how much money do you need to visit Dubai and how expensive is Dubai

How Much Money Do You Need to Visit Dubai in 2016

In Asia & Middle East, Dubai (UAE) by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

Are you considering a trip to Dubai, but have no idea how much it costs? How much money do you actually need to visit Dubai?

We are just back from Dubai and I can tell you that it’s indeed not cheap, but – as everywhere in the world – it also depends on the choices you make. The biggest expense is of course the flight and the hotel, followed by some activities and excursions. Transport and food prices are comparable to those in Western Europe.

What does a flight to Dubai cost?

Return flight prices from Western Europe to Dubai start from 300-400EUR depending on the travel period and how much in advance you book.

How expensive are Dubai hotels?

You will find some of the world’s most expensive hotels in Dubai, but there are plenty more affordable options as well. The cheapest room for 2 at Burj Al Arab will cost you almost 2.000EUR/ night, or you can stay a week for the same price at most ‘regular’ hotels.

The price will highly depend on the hotel you choose, the location, the number of people/rooms, travel period, etc. The best way to get a quick idea is by checking websites like It’s also often the quickest and the most transparent way to book a hotel. On top of that you can use their handy map and compare hotels at the best location. The nicest places to stay in Dubai are close to the beach, and in particular Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence at The Walk, and The Palm.

TIP: Keep in mind that accommodation prices don’t include municipality taxes and fees which add up to more than 20% and which you pay at the hotel!

We stayed at DoubleTree by Hilton Jumeirah Beach hotel. It’s a great option for big families looking for very good price/ quality ratio at fantastic location. You can read the complete review of DoubleTree by Hilton Jumeirah Beach Hotel Dubai here.

You can find the best deals for Dubai accommodation here.

How much does food cost and how expensive are Dubai restaurants?

As everything else in Dubai, you can find restaurants in all price categories. Traveling with young children, we usually keep clear of the most romantic upmarket restaurants so I cannot comment on those. We didn’t go to KFC or McDonald’s either. We mostly dined at the restaurants on The Walk or in one of the malls. The price we paid for lunch or dinner varied from 240 to 500 AED (60 to 125 EUR) for 2 adults and 3 children.


TIP: Go out for dinner. Prices at the hotel restaurants are usually higher and you will quickly pay double or even more.

Dubai hotel and food prices vary a lot


Examples of the average Dubai restaurant prices

  • Soft drinks: 15-18AED (4-4,5 EUR)
  • Smoothies and shakes: 24-30 AED (6-8 EUR)
  • Children’s menu (often includes a drink): 25-40 AED (6-10EUR)
  • Appetisers and desserts: 20-40 AED (5-10EUR)
  • Sandwiches and burgers: 35-55AED (9-14 EUR)
  • Main dishes: 40-100AED (10-25 EUR). Local dishes are usually cheaper and you can have an excellent lamb dish for 40AED (10EUR), but a good steak can quickly cost you 150AED (38EUR)

There was a little supermarket close to our hotel at The Walk, and the prices there were very comparable to those in Western Europe.

What does alcohol cost in Dubai?

Actually I don’t have an idea of how expensive alcohol is in Dubai. The only time we had alcohol was when we ordered two strawberry daiquiris at the pool bar of our hotel, and it was a happy hour price of 50AED (12 EUR) for two. We preferred the non-alcoholic cocktails, smoothies, and shakes which I can highly recommend!

How expensive is metro or taxi in Dubai?

Here you can find detailed information about Dubai public transport and prices.

How much do excursions and activities cost in Dubai and how to save money?

Some of Dubai’s activities are completely free or very cheap. Read more about the best free Dubai activities. Some others can cost an average month’s salary…

TIP: For the best price and availability, book your Dubai excursions in advance.

How expensive are Dubai’s water parks and how to book with a discount?

The most expensive activity we did was a day at Aquaventure waterpark at Atlantis, The Palm. Official price if booking on their website at that time was 290AED/ adult (73 EUR) and 230 AED/ child (58 EUR) under 1,2m (4 feet). You pay more at the entrance, I think it was at least 15-20 EUR/pp more expensive.

We bought our tickets at the (temporary?) Atlantis – MasterCard stand at Dubai airport upon arrival and paid 225 AED/adult (56 EUR) and 175 AED/child (44 EUR). That’s more than 20% discount compared to online prices and almost 40% compared to the prices at the entrance! I see that Viator now also offers a pretty good deal for Aquaventure which is cheaper than booking through the website of Atlantis itself and might be more reliable than trying to find a temporary display stand at the airport.

Even with this big discount we paid 256 EUR just for the entrance to the park for our family of 5. A locker will cost you another 10-20 EUR, and you do need the one of 20 EUR in order to fit a regular size backpack. You have to pay for the towels as well, so better bring one from your hotel. Food and drinks are quite expensive in the park, but somewhat comparable to similar places in Europe (count 5 EUR for small fries and 4 EUR for a drink) and you are only allowed to bring a bottle of water per person with you.

