Tired of spending a fortune on outings? Here are some free things to do around Dubai that won’t break the bank.
Dubai is beautiful, luxurious, but along with luxury comes expenses. Despite the glamour of the city, there are a umber of activities you can do that won’t cost you a dirham.
Whether you’re a tourist or a resident looking for some free things to do around the city, we curated a list of pocket friendly activities from nature trips to art museums.
1.Watch the Dancing fountain at Dubai Mall
Arguably one of the most iconic tourist spots in Dubai, the must-watch dancing fountain is conveniently located at the forefront of Burj Khalifa, at Dubai Mall. Choreographed to perfection, this visual marvel is a water, music and light spectacle that can be enjoyed for free from various vantage points including the Boardwalk, the Dubai Mall Apple Store. The shows can be enjoyed every half an hour, starting from 6 PM.
2. Alserkal Avenue for the art lovers
Once an industrial space, Alserkal is home to the region's finest contemporary artists, galleries and exhibitions. An initiative started to boost home-grown talent and showcase local culture and artistic prowess. Located inside a intricately curated compound in Al Quoz, Alserkal also boasts A4 space, a free coworking space, and Cinema Akil, which often screens indie flicks and short films for free.
3. Wander the streets of the Old Souq
The Old Souq of Dubai is a labyrinth of little trading shops selling all kinds of goods. You don’t have to shop, but a stroll around the narrow winding streets, surrounded by the enticing smells of spices and perfumes, the titillating gold and jewellery shops, and the vibrant hues of fabrics and souvenirs, is a cultural experience in itself. Later you can head over to other souks like Souq Al Bahar next to the Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat in Jumeirah, or Khan Murjan in Wafi Mall.
4. Have an adventure at Hatta
Cradled between the mountainscapes of the Hajar Mountains, Hatta is an idyllic town, renowned for its stunning, picturesque beauty. Named as one of “the most beautiful small towns in the world”, Hatta has everything from rugged terrains perfect for hiking and mountain biking, to Wadis (valleys) to rocky trails apt for rock climbing. This gorgeous province is perfect for those looking to take a break away from the bustling city life. The mountainous exclave is just a 90 minute drive from the heart of Dubai.
Hatta also boasts a rich cultural heritage. Hatta Heritage Village, a restored museum, consisting of time worn buildings, relics and documents takes you back to the erstwhile Emirati life.Between the rocky peaks of the Hajar lies the breathtaking Hatta Dam, juxtaposing the rough sandy terrain with its shimmering blue waters.Visitors can also indulge in a plethora of other activities like drive to the Hatta Hill Park for a picnic or barbeque, watch the sunset of the Hatta Lake, engage in a series of free activities at the Hatta Wadi Hut like free yoga sessions.
5. Bird watch at the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Just on the outskirts of the city of Dubai, are the wetlands that are home to over tens of thousands of birds. A bird lovers’ paradise, it is the best spot in Dubai for observing birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. It’s also a breeding ground for crustaceans, mammals and fish. During the winter, the pink flocks of flamingos make the reserve their home. There are three bird hides from which visitors can admire the majestic birds. The sanctuary timings are 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM during the winter, and 6AM to 6PM during the summer, and is completely free to the public.
6. Go Camping at Al Qudra Lake
A stunning oasis in the midst of the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, Al Qudra Lake is a manmade lake, surrounded by trees and wildlife, and a great location for those looking for a tranquil break from the bustling cityscape.. The lake serves as habitat to almost 170 avian species, and a number of native endangered animals. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the majestic Arabian oryx, or desert foxes. It is an ideal location for picnics, camping and barbeques. Those who enjoy dune dashing will enjoy the route to the Lake, the rolling dunes, and the beautiful city skyline view. Additionally, an 86 km biking track snakes round the lake, and is completely free for those who bring their own bicycles. As the sun begins to descend, you can catch the vibrant hues of red and orange reflection off the lake. The unpolluted skies, far from the perpetual brightness of the city, is perfect for stargazing.
