Everyone keeps telling you to visit Dubai in the winter, but why?
How much difference will it make to your Dubai experience to visit in the cooler months of the year? Exactly how cold does it get, and can you expect sunshine or rain? Is it still beach weather in the middle of the Dubai winter season? What’s going on during winter 2023-24 to make it worth the visit?
Winter in Dubai brings with it mild temperatures, plenty of sunshine, festivals and live entertainment, with a very low chance of your winter plans being washed out by inclement weather. Let’s take a deep dive into Dubai’s desert climate and the best winter activities in Dubai and The United Arab Emirates.
When is Winter in Dubai?
Following the northern hemisphere seasons, winter in Dubai falls from December to March. However, unlikely much of Europe and North America don’t expect snow and freezing temperatures. Dubai likes to blissfully glide into a mild winter of blue skies, sunny days, and crisp cool evenings – but rarely what most would call COLD.
Rather than a traditional four seasons, Dubai’s seasons can best be described as simply summer and winter, with huge degrees of heat variation between the two (or hot, very hot, and OMG, I can’t believe it gets that HOT!).
The cooler, more bearable months of the year generally run from late October, where we see a significant drop in daytime highs (from the 40’s°C down to the lows 30’s°C in November), through to mid-May, where the temperatures start hitting into the 40°C/100°F + realms once more.
Dubai Winter Temperature: How Cold Does Dubai Get in Winter?
The coolest month of the year for Dubai is January, where the average temperature is 24.2°C (76°F). The average overnight low in January is 14.6°C (58°F), and the average sea temperature of Dubai in January is 23.9°C (75°F).
You can expect, on average, 8 hours of sunshine on a Dubai winter’s day.
There can, of course, be extremes in Dubai at any time of year, and winter is no exception. Daytime temperatures in January can climb over 30°C (86°F), and nighttime temperatures in the mountains and desert can get as cold as freezing – snow can occur on the UAE’s highest peak – Jebel Jais – on the coldest of days.
Does it Rain in Dubai in the Winter?
Rain is not a daily occurrence in Dubai; however, increasingly, rainstorms can occur – usually downpours all at once rather than days on end of rain and drizzle.
On average, you can expect five rain days per month between December and March. It is hard to predict precisely when it might rain in Dubai more than a few days out, so we wouldn’t go planning a winter holiday in Dubai around the weather, nor even pack an umbrella.
However, be aware it CAN happen and when it does…. oh boy! Flash flooding and traffic chaos can ensue. It’s best if it rains during your trip to Dubai to head somewhere safely indoors and wait it out until it passes >> see our indoor suggestions below!
Be aware that Dubai also engages in cloudseeding, which has resulted in more frequent rain showers than the UAE has historically experienced.
Fog in Dubai
By far, a bigger issue in Dubai in winter than rain is fog. For most of the winter months in Dubai, in fact, from even as early as September, you will start to experience some phenomenal morning fogs descending upon the city due to the overnight humidity.
This low-level fog normally burns off by mid-morning to leave a beautiful, crisp, and sunny day ahead. The fog can, however, cause air traffic chaos and problems on the fast-flowing roads. On rare occasions, it can be so severe as to close DXB airport.
Things to Do in Dubai in the Winter
So, on to the fun stuff and why we love winter in Dubai so much: the cooler weather means a return to our favourite parks and outdoor activities! Winter 2023/24 really starts with the return of outdoor markets and seasonal favourites like Global Village and rolls on with Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and so much more, making the most of the great outdoors.
Expo City Dubai
Expo 2020 may now feel like a distant memory, but as promised, the grounds of the amazing site have been turned into a city of the future and are well worth checking out this winter.
Important for winter 23/24! The grounds at Expo City will be broken into two zones during COP28 (30 November to 12 December 2023). Only UNFCCC acredited delegates can enter the Blue Zone, whilst the Green Zone is open to the public from 3 December and will offer the general public a chance to get involved – its free but you need a Green Zone Day Pass
There are still plenty of events to look forward to after COP28, including Winter City under the Al Wasl Dome – think Christmas markets, Santa’s House, Frosty’s farm House and carol services from 8 December until 7 January 2024.
Easy to reach using the Dubai Metro, or there are local bus services now connecting Expo City Dubai to the surrounding suburbs.
Dubai Parks & Outdoor Activities
Head to one of Dubai’s many parks and popular outdoor spaces during your winter trip to Dubai. Some of the top parks we recommend visitors to explore for experiencing different sides of Dubai include:
Mushrif Park – unlike most of the city’s parks that are beautifully manicured, Mushrif Park has a more wilderness feel of native shrubland amongst the native Ghaf trees. A popular weekend picnicking spot and home to the treetop ropes course, Aventura, it’s hard to believe such greenery exists close to the city!