Other water parks like Wild Wadi in Dubai and Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi are about the same price as Aquaventure.

TIP: If you intend to spend several days at the Aquaventure water park, consider booking a room at Atlantis hotel. The entrance to the park is included in the price of the hotel room. In our case this was not really an option as a room for 5 people (= suite) at Atlantis was more than 14.000 EUR/ 8 nights compared to approx. 4.000 EUR for a family room for 4 people at the same hotel at the time we visited (Christmas-New Year). But it might be quite a good deal for a family of 3 or 4 people staying in one room in a less popular season. I just checked for the prices at Atlantis and family room rates start at around 340 EUR (+ tax) per night for up to 4 people. If you take into account that tickets to the water park alone cost about 240EUR for a family of 4, this is actually an amazing deal!

Note that children under 1,2m (4 feet) are not allowed on any of the big rides in Dubai water parks. There is a children’s play area with water slides and they can join you on the Lazy River as well. There are single and double tubes available, some with special seats for little children. These are hard to find, but not a problem if you go early in the morning. If you find one, hold on to it as you will need it for most of the rides as well! Our 7 year old had to go on his own as we took the 5 year olds with us, and he managed it pretty well.

There are plenty of other activities at Aquaventure. You can swim with dolphins, feed the fish, or have pictures taken with sea lions… These are all very expensive and you have to figure out if they are worth it for you and your family. Whatever you decide, remember that it will be much cheaper if booked well in advance. For example, you can save 25 EUR/ person for all dolphin experiences if booked at least 14 days in advance.

Book your Aquaventure experience here!

Practical advice for visiting ‘At The Top’ in Burj Khalifa

Another must-do in Dubai is visiting the top of Burj Khalifa – world’s tallest building.

We booked our tickets in advance and paid 560 AED (140 EUR) for 2 adults and 3 children for a regular ticket to 124+125th floors. A visit at sunset will cost you almost double, and prepare to pay three times the price if you don’t want to wait in line. You will pay 350-500 AED (88-125EUR) per person for the admission to the Sky level (148th floor).

We went at 6.30PM just after sunset and enjoyed amazing views of Dubai at night. We also saw a dancing fountain performance from above. Waiting time to go up was no longer than 15 minutes, so I don’t really see why you would want to pay three times the price for immediate access. We had to wait longer to go down and that is the same for everyone, no matter which ticket you buy.

The price for Burj Khalifa is the same at the counter as it is online, but if you don’t book in advance the chances are high that there will be no availability at certain times. If you haven’t booked, try going early in the morning or late at night as it’s less busy.

Burj Khalifa At The Top experience is a must-do in Dubai


Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

The entrance fee to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is pretty steep, starting at 100 AED (25 EUR) per person if you book directly. We found some companies which sell tickets at 60 or 70 AED (15-18 EUR), so look around before you go there and book in advance. Dubai Mall gets very busy in the afternoon and the line to get into aquarium got very long after 2PM, so get up early and go there first thing in the morning. Or admire this huge aquarium from the Mall for free and save your money for something else.

How much do excursions cost in Dubai?

Sites like Viator will give you a pretty good idea of what kind of excursions you can do in Dubai and how much they cost. Here is a link to my hand-picked selection of activities in Dubai that can be booked via Viator and are often cheaper than booking directly.

Dubai Marina Dinner Cruise: our experience

One of the most popular excursions in Dubai is a Dubai Marina dinner cruise. There are many companies operating the boats and you will find plenty of options. We had booked a New Year’s Eve cruise which got cancelled without much apology and were offered another one 2 hours later the same evening at 10 (!) times the price instead. You get to see the fireworks they told us! 1500 EUR is quite a bit more than I am willing to pay to see the fireworks from the boat. We could see them better from our hotel room as most of the boats trying to leave the Marina just before midnight were stopped by the police and not allowed into the bay (there were fireworks set in the sea as we saw afterwards)! This is Dubai – if there is demand, they adjust supply and the prices, but you still don’t know if you will get what you were promised.

We  found another company which operated the cruise at the regular price and we really enjoyed the evening. We booked Alexandra Dhow Cruise and it was great price/quality ratio for families as children under 6 were free. We paid 420 AED (105 EUR) for dinner cruise for the 5 of us and it was about the same price as just dinner at a restaurant. You get a buffet dinner, great views, and the traditional dance performance. We found this cruise really worthwhile.

Dubai Big Bus Tours

Dubai is a big city and a great way to see the main highlights without spending a lot of money on the organised excursions is by taking the hop-on hop-off bus tour. Big Bus Tours is one of the best-rated options in Dubai.

Big bus hop-on hop-off tour in Dubai

Big bus hop-on hop-off is a good way to see the best of Dubai in a short time


What about ‘tax-free’ shopping in Dubai – how expensive is clothing or electronics?

