Dubai has been my second home now for 8 years – in fact I moved back to my home country three times in between, but the city somehow always pulled me back. Dubai is unique and what I like most about the city is the fact that it is very modern and open minded (compared to other destinations in the Middle East). Some might think you will be restricted when travelling or living there, but that is mostly not the case at all, even for a woman. Can’t wait to visit Dubai? Here’s the Top 19 Best Free Things to do in Dubai you must not miss!
What’s so great about Dubai?
Dubai is the cities of the extremes – the biggest mall, the tallest building, artificial islands, the world’s busiest airport, and the list continues. The city keeps on growing at a very fast pace. Another great thing is that about 80% of the population are expats. The city combines so many different nationalities, cultures, religions and traditions peacefully. Isn’t that great? I wish there would be more places like this in the world. If you haven’t been to Dubai yet, you should definitely add it to your bucket list – NOW!
Is it expensive to travel in Dubai?
Dubai looks expensive, seems expensive and in fact, IS expensive. However the destination has so much more to offer than just luxurious brands and lavish lifestyle. New developments and investments over the past couple of years have added a wide range of cultural and social activities.
Take a look at 19 best things to do for FREE in Dubai which will absolutely make your visit to this country worth it and will no rip off your pocket. The only cost you’ll have to add is the transportation to get there.
Note: Many of these activities are outdoors and should be done outside of the summer months (May-September) because of the extreme heat and high levels of humidity. We are talking something like 40°C (104°F) and at times, it can even go up to 50°C (122°F).
19 Best Free Things To Do In Dubai
Relax at the Beaches
Dubai has plenty of nice public beaches to choose from. Kite Beach and JBR (The Beach) are the most popular spots. If you are looking for something more off the crowds, check out Al Sufouh Beach.
Discover Al Quoz
Al Quoz might be the industrial area of Dubai, but the area also hides Alserkal Avenue, a place full of hidden gems. Over there, you can find the latest art exhibition, regular free comedy shows, an outdoors cinema, many healthy restaurants and a beautiful photo gallery.
Explore the Fish Market
The Fish market located on the Corniche Road in Deira is not only the best place to buy the freshest fish in the city, but also an interesting and vibrant place for people watching. The market is open from 5am every morning, and starts closing around lunchtime. Auctions take place in the mornings.
See Turtles at Mina ‘A Salam
Mina ‘A Salam is one of 4 hotels as part of the Arabian Resort Madinat Jumeirah. The turtle rehabilitation centre at the hotel is home to sick and rescued turtles. The centre will take care of them and make sure they get well, before releasing them back into their original habitat.
Visit the Gold and Spic Souk
Dubai has been trading in spices and gold for decades, long time before it became a shiny, modern metropolis. But even today, the trend continues. A trip to the souks is a great insight into local culture and a trip back in time. Both souks are located in Deira and in walking distance to each other.
Explore the Textile Souk
Located near the Dubai Museum and Bastakiya is the Dubai Textile Souk. As the name suggests, this area is full of textile shops and vendors. A great way to get there is by crossing the Creek by abra (traditional wooden boats). The boat trip costs only AED 1 (USD 0.30).
Go window shopping at the Malls
Dubai seems to be all about shopping and malls are seemingly everywhere. The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates with its famous ski slopes are most famous malls. Contrary to its reputation of being a shopping paradise, shopping in Dubai is anything but a bargain. Check out my post “Is Dubai really a shopping paradise?” to find out more.
See a Camel Race
Have your chance to experience the races camel-style at the Al Marmoum Camel Racing Track. From September to April, watch as the tiny robots bounce around on top of the wondrous, even-toed mammals that are so respected in the UAE.
Watch the dancing Fountains at Burj Khalifa
Located underneath the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), the Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest (of course) choreographed fountain system! Feel free to stand and watch as this magnificent water throws water up to 500ft in the air, entwined with a range of music and lighting. It’s the best to see it in the evenings.
Visit ‘The Walk’
Located at Jumeirah Beach Residence, this is the place to visit on weekends and enjoy a stroll along the promenade filled with cafés, restaurants and the Covent Garden market. It’s also a great spot for people and car watching!
The oldest area in Dubai, Bastakiya in Bur Dubai was constructed back in the late 1600s, and the buildings have since been restored to their former glory. While great to just stroll around, Bastakiya also houses the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Dubai Museum, Coffee Museum, Arabian Tea House, and many art galleries.
Watch a Movie Under The Stars
Why not watch a movie for FREE? At the Pyramids Rooftop of the Wafi shopping mall, you can chill on bean bags under the blanket of stars and enjoy a free movie. It takes place during the winter months, every Sunday from 8.30pm. Check out what movie is currently playing before you head for this rooftop theatre.
Have a Glimpse of the Dubai Aquarium
The entrance to the aquarium at Dubai Mall is not free, but the views from outside are already stunning! Glassed with the world’s largest acrylic sheet, the huge aquarium is the house to about 30000 marine creatures with around 400 sharks.
See Flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
If you are up for some bird-watching activity, head on to the Ras Al Khor as it is home to a number of friendly feathers such as the flamingoes. On top of it, you can enjoy of one of the best panoramas of the Dubai Skyline from the parking lot just after the Sanctuary. Again, all for FREE!
Camp in the Desert
If you have a group of people, grab a few cool boxes and tents and head out to the sandpit. Just 40 minutes east of the main city is a peaceful, secluded camping spot known as Al Qudra Desert. You can either easily find your own private spot or built up your tent around the artificial Al Qudra lake.
Ride on a Camel
Officially you will have to book a desert tour in order to be able to experience a camel ride. However, if you get to the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort (about 60 km outside of Dubai), you might get the chance to do it for free.
Take a stroll through the Souk of Madinat Jumeirah
To many, Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most impressive and beautiful resort complexes in Dubai. A surplus of labyrinth paths designed as an authentic recreation of an ancient marketplace will lead you through various stalls, galleries and cafés with goods ranging from gold jewellery to silky pashminas.
Have some Free Drinks (sorry, ladies only)
Ladies nights in Dubai are legendary! Most of these free drinking events take place on Tuesdays, but you’ll also be able to find them on other days across the week. Deals start from two free alcoholic beverages for ladies and some bars even offer an additional discount on food on Ladies Nights. Check out an updated list of Ladies Nights in Dubai here.
See the Desert
After all, this is Dubai and your trip would be incomplete without a trip to the sandpit! Drive about half an hour out of Dubai (for example to Al Qudra), you can stop by the dunes, enjoy the views or have a picnic or barbecue.
Final thoughts from Chloe
Without the help of Wiebke, I wouldn’t know Dubai has so many wonderful places are that free to visit! If you want to find out more about Dubai and Wiebke’s travel, check out her blog Miss Abroad and biography here. 🙂
If you’ve been to Dubai and have other awesome attractions to share, feel free to comment below too!