WHAT TO DO IN WINTER IN DUBAI
Looking for a perfect, warm getaway in the winter? If you are from the northern hemisphere, Dubai is the perfect warm winter destination. Actually, Dubai in the winter is the best time to visit.
With only two distinct seasons, the winter season is the way to go! Winter in Dubai starts at the end of October and lasts until the beginning of April – so, luckily, there are a few months you can enjoy Dubai (because Dubai in summer is not the best time to visit). But even during these months, the weather changes, and so do the activities offered – however, overall, the winter months in Dubai are the best time to enjoy a warm and nice vacation.
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DUBAI IN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS
Before talking about the best things to do in Dubai in the winter, you´ll find some travel tips – find out about the weather, what to pack, and more tips for your trip!
Weather in Winter in Dubai
I have visited Dubai in October, November, December, January, February….and March… and April. Personally, I liked the end of November until the beginning of February the most. During the winter season, Dubai has an average daytime temperature of 25°C (77°F). At night, temperatures range from 12°C (54°F) to 15°C (59°F), while it is colder in the desert at around 5°C (41°F).
Separating it into months, it looks like this:
- October: average max. daytime temperature: 36°C (97°F)
- November: average max. daytime temperature: 31°C (88°F)
- December: average max. daytime temperature: 26°C (79°F), average rainfall: 15 mm
- January: average max. daytime temperature: 24°C (75°F), average rainfall: 10 mm
- February: average max. daytime temperature: 25°C (77°F), average rainfall: 35 mm
- March: average max. daytime temperature: 28°C (82°F), the average rainfall is 27 mm
- April: average max. daytime temperature: 32°C (90°F), the average rainfall is 8 mm
Let me translate: It can be really hot in October and hottish in November. December is warm, as are January and February. March gets hottish again, and April is hot. This means that some activities are perfect for December and January, but probably not so good in October/November or March/April.
But you should also be aware that it can be very foggy in Dubai, especially in December and January. It somehow looks amazing, but sometimes the fog is so strong that you cannot see far – this is especially upsetting if you have planned something unique like a trip to Burj Khalifa. However, it tends to get better during the day, and it does not happen every day. So, for some special activities, plan to do them later in the day if visiting in late December or early January.
I seriously dislike heat, and October and early November are too hot for me – as are March and April. But of course, some love this hot weather because you can do a few activities that you might not enjoy during the colder months.
Which winter months in Dubai are perfect for what activities? Well, that is what you will find out below. Here are just a few more tips on how to plan your winter trip to Dubai.
What to Pack
While it is warm throughout the year, it can be chilly (-ish) on some days at the end of November, throughout December and January, and at the beginning of February. It gets especially chilly in the evenings.
So, while sleeveless tops and shorts should be fine for most days of the year, I really recommend having a cardigan or two with you. The sun sets quite early, and it gets coldish at that point, so you will most likely not be comfortable with just a top.
As I often get asked, here is the dress code for women: You do not have to cover your face or hair. You can wear short sleeves, shorts, and skirts in most parts of the city. You can wear a bikini at the beach.
However, you should keep in mind that Dubai is, after all, still conservative, and you should not wear the tiniest bikini you own. I
In malls, you are asked to cover your shoulders and wear shorts/skirts that cover your knees. Many visitors do not do this, though, and it has become common not to do so. However, you are ignoring the dress code in these places and might get kicked out of the mall, etc. I heard from locals that it has become more common to make visitors more aware of the dress code.
That is why I recommend having a scarf with you: during the day to cover the shoulders and in the evening to stay warm. Check out my guide on what to wear in Dubai as a woman.
It does rain for a few days in the summer months, but while the rain can be heavy, it normally does not last all day or for more than a few days. So, it might be good to know about a few things to do in Dubai when it rains, though it is not a big issue in general.
Where to Stay in Dubai in the Winter
Accommodation in Dubai is pricey. I suggest staying in Dubai Downtown, so you are close to the main attractions mentioned here – though it comes with a price tag.
