2 days in Dubai Itinerary: Perfect Weekend City Break
The Middle East, at one time a very unpopular destination with visitors because of decades of war and turmoil, is a transformed region today. Dubai may not be the capital of the United Arab Emirates, but having attained growth, wealth, and glamour, this ambitious city leads the way with new experiences like never seen before. Here is an epic 2 days in Dubai itinerary to get you started.
To explore this impressive and huge destination in two days may seem like asking for the moon. However, if you can clock some extra miles you will pretty much get to see and do everything you wanted in your forty-eight hours in this exciting city of iconic architecture and Arabian souks.
2 days in Dubai Itinerary: Planning your trip to Dubai UAE
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- Airport: Dubai International Airport (one of the world’s busiest airports)
- Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham or AED (1 AED = .25 USD)
- Tourist Visa: Tourist visas to the UAE can be issued for 30 days or 90 days for single or multiple entries. A U.S. citizen with a regular passport may obtain a no-fee visitor visa upon arrival. Canadians need to apply for a visa on arrival. Ensure your passports are valid for 6 months on entry and have at least one blank page.
- Where to stay: Grosvenor House, Seattle Hotel, Plaza Hotel and Apartments
- Recommended tours: 2 day Go Dubai Card, Sunset Cruise, Walking tour – Old Dubai, Entry to Burk Khalifa
- Day trips from Dubai: Abu Dhabi half day tour
2 days in Dubai Itinerary
- Day 1 of 2 Day Dubai Itinerary: Old Dubai Quarter & Spice Souk, IBR Walk, Bur Dubai, Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa Dubai, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain
- Day 2 of 2 Day Dubai Itinerary: Dubai Marina, Madinat Jumeirah, Desert Safari, Sunset Dinner Cruise
Getting to Dubai UAE
The city of Dubai is served by the Dubai International Airport. It is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic. Flights from New York or Toronto Canada take about 13 hours. London to Dubai flights average around 7 hours. Mumbai to Dubai is only a 3 hour flight away.
Dubai Airport to Deira or old quarter takes about 12 minutes by car. Downtown Dubai is a 15 minute cab ride away.
The bus from the airport takes double the time to reach the city than the train, though it is cheaper. It costs 15€ (62.50 AED) on average. You can book a private transfer here
On the other hand, train connections to Downtown or Khalifa metro station take 24 minutes costing 1€ (4.20 AED) per ride.
Where to stay in Dubai for 2 days?
It is pretty obvious that while in Dubai you can choose from the most humble accommodation like the Seattle Hotel in Deira to the most opulent at the 7 star Burj Al Arab. That being said, make sure you stay near a metro station.
With just a couple of days in hand one thing you would be needing most is saving time on transportation.
Try out the Plaza Hotel and Apartments on Al Ittihad Road in Deira, which are barely a minute’s walk from two large supermarkets and just 300m away from the Al Qiyadah metro station.
If you want to stay in a lively part of Dubai the five star Hotel Grosvenor House near the Dubai Marina is quite close to several attractions.
Dubai Tour Recommendations
Day 1 of 2 days in Dubai Itinerary: Old Quarter, Bur Dubai, Dubai Downtown, Burj Khalifa Dubai, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain
Start at the heart of the Old Quarter of Dubai
Assuming you have made your base at Deira, as per our suggestion, you are stationed in the old quarter of Dubai which is near the airport. A hectic and crazy, but an unmissable part of Dubai are the spice and gold souks. These outlets open around 9 am so reach early before the tourist hordes start coming in.
From gold, spices and rugs you can buy all souvenir items here at prices much lesser than the malls. Remember to haggle hard here as it is a part of the experience.
Book a walking tour of old quarter in Dubai
An authentic abra ride on your first day Dubai itinerary is highly recommended but the ones near the souks are super expensive. Instead, walk to the abra station and take a front seat on a water taxi to get you to the other side, Bur Dubai. It costs a few cents and allows for great photo opportunities.
Jumeirah Beach – JBR Walk
There are many more souks in Bur Dubai but since you have already seen them take a taxi to Jumeirah Beach. The beach won’t be crowded at this time and you can enjoy nice views of the only 7 star hotel in the world, Burj Al-Arab. This is one of the few beaches in Dubai which are free and open to the public.
Take a bus or taxi to Dubai Downtown ( there is no train connection from Jumeirah) where all the mega attractions like Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, and Burj Khalifa are located.
Burj Khalifa Dubai
Most people visit Burj Khalifa but this can easily take more than three hours of your precious time. If you do go, book in advance and take a ticket to the very top level 148.
Tickets will be much more expensive than the lower 124 & 125 levels but you can skip the lines and save time. Book Dubai Burj Khalifa Tickets & Tour: Level 124, 125 and 148
Whether you want to shop or not, Dubai Mall is well worth a visit. You can access the Mall directly from the Burj Khalifa so no transport is required. In fact, you can spend several days in this biggest shopping outlet in the world and still not get to see it all.
