Free Things to do in Dubai
Try things out for free in the city of gold
Known for over-the-top hotels, parking lots filled with luxury cars and ATMs that dispense gold bars, there are plenty of high-ticket activities available in Dubai. To switch thing up a bit, this time we’re going to focus on all the amazing experiences Dubai has to offer that don’t include dropping so much as a dirham.
Without further ado – here’s a list of the best free things you can do in Dubai according to our experts.
1. Explore the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
Explore what life was like in old Dubai, before the skyline was filled with towering skyscrapers, by heading over to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (also referred to as “Al Bastakiya”). With traditional buildings dating back to the mid-19th century, take a stroll along the narrow streets and winding pathways. You’ll be able to get a glimpse into the rich cultural history of Dubai as well as take part in numerous events like Heritage Week, Sikka Art Fair and religious festivities.
Step into one of the many quaint cafés or get your senses going and a little energy boost by visiting the coffee museum (if you're ready to spend a few dirhams).
Once you’ve finished your explorations at Al Fahidi, head over to Al Seef by Dubai Creek to discover wonderful restaurants and little speciality shops.
2. Visit Al Shindagha Heritage Village
Yet another neighbourhood to give you a chance to familiarise further with the rich history of Dubai. Situated in Bur Dubai right along the Creek, this fascinating district boasts a number of museums you can walk into free of charge! Looking to learn more about camels and the locals’ love for them? Make your way to the Camel Museum. Interested in admiring some coins without spending any yourself? The Coins Museum gives you all the intriguing information about historical money from around the world.
3. Peek into the past at Hatta Heritage Village
Hatta Heritage Village is a must for all history lovers. The village is a reconstruction of a historical mountain village situated in Hatta in the Al Hajar Mountains. Visitors can explore 30 buildings displaying traditional furnishings and giving a feel of what life at an authentic Emirati village was like. Although entrance to the village is free, it does require an hour and a half drive from Dubai.
4. Savour the flavours at Spice Souk
A visit to the Spice Souk is guaranteed to offer visitors quite a sensory experience. Indulge in a plethora of different scents taking you on an unmatched aromatic journey. You’ll find inspiration to try out new recipes and put all the exotic spices into good use as you explore the traditional Arabic-style marketplace. Even though leaving with a bag full of goodies doesn’t come for free, you won’t be charged for simply immersing yourself in the intoxicating aromas.
5. Spray away at the Perfume Souk
Since we’ve already embarked on this scented journey, let your nose lead you over to the near-by Perfume Souk for a more luxurious experience. With fragrances being one of the integral parts of the Arabic culture, you’ll have an endless array of stalls to discover and perfumes to choose from. Explore different smells in powder, stick and rock form as you learn all about the history and production of perfumes. Beware – there is a good chance you’ll want to have a signature scent blended just for you, and this might make your free experience just a bit more expensive.
6. Experience the dazzling Gold Souk
Looking for a feast for the eyes? Look no further! Continue your free discoveries at the mesmerising Gold Souk. The traditional Arabic market is filled with hundreds of little stalls and stores selling mostly gold jewellery. The shiny displays filled with gold, silver and jewels will surely put a sparkle to even the dullest of eyes. Should you find it impossible to leave all the dazzling goodies behind, make sure to put your haggling skills to the test to score your desired items for an unbelievable price!
7. Explore Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Now that you’ve got the taste for traditional Arabic markets and all that they have to offer, head to the beautiful Souk Madinat Jumeirah. This incredible bazaar offers everything from exotic spices to shawls, slippers and hand-crafted jewellery. Discover the best that the Arabic culture has to offer as you make your way through an array of little shops and stalls. Once you’re ready to fuel up, choose from any of the on-site cafés and restaurants offering delicious menus along with unbeatable views of Burj Al Arab.
8. Go on an artistic journey at Alserkal Avenue
Whether you’re a dedicated art lover or not, Alserkal Avenue is a sight for sore eyes. You’ll get to admire amazing masterpieces at numerous art galleries, immerse yourself in delightful aromas at the many coffee shops and even go for a cinematic experience at the one-of-a-kind Cinema Akil. Not all movies are shown for free, but it’s worth keeping your eye out for any free screenings.
9. Enjoy a movie night under the stars
Even if your travel plans don’t necessarily include a movie night, add some fresh air and the beautiful Marina to the mix and you might have to reconsider. Dubai Marina offers a chance to enjoy family-friendly movies at their free outdoor cinema every weekend until the end of May. Grab your snacks, pick your bean bags and let the fun begin!
10. Admire the Dancing Fountains
If you want to admire unbeatable water shows, Dubai is the place for you. The Dubai Fountains show is an incredible spectacle featuring perfectly choreographed dancing fountains moving to the rhythm of the music. Enjoy melodies of traditional Arabic music or be surprised by tunes straight from the trendiest playlists. To take the experience over the edge, the show takes place in front of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which only adds to the entertainment with its own LED light show. If you want to enjoy the experience from a different angle, buy a ticket to At The Top and tick two bucket list boxes in one go.
11. Witness the world’s largest fountain show
Dubai is well-known for holding countless numbers of world records. So, if you’re ready to admire another mind-blowing attraction without dropping a dirham, The Palm Fountain awaits! Head to The Pointe in Palm Jumeirah for the best views of the biggest fountain in Dubai, and the world. These multi-coloured dancing fountains span an area covering 14,000 square metres of sea water, towers 105 metres tall, and is lit with 3,000 LEDs. Shows take place daily, every 30 minutes from 7pm until midnight.
12. IMAGINE at Dubai Festival City Mall
On the topic of records – here’s another proud owner of not one, but two Guinness World Records – the IMAGINE laser and water show. Enjoy all the drama of powerful soundtracks, dancing fountains, pyrotechnics, lights and lasers. This one has wow-effect written all over it.
13. Lock in your love story
Channel your inner Parisian as you take your loved ones to the Promise Bridge in Al Khawaneej, a concept identical to the Pont des Arts Bridge in Paris. The beautiful bridge crosses a man-made lake and visitors can enjoy the ultimate romantic moment by fastening a padlock to the bridge, thus putting a lock on their love, and throwing the key into the lake. Once you’re at the Yard, make sure to check out the local farmer’s market and all the little shops and restaurants.
14. Camp at Al Qudra Lakes
If you’re looking to expand your free fun to the nature and leave the skyscrapers behind, get your camping gear, a bag of marshmallows and drive down to the magical Al Qudra Lakes. About a 40-minute drive from Dubai will take you to the wonderfully secluded lakes in the desert. Pitch your tent, get the BBQ going and if you want to take the romantic vibes to the next level – grab your partner and check out the Love Lake. Ahh… nothing like a perfect rom-com moment to make memories for a lifetime!
15. Witness wildlife
Do you know where flamingos get their pink colour from? While you look into that, let us tell you about another amazing spot you can visit without spending a penny. The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a treat for all flora and fauna lovers. Witness flamingos in their natural habitat and discover more than 170 other species who have made the beautiful wetlands area their home.
16. Feed turtles at Jumeirah Al Naseem
Can’t get enough of hanging out with animals? Then add Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project to your list. Discover numerous turtle species native to the UAE floating around the lagoon at any point during the day. As a real cherry on top, you’ll be able to take part in free turtle feeding every Wednesday at 11am.
17. Admire the Dubai Aquarium
They say there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Well, Dubai Mall provides the perfect place to test that theory. Albeit, the ‘plenty fish’ can be observed inside a 10 million litre aquarium. Admire the magnificent sea creatures for free from inside the mall or, if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can walk through the Dubