No one likes the feeling of being stuck at an airport. Usually, airports are bland, there’s nothing to do and time never seems to pass. If you’ve found yourself somehow “stuck” with a layover at the Dubai Airport, however, then you need to consider yourself lucky.
Let me start off by saying that this airport is huge. Think of it as a little island – and definitely a standard for all modern airports out there. The good news? Bigger and better expansions are in the works almost every year, so that place is guaranteed to be busy night and day. Now let’s take a look at all the things that you can do at Dubai Airport.
There is a plethora of dining options at the Dubai Airport that you could choose from – whether you fancy some Middle Eastern food, Thai Indian, Irish, or you prefer big chain stores like Shake Shack and Starbucks; you’ll find it all there. You can also just simply grab a drink and watch a sporting event at one of the airport bars.
Stopping in Dubai for a layover? Check out our post on how to spend 12 hour layover in Dubai
Spend time at the Zen Gardens
Yes, you heard that right. There are Zen gardens at the airport – compromising of lush greenery, the soothing sounds of water and plenty of benches you can sit on to relax and take the whole tranquility in.
The G-Force Club
The G-Force Club provides you with everything you’ll need to freshen up and relax before or after a long trip. You’ll find saunas, Jacuzzis, a gym, shower rooms and a lot more. It’s as cheap as $15 an hour.
You don’t need to be a first-class flyer to enjoy the airport lounge. There are plenty of airport lounges with food, drinks, comfy spaces and decent WiFi speeds. The lounges can be accessed by anyone paying an entry fee. Once you’ve paid the fee you get access to the delights as mentioned above. There is also a dedicated Emirates lounge for Business and First-Class passengers flying with Emirates.
Work up a post-flight sweat in the health club
Get your blood circulating again after a long flight at the airport’s health club with a quick workout. Located within the Dubai International Hotel in Terminal 3, you’ll find everything you need to work up a sweat – from the fully-equipped gym to the crystal clear swimming pool.
Look and feel utterly rejuvenated after a long flight by having some therapeutic spa treatments to ensure you look fresh and energized for your next flight. These in-terminal spas are sanctuaries of calm for weary travelers and the ideal place to unwind and re-energize in between flights.
There are a few spas – Timeless Spa in Terminal 3 and Be Relax in Terminal 1 and 3. Some of the awesome services include body scrubs, manicures and pedicures, massages, aromatherapy, reflexology and maybe even a quick haircut. These spas are like an oasis of tranquility in the turmoil of this modern airport that never sleeps.
If you’ve visited Dubai before you probably know that the city takes shopping very seriously – and the Dubai Airport follows along! You’ll find everything in its seemingly endless Duty-Free: handmade goods, dry fruits, food, gold, and you can even participate on raffles on luxury cars and more.
Binge Watch a Movie
The WiFi at DXB is the world’s fastest – so really: what better way to unwind than to find your perfect spot, plug in your laptop and binge-watch your favorite show? Save on your data and switch to the airport’s data – it’s available across the airport.
Go on a short city tour
There are dozens of short tours you can take from the Dubai Airport and they’re a perfect way to spend your time if you have 5+ hours. You’ll get to see some major city highlights like Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall!
Check out our list of the 20 Top Tours in Dubai
If you’re wondering how you’re going to do all of this with all of your luggage, the Dubai Airport has plenty of luggage facilities that you can make use of:
- Luggage Storage & Lockers – Open 24 hours.
- Luggage Trolleys – Available to use free of charge at any terminal.
- Porters to help you carry around your luggage.
Also, why not take advantage of concierge services at Departures and Arrivals? You’ll find baggage porters who’ll take your bags to check-in or even pick your luggage up from the baggage belt and take it to your onward transport.
If you’re flying Emirates, skip the inconvenience of lugging your bags around and simply have them delivered anywhere in the UAE in fact. Arrange for this at the baggage counter at the Arrivals Hall in Terminal 3.
Yes, you can get from the airport to the city and to other areas with different forms of transport. With Dubai’s metro system for instance, you simply hop on the red line from Terminals 1 and 3. It runs every 10 minutes.
Check out our post on the Best Ways to Get Around Dubai
Travelers can also catch a bus heading to other parts of the city from the metro. The buses leave every 30 minutes from all three terminals. You’ll find taxi stands at each terminal as well and there are also pink female-only taxis.
Also, most of the major car hire companies are represented at the airport and you can find the car rental counters at the Arrivals area of the terminals.
TIP: Dubai airport is a busy one and taxi queues can be long. In order to make the most of your time, I recommend using the services of pre-booking your transfer online. You can Book Your Dubai Airport Transferhere. You can specify your exact time of arrival and you will also have direct contact with the driver in order to inform of any delays. I have used this services several time and not only in Dubai. The drivers are professional, the vehicles are clean and you are guaranteed to have a pleasant experience.
Who owns this magnificent airport?
Dubai Airports Company owns and manages airports in Dubai, and this includes Dubai International (DXB) as well as Al Maktoum International Airport.
How many terminals are there at Dubai International?
Dubai International (DXB) is a super busy airport, made up of three terminals (1,2 and 3). Terminal 3 consists of three concourses which are used exclusively by Emirates and Qantas. The Terminal is the second biggest building in the world by floor space. It’s the biggest airport terminal in the world. Terminal 1 Concourse D is used for DXB’s international airlines while Terminal 2 provides access to regional and international flights.
