Plan Your Trip: Dubai Aquarium

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Since opening its doors in 2000, Dubai Aquarium has become one of the emirate’s most popular attractions, offering both respite from the city’s oppressive heat and the chance to get up close and personal with a captivating array of ocean life. In this edition of Plan Your Trip, we’ll help you organise your Dubai Aquarium visit, including useful directions, tour tips and ticket options.

Visitors surrounded by ocean life at Dubai Aquarium (Photo: Mohammed J via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Located within the vast confines of Dubai Mall, the aquarium is one of the world’s largest indoor venues of its kind and attracts huge numbers of visitors every year. But more than simply providing a voyeuristic look at some of the magnificent creatures of the sea, the aquarium also places a strong focus on educating visitors on the ecology and sustainability of marine life through interactive exhibits and other hands-on activities.

Out of all the aquarium’s exhibits and displays, the centrepiece attraction is undoubtedly the giant 10 million-litre tank which contains more than 33,000 aquatic animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks anywhere on the planet. There’s also a variety of other attractions, including an Aquarium Tunnel, a Submersible Simulator, a creepy crawly zone with snakes, and an Underwater zoo comprising three ecological zones: Rainforest, Rocky Shore, and Living Ocean.

A vast wall of glass behind which sea life roams (Photo: Franklin Heijnen via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

But it is perhaps the chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour that truly makes the aquarium stand out from the crowd. By joining such a tour you’ll get to learn all about the venue’s often complex workings, from how the displays are cleaned to how the animals are fed while welcoming hordes of daily visitors.

Hours & Directions

Dubai Aquarium is open 365 days a year, with opening times of 10am to 10pm on Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to 12am on Thursday to Saturday. Visitors arriving by car can make use of the Dubai Mall’s sizeable parking facilities.

Dubai Mall and the aquarium itself are situated on Financial Center Street, directly next to the iconic Burj Khalifa. For those planning to get here by public transport, there are two buses tha run every 16 minutes: route 27 from the Deira Gold Souk station and route 29 from Ghubaiba bus station. The buses arrive and depart from the tourist drop-off area, located in front of the Grand Drive Entrance, on the Lower Ground Floor of The Dubai Mall.

A large fish going about its business (Photo: Stephen Colebourne via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Tickets & Tours

There are several official ticketing options for Dubai Aquarium, with packages available that include a wide variety of experiences as part of the price. You can get your tickets at the attraction itself, or you can skip the line and reserve a specific entry time by buying tickets in advance online.

An often cheaper alternative to buying tickets through the official route is to book your trip through an external agency. These can either be in the form of standard tickets or as part of an organised tour that can include other local attractions too. Below are three ideas for how you can experience the magic of Dubai Aquarium in a way that suits your tastes, budgets and needs, including links directing you to where and how you can book.

A frog perches on a rock’s edge (Photo: imran shahabuddin via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Explorer Ticket to Aquarium and Underwater Zoo – From $38 per person – This ticket and explorer package invites you to visit the aquarium and underwater zoo, as well as enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour, a ride on a glass-bottom boat, and dive virtually underwater in a submersible simulator. Valid for one day’s access only, vouchers can be stored on your mobile phone and must be redeemed at the ticket counter in exchange for your physical ticket. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund Book at Getyourguide.com.

Dubai Aquarium & Level 124 Burj Khalifa Combo Tickets – From $61 per person – Another great way to visit Dubai Aquarium is as part of a wider tour of Dubai and, specifically, the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa, which at 820 metres is the world’s tallest building. This Combo Ticket gives guests the chance to experience both the heights of the Burj Khalifa and the depths of the ocean. Your tickets for both attractions must be used on the same day; however, while your visit to the aquarium can be taken at any time on that day, you must pre-book your time slot for the Burj Khalifa. Book at Getyourguide.com.

Dubai Explorer Pass – From $178 per person – You can save up to 47% on the standard cost of admission at a huge number of attractions across Dubai – including the aquarium – with the Dubai Explorer Pass. The pass includes admission to each attraction, so there’s no need to pay anything at the gate. All passes are valid for two years from purchase date and only become activated with your first attraction visit. After activation, your pass will be valid for a full 60 days, giving you extra flexibility should your travel plans change. Other notable attractions you can visit with this pass include Aquaventure Waterpark, Legoland Dubai, and a Dinner Cruise at Dubai Marina. Book at Getyourguide.com.