When it comes to stopover cities, there’s nowhere quite like Dubai. For Aussie travellers it is the perfect place to break up the long haul across to Europe – the 13-14 hour flight gets the major plane trip out of the way. Spend two days recovering before hopping back on for the final leg, which can be as quick as 3-5 hours. So how should you spend your stopover? Aside from some serious pool time, here are a few fun things to do that will help you get over the flight, and get through the jet lag:
Head straight to your hotel
If you’re on a day flight, you’ll arrive in Dubai around the early afternoon. Hop straight in a cab – there are a few different options at the cab rank. Normal, female, luxury. Normal cabs are just standard taxis, female drivers often get around in pink taxis, and the luxury will cost you 25% more and are usually a vehicle like a Mercedes or Lexus. Signs outline the different cost structures and estimated fares based on destinations. Have your cab drop you straight at your hotel so you can drop off your bags and have a shower. Do not go to sleep. The quickest way to adjust to time zones is to stick to a sleep pattern matching the local times.
Several of the city’s key tourist attractions are huddled around Downtown Dubai. Staying at a hotel like the Rove Downtown Dubai, just across the road from Downtown, or one of the hotels right in the heart of this sprawling complex, is a great idea because you can spend a few hours knocking off all the key attractions. Before you go grab an iVenture Dubai Unlimited Attractions Pass, which gives you admission to more than 15 different attractions for one flat fee, many of which you just present your card to in order to get your ticket. It’s handy when the jet lag starts to set in. Push through until early evening – go all the way to the tallest tower in the world’s observation deck, At The Top, in the Burj Khalifa and walk through the shark tunnel and rainforest ecosystems at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo.
The aquarium sits inside Dubai Mall, so if you’ve still got a bit of stamina left, hit the shops. You’ll find all the big international brands, and plenty you’ve never heard of, in this maze of a mall. Or, head straight to the first floor for a quick dinner at Shake Shack. The famous NY burger joint’s Dubai offering tastes just as good, almost.
Get your blood pumping
You’ve probably woken up at the crack of dawn, absolutely starving. Have a quick, light breakfast before hopping in a taxi over to the Fairmont at The Palm Jumeriah. The man-made palm tree-shaped cluster of islands is home to Dubai’s hottest real estate. It’s not surprising the Fairmont’s fitness centre offers the latest fitness trend – Aquaspinning. Like a submerged spin class, Aqua Spin bikes sit underwater, in the pool, and the hour long classes include a mix of cycling and body weight exercises. You cool off as soon as you work up a sweat, combining fitness with a great way to escape the heat, and will really help you shuck that post-flight feeling of lethargy.
After tackling the tourist must dos downtown, schedule in some downtime. Stretch out by the hotel pool, book in for a massage at somewhere like the Viceroy The Palm’s Spa, where you’ll get access to their very cool, adults only spa pool, before getting ready for dinner.
Wine and dine
Dubai and decadence definitely go hand in hand. Especially when it comes to fine dining. One of the most extravagant meals around town is to be found at The St. Regis Dubai’s J&G Steakhouse. The five star hotel sits like a mini palace in Al Habtoor city, halfway between Downtown and The Palm, and is a study in elegance from the moment you set foot in the lobby. Grand double staircases greet you, crystal chandeliers tower overhead and daily there is a sabering demonstration at the Champagne Bar. Grab a drink in the St Regis Bar, decked out in an ode to speed, with model airplanes, giant propellers and equestrian accessories, before heading upstairs for dinner. Step back in time at The J&G Steakhouse, which is dark and moody, with leather banquette seating and plenty of dark wood décor. The long bar is a great spot for a pre-dinner aperitif but it’s worth going to your table just to have a visit from the martini trolley. Whatever your tastes or palate, the mixologist is a master at martinis and will whip something up in no time. The chefs have also mastered their art – there are 17 different cuts of meat on the menu, from Masterkobe wagyu to enormous tomahawks for two, and it would be sacrilegious not to have steak. But there are plenty of other dishes on the menu to tempt you. Start with moreish black truffle cheese fritters, soy cued salmon or seared foie gras, before moving on to your meats. The wine list is extensive, and the attentive staff are quick to help pick an appropriate drop. Save room for dessert – the signature J&G cheesecake is melt in your mouth marvelous.
A good night sleep
After you’ve been wined and dined, a good night’s sleep is exactly what you need. Pack, and hit the pillows, so you’re fresh for your morning flight.