- Armani Hotel: It is no surprise that this 5-star hotel in Downtown Dubai, just inside Burj Khalifa (it occupies 11 floors of the tallest skyscraper in the world) and Dubai Mall, is synonymous with luxury and pure elegance. Check out the rates for Armani Hotel.
- Carlton Downtown: This 4-star property is also located close to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall – The Financial Centre Metro Station is within walking distance and ideal for those who like to use public transportation. The pool area offers a nice view of Burj Khalifa, and from the 357 guest rooms, you can choose between deluxe rooms all the way up to penthouse suites. Check out rates for Carlton Downtown.
- Rove Downtown Dubai: This 3-star hotel is located a few kilometers from Burj Khalifa (not far from the international airport). While the hotel is very simple and offers basic amenities, you might be lucky enough to get a room with a view – a view of Burj Khalifa! Find the best for Rove Downtown.
- You can check out my full Dubai accommodation guide to find the perfect place for your stay here.
I have a detailed Dubai accommodation guide with the best areas and the best hotels for each budget. Check it out here to find the perfect hotel for you.
THINGS TO DO IN THE WINTER IN THE DUBAI
Okay, here are some of the top things to do and the best places to visit in the winter in Dubai.
Burj Khalifa is the perfect place to visit at any time of the year – and winter is no exception because, after all, Burj Khalifa holds a couple of records: The tallest building in the world, the highest number of stories in the world, highest outdoor observation deck in the world, and highest occupied floor in the world.
Burj Khalifa stands 828 meters high and is one of Dubai’s main attractions – and its unique shape makes it stand out. It hardly matters where in Dubai you are – you can often spot it from afar. But being up there is a different experience.
The views from the top are incredible, but getting up is a bit pricey. Ticket prices vary depending on the level of access (levels 124 and 125 only are cheaper than access to level 148) and also the time of your visit.
- Levels 124 & 125
- Levels 124 & 125 and 148
- Levels 124 & 125, including a dinner at Burj Club
- If you do not buy tickets in advance, you might still be lucky and buy some at the ticket center.
HOW TO GET TO BURJ KHALIFA/ OPENING HOURS/ TICKETS:
- You have to go to Dubai Mall. There you will see signs that lead you to “At the top of Burj Khalifa.”
- The ticket center/entrance is located on the Lower Ground Level of Dubai Mall.
- “At the Top of Burj Khalifa” opens around 10 am, and the last admission is at 9 or 10 pm (depending on the day).
Christmas in December
Dubai is an Islamic city (and the United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country). Still, if you visit Dubai in December, you might be surprised to see all the Christmas decorations (and other cities in the UAE). There are Christmas trees in most bigger hotels and shopping malls. And if you happen to do a desert safari on Christmas Eve, you might even spot Santa, who brings chocolate – which, btw, was my favorite part and the best Christmas gift I have ever received.
It might be a bit corny as it looks somehow not authentic (and often, it is over the top), but in the end, the gesture counts. So, if you are in December in Dubai, then Christmas is something you will experience to some extent.
Dubai Beach in The Winter
The best time to visit the beaches in Dubai? Of course, the answer depends on your preferences, but you can perfectly visit and spend time at the beach during the winter.
October and November, as well as March and April, are quite hot, and often, you will not find umbrellas or any shade at the beaches (at least not at the public beaches), but the water is perfect for swimming. December, January, and even the first few weeks in February might be too cold for some to swim (as it was for me), but there are still people enjoying time in the Persian Gulf.
Best beaches to visit: There are several beaches you can spend hours on – some are private, and some are public. For the best public beaches, head to JBR – The Walk or La Mer.
Shopping Malls in Winter
I am not a big fan of shopping in Dubai (too overwhelming and too expensive), but I have to admit that they are one of a kind!
My favorite part is the Fashion Avenue of Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world – the luxury department with the fanciest toilets. Some other malls, including the Mall of Emirates, are good places to visit and great for an activity on a rainy day in Dubai.
Desert Safari in Winter
One of the best things to do in the winter is to go on a desert safari – in the summer months, some activities are not offered. And so the good news is: November until the end of March is the best time for activities in the desert.