Home to the Ice rink, Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo there are many attractions here to keep one occupied. There are plenty of fine dining restaurants here to have a hearty meal before continuing to your next attraction.
Right next to the mall is Dubai Fountain which is a lovely place to visit at this time of the day. There is a free water show every thirty minutes, between 6 pm and 11 pm in the evenings which is beautifully presented.
Sitting here with the hordes of tourists with the Burj Khalifa well lit up in the background is the perfect way to cap your first day. If you want to avoid the crowds you can get better views on a Dubai Fountains show on an abra boat ride which cruises close to the dancing fountains.
Restaurants with fountain views are rather expensive, so head back to the Dubai Mall for affordable fast-food options for dinner. Alternatively, take the metro from Dubai Mall Station back to your hotel where you can get good cheap food also. But, all in all, the dining experience downtown is far better.
Day 2 of 2 days in Dubai Itinerary: Dubai Marina, Madinat Jumeirah, Desert Safari Tour, Sunset Dinner Cruise
Take a train from Deira City Centre Metro Station to Dubai Marina which will bring you there in about 45 minutes. This man-made marina is one of the largest in the world and a great place to stroll early in the day.
That said, we will be back here again in the evening for something special.
Within a short distance from the marina is Madinat Jumeirah, an upscale part of Dubai, which is a recreation of ancient Arabia. Skip your coffee break and you can get lost in this beautiful area for at least two hours.
For lunch, head back to the marina and dine in any of the appealing restaurants lining the canals.
Desert Safari Tour
Keep aside the rest of your day for the ride of your life on afternoon Desert Safari with BBQ. The tour will give you first-hand knowledge about the desert as you go dune bashing over the sands in 4W vehicles for twenty minutes.
You will visit an authentic Arab camp, relax with a shisha as belly dancers gyrate, and enchant you with their moves. A BBQ buffet spread offers a perfect ending to the desert safari tour.
Book your desert safari with BBQ here
Sunset Dinner Cruise
Treat yourself on the last night of your Dubai itinerary with a memorable two-hour sunset dinner cruise. Step aboard a sturdy wooden dhow and sit back on the upper deck and admire the futuristic skyline of Dubai along with a sumptuous buffet dinner as you glide past the flood-lit attractions.
To add to the flavor, there is onboard entertainment as well in the form of whirling wide-skirted dancers.
More options to add to your Dubai Itinerary 2 days
Dubai Festival City
If you can squeeze in more time or wish to try something different from what is recommended above, you must try and visit Dubai Festival City.
Home to a range of classy departmental stores and a variety of cuisines from all over the world, one can easily get lost for choices in this incredible place. You can reach Dubai Festival City by taking the Red Line metro to Creek Railway station from where it is a mere eight minutes walk.
National Parks in and around Dubai
If you are a nature lover and planning to visit Dubai there are as many as seven wild places to explore something beyond the usual sand dunes and architectural masterpieces. Each national park of Dubai is different in its own way and is a must-visit destination:
- Mushrif Park
- Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary
- Dubai National Park
- Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
- Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve
- BU Tinah
- Sharjah National Park.
Experience the feeling of diving or walking on the water floor surrounded by as many as 65,000 marine animals like sharks, tropical fish, stingrays, and the like.
Lost Chambers Aquarium
The largest aquarium in the UAE, the Lost Chambers Aquarium is located in The Avenues at the Atlantis, The Palm and is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm. This unique place allows visitors to gain an in-depth knowledge of marine animals and swim with them in the Ambassador Lagoon.
Aquaventure Water Park
From relaxing on a private beach to navigating Raging Rapids, there are over 30 pulse-racing rides and slides at the Aquaventure Water Park. Guests can enjoy a thrilling experience at the Shark Lagoon surrounded by thousands of marine animals. Your ticket will cover Lost Chambers and the beach as well.
Guided tours and Excursions to add to your Dubai 2 day itinerary
If you want to make the most of your forty-eight hours in Dubai you can opt for a city sightseeing Dubai hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
There are four different routes covered on this journey, so before you book you must check the route map to see whether your preferred attractions are on the map or not. Also, each route has a specified number of stops where a tourist can get down to explore.
If you want to avoid long walks you can buy a ticket for the entire 48 hour duration of your stay covering all routes as well as the Night Tour.
Apart from covering all the major attractions like Jumeirah Mosque, Burj Khalifa and more you can also take a night tour around the city.
A comfortable way to see and learn about the history of Dubai with an audio commentary in eleven different languages with full flexibility to hop off at any place of interest you wish.(No hopping off or on allowed on the night tour)
Some of the important attractions covered include:
- The Dubai Mall
- Spice and Gold souk
- Seed Contemporary Area
- Atlantis the Palm
- Miracle Garden
- Burj Al Arab
- Global village
- Dubai Marina
- Jumeirah Mosque
Night tour: Starts at 7 pm daily-2 hours from Dubai Mall.
Day tour: Starts at 9 am to 530 pm with dep every 30 minutes. Two and half hours to complete the full loop.