Dubai malls are among the biggest in the world offering huge selection for any budget: from H&M, Zara, or GAP to Chanel, Dior, or Louis Vuitton. We found that most prices were much higher than in Europe: clothing, electronics, toys. Dubai is therefore probably not the best destination for a shopping weekend with your girlfriends.

I hope that my tips and overview of Dubai prices and expenses will help you prepare better for your visit so that you can avoid unpleasant surprises for your wallet.

**If Dubai is high on your list, but you have limited time and/or budget, you can consider a short stopover in Dubai in combination with another trip.

**Traveling to the Emirates soon? Make sure to check our hand-picked selection of the best Dubai tours and activities that you shouldn’t miss!


How expensive is Dubai really

Read more:
Top 5 Free Dubai Experiences and 3 Activities Under 3 EUR
20 Things To Do in Dubai for The Whole Family
All You Need to Know About Dubai Public Transport as a Tourist
Dubai Clothing Advice for Tourists
3 Things I Liked Most About Dubai
Dubai Interesting Facts: from Must Know to Trivia
2016: Dubai Postcards Odyssey


  1. Hi Jurga,

    You have written a great post. Being from Dubai myself I know your details are genuine.

    Keep doing great work

  2. hello jurga,excellent information!
    my company is sending me on a 3 month training in Dubai with my round trip and accommodation covered by them. my question.
    is 500 to 1000$ manageable for me to feed and transport my self for this period on a modest life style cuz I can for now hardly boast of 650$ to go with and will be leaving next month.

    1. Author

      Hi Charles, and sorry for a late reply. We are just back from two weeks in Norway and I tried to disconnect from working a bit…
      I think that you can manage with this amount if your trip and accommodation are covered. 500 might be a bit stretch, but it all depends on your lifestyle. Dining in more local restaurants is not that expensive in Dubai, and if you cook your own meals, it will be even cheaper. And I am sure they have cheaper public transport options if you take a monthly ticket or so. Just ask the locals (or the ticket desk) for the best options. Dubai metro is really good and easy to use too. I think the very best way is to talk to the locals that you work with and they will be able to give you the best tips. Enjoy it! Dubai is amazing. And, despite it offering all those expensive and luxury things to do, there are still quite many things you can do for free. Here is a small selection, I am sure you will find more: Free and cheap things to do in Dubai.

  3. Hello Jurga,

    Thanks for a detailed blog post, which covers almost everything. This blog post will help to many people who are planning to travel Dubai.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Jaydip. Glad you found this info useful!

  4. Great information! My husband and I are thinking to go in December but we can not spend much, so I am more confident now that we will have a good adventure

    1. Author

      Glad you found this information reassuring, Luz. I think you can visit pretty much any destination on any budget, as long as you do a lot of research, plan well and make choices. You don’t have to stay at the most expensive hotels or do every single day trip that is available in order to have a wonderful time in Dubai. If you haven’t yet, make sure to also check our post about free and cheap things to do in Dubai. Have a great trip!

  5. hi … if i need to shop something for my sister like dresses , how much will it cost me

    1. Author

      🙂 That’s a question I couldn’t answer anywhere in the world. You have dresses of 10 EUR and of 10,000 EUR… Prices in Dubai malls are similar to the ones in Western Europe if that helps.

  6. This is such a helpful article, Jurga. Dubai isn’t known to be an affordable travel destination so it’s really nice to know the actual numbers so travelers can plan ahead of time.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feedback, Agness. That’s what I was hoping for – that it would help people plan and budget their trip to Dubai better.

  7. Hi, did you take Dubai money from your home country?

    1. Author

      No, Sergej, we didn’t. We used an ATM at the airport to withdraw some money for the taxi and for other small payments, but for the rest we just used our credit cards.

  8. Very comprehensive, the best info I found about prices in Dubai so far. I have a question. Do you know if it’s common to tip in Dubai and if so, how much? thx

    1. Author

      Hi Mark and thank you for your feedback. Glad you found this info useful. Tipping in restaurants is expected in Dubai (even though it often says on the bill that it’s included), add 10-15%. Taxi rates are usually rounded up. Tour guides and hotel staff also expect a small tip.

      1. How much is Dubai transport money

  9. I am a student, planning to go to Dubai next year.
    If my hotel costs $700 for 7 nights, and the round trip /flight cost is $900, do you think if I bring total of $2600, it will be good enough to visit Dubai for a week?

    1. Author

      Hi Tahhsin, I think you’ll be just fine with $1,000 for one person for a week. We certainly didn’t spend $5,000 (on top of hotel expenses) for the 5 of us during our stay of 9 days.
      If you are somewhat careful with the dining costs, you should keep more than enough money for sightseeing (I’d definitely do Burj Khalifa and maybe one water park or a desert safari if that’s your thing). You can find some tips for free things to do in Dubai here – don’t miss these – all really nice experiences. And I also have some recommendations for other fun things to do in Dubai as well. Hope this helps. Have a good trip!

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