The airport is located in the Al Garhoud district, and you can expect anything from 15 to 40 minutes to get you to most of the must-see hotspots. For instance, to get to Dubai Marina, you can expect a trip of about 30 minutes. What is really cool is that the airport is served by the Dubai Metro, operating 2 stations through the airport, with a station at Terminal 1 and 3.
How can you make sure the custom’s check goes smoothly?
The security check is important for everyone’s safety. To ensure it goes quickly and smoothly for you with no hiccups, make sure you adhere to all transportation and luggage rules. Some items can result in you receiving a fine, while other items such as narcotic drugs can see you heading towards prison.
All loose items such as mobile phones and keys are in your hand luggage. You’re allowed 2 pieces of hand luggage.
Place liquid containers in a clear plastic bag and also within your hand luggage. Each liquid can’t be more than 100ml. There are however, some exemptions for medications etc.
There are a number of banned items to have in any luggage and you need to familiarize yourself with these. Some of them are all narcotic drugs, things such as ivory and rhinoceros horn, cooked and homemade foods, gambling equipment, goods of Israeli origin, certain printed publications and more. For a more detailed list we recommend that you contact Dubai Customs for additional details on entry requirements.
Can you get a meal at odd hours?
Oh yes. With this airport, shopping, dining and services are plentiful, and you’ll find most dining facilities are open 24 hours.
Is there any kind of recreation for kids?
Yes, there is a cool children’s area at Terminal 3 close to gates B27 and B 7, where you’ll find all the latest games, toys and TV screens for kids to enjoy. There are also special changing rooms for parents with babies.
What about banking and ATM Services?
If you need to do any financial transactions, there are ATMs in each terminal building. Also, there are 24-hour bureaux de change facilities and Dubai Duty-Free also offers foreign exchange and banking services.
What if you’re a smoker?
The airport is a non-smoking zone, but if you have to smoke, there are ventilated smoking rooms at all the terminals.
What happens if your mobile device is flat?
There is free wifi as well as a good number of mobile charging stations throughout the airport. Also, you can head to any of the many ‘May I Help You’ desks found throughout the airport for efficient assistance in having your queries sorted.
Are there facilities for the disabled?
Yes, special services are available. The airport does provide special assistance services for all passengers with restricted mobility. With Terminal 1 or Terminal 2, ask the particular airline you are traveling with to notify Dubai International Airport about any specific requirements you may have. You can call them on +971 04 216 2016. If you’re traveling via Terminal 3 on Emirates, you can contact Emirates Special Services on +971 4 505 5053 or +971 4 505 7119.
There are dedicated desks for passengers with special needs in the Departures Hall.
Electric carts have also been deployed, so that those with any disabilities can travel around easily within the airport. There are also lounges for those with special needs.
Can you take a nap at the Airport?
Yes, you can. Long layovers are quite the norm and there are always people on the lookout for in-airport sleeping options. You’ll find reclining chairs in the various Rest Zones around the airport.
These are designated rest zones where you can chill before your flight. They always fill up quickly, so if rest is on your mind, take one immediately otherwise your chance is lost. Be warned, the airport becomes chilly, particularly at night, so be prepared to have a warm blanket with you.
It’s not everyone that can just casually doze off in public areas. Some people prefer more comfort and privacy. If you’re looking for some serious rest between flights, the Dubai International Airport Hotel is located inside Security, and if you’re a transit passenger you can check in there. It has many room options, lots of restaurants and bars, spas, health clubs, swimming pools and a few business centers.
There are other sleep options inside the Secure zone, though they are for shorter stays. The Snooze Cube rents private rooms for 2 hours or longer. There is also Sleep n’ Fly Lounge in Terminal 3 that offers sleep pods that accommodate up to 2 people. These pods however need to be booked.
Can you shower before flights?
Yes, a shower is a great energizer and a daily pleasure and what a refreshing way to not only loosen up those stiff muscles but to use some light, fragrant soap that will work for you even after you’ve toweled yourself dry.
You’ll find paid showers in Terminal 3 and the G-Force Health Club near the Dubai International Hotel also has shower facilities. There are also a number of pay-to-enter lounges that have shower facilities.
If you want something more strenuous than a shower, why not buy a pass to the G-Force Health Club and get in a few laps in the swimming pool while you wait for your flight? There is also sauna, jacuzzi, steam rooms and the gym.
Are there Medical Services at the airport?
Yes, first aid and emergency medical attention are available at Terminal 1 and 3. Check with any of the staff roaming around for assistance as well. In fact, there is a 24/7 fully equipped medical center on the ground level of Terminal 1, near gate 13. Medical facilities number is +971 04 216 4950. Terminal 1 and 3 also has a number of pharmacies.
Who can believe that only about 5 decades ago, a desert landing strip could turn out to be one of the busiest and luxurious international passenger airports in the world? The fabulous airport handles just short of 80 million passengers a year who all look forward to the awesome facilities – the comfy lounges, the Zen Gardens, the spa facilities, awesome spread of restaurants and much, much more. Everything for your layover or stopover is provided to ensure the hours you have to spend at the airport are purposeful, interesting and highly pleasurable. We hope that you found everything that you need in our guide to what to do in Dubai Airport.
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