Ras Al Khor Wildlife – Set along the banks of Dubai Creek and managed by Dubai Municipality, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Reserve is one of the most unique outdoor experiences in Dubai. Home to birds, most famously the flamingo, mammals, reptiles, and fish, this is one of the city’s hidden gems worthy of a half-day visit to soak in inner-city tranquillity.
Quranic Park – a new instalment of Dubai Municipality, this beautifully laid out park in the Al Khawaneej area of the city is dedicated to the Holy Quran. Covering 60 acres, the park is open to all faiths to explore, including the “Glasshouse” which displays plants mentioned in the Holy Quran and the “Cave of Miracles” which tells stories from the Holy Book.
J1 Beach (formerly La Mer) – We look forward to the return of this beachfront venue in early 2024, bringing al fresco dining, water sports and luxury beach clubs.
Dubai Safari Park – Found in the Al Warqa 5 area of the city. The park plays host to over 3000 animals, with educational, conservation, and protection at the core of their mission.
The Walk & The Beach JBR – this iconic beachfront area of Dubai has something for everyone. City meets beach on the bustling waterfront walk. Enjoy cosmopolitan restaurants to ice cream stands and kids splash parks, camel rides along the beach, and a huge range of water sports are on offer.
Al Seef – where old meets new along the western bank of the Dubai Creek. Traditional architecture seamlessly blends the city’s oldest neighbourhood into this modern waterfront destination. Catch your boat tours from here or enjoy a bite overlooking the water and stroll the touristy shops.
Desert safaris, dune sports and camping in Dubai in winter
Winter is an ideal time to explore Dubai’s desert. On an evening, overnight safari, or early morning hot air balloon ride, you will definitely want to pack a warm jumper/sweater and take long trousers with you, along with closed-toe shoes. You may even want a beanie and scarf if you’re particularly susceptible to the cold but it’s not super cold. Organised desert camps will provide you with the necessary blankets.
With the cooler day temperatures too, winter is the best time for a daytime Dubai desert safari. Operates have re-opened post-Covid-19 with a strict range of safety measures in place to make them a fun and enjoyable experience for all.
A fun desert activity to enjoy in the winter for your adrenaline junkies is a dune buggy tour – check out exactly how you can book your dune buggy tour in Dubai over here.
Al Fresco Dining in Dubai
Dubai enjoys a spectacular array of outdoor dining venues, and full advantage is taken of this in the winter months to enjoy the city’s spectacular skyline.
We also love an outdoor brunch in the cooler winter months; you can find a selection of weekend favourites here, or try a traditional Sunday roast at these incredible venues for the perfect get-together with family and friends.
Explore the Old City and Souks of Dubai
The cooler months of winter make it ideal for longer strolls outside. You could spend a full day exploring the museums around Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, then take a traditional abra over to the Deira side of Dubai Creek to experience the many souks of Dubai, most popular the Gold & Spice Souks, and pick up some Dubai souvenirs!
The newly re-opened Shindagah Historic District would make a great outing this winter to rediscover a historic part of the city brought back to its former glory.
You can see a complete guide to Dubai’s Museums and cultural attractions here.
Hit the beach
Whilst many hotels have their own private beaches, there are a number of public beaches and beach clubs around the city offering a variety of different experiences. From sophisticated beach hang-outs to chilled-out family spots like Kite Beach,; Dubai really does have it all when it comes to beach experiences.
Most beach clubs close during the hottest months, and whilst December and January may not feel like beach weather for many residents, temperatures are still considered ‘warm’ by many visitors. If you want to seek out some winter sun, this is our current choice of the best beach clubs in Dubai (there are always new choices being added!)
You can find out more about Dubai’s best public beaches here, including advice on what to wear and which beaches are free vs paid
Visit the Theme Parks
Winter is the perfect time for theme park fans to visit Dubai with pleasant weather.
- Dubai Parks and Resorts, with the combined theme parks of Legoland and Motiongate, makes for an excellent winter choice.
- IMG Worlds of Adventure makes an excellent choice for inclement weather as it’s entirely indoors.
Day Trip to other Emirates
The cooler days of winter make it a great time to explore the other emirates of the UAE (did you know Dubai is one of 7 Emirates of the UAE? Here are our top Dubai day trip suggestions:
- A trip to the Capital Abu Dhabi, is a must. Marvel at the stunning grandeur of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, tour the Presidential Place Qasr Al Watan or explore the history of humanity at The Louvre Abu Dhabi – learn more about the Culture Express bus running this winter.