A 2 day Go Dubai Card is best for visitors who want big savings and get unlimited access to the best attractions during their short stay.
Other epic tours to add
Day trips from Dubai: Add them to 2 days in Dubai itinerary
Get to discover the ultra-modern capital of the emirates, Abu Dhabi, on a return day Dubai tour. This roughly ten-hour trip will cover a walking tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, The Corniche, Abu Dhabi, Emirates Palace with a photo stop, a visit to Etihad Towers, Marina Mall, Lunch, Qasr Al Watan and back to Dubai.
The travel time from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, one way, is one hour and thirty minutes.
Book: Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque Half-Day Tour
As you travel along the Gulf coast towards Abu Dhabi, your knowledgeable guide will relate some fascinating stories about one of the wealthiest cities in the world. For those who want to squeeze the most out of Dubai as well as Abu Dhabi in two days, this guided tour is the best option.
For nature and wildlife enthusiasts on a two day trip to Dubai it is strongly recommended to go to the scenic Hajar Mountains on the first day itself, weather permitting, and leave the Dubai attractions for the second day. This is said to be a must-experience trip in a person’s lifetime.
Not only is this one of the best road trip experiences in the UAE, but the winding mountain roads offer unparalleled views of not only the Hajar Mountain range but a wonderful opportunity to spot wild gazelles Arabian caracals and Egyptian vultures. Remember to carry enough food and water as these areas are sparsely populated.
There are many historical spots in mountains such as Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn ruins which will thrill archeological buffs. Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE at 1934 m is another popular tourist destination here. Ras Al Khaimah is known for the highest zip-lining spot in the world. For those who want to stay here longer, there are plenty of camping spots in Hatta.
UAE is also known for its plethora of hiking trails, none better than Jebel Hafeet and Hatta in the Hajar Mountains. Some of the best routes are at over 6000 feet and provide unbelievable views of the desert landscape below. There are several Wadis here, or dry river beds, which are excellent for trekking.
Sightseeing Map for 2 day Dubai Itinerary
Travel Tips for Dubai
The culture in Dubai is pretty clear-cut so you should keep in mind some suggestions to ensure your short vacation does not go awry:
- Book your flights and hotels at least four to five months in advance.
- Citizens of over 50 countries do not require a pre-arranged visa to enter Dubai including some from Europe – Austria, Belgium among others.
- Citizens of these European countries are also entitled to apply for a pre‑arranged visit visa if their 90‑day visa on arrival has been fully utilized – the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece to name to few
- Indian nationals holding a normal passport and a valid Visa, or a Green Card issued by the USA, or UK or EU Residency, can obtain a Dubai visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days.
- November to March is the best time to visit Dubai as the temperatures are perfect, unlike other months when the heat can become unbearable.
- Make sure to take travel insurance and carry it with your important documents all the time.
- The local currency is AED or Dirhams. Carry a few for food and transport expenses.
- There is a strict limit on the amount of liquor and tobacco you can bring into Dubai. Do not exceed the limit as there is scanning done at the customs.
- You must purchase an NOL smart travel card at the airport if you want to use any of the three options to travel to the city center. Cash payment is not accepted.
- With a frequency of four minutes, the Dubai Metro is a hassle-free mode to reach any destination. Bear in mind, though, that only two pieces of luggage per person are permitted on the metro.
- For a fast and convenient way to travel anywhere within the city, comfortable taxis are available 24×7. They are however much more expensive than the bus and metro.(The black Lexus cabs are more expensive than even the normal ones)
- Most of the taxi drivers are not locals, so carry a city map and address of your destination.
- If shopping is on your agenda, plan your trip during the Dubai Shopping Festival in January for the best deals and discounts.
- Pick up some basic Arabic phrases to put the natives at ease while communicating.
- Tipping is not expected in Dubai, except for luggage carriers. Restaurants usually add a service surcharge to your bill.
Safety Tips for Dubai
Dubai is considered to be one of the safest cities in the world so personal safety is assured at all times. Basic precautions like leaving original documents safe and locked up and carrying copies along with you need to be taken.
Moreover, Dubai lays a great emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness so the health aspect is not worrisome.
What to pack for a two day Dubai trip – Packing List for Dubai
Take moderation and modesty into consideration when packing for Dubai. Women should avoid revealing and tight-fitting clothes.
- Pack light and loose cotton wear considering the climate.
- Do not forget your prescription medications and basic first aid kit.
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are a must from the sun and heat.
Is 2 days in Dubai enough
After going through this hectic itinerary you must be wondering if two days were enough to explore this city of wealth and riches? To be frank, while this short period will be enough to get a whiff of what Dubai has to offer, it will require some hard decisions to make your flight ticket worth it.
My advice is, since Dubai is a large city, narrow down your choice to the part of city you want to see most in your two days, rather than wasting time on sights dotted all over Dubai.
Read: More weekend trip itineraries from all over the world
About the Guest Writer: Jo is the creator of the travel blog WanderwithJo. She is a globetrotter based in India. Follow her adventures on Instagram