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Family Vacations to Dubai

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Family Vacations in Dubai

Dubai has the world’s tallest skyline, shopping malls the size of small towns, waterparks with half-million-gallon wave pools and rollercoasters hitting speeds of 40mph.

Why Go

  • Easy access

    Dubai is the Middle East’s main transport hub and has direct flights from most major cities in Canada, including Toronto and Montréal.

  • Year-round sunshine

    A temperate desert climate means guaranteed winter sun and exceptionally hot weather from April to early September.

  • Holidaying in the heat

    December to February is high season in Dubai and most expensive time to visit. But even the bus shelters in Dubai have air-conditioning. So, if you don’t mind heat and humidity, summer is the time to travel for better prices, quieter beaches and shorter lines at waterparks and theme parks.

  • Immaculate beaches

    Dubai sits on the Arabian Gulf and its legendary skyscraper-dense cityscape is trimmed from end to end with immaculately kept white sands. There are beaches for surfing, kite-flying, watersports or just lazing around. And you can opt for free and lively or pay for private and be treated to a little more solitude, bigger sun loungers and personal service.

  • Local culture

    A predominantly Muslim emirate, Dubai is relatively liberal to visitors. Shopping malls, souks and restaurants generally expect you to dress respectfully, but bikinis on the beach are acceptable. Where a strict dress-codes do apply, there are almost always signs to let you know.

  • Have a tipple

    Even the most dedicated parent might want a cocktail occasionally, and that is perfectly acceptable in Dubai. Most hotels and restaurants are licensed to sell alcohol to non-Muslims, and the city even has a celebrated Food & Wine Festival every spring.

Where to Go


This quarter is almost quaint – for Dubai. The ancient fish market and celebrated gold, spice and perfume souks are here. You can still see traditional Emirati courtyard houses on charming Al Ahmadiya Street. And Al Ahmadiya School is the place to learn everything there is to know about the ancient art of pearl-diving. Deira is also good for three- and four-star family hotels and a wide range accommodation.

Downtown Dubai

Downtown is the heart of Dubai’s skyscraper forest, the financial district and home to Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest tower. Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping center, is also here. And, unsurprisingly, it’s the area you’ll find extravagant hotels like  Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Armani Hotel Dubai and the Ritz-Carlton.

Bur Dubai

The city’s oldest district is a complete contrast to glittery glass and chrome downtown. From the Shindagha Watchtower, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House and Dubai Museum to the Bur Dubai Souk and endless heritage exhibitions and galleries, it’s a historic quarter in every sense. Visit at night for the colorful chaos of Hindi Lane and moonlit views of the Creek. Or, base your stay here and soak up the atmosphere from the city’s best-value, most family-friendly hotels.


If you want to be right on the beach, you want Jumeirah. Once a little fishing village and now the most exclusive strip of sand in the Middle East, the entire district is dominated by Burj Al Arab – the world’s most luxurious hotel and third highest. It’s the place for exquisite private beaches and crowded, but fabulous, Jumeirah public beach. And while they won’t make your budget go very far, the resorts here do come with valuable extras like theme-park passes, kids’ clubs and activities ranging from horse-riding to watersports.

Dubai Marina and The Palm

Another slice of exclusivity on the Arabian Gulf, this stunning district is designed to attract attention day and night, and led by Atlantis, The Palm. The incredible Aquaventure waterpark and Mall of the Emirates cover kid-size fun with everything from 100 feet-high waterslides to indoor ski slopes. And if you want a night off from parenting, Dubai Marina is the place for chic restaurants, sleek cocktail bars and stunning sea views.

What to Do

  • Jumeirah Beach Park
    If you don’t mind crowds at Christmas, this is the biggest and best public beach in Dubai. It’s quieter during the hot summer months, but only slightly. Lifeguards are on duty and water activities are well organized and inexpensive.
  • Aquaventure
    With a prime position right on the edge of The Palm, this is the Middle East’s best waterpark.
  • Lost Chambers Aquarium
    The Lost Chambers Aquarium is sensational, and lets kids close enough to feed the fish, swim with dolphins and glide around with sharks.
  • Dubai Mall
    The world’s largest mall is one of the few shopping experiences kids will love, which child-friendly attractions like Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, DubaiDino and the immense Dubai Ice Rink.
  • Ski Dubai
    The biggest indoor snow park in the world, complete with flurries of snowflakes, Alpine slopes and some seriously tricky runs.
  • Kidzania
    A strangely amazing theme park where kids can play at being grown-ups while the real grown-ups shop at Dubai Mall.
  • Legoland
    The much-loved theme park for two- to 12-year-olds, with the outsize extravagance Dubai brings to almost everything.
  • Wild Wadi Waterpark
    Another spectacular waterpark close to Jumeirah Beach.
  • Mushrif Park
    A lovely family park just outside the city, with swimming pools, barbecue areas, a miniature train and pretty theatre.

Educational Value for kids

  • Venture out on a desert safari and introduce kids to the ancient Arabic art of falconry, a night as a Bedouin or newer skills like quad-biking and sand-skiing.
  • Spend the evening in Alserkal Avenue arts district and explore the galleries and museums making a creative noise in Dubai right now.
  • Take a sail across Dubai Creek on a traditional wooden Abra.
  • Trek the desert on horseback with expert equestrian guides.
  • Visit the gold souks and ancient markets in captivating Deira.
  • Apply for a permit to visit the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – the rare birds alone are worth the effort.
  • Take a foodie journey round the real tastes of Dubai.

Getting Around in Dubai

Just like the rest of the Middle East, if convenience is important to you, you’ll need a car to get around. Expect typical city traffic around rush hours. There is also a great metro system in this city with beautiful clean new stations. However, the metro can’t take you to all of the above attractions, so a mix of transportation is best.

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