Dubai is the city of superlatives: the biggest, the tallest, the most expensive, even the cheapest. It has something for everyone. Full of glitz and glam, it’s a city to add to your bucket list, even if you only spend a few days.

With stopover cities becoming a growing travel trend, here’s why Dubai makes the perfect pit stop for travelers on a long-haul flight to or from places like Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. 

Prime Location

Man in traditional Kandura robe waiting at Dubai International Airport, UAE

For travelers coming back from Australia or any Asian destination, an extended layover in Dubai is a welcome respite in the middle of a 24- to 32-hour-long journey. From Dubai’s sprawling airport, it’s just a 15-minute drive to downtown and a number of luxury hotels from the Fairmont Dubai to the Ritz-Carlton Dubai. It also doesn’t hurt that it gets pretty much constant sunshine year round, so your limited time there won’t be spoiled by unruly weather.

One-of-a-kind Sights

Downtown Dubai, At The Top Burj Khalifa, Sky Observation Desk

Atlantide Phototravel/Getty Images

Seeing the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, from the airport doesn’t do it justice. Reserve a ticket to go straight to the top, ears popping as you approach the 148th floor. The views are spectacular, of course, and the experience is worth the seriously heavy price-tag. On top of the world’s largest building, Dubai also has the world’s largest human-made island. The Palm trilogy, made up of the Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island, and Palm Jebel Ali, is designed to look like palm trees. This architectural feat is home to Atlantis: The Palm and hundreds of apartments. Driving through in a taxi is a mystifying experience, and skydiving above it gives you a once-in-a-lifetime view.

Adventures for Everyone

Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club

David Cannon/Getty Images

No matter what you’re into — whether it’s golf, polo, falconry, or surfing — Dubai has an adventurous activity for everyone. The Emirates Golf Club was the first course with grass in the Middle East. Hit the links for half the day then relax by the pool and dine at one of 10 lauded restaurants. Watch Arabian horses trot on the polo green at the Al Habtoor Polo Resort or gallop over the dunes yourself with the Emirates Equestrian Centre. Get a taste for desert life and try your hand at falconry with the experts at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. It may be a desert, but there are several human-made beaches, like Sunset Beach, to sunbath or learn how to surf.

An Excuse to Treat Yourself

Hammam at the One & Only Royal Mirage resort, in Dubai

Courtesy of One&Only Resorts

It’s not nicknamed “The City of Gold” for nothing: Dubai is all about indulgence. If you’ve spent the last month backpacking around Southeast Asia or pinching pennies in pricey Sydney, then this is the place to spoil yourself. Get a plush room at one of the high-end hotels, including the world’s first seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Make a reservation for weekend brunch (a common activity in Dubai) at the Burj Al Arab and gorge yourself on an impressive raw bar, meat carving stations, and a chocolate fountain. Afterward, try an authentic hammam spa experience at the ultra-luxe One&Only Royal Mirage.

Endless Shopping

Fountain at the Dubai Mall

Christian Kober/AWL Images/Getty Images

A visit to The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest, is a must. It’s a sight to see, and you could spend an entire day browsing high-end stores like Gucci or more affordable options like Zara. For a slightly less overwhelming experience, head to the Mall of the Emirates for an equally impressive, yet smaller, selection of stores, with fewer tourists. If you are looking for jewelry you can’t beat, head to the Gold and Diamond Park near the Mall of the Emirates and remember, don’t be afraid to bargain.

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