During most of my travels, I am flying Emirates or Eithad airlines. Now these airlines fly only via their respective countries Dubai and Abu Dhabi. If you haven’t visited any of these Middle Eastern countries it’s a good way to add them in your itinerary just to get a glimpse of Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
To begin with, anyone traveling from a western country i.e the United States, Canada, Europe, UK, Australia etc. can get visa on arrival while traveling by Emirates. This allows you to explore Dubai for a couple of hours, which is more than enough if you have an 8 to 12 hours layover. It’s the same policy for Eithad Airways as well.
Both these cities are fantastic and there is a lot you can explore and see in a couple of hours since everything in the city is in close proximity.
Things to do in Dubai during a layover:
First on the list would be the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building. I would recommend going there first, it would be only a 15 – 20 minutes drive from the airport. This is located at Downtown Dubai, one of the prime areas with a lot of high rises and the Dubai Mall of course.
Going up to the Burj Khalifa should be on the top of your list, there is a coffee shop called Atmosphere if you fancy having coffee on top of the world with a breath taking view.
Dubai Mall is located right next to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, you could easily spend 4-5 hours here with a complete shopping spree, to lot of restaurants to go to and for kids there are a lot of attractions here, like the underwater aquarium and zoo, watch the beautiful fountain show outside the mall and by the Burj Khalifa its one of the best ways to spend the evening in Dubai if you’re visiting for the first time.
For the ones that want to explore something outdoors, you could go to Jumeirah Beach side and explore that part of the city, by tanning on the beach or doing the water sports by the beach. This isn’t enough, families with kids can go visit Wild Wadi Water Park and spend the entire day splashing into those notorious water rides. If not this, relaxing on the beach and enjoying some sheesha would be ideal.
Things to do in Abu Dhabi during a layover:
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is one of the largest mosques in the world, and has the largest knotted carpet in the world. This mosque is majestic and an architectural beauty, this one is a must visit during your layover, it’s the best way to appreciate the culture and this piece of art. You could take a guided tour to understand the history, architecture and purpose of the mosque.
Ferrari world is a Ferrari themed amusement park, which has the fastest roll-coaster in the world. Yes, it’s actually the fastest at 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. This ride is definitely gives you an adrenaline rush by the end of it. Apart from this attraction Ferrari world has a lot other rides, car shows, movies to enjoy for the day. It would be a perfect way to spend your day during a lay over in Abu Dhabi. One-day ticket would cost 350 AED, which would be 65 GBP and the timings are from 11 am to 8 pm.
These are a few things I did during my layover in these middle eastern countries, personally I feel layovers which allow to go explore a new city are amazing, its one of the best ways to explore a new place, get an essence of a different culture and have another destination to add on your list without any extra cost.