7. Watch the Skyline at the Dubai Water Canal
The artificial canal, spanning 3,2 km, stretches from the Old Creek and passes through Business Bay to join the Arabian Gulf. The canal features a massive waterfall, vibrantly backlit, which is a feast for the eyes at night. The Boardwalk overlooks the city, and offers a vantage point to watch the sunset over the skyline. The canal offers amenities to satiate every demographic- running and cycling tracks, cruises, families, and couples. As a part of the extensive efforts to make the attraction as environmentally friendly as possible, the lights across the canal are entirely solar powered.
8. Love Lake for the lovers at heart
In the midst of the Al Qudra desert lies this man-made oasis, consisting of two interconnecting hearts, with the installation manicured to spell out the word “Love.” Visitors can stroll around the scenic lake, dip their feet in the shallow ends of the lake, picnic or barbeque in designated areas. Love Lake boasts a diverse ecosystem, housing over 100 species of flora and fauna, including swans, ducks, eagles, falcons and koi fishes, so be sure to bring your binoculars. The tranquillity and sunset view makes it a popular destination for both families and romantic getaways.
9. Stroll down the the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk
The promenade offers the picture-perfect view of the largest man-made archipelago that is The Palm. Overlooking the waters of the Persian Gulf, The Palm is not only a man-made wonder but one of Dubai’s most luxurious districts, hosting some of the cities’ finest restaurants, hotels and luxury resorts like Atlantis, Dubai and ANANTARA, as well as some of the most beautiful beaches like Kite beach. Fitness enthusiasts can enjoy a scenic jog along the running tracks built around the Boardwalk. Just a short distance from the Boardwalk, you can also catch a glimpse of the sensational architecture of The Pointe, head over to City Walk to enjoy the eclectic light displays or do some window shopping.
10. Enjoy the sun at Al Sufouh Beach
Called one of Dubai’s hidden gems, Al Sufouh Beach lies nestled amidst palm trees, situated between the iconic Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah Island. Despite being called a hidden gem, this shallow beach has gained popularity among residents in the past few years. If you desire a tranquil beach experience, where you can soak up the sun, while enjoying a refreshing dip in the Arabian Gulf, without the usual hustle and bustle of Dubai beaches, Al Sufouh beach is the ideal choice. The shallow, clear waters also make it the perfect beach for families with children. However, be mindful to carry the supplies you need as the secluded beach does not have cafes or other amenities in the vicinity.
11. Watch marine life at the Dubai Aquarium
Watch the mindblowing marine life contained in the 10 million litre tank that mimics a natural aquatic habitat. The Dubai Aquarium contains a host of around 140 species including over 400 sharks, rays and giant groupers. If you would like a closer look, the tunnel offers an up close view of the aquarium, however, it can be enjoyed just the same from the outside.
12. Revisit medieval France at Riverland Dubai
Time travel to the streets of 160s France, relive the thrill of 1959s Americas, or enjoy the artistic feats of the dancers and acrobats at the India Gate. Located within Dubai Parks and Resorts, Riverland is free for entry, and open between 04:00 PM and 12:00 PM.
13. IMAGINE at Dubai Festival City
If you’ve enjoyed the dancing fountains at Dubai Mall, you can head to Dubai Festival City to enjoy IMAGINE. The state of the art show features a dancing fountain, lasers, projections, pyrotechnics and lights. This visual treat is one of largest water screen projections in the world. You can join the crowds to enjoy the show every half hour past sunset, from 6 PM to 11 PM.
14. Stroll through the streets of Al Fahidi Historical District
In Al Fahidi Historical Village lies the heritage of Dubai, preserved in time. See Dubai in its day gone by before development and technological advancements transformed the city into the bustling metropolis we see today. Visit the poignant Creek, ride a traditional Abra for free, explore the array of cultural museums like The Coin Museum or The Coffee Museum, or admire the traditional architecture of the windtower at the Architecture Museum.
15. Explore the wandering dunes on the Half Desert Road
Located around 20-30 minutes east of the heart of Dubai lies a single strip road, surrounded by dunes on either side. The road, featured in a number of films, draws in photographers and videographers, hoping to capture picturesque shots of its mysterious and striking beauty. This road overlooks the city skyline at the back, and the rolling dunes of the Arabian Desert for as far as the eye can see. This popular tourist spot is a great place to visit for those who wish to get a glimpse of the desert, while getting some Insta-worthy shots.