Did you know that, although it’s one of the most wealthy places on Earth, there are still so many free things to do in Dubai? Well, yes, you can definitely explore Dubai on a budget!
In addition to luxury hotels, top restaurants, Guinness world record buildings, and nightclubs for which you have to sacrifice much of your budget, there are many things and places to visit in Dubai for free.
Dubai is a destination often discussed in my articles, and that’s because I try to change somehow people’s perception and the image they have created about this city. People think there are no free tourist places in Dubai, but in reality, there are so many.
Dubai is not just about displaying wealth, luxury cars, expensive clothes, and accessories worth thousands of dollars. You can have authentic and unique experiences in Dubai, even if your budget is limited.
Without too much introduction, here are 10 free things to do in Dubai on your next vacation.
PIN FOR LATER ⇓
Where to stay in Dubai:
First things first. You need a place to stay when you visit Dubai. The city has plenty of hotels per square kilometer, some affordable, while others are ultra-luxurious but very expensive. Here are my suggestions, depending on your budget:
- budget: Rove Downtown – good location, swimming pool, fitness center, restaurant, room service
- mid-range: Address Sky View– Fabulous view, spa, room service, delicious breakfast, infinity pool
- luxury: Bulgari Resort, Dubai – private beach, perfect location, fitness center, restaurant, bar
What I use every time I travel:
- To book hotels: Booking.com
- To book tours: GetYourGuide.com
10 Free Things to do in Dubai – Dubai on a budget
1. Admire the fountains next to Burj Khalifa
One of the best places to visit in Dubai for free is the famous Dubai fountain. Although they are in the Dubai landscape for over ten years, the fountains near the Burj Khalifa continue to amaze with their beauty. The water jets that dance, literally, to famous songs, reach heights of up to 150 meters, and it is an absolute pleasure to watch them.
The show of the dancing fountains in Dubai is 100% free and starts at 1 pm, the last performance being just before midnight.
If you want to catch the best angle, you have to come to the Waterfront Boardwalk at least a few minutes before it starts. You can also have a stunning and complete view of the fountains on the terraces of the mall or restaurants in Souk al Bahar.
You can also admire the fountains from Burj Khalifa, but the height at which you will be will make them look tiny from there. Anyway, the point is that being one of the best places to visit in Dubai for free, you have to expect crowds.
The shows take place every 30 minutes and last about 5 minutes, about the duration of the dance. The most popular songs are some Arabic songs, Thriller, by Michael Jackson or Time to say goodbye, sung by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli.
As spectacular as the fountains near Dubai Mall look, so was the investment. Although we can enjoy them for free, they say that the project would have cost almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
READ MORE: Top 18 Hotels with private pool in Dubai
2. Visit Madinat Jumeirah | 10 free things to do in Dubai
Several 5-star hotels mimic the architecture of old Dubai, with over 50 restaurants, shops, a waterway, bridges, traditional abra boats, palm trees, and a 7-star view of the Burj al Arab. This is what Madinat Jumeirah means, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Dubai for free.
Souq Madinat Jumeirah was opened to the public in 2004 and has since gradually become one of the most popular places in Dubai. Social media platforms have contributed to its success since you can take some of the most Instagramable photos in Dubai here.
Inside the complex, there is also a souq (Arabic style market) with 75 shops with all kinds of products. Here you can find jewelry and bottles with colored sand, hookah, and various fabrics.
As I said, access to Madinat Jumeirah is free. Of course, any activity that involves more than just a walk and window shopping will cost. For example, an abra walk, an ice cream, a souvenir, or a lunch at one of the restaurants located around the water canals. Still, coming here is one of the best things to do in Dubai on a budget.
READ ALSO: 1 Day in Dubai
3. Go to the beach
Dubai’s beaches are perfect for those looking for the much-desired tan, but also for those who like to swim. That’s because most beaches in Dubai have the blue flag, which means that you can go swimming without any risk.
Although there are a few private beaches that you can’t go to unless you’re staying at the hotel they belong to, there are plenty of other public ones, and they all look sensational.
READ ALSO: Views of Dubai – 7 Places to admire Dubai skyline for free
The most beautiful public beaches in Dubai are Jumeirah Beach, Kite Beach, JBR Beach, Al Mamzar, and La Mer.
Although it is a Muslim country, tourists, both men, and women can dress on the beach in swimsuits, but the behavior should be as decent as possible. Defying the Muslim religion is the last thing you want to do in the Emirates.
→ READ MORE: Top day tours in Dubai ←
4. Explore Dubai Marina | 10 Free Things to do in Dubai
Dubai Marina is the most popular area of Dubai in terms of places to stay. The main reason for that is the gorgeous view of the giant skyscrapers placed along the water channels and the possibilities of spending time.
In short, the fun is all in Dubai Marina. There are a variety of restaurants with cuisines from all around the world here. Regardless of your culinary desires, they can be satisfied at the restaurants in Dubai Marina. The view and the services offered are just great.
There is also a mall in Dubai Marina. The little brother of Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina Mall has over 160 stores where you can find just about everything you are looking for. Including a cinema.
Consider Dubai Marina Mall one of the best places to visit in Dubai for free during summer, since it’s so hot outside during those months. Therefore, is better to find some indoor places to visit in Dubai for free.
Dubai Marina stretches for 3 km along the Arabian Gulf and has an 8 kilometers long water canal. Like Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, and other spectacular structures in the Emirates, Dubai Marina is an engineering masterpiece.
