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 Dubai winter? What makes winter 2021-22 in Dubai so special?
In this Dubai in winter guide we will take you through:
- When is winter in Dubai and what sort of weather to expect
- What’s happening in Dubai this winter? Top attractions and seasonal events
- What to do in Dubai if it rains
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 blissful 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), through to mid-May where the temperatures start hitting into the 40°C/100°F + realms once more.
Winter weater in Dubai: How cold does Dubai get in winter?
The coolest month of the year for Dubai is January, where the average daytime high 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 a day of sunshine.
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 exactly 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!
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 descend 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 favourite parks and outdoor activities! Winter 2021/22 in Dubai is made extra special by the arrival of Expo 2020 – the largest post-pandemic gathering in the world.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Without a doubt, this is our top recommendation for visitors coming to Dubai between 1 October 2021 and 21 March 2022. This world showcase event sees over 190 countries represented and the opportunity to see and experience the latest in technology, innovation and sustainability from around the world.
Expo 2020 is a ticketed event, although there are many free ticket categories. Easy to reach using the Dubai Metro, or there are free Expo Rider buses operating across the city to take you to the grounds which sit south-west of the main city.
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:
La Mer – this beachfront venue isn’t just for the hotter months, it is an ideal location for wandering and enjoying the street vibes, al fresco dining, experiencing Laguna WaterPark, Roxy Cinemas, and totally Instagrammable beach huts!
Mushrif Park – unlike most of the city’s parks that are beautifully manicured, Mushrif Park has a more wilderness feel of native shrubland in 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 the inner-city tranquility.
Quranic Park – a new installment 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” displaying plants mentioned in the Holy Quran and “Cave of Miracles” telling stories from the Holy Book.
Dubai Safari Park – Finally re-opened in winter 2020-21 after extensive renovation and development work in the Al Warqa 5 areas 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 safari’s, 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 desert tour in Dubai over here.
You can see our complete guide to overnight camping and glamping in Dubai here.
Rooftop 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. Whether it’s city vistas and a thriving party scene you are after with views of the Burj Khalifa or romantic and uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf, Dubai has a rooftop bar to suit!
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 District, 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!
You can see a complete guide to Dubai’s Museums and cultural attractions here.
Dubai Water Parks and Water Sports in Winter
So just how cold does the seawater get in winter? If you are looking to take a 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 of the winter (normally 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.
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.
Dubai crusies and boat rides
You will undoubtedly be able to enjoy getting out on the water around Dubai though in plenty of other ways.
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
There are many events and attractions that 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 28 October 2021 through until 10 April 2022.
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. Usual running dates are from 1 November to early May.
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! 1 November 2021 to early May 2022.
Winter Wonderland Dubai
Although Christmas is not a marked religious holiday in the UAE, there’s no denying it’s celebrated in a big way! It may still be warm outside but magical winter wonderlands with snow machines to Santa himself will make appearances across the city in December.
All the large shopping malls will be in on the action, along with Souk Madinat, La Mer, and Ski Dubai – see our complete Christmas in Dubai guide here
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 including Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah and Times Square.
Their outdoor market is the place to be in winter though for a touch of Dubai community from fresh produce to artisans They seem to have found a fairly permanent winter home now on the grounds next to Dubai Police Academy, Umm Suqeim. Fridays 9:00 AM to 7:00 Pm and Saturdays 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. 15 October 2021 to early May 2022
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 built to also 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 from 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. From a trip up the Burj Khalifa (But do pre-book this it costs a fortune to buy tickets on the spot), or take a tour of the incredible Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
Little ones will love Kidzania Dubai, or 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.
IMG Worlds of Adventure – the giant indoor theme park is home to your Marvel and Cartoon Network favourites through the Lost Valley for Dinosaur fans. Plenty of thrilling rides and family fun inside for those rainy days.
You can see our complete guide to Dubai’s best indoor activities here.
So is it worth visiting Dubai in the winter?
Absolutely! We can’t promise 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:
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 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:
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