel tips to Dubai –

Where to stay in Dubai

Downtown Dubai is one of the best areas to stay in Dubai, as it is close to many famous landmarks. Then there is Dubai Marina, which is a great area for the best nightlife but also quite expensive. Jumeirah Beach Residence is a great area to stay in, if you prefer proximity to beaches and water activities.

Consider staying in Bur Dubai if you want closer access to historical sightseeing. Deira is one of the cheapest neighbourhoods in Dubai and good for budget travelers.

When to visit Dubai

The best time to visit Dubai is during the winter months from November to March when the weather is comfortable for sightseeing throughout the day. But do note that  December-end to mid-February is the peak season with crowds, long queues and skyrocketing hotel prices. So you may want to plan your trip in late Nov or in March.

What to pack for your Dubai holiday

Weather and culture both need to be accounted for while packing for your Dubai trip. Airy, loose cotton or linen clothes work best. Shorts and sleeveless clothing are acceptable at major tourist places.

Swimwear is acceptable around the beach and near pool area. But don’t wear overly skimpy bikinis on public beaches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Make sure you are modestly dressed while visiting any mosque. Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses are a must to stay protected from the Dubai sun & heat.

Be mindful of local customs and etiquettes

Despite the glitz, Dubai remains a conservative society, so behave accordingly. Don’t display drunken behaviour in public. And absolutely no public displays of affection. It is better to avoid hugs in public and even holding hands. When in local company, women travellers should avoid shaking hands unless the men offer to shake hands first.

Travel within Dubai

Do carry your international driving license to rent a car in the city. As such, you can hire a taxi easily anywhere in the city, so it is fine to not rent a car for a short trip to Dubai.

One of the important travel tips for Dubai is that the Dubai Metro is a fast, convenient and affordable way to reach your destination.

Food and Nightlife in Dubai

With around 200 nationalities residing in Dubai, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding good food with a world of flavour. Everything from fiery Indian curries and meaty Arabic grills to the finest European fare and Japanese sushi is on offer in the city.

Nightlife is awesome and there are many clubs and bars to suit all budgets in the city. There is alcohol available in Dubai!

Shopping in Dubai

If shopping is your primary agenda at Dubai, then you must plan your trip to coincide with the Dubai Shopping Festival (January) or Dubai Summer Surprises (July) for the best deals and heftiest discounts on all items.

While shopping for gold in the dazzling Dubai Gold Souk be sure to compare prices at various stores and then bargain for the best price. 

This is a Guest Post by Neha Singh. Neha is an avid trekker who often takes off time from her busy life for mountaineering. She loves meeting new people and gets attached to their culture easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”. Neha writes about Dubai at http://dubaiwikia.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

[This post was originally published in 2018, and later updated in 2023.]

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Why Amsterdam is a wonderful city break for families

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