Dubai: The Most Memorable things to do in Dubai, UAE as a family.

Dubai is a dream luxury holiday destination for most families and this was true for my family as well. We were intrigued by the various news, videos and pictures we had seen through numerous marketing strategies and so we wanted to explore everything Dubai had to offer in 12 days.

The aim was to ensured that we created treasured and mad memories . We wanted the children to be thoroughly engaged by exploring new cultures and gaining new perspectives.

We stayed at an all inclusive luxury resort – Atlantis the Palm, and ensured that we didn’t restrict ourselves to just Atlantis, The Palm hotel grounds and Aquaventure Waterpark (the water park) which came as complimentary when you stay at the hotel.

Dubai has various memorable activities to do depending how long you plan to stay for. This is a list of the most memorable things we did as a family of 5.

Aquaventure Waterpark

Aquaventure is the largest waterpark in the Middle East, and it’s really massive. The 2km long lazy river and rapids takes about 30 minutes for a round circle around the outskirts of the park. There are two towers where all the rides are located – The Tower of Poseidon and Tower of Neptune, which are both inside the lazy river. 

The Tower of Poseidon is the power house of fun. There is Aquaconda – represented by the structure of giant sea serpent, with unimaginable twist and turn as well as intense vertical banking.

I particularly loved going through the dark tunnels and then suddenly plummeted out into the largest fibreglass tube. I screamed. I laughed. I cried! It was intense!

There is Slitherine – another water slide where you’ll end up in the belly of the Aquaconda after various twist and turns. It is also a dual waterslide so my girls had amazing fun racing each other to be the first.

Image shows The Slitherine - a waterpark attraction at Aquaventure Dubai.
The Slitherine
Image credit: @13weekstravel

There is Poseidon’s Revenge – My husband’s favourite where you step into a capsule which is equipped with terrifying trapdoors, then you wait for the floor to fall from beneath your feet and plummets you at speeds of about 40mph before you’re turned upside down.

There is Zoomerango – A less intense family ride which sits 6 people in a raft. It also has various mega drops and vertical zooms. It’s the gentle highlight of the park.

The Tower of Neptune has more adrenaline pumping rides including the Leap of Faith’s ride which hurls you vertically down a clear water slide surrounded by Sharks at crazy rapid speeds.

There’s also Shark Attack, a calm ride through dark tunnels and then suddenly, you make it into a huge tank filled with Sharks.

There is The Stringer, The Falls, The Plunge and The Surge. All these ring rides are set at varying levels with excruciating joy, gasps and heart pounding moments at each ride.

In order to have maximum satisfaction, we spent three days at Atlantis, the Palm and Aquaventure Waterpark and yet, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the fine white sand man-made beach which is exclusively for the use of the residents at the hotel.

The Atlantis Aquaventure is everything – the trills, the screams, the gasps, the fun. It is completely magical.

Mall of Emirates

Mall of Emirate
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

The Mall of Emirates is located along the popular Sheikh Zayed Rd, Al Barsha. It has a Metro /monorail stop – the Dubai Metro is new, sophisticated and well run. It connects most of the major sights and comes with a specially designed carriage for families and women. Children under five travel free on public transport. Alternatively, you can get to the Mall of Emirates by a Taxi. Taxis are comfortable, efficient and affordable. There are a huge amount of supply and respect amongst the drivers at the Taxi ranks. Hence, it was easy to move around.

The Mall of Emirates is also home to five hotels which confused us when we arrived there because each entrance we saw was through one of the hotels so we thought we were at the wrong place.

We first visited the Magic Planet – which is a massive arcade with mind blowing racing simulators, trampolines, video games, rides, bowling, amazing attractions in fact, everything to keep children aged 4 to 16 and adults alike entertained for hours. We got a card on site which we loaded with 525 AED and we got 950 AED on it. It was a bargain for all the activities we were able to do. The card is then swiped at the entrance of each attraction. This made it easier for us to choose what we wanted to do in the midst of a lot of choice. We spent the entire morning at the Magic Planet then we headed to Ski Dubai after lunch.

The basic ticket entry for Ski Dubai comes with a full snow suit, socks and snow boots which is all the snow clothing you’ll need except for gloves. It has a huge slope, chair lift, bob sledging, zorbing, snow tubing amongst many other activities, we felt like we were in the middle of The French Alps. We were beginners so we found an area where we could take some gentle turns and tumbles harmlessly. We also saw budding ski-champs like the ones that perform during the Winter games ski the 400m and perform some amazing stunts.

The play area for children was super fun as well and my girls enjoyed the bumper cars the most.

The facilities at the Mall of Emirates is world class. The mother’s room was special. It was such a big space with comfy sofas, drinking water, baby changing facilities, baby food warming facilities and a diaper machine if you wanted to buy one.

Dubai Parks and Resorts

The Dubai Parks and Resort is located on the famous Sheikh Zayed Road again and is also the largest theme park in the Middle East.

It consists of three theme parks and a water park:

Motiongate

Bollywood Parks Dubai

Legoland Dubai

Legoland Water Parks

and Riverland Dubai, which connects the four parks.

