The Ultimate Dubai Stopover GuideDubai, United Arab Emirates. In aviation terms, it’s the centre of the world. One third of the world’s population lives within a 4 hour flight of Dubai International Airport, and two thirds live within 8 hours. It’s for this reason that Emirates has been able to create a super-hub in Dubai, connecting passengers flying to destinations all over the world.

If you’re flying with Emirates from Australia to Europe, the Middle East or Africa, you will have a stop at Dubai International Airport. Emirates handles most connections so seamlessly that you’ll rarely have to wait more than a few hours between flights. But if you do happen to have a longer layover – or take the opportunity for a Dubai stopover – here’s what you need to know!

How to get from Dubai Airport to the city

The Dubai metro is fast, cheap and – most importantly – air conditioned. From the airport, you can take the red line into the city between 5am and midnight most days. Note that the metro does not run before 10am on Fridays. Taxis are also available.

The Metro is a good way to get around, including from the airport. But if your destination is a bit away from a station, consider either a taxi direct or from the station, as Dubai of course can be very hot & humid.

Where to stay in Dubai

If you have a short overnight Dubai layover, and just want to get some rest, there are airport hotels available. The Dubai International Hotel is located airside within Terminals 1 and 3. If you have a transit at Dubai, you can stay here without having to clear immigration and customs or enter the UAE. There are also a few (cheaper) hotels located just outside the airport.

Of course, Dubai is also home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels! If you have the time and money, why not enjoy the 5-star luxury of Atlantis, The Palm.

For something a bit more palatable on the wallet, here are some other member recommendations for Dubai accommodation:

  • Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach (recommended by Milboo)
  • Baity Apartments (recommended by philelltt)

What to do in Dubai

If shopping’s your thing, check out the various souks selling things like spices, textiles and even gold. Or for an air-conditioned experience, visit Dubai Mall (which is also home to an indoor ski resort!). Also, don’t miss Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Visit the Burj Khalifa during your Dubai stopover
Visit the Burj Khalifa during your Dubai stopover

JohnM‘s tip for a short Dubai stopover is to visit the Jumeirah Beach Hotel at night:

One of my favourite things to do on an overnight stopover in Dubai is to head out to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel for dinner at the outdoor restaurant near the beach at the end closest to the Burj Al Arab. Sitting there slurping a wine or two and partaking of (a good) dinner while looking up at the changing light-show on the Burj’s sails I find particularly pleasant.

If you’re staying a few nights, consider an overnight tour to the desert:

Highly recommend a desert safari – thanks to recommendation here we went with Platinum Heritage and had a great time.

Dubai Connect

Emirates offers an STPC (Stopover Paid by Carrier) service at Dubai Airport. “Dubai Connect” is available to passengers for which the best available connection time in Dubai is between 8 and 24 hours. (For Business and First passengers, the connection time just has to be over 6 hours.) If you’re eligible for Dubai Connect, you’ll be provided with complimentary hotel accommodation in Dubai, airport transfers and meals.

You’ll need to book Dubai Connect at least 24 hours in advance. If you booked your flights online, you can request Dubai Connect by logging into “manage booking” on the Emirates website. For bookings made via a travel agent, your agent can request this free service for you. Some conditions do apply.

Emirates also offers paid Dubai stopover holiday packages.

Restrictions on medication

Be aware that the United Arab Emirates recently introduced new restrictions on carrying medication for personal use into the country. Here is the advice from the Australian government’s Smartraveller website:

In October 2018, the UAE Ministry of Health announced that all tourists and residents must have approval to carry medication for personal use prior to entering the UAE. Tourists and residents must complete an electronic form to carry medication for personal use prior to entering the UAE.

The best Dubai Airport lounges

Dubai International Airport is the home of Emirates. So it’s no surprise that the best Dubai Airport lounge is the Emirates First Class lounge. You’ll have access to this huge, well-appointed lounge as an Emirates First Class passenger, or a Qantas or Skywards Platinum member flying Emirates in any class of travel.

The Emirates Business Lounge is also very good. It’s available to Emirates Business Class passengers and Gold grade frequent flyers. Qantas Club members also have access if booked on an Emirates codeshare flight with a “QF” flight number.

Emirates does also offer paid lounge access. If you’re flying in Emirates Economy and have no status, you can still access the Emirates Dubai Business Lounge for USD105. And if you ordinarily have Business Lounge access, you can pay extra to access the First Lounge.


Do you have a great Dubai stopover tip to share? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Dubai (DXB) Stopover Tips


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]