- Adrenaline junkies, head to Ras Al Khaimah! Home to the UAE’s tallest peak Jebel Jais, and the UAE adventure capital, this is where to head for scenic drives, mountain hiking and biking, wadi tours, camping and any extreme outdoor activity you can think of!
- The perfect mix of outdoor adventures and history, head to the far east coast of the country and explore the emirate of Fujairah. From snorkelling opportunities at Snoopy Beach to dhow cruises at Dibba, this is our favourite day trip from Dubai in winter for a taste of the “other side” of the UAE, away from the modern high rises.
Read this guide if you’ll be renting a car and driving in Dubai to see if its the right fit for you or an organised tour may be better.
Dubai Water Parks and Water Sports in Winter
So, just how cold does the seawater get in winter? If you want to dip in the Arabian Gulf waters in winter, it can drop as low as 22°C (73°F) in the middle of winter.
Our super-sensitive desert kids would squeal that this is far too cold, but visitors from the depth of European winter will no doubt find it positively balmy!
- Water Parks in Dubai remain open almost throughout the year, but you may find they close for a fortnight at some point in the winter (generally outside of school holiday times). It’s worth checking any possible closure times before you travel if this is an important part of your Dubai travel plans. Aquaventure at Atlantis remains the largest in the Middle East, but also the most crowded and can suffer from long queues. Also consider Wild Wadi Waterpark or with littles, Legoland Waterpark.
- Resort swimming pools, on the other hand, are far more likely to be temperature controlled, so you will find them wonderfully heated in the winter (in fact, pools will start being heated to maintain a steady 28°C-30°C water temperature from about October!). Not all hotel pools are created the same in this regard! It pays to check the fine print if you’re booking a Dubai hotel in winter.
- If in doubt, why not book a hotel in Dubai with an indoor pool? There are plenty of places offering indoor pools for year-round relaxation at ideal temperatures, from lap pools to luxury indoor spas.
Dubai Cruises and Boat Rides
You will undoubtedly be able to enjoy getting out on the water around Dubai in plenty of other ways.
- Winter is a good time to take a tour out of Dubai Marina, or a traditional abra across Dubai Creek is popular, or extend your evening with a more formal dinner dhow cruise.
- There are many yachts, from Dubai Marina, in particular, where you can privately charter a yacht for your party, be it a daytime sightseeing cruise or a fun evening party out on the water.
Remember, it can get chilly in the evenings, so wear appropriate warmer clothing if you’ll be hitting the water at night.
Dubai’s Seasonal Winter Events
Many events and Dubai winter attractions will only open over the cooler months of the year, though these “seasons” are gradually creeping longer each year!
Here’s just a selection of our favourites for visitors to enjoy a different side of Dubai:
The crowds and colours of Dubai’s Global Village need to be seen to be believed. Like a giant world’s fair representing over 70 countries through food, dance, and live performances.
- You can enjoy super cheap entry to this outdoor extravaganza from 18 October 2023 through until 28 April 2024. Learn more here.
Dubai Garden Glow
A spectacular nighttime light display in Zabeel Park, combined with a visit to the Dinosaur Park and even an Ice Sculpture Park all in one venue for a magical evening.
- The usual running dates are from October until early May. Learn More here
Dubai Miracle Garden
The largest flower garden in the world by total blooms sits right here in Dubai! Marvel at the floral creations from the iconic A380 permanent feature to the swinging gardens, the floral clock, incredible topiary collections, and an annual changing lineup to impress!
- This year’s season will run from 1 October 2023 to early May 2024. Learn more here.
Winter Wonderland Dubai
Although Christmas is not a marked religious holiday in the United Arab Emirates, there’s no denying it’s celebrated in a big way! It may still be warm outside, but magical winter wonderlands with snow machines, Christmas Trees and market stalls to Santa himself will appear across the city in December.
Only closing now for the hottest few months of the year, the Ripe Farmers Market has a few roving locations across the city during the summer months. In winter, however, you can find it at Academy Park in the Umm Suqeim area of the city every Saturday and Sunday. The sprawling market is a great place to pick up fresh organic fruits and vegetables and also meet local artisans selling their hand-crafted products.
- This year’s dates are 14 October 2023 to early May 2024
What if it Rains in Winter? What to do in Dubai When it Rains
On rare days, it does rain in Dubai, but don’t worry about it ruining your travel plans – Dubai is a city also built to be enjoyed indoors! Here are just a few suggestions to fill a rainy day in Dubai (with & without kids):
- Dubai Frame – rain or not, you can still enjoy a bird’s eye view beneath the towering Dubai Frame – observe the Dubai Creek and Old Dubai from one side and the modern skyscrapers of Dubai to the west. See our review of the Dubai Frame here.