It is easily accessible by a taxi, bus or the Metro. We took a taxi down with a prepaid ticket which gave us entrance to three of the four parks. We opted not to visit Legoland water parks because we had the complimentary unlimited entry into Aquaventure Waterpark anyway.

The three parks we visited are

  1. Bollywood Parks Dubai
  2. Motiongate
  3. Legoland Dubai.
Bollywood Parks Dubai
Bollywood
Image credit:@13weekstravel

If you grew up just like me watching movies from Bollywood then Bollywood Park Dubai will resonate really well with you. It bought back childhood memories where we would watch Bollywood movies without English translation and still enjoy the amazing story telling.

Bollywood Park is enchanting and it draws you closer to understand the colourfulness and vibrancy of its culture. It brings to life the magic of India’s temples and palaces.

There are stunt-shows and 4D rides which we enjoyed but the dozens of live performances with music glaring was definitely the highlight here.

There was ‘Stars on Steps’ which is a live song-and-dance show to a backdrop image from elaborate LED screens.

There was ‘Show Me Your Jalwa‘ which offers a chance for the whole family to work on their Bollywood dance steps.

There was the ‘Kids Korner‘ which concentrated on choreography for children and it was led beautifully.

Bollywood Park Dubai also offers a beautiful replica’s of the Taj Mahal ( a building in India that I’m still in awe of).

Motiongate
Motiongate Dubai
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

Even though I was familiar with movies from the Hollywood studios of DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures, and Lionsgate, I wasn’t aware that there was actually a theme park that so beautifully transformed your mind to feel as part of all the movies.

As you enter Motiongate, you will find Studio Central. Studio central has various restaurants and souvenir shops.

Tip: Buy a refill bottle here and as you walk around, you’ll be able to refill drinks for free throughout the theme park.

Motiongate is split into different theme lands –

There is Liongate studio – The home of Hunger Games. If you’re a fan of Hunger Games, you’ll feel right at home here.

My husband had several repeat rides on the Capitol Bullet train ride (as there were no queues) and enjoyed the Panem Aerial Tour with the girls (aged 9 and 7).

Next was the Columbia pictures studio – Home to Cloudy with a chance of meatball, Hotel Transylvania, Green Hornet, Zombieland underworld and Ghostbusters.

The Cloudy with a chance of meatball had Flint and Sam’s water adventure – expect to get wet here!

The Green Hornet is a rollercoaster ride which is made up of sudden up and down stops. It was a bit scary for my 7 years old but great fun.

The Ghostbusters is a calm ride through a dark alley where you’re given a laser gun to attack ghosts and creepy crawlers for points.

It was super thrilling and my girls can still recount their experiences on these rides word for word.

We stopped for dinner at the Baby Brent – A Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball restaurant.

Baby Brent restaurant @13weekstravel

We briefly stop at Smurf’s village – surprisingly, it had the longest wait time to go on the ride. The wait was about 35 minutes and my girls weren’t so pleased.

Finally, we visited DreamWorks Animation studio which had different favourites like Madagascar, Shrek, How to train your dragon and Kung fu Panda. It was like we saved the best for the last!

Here there was one of my favourite movies of all time Shrek. A puppeteer told the very emotional story of Shrek and Fiona which shows the Fairy tale story with all the characters of the story like Donkey, Donkey’s Dragon wife, their babies, Puss in Boots and other characters.

Shrek Performance
Image Credit:@13weekstravel

Then, there was Kung Fu Panda dancing and teaching my girls his moves, there was a full theatrical performance with the cast of Madagascar, it was mind – blowing!

Legoland Dubai

Legoland Dubai have no competitors. I believe! It is absolutely fantastic! It has Lego city, Imagination, Kingdoms, Adventures and Miniland.

Lego City

We started at Lego city and I would say it is excellent for younger children (below 8 years) the attractions here included a driving school where the children learnt how to drive and obtained a Legoland driving license, a fire fighter station, a boat ride and gentle plane ride.

Imagination, Kingdom and Adventure land

These areas had amazing rides and roller coasters. We particularly enjoyed Imagination because it offered Lego Robotics which my girls enjoy at school.

Miniland

I was fascinated by Miniland as an Architect and believe me I could spend the entire day at Miniland. It was a display of Architecture, design and creativity at its best. It had Lego models of a number of amazing sky scarpers and iconic buildings around the world. The information on the buildings were all detailed and it could easily pass as a sort of museum. There was a work space where children could build anything they wanted to build with Lego.

Lego Robotics was on show here as well. All the iconic buildings had a robotic aspect to it. If you have a budding architect, IT engineer, robotic specialist developing in your family then you must visit Miniland at Legoland Dubai.

Lego Model of Burj Al Arab
Image by 13weeksTravel
Lego Model of Burj Al Arab
Image credit@13weekstravel

Dubai Miracle Centre

Dubai Miracle Garden selfie.
Photo Credit:@13weekstravel

Amazing place

The Dubai Miracle Garden is actually a miracle as the name indicates, you won’t expect such breathtaking natural flower garden in the midst of a desert. Would you?

The Dubai Miracle garden is large, I mean very large. It covers an area of about 72,000 square meters of land. It is the largest natural flower garden decked with awe- inspiring assortment of flowers – most of which are rare and thriving for the first time in the Middle East.

