The Coolest Dubai Experiences for the Winter
If your idea of a white Christmas is lying back and absorbing a bit of vitamin D on a white sand beach, then ‘tis the season for you to visit Dubai. The attraction-filled city offers something to do all year round, but some might argue the prime time to pop by is during the cooler winter months, between December and March.
Before you start packing your sweaters and gloves, it is worth mentioning that by “cooler” we mean that unlike during the summer, winter months in Dubai will allow you to enjoy time outdoors, taking in the renowned winter sun. But make no mistake – you won’t exactly be building any snowmen, unless, of course, you visit the magical indoor ski resort Ski Dubai to hit the slopes.
The coldest month in Dubai is January with an average daytime high sitting at around 24°C (76°F). While you may see a few residents parading some serious winter fashion in the form of jackets and coats, for visitors who don’t live in the desert climate all year round, a classic vacation pairing of a t-shirt and shorts during the day with an added light jacket in the evening should be sufficient. Oh, and if a sea temperature of the same value seems like the perfect dip, make sure to pack your swimsuit!
Our experts have put their heads together to bring you the crème de la crème of winter activities in Dubai for this season. Keep reading and pick your favourites!
Discover the desert
There’s no better time to experience the mesmerising Dubai desert than during the cooler season, once the heat and humidity have subsided. Admire the sun rising from the dunes as you glide through the crisp morning skies on an unforgettable hot air balloon ride.
If you prefer to stay grounded, whilst still getting that adrenaline rush, a desert safari is a must-do for all visitors. Whether you’re looking to drive down the red dunes and ride a camel in true Bedouin style during the early hours, or enjoy a bit of sandboarding with a side of spectacular sunset over an evening experience , the desert truly is the place to be during this season.
Albeit this is the one time you may want to grab your sweater, because the temperature tends to drop quite a bit in the desert during the night, making both the morning and evening time somewhat chilly. Simply relying on a T-shirt might leave you wanting to borrow matches from the fire dancer and start a bonfire to keep warm during the delicious barbeque dinner.
Since we were already out in the wild with our suggestions, might as well continue with this theme. Camping is one of the ultimate winter activities in Dubai. You have a ton of sceneries to choose from – aim high and head to the mountains to pitch your tent, create a perfect campsite between the beautiful desert dunes or set your s’mores station up anywhere along the gorgeous coast. Dubai offers a variety of camping options for both beginners as well as seasoned campers.
Our top recommendation? Head to the Al Qudra Lakes for your perfect romantic getaway or the ultimate family camping trip. About a 45-minute drive from Downtown Dubai, waking up in this gorgeous, secluded scenery to some chirping from the birds is guaranteed to make you feel far from everyday worries.
If you’d rather not worry yourself with finding the perfect spot and making sure you’ve got your camping gear intact, treat yourself to a more luxurious experience and try out glamping – the elevated version of traditional camping. You’ll get to enjoy all the thrills and excitement of a desert safari without having to head back to the city in the evening. Enjoy the star-filled sky as you spend a night in a beautiful cabin. Best part? You get to wake up to the peace and quiet of a perfect desert morning.
Wonderful winter waters
One of our top recommendations to soak up the winter sun is to grab your goggles and swimsuit and make the most of all the fun water experiences Dubai has to offer.
Discover Atlantis, The Palm and take on the 100+ slides and attractions at the world’s largest waterpark Aquaventure, enjoy a fun day of splashing around at Laguna Waterpark or slide into a pool of fun at the unique Wild Wadi waterpark. The beaming sun will keep you nice and warm, but unlike during the summer, you don’t have to worry about the risk of getting a bit too warm.
In case you’re looking to break out of the parks and have fun in a more natural setting, there’s a plethora of open water sports to choose from. Get your adrenaline pumping on a wakeboard, find your balance on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) as you make your way around the beautiful Palm Jumeirah or build your biceps kayaking into the mesmerising sunset.
Whatever your preference, just go with the flow and let the winter waters of Dubai woo you.
Sailing through the season
Once you’ve had your fun in the water, there’s several wonderful water experiences to be had above the surface. With a beautiful canal flowing through the city, opt for a traditional Abra tour to get the perfect angle of Dubai’s best landmarks. Make a whole evening out of it, by going for a royal dinner cruise with the iconic Dubai skyline as your backdrop.