Whether you go on a wild dune-bashing desert safari, watch a belly dance show, go sandboarding, or sleep in the desert – if you come during these months, you can enjoy an amazing time in the desert.
Find the best desert safari tour for your trip.
- Find one of the most affordable desert safaris here
- Do you prefer the morning desert safari? Then find out more here
Dubai Shopping Festival – 15 Dec 2022 – 29 Jan 2023
The Dubai Shopping Festival is the largest shopping and entertainment festival in the Middle East, so if you visit Dubai at the end of December and in January, then this is the main place to go. It is an annual celebration of fireworks, concerts, raffles, prizes, and of course, the best retail experiences. Many people come to Dubai for this experience, so it will be even busier. Timing differs each year, so check before your visit.
JBR – The Walk in Winter
In the winter months, JBR is probably one of the best places to visit in the winter in Dubai. The fun area has a public beach that gets busy during the day – and stays busy in the evenings, which makes it a place you can spend all day.
As mentioned, the water might be a bit too cold in December and January, but that does not stop many others from hopping in. While the water might be coldish, these months are perfect for a nice and relaxed beach day, where you can get a tan without burning or melting. TIP: Do not forget sunscreen in the winter months.
There are always restaurants and cafes open – and in the warmer months (November and March) you can escape into these cafes/restaurants. P.S. What I might consider as heat might be only hot to you.
Boat Tours in The Winter
I am always up for a nice boat ride – including some speed boat tours. But this activity is perfect for the hot days (which you will have in Dubai in winter, too). You can experience Dubai differently, PLUS you can cool off when the boat takes off, and you get a nice breeze.
There are some stops at some main tourist attractions, but you experience a thrilling ride most of the time. Do you enjoy the thrill? Then sit at the front of the boat Most tours start in Dubai Marina – speed boat tours normally last between 60-90 minutes
If you love food and boat cruises (two of my personal favorite things), you can even book dinner on a boat.
- Tours last around 90 minutes. Click here for prices
Dubai La Mer
La Mer is, similarly to JBR, a busy and fun district at the beach and, thus, perfect for spending a whole day.
La Mer has become one of the hotspots amongst locals and visitors and is located in the Jumeirah area. It has many retail stores, stylish restaurants and cafes, the coolest bathhouses, friendly and fun street art – and, of course, the beach! La Mer is fun in the daytime, but it gets even better in the evening! So before leaving too early, make sure to end your day at La Mer and spend time even after sunset.
P.S. The beach comes with a view of Burj Khalifa and is a free public beach.
In the summer months, it would be suicidal to do a bike tour during the day. But in the winter months, I suggest renting a bike at a rental station on the Palm and exploring Palm Jumeirah by bike. Cycling here is easy (plenty of well-paved paths) and fun, and you have beautiful views of the Dubai Skyline while passing hotels like Atlantis – The Palm.
If you visit Dubai in the hot months, you probably will not enjoy strolling the impressive Dubai Marina as you will in the winter.
If you visit Dubai in November, December, January, February, March, or the beginning of April, this is a place to go. Dubai Marina, with all its cafes, food trucks, and restaurants – and skyscrapers – is the perfect place for some nice walks. Even though there are many skyscrapers, it is also ideal for nice walks (or runs in the evening) as it is very well-paved, and in the colder months, it is very enjoyable to walk, sit down, walk, and then sit down again.
Want to experience Dubai in the most luxurious way possible? A good start would be to wake up in Burj al-Arab, one of the world’s most expensive hotels.
If staying overnight is not in your budget, you can – and this is not only on a rainy winter day – have dinner, brunch, or afternoon tea at one of the restaurants (as only people with confirmed reservations for the restaurant overnight guests can visit).
Theme Parks in Winter
Many theme parks are closed in the summer but open in the winter – you have the option to choose from a variety of parks. They are family-friendly, and some have fun rides.
Again, I do not necessarily recommend visiting in October or November or March or April, as I personally don’t enjoy walking in the heat and especially not riding carousels in the heat, but anytime between late December and the beginning of March should be fine.
