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 booking.com. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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