Got a taste for luxury? Hire a private yacht, invite all your favourite people and admire the beautiful Marina area and the Palm as the sun sets on the magnificent city.
Whether you’re looking to be part of the action on a jet ski or tour the town with an experienced guide, the Dubai water scene truly has something for everyone.
Stroll through parks and gardens
Not only are many experiences and attractions more enjoyable during the cooler months, but there’s also a few you’ll only be able to enjoy over the winter. Open from November until April, Global Village is one of the world’s largest entertainment projects. Discover 78 diverse cultures from all over the world as you tickle your taste buds with exotic snacks and fill your shopping bag with unique handmade crafts. In just a couple of hours you’ll be able to take a trip around the world!
Head over to the Miracle Garden, to literally ‘stop and smell the roses’ in this fast-paced action-filled city. Spreading over 72,000 square metres with more than 50 million flowers, this wonderland holds the title of the largest natural flower garden in the world. You can get your floral and serotonin fix between November and March.
If you’re visiting Dubai with the family, you can take your pick from any of the family-friendly theme parks around the city. Head over to Dubai Parks and Resorts to channel your favourite characters at MOTIONGATE, build up the fun at LEGOLAND or fall in love with the colours of BOLLYWOOD. For those looking to push their limits and put themselves to the test, Aventura Adventure Park has something for both the kids and the parents ready leave the comfort zone at home.
If you happen to be visiting Dubai over the holiday season and can’t wait to get your Christmas fix, the Winter Garden in the heart of the city will do the trick. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and endless amounts of holiday snacks as carol singers will spark all the Christmas feels.
The newest edition to the festive markets has just opened in Dubai Harbour. You’ll have the chance to practise your pirouettes on the outdoor ice rink, whilst admiring the magical Dubai Marina and stunning sea views.
Shop until you drop
Home to one of the world’s most visited shopping malls – Dubai Mall, there’s no denying Dubai is a shopaholics paradise. However, once a year, between December and January, the city goes all out to deliver the ultimate shopping experience – the Dubai Shopping Festival.
With different retail stores, speciality shops and markets all offering discounts up to 75%, this is the best time to get that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing since spring.
But make no mistake – the festival is not just about shopping. You’ll get to experience amazing concerts, eat your way through numerous food trucks and admire incredible firework shows. This year, the festival is held from the 15th of December 2021 until the 30th of January 2022.
While you’re visiting Dubai Mall during this special shopping season, this is the perfect opportunity to experience the extravaganza from record-breaking heights by heading to the top of the Burj Khalifa. Once you’re back on the ground, make sure to witness the one-of-a-kind Dubai Fountain show.
In case you’re in for a more authentic Arabian experience, you can leave the busy shopping malls behind, head to Al Fahidi Historical District and explore the spice, gold and textile souks in all their glory. Top tip – the most unique gifts can definitely be found in this area.
Beaches and brunches
Although most people don’t necessarily pack their beach bag during the winter, Dubai offers the perfect excuse to get your sun-brella and SPF and head to any of the white sand beaches.
Choose from public beaches like the JBR Beach or Kite Beach or opt for a more secluded and relaxing experience at any of the numerous private beaches attached to beautiful hotels. You can enjoy these private beaches even without staying at the hotel by paying for a day-pass.
In case you need to fuel up during your beach day, you can choose from an endless amount of cafes and restaurants, which truly shine during these cooler months.
If you’re looking for a fancier dinner experience, this is undeniably the best season to make the most of all the amazing outdoor terraces and rooftop restaurants, as many of them open their doors during the winter. Enjoy incredible views from any of the restaurants found in Dubai Marina or on the Palm, or go for dinner or drinks among the clouds, by giving a rooftop venue a go. One thing’s for sure – you’ll enjoy a feast for both the tummy and the eyes in this spectacular city.
Explore Expo 2020 Dubai
If you’re in Dubai during the winter of 2021/2022, there’s no way around visiting the greatest global gathering - Expo 2020 Dubai. Whether you’re visiting for just a day, expanding your explorations over a month or making a whole season out of it, this is the one experience you won’t want to miss. Best of all – with the temperatures staying on the cooler side, you’ll be able to enjoy the event to the fullest!
Before hopping on the Expo rider and heading for the festivities, check out our Expo Highlights to make the most of your visit.