The garden was launched on Valentine’s Day in 2013. I don’t quite see the link because you’re not allowed to display any form of physical contact here. I was told off for resting on my husband’s shoulder as he tried to take a selfie of us.

The landscaping is exceptional and words can’t describe the beauty of the garden. The garden has been well thought out as there was something for everyone.

The Disney Theme character will keep your children entertained, an award winning aeroplane made of flowers complete with its engine. Japanese gardens, water fountains and wonderful scenery for the adults.

You will easily spend a couple of hours wandering around the garden and exploring the various structures which has been creatively crafted.

If you love flowers and plants as much as I do, you need to visit @dubaimiraclegarden it’s truly magical.

5 top affordable Luxurious destinations you should visit during school holidays.

If you’re looking to go on a luxurious getaway where you can recharge during school holidays, then my top five affordable luxurious destination is for you.

The content has been subdivided into easy to read sections of where to go and stay, when to go, how much and why you should go. The why offers an insight based on my experience of the destination when I visited and what activities I did.

Dubai

Stay at: Burj Al Arab, Jumeriah.
Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah

When: December school holidays

How much: AED 6,500 or £1400 per 2 people.

Why: Dubai is great for everyone. From enjoying the breathtaking architecture and changing landscapes to massive shopping mall and impressive souks. I thoroughly enjoyed Dubai because I visited every tourist attraction Dubai had to offer.

My highlights are:

Dubai Miracle Garden – A massive park of plants and flowers.

Burj Kalifa and dancing fountains: It was definitely captivating.

Global village – particularly for the variety of food on offer.

Gold Souks – if you like all that glitters, then you should visit too.

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Dubai parks – consisting of three large parks and a waterpark – Legoland, Bollywood and Motiongate. This was a treat for the children but it remains one of the best theme parks I have ever visited.

Greece

Where: Athens, Greece.

Hotel: King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel

When: May half- term school holidays

How much: £350 per person

Why: What’s not to love about the historic capital of Europe? Every corner you look at, breathe some sort of history due to the various conquerors and occupants of the country.

My highlights are:

1. Acropolis – There are various things to see around Acropolis including the temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian Arch, the sacred rock of Acropolis, Parthenon temple and Athena temple. I mean, get ready to be overwhelmed with the reality of walking in history.

2. Downtown – one of my favourite attractions here are the Panathenaikon stadium (which birth the history of the Olympic games); presidential mansion and the national garden.

3. Greek Islands

Although it’s best to visit the Greek islands as an independent travel destination mainly because of the time you might want to dedicate to exploring each of them. Through a ferry, you can easily visit beautiful islands that are close by. Aegean was one of such island. It was a refreshing small island for me to explore and ride my rented quad bike around the beach while gazing endlessly into the amazing scenery it offered.

Cyprus

Where: Limassol Cyprus

Hotel: Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol

When: October half-term school holidays

How much: £195 per person

Why: Limassol is a charming and cosmopolitan city in Cyprus, popularly know for its cosmetic and fertility clinics. Limassol had seen lots of recent development recently especially the breathtaking waterfront development – Limassol Marine. Limassol Marine has a calm and lovely atmosphere designed with tourists in mind . You can enjoy an evening meal with a variety of local and international cuisines; walk through stylish shops which oozes of luxury; engage in water sports activities or just lazed around on super rich yachts on display. You could also visit the old port which is full of history if that’s your thing.

Turkey

Where: Antalya, Turkey

Hotel: Concorde de Lux Resort, Lara, Antalya

When: February half term school holiday

How much: £175 per person

Why: Antalya is filled with fascinating history such as the ruins of Apollo’s temple which once sat 15,000 people and Hadrian’s gate. The influence of the Roman Empire on this part of Turkey is worth exploring. It is also the Eastern gateway to the Turquoise coast. The modern residential buildings in Antalya are extraordinary and eco- friendly. I discovered that most of the houses have solar panels. There are a lot of things to do in Antalya but my favourites were riding the cable car, quad biking on the mountains, watching the waterfalls and having a Turkish bath. You must have a Turkish bath in Turkey right?

Portugal

Where: Algarve, Portugal

Hotel: Conrad Algarve.

When: April Easter school holidays

How much: £105 per person

Why: The words that come to mind when I think of Algarve is stunning, beautiful, calm and laidback.

The kindness shown to us by the locals, when you ask questions was just amazing.

My highlight was visiting Zoomarina. Zoomarina is an educational and aquatic theme park. It offers adrenaline-pumping amusement park rides for the adventurous fun seekers. A Sand beach which was calm with low traffic when we visited in April. A beautiful presentation with dolphins and sea lions which made me cry. An educational presentation on tropical birds and a 3D display of the importance of an recycling. I will encourage you to book the 2 days deal for Zoomarina. It is nearly impossible to see everything between 10am and 5pm.

Here you have it, my top 5 affordable luxurious destination to visit during the school holidays.

Do you have more affordable luxurious destinations you’ll love to add? Please leave your ideas in the comment section. I’ll love to read them all.