The tallest building in Dubai Marina is Marina 101, a building with a height of 425 meters. The building will fall to 2nd place once the Pentominium, a 471-height skyscraper, is completed.
If you don’t want to stay in Dubai Marina when visiting Dubai, you can still get here quickly by subway. It is about 20 km from Downtown Dubai, a distance you can do in 20 minutes by car or 10 minutes by subway.
For those of you who would like to explore Dubai Marina on the water, you can opt for a Yacht Tour with Breakfast or BBQor maybe for a Marina Dinner Cruise with Drinks & Live Music. Both are great exeriences!
5. Admire the gold souq jewelry | 10 Free Things to do in Dubai
It can be a bit of a hassle to visit the Deira Gold Souq as a woman, but if you can get over it, the activity is well worth doing you arrive in Dubai. Here, you will see an impressive collection of jewelry, especially gold, and some of them are enormous.
Also, here is a giant gold ring, the biggest one in the world. The ring is made of 21-carat gold, weighs 64 kg, and is ornated with 5 kg of precious stones, including diamonds. The ring is made by a Saudi Arabian company and has a Guinness Book certificate attesting to the record.
If you like gold jewelry, the gold bazaar in Dubai may be the ideal place to buy some. This is because the price of gold is slightly lower here than in many other countries in the world.
For example, a gram of 24-carat gold is about 223 AED. You can also negotiate the price, but don’t expect too much difference from the initial cost. Therefore, The Gold Souq might be one of the best places to visit in Dubai for free, but it can become quite expensive if you decide to shop here.
6. Discover the old Dubai
Even if it seems hard to believe, given the luxury that Dubai enjoys today, the city also has a past that bears little resemblance to what we see today.
A glimpse of this past that began in the mid-19th century, so not far away, can be explored in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, the oldest neighborhood in Dubai. The easiest way to get here is to take the subway and get off at Al Fahidi Metro Station. Nearby is the Dubai Creek. Or you can also choose to go on a wonderful Guided Walking Tour with Tea and Abra Water Taxi.
Here, the buildings are made of stone, sandalwood, and leaves or palm trees. The oldest building in Dubai, finished in 1787, is the Dubai Museum which can be visited right in the Al Fahidi district.
Also here you have the chance to visit some museums where you can find out more, and you can see collections of utensils or kitchen objects and fighting weapons. Of course, you’ll have to pay for a ticket to visit them but, even though, visiting Al Fahidi is still one of the cheap things to do in Dubai.
A visit to the Al Fahidi district in the United Arab Emirates is necessary to understand the differences between old and new Dubai and observe the architectural style of the past buildings. Of course, it’s one of the coolest free things to do in Dubai.
7. Explore City Walk Dubai
About City Walk I can say, apart from the fact that it is one of the places to visit in Dubai for free, it’s a perfect area to get in touch with locals who live in the neighborhood and with tourists.
City Walk is a kind of European-style open-air mall with short buildings and terraces decorated with beautiful flower pots. But the best thing here is the direct view of the Burj Khalifa tower. In fact, the City Walk runs between Sheikh Zayed Road and Jumeirah.
8. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque | 10 free things to do in Dubai
One of Dubai’s landmarks is the Jumeirah Mosque, considered the most beautiful in this emirate.
What sets this mosque apart from most mosques in Dubai is that it also receives people of other religions. So, you can come and visit it, but you have to follow a specific schedule. Generally, the tours start at 10 am, and you can learn about the Muslim religion, traditions, and customs.
Visitors can take pictures and ask questions about their curiosities about the mosque or Islam in general. Remember, clothing must be appropriate!
The mosque was built in 1979 entirely of white stone, respecting the medieval Fatimid tradition, which has its origins in 9th century Egypt. It has two tall minarets that frame a large dome and is highlighted by several surrounding palm trees. It’s one of the best indoor places to visit in Dubai for free.
9. Visit Safa Park
With an area of 64 hectares, Safa Park is one of the largest parks in Dubai and has a view of Burj Khalifa since it’s located right next to the Sheikh Zayed highway.
Safa Park is like an oasis of peace in the middle of the urban landscape. It is a green space full of palm trees, flowers, water, shrubs, bridges, and even many species of birds and playful squirrels.
Safa is the ideal park for couples or even families with children because it manages to satisfy everyone’s needs.
The park is very nicely arranged (in the pictures below, it was still under construction). It has a beautiful lake, a mini river with a mini waterfall, picnic areas, and spaces where you can run or play volleyball and badminton.
I wanted to add it to this list of 10 free things in Dubai because, although you have to pay to enter, the cost is only 3 AED. So we can definitely consider it one of the cheap things to do in Dubai.
The park is worth a visit, especially since you don’t necessarily expect to see so much greenery in a sea of concrete, in the middle of a desert.
10. Visit the Riverland area of Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is a giant amusement park where you can easily spend three days, especially if you like roller coasters. It’s also one of the best places to visit in Dubai with kids.
The Riverland area is right at the entrance to this park and is a beautiful promenade that you can visit for free. You will only have to pay if you want to have access to one of the amusement parks.
Riverland has four major areas:
- The Peninsula
- India Gate
- The France Village
From my point of view, the most beautiful part is the medieval European town, an imitation of the city of Annecy in France. The best part is that you can add it to the list of places to visit in Dubai for free since you don’t have to pay a single cent to explore this area.
You can reach Riverland either by car or by public transport: subway + bus. The distance is quite long, and it will take you about an hour and a half to get here from Burj Khalifa. If you come from Dubai Marina, the time is a little shorter.