- Dubai Mall – always a fail-safe; whatever the weather, there’s so much to see and do in and around Dubai Mall. Take a trip up the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, or take a tour of the incredible Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. (Just be warned, peak times/dates for Burj Khalifa will book up FAST!)
- Little ones will love Kidzania Dubai, or Play DXB (VR Park) for your bigger kids and the giant cinema complex – even try your hand at ice skating on the Olympic-sized rink! See our full review of the Dubai Mall activities here.
- The Green Planet Dubai – Offers an incredible indoor rainforest experience in the heart of the city. Snake your way around the giant artificial tree inside a giant biodome adjacent to the City Walk entertainment precinct. NEW for Winter 2023 is the Nature Park – a large edutainment area featuring a treehouse with viewing platforms, adventure trails and slides, plus realistic animatronics of all manner of creepy crawlies (the outdoor exhibit is best for dry weather!)!
- The Museum of the Future is a fascinating journey to the future of space, health and innovation (though do note that tickets need to be booked many weeks in advance; you can’t pop in here as a last-minute plan!) History buffs, though, will find Etihad Museum an excellent Dubai rainy-day choice without the queues and crowds.
- Ski Dubai – this huge indoor ski centre in the Mall of the Emirates never fails to impress visitors; its the perfect spot to practice your ski skills in Dubai before experiencing the “real thing.”. Their festival experience in December is also one of the best in the city -though does book out early.
You can see our complete guide to Dubai’s best indoor activities here.
Possible Cons of Visiting Dubai in Winter
Now, it’s undoubtedly true the best time to visit Dubai is in the winter, but are there any drawbacks to a winter trip to Dubai? No deal breakers, but it’s worth considering:
- It gets really busy: crowds have unfortunately become a huge thing to deal with when visiting Dubai in the winter and during peak season. We’d highly suggest if you are planning a visit to Dubai in the winter, be aware of the busiest periods over school holidays (generally the last three weeks of December). If you have flexibility, come on a weekday and outside the major school breaks to avoid lines at popular attractions.
- It’ll cost you more: Being high season (particularly December through early January), you’ll find hotels are charging premium prices, and the best places will book up fast, there’s very little chance of finding a great deal over the cooler winter season in Dubai.
- It could rain: Could is the key here- we’ve had winters without a drop of rain, then other years several days of deluge and localised flooding – its absolutely not a deal breaker; you are more likely to get a string of days with blue clear skies, but do have a contingency plan in mind, rain is usually forecast at least a week out.
We are normally full of positivity at visiting Dubai any time of year, but see here our LEAST favourite time to visit Dubai.
What to pack for Dubai in Winter
With the mild winter temperatures we’ve described, you’re probably wondering what to pack for Dubai in winter. We have a complete and detailed Dubai packing list for you here. The only real changes we’d make for visiting Dubai in winter vs summer
- Throw in an extra pair of jeans/long trousers for the evenings
- A pullover/sweater or light jacket may be needed in the evenings to deal with any cool breeze (or fierce indoor air conditioning!)
Unless rainy days are forecast for certain, we wouldn’t bother packing the umbrella for ‘just in case’. But DO still pack your sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses no matter what time of year you visit Dubai.
So, is it Worth Visiting Dubai in the Winter?
Absolutely! We can’t promise clear blue skies in Dubai every single day, but it’s pretty darn close to perfection for your mid-winter vacation!
You can check out exactly what to expect each month throughout winter here:
More FAQs about Winter Season in Dubai
Dubai has a distinctly cooler winter season, although the city does not experience a traditional 4-seasons. The year is better divided into summer and winter, with the cooler winter weather starting in November and lasting through until April. Daytime highs rarely drop below 20°C in this winter season, but nights can be cool, particularly in the desert and mountain areas of the Emirate, and it can sporadically rain.
Locals will say it’s too cold for swimming in winter in Dubai, but coming from Europe or any colder climate in the winter months, December to February, you’ll likely think it’s still delightful! Expect the lowest water temperatures mid-winter in Dubai of around 23.9°C (75°F). Many resorts will keep their pools heated in winter to a pleasant 28°C-30°C for guests’ ongoing pleasure during the coldest months.
The coolest days of winter will still top 20°C/68°F, even in January. You can expect daytime high temperatures in December of 26°C/78.8°F, January 24.2°C/76°F and February 25.6°C/78°F. It’s certainly not unheard of for the temperature to still go over 30°C/86°F in winter in Dubai.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack, and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws, and customs to be aware of.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass from iVenture or a Go City Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.Dubai Travel Planner