One of the best things to do in Dubai in winter (not in the rain, though) is to see Dubai from above.
A helicopter flight is a perfect way to see what the city has to offer. There are different tour operators, and I went on a helicopter flight with these here.
There are two main companies offering helicopter rides: HeliDubai and Dubai Helicopter Tour You can choose between a 12, 15, and 25-minute helicopter flight, I enjoyed my 12-minute flight but would not have minded flying over Dubai for longer but it is quite an expensive activity.
- Click here to find out about prices for a helicopter ride
Strolling Al Bastakiya in the winter months is fun (especially in December and January). It is one of the oldest districts, located at Dubai Creek, and quite charming with its narrow streets and surely worth a visit.
However, I would only do it when it is not incredibly hot, because it can get sticky and there is not much shade here. Here you see a different side of Dubai, and though it is actually modern, it is also quite old (you´ll see what I mean if you get there, so surely put this on your Dubai winter itinerary).
Gold and Spice Souk in Winter
If you are in Dubai in the winter, make sure to visit the Gold and Spice Souk in the old part of Dubai.
Many say that this area is very intense – the shop owners, that is. However, if the weather is nice (aka not hot), strolling the souks is a must. Even if you don’t plan to buy spices – or gold -en masse, this is a fun activity.
One of the things that you can do only in the winter in Dubai is to visit Miracle Garden, so, whether you visit Dubai in November or later in the winter, head to Miracle Garden. It is the world’s largest natural flower garden, featuring over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants.
It normally opens in November and is only open in the colder winter months. This means that everyone is flocking here in the winter months, and it gets crowded, but seeing this garden is a must when it opens.
Water Fountain Show in Winter
A free thing to do in Dubai in winter is to watch the water fountain show. It is located at Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa and there is no entry fee. The show takes place several times a day and is short, but do not miss out on it as you will have water dancing to all kinds of music.
Sometimes, the LED show takes place – which is honestly even more stunning than the water show. However, I have never really figured out when the LED show takes place. Check out the show time on the day of your arrival to find out when to see it.
Whenever the fountain show or Burj Khalifa LED show occurs, this place will be one of Dubai’s busiest. To get a good view, secure yourself a good spot before the show starts. You can also book an abra ride and enjoy the water show without all the crowds.
For a dinner with a view, visit one of the numerous restaurants outdoors that are close by. There are some nice restaurants with a view of the fountain, like the Mediterraneo of Armani Hotel, but make sure you reserve a table beforehand.
WATER FOUNTAIN SHOW SCHEDULE / PRICES:
- Shows take place from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM every 30 minutes.
- It just lasts 3-4 minutes so be there on time.
- The Dubai water fountain show is free. However, you can also book an abra ride and see the fountain show from a different perspective (and without the crowds). Check out prices for the ride here.
Abu Dhabi in Winter
From Dubai, you can do an easy day trip to Abu Dhabi. The weather is quite similar to the weather in Dubai in the winter, but it is a great getaway as Abu Dhabi is much quieter and totally different than Dubai.
You have more beautiful beaches, fewer crowds, and the Grand Zayed Mosque (the most beautiful building in the world), and there are quite a few more reasons to visit Abu Dhabi for a day from Dubai in the winter.
- Getting there by car takes about 1 hour and there are also buses and guided tours that get you to Abu Dhabi.
- Check out my Abu Dhabi in 1-day post for more travel tips.
- Check out prices for an organized day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.
New Year´s Eve in December / January
If you happen to be in Dubai in December (to be exact on the 31. of December), then you might want to attend the New Year´s Eve celebrations in Dubai – and a lot is going on. So, it will be busy as heck, and accommodation prices will be high, but you will have a unique NYE celebration.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST WINTER ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI
Dubai is surely not a city for everyone, yet it has a lot to offer. Visiting Dubai in winter is the best season to go, and these were my tips on how to spend your winter in Dubai with some of the best things to do. For more tips, head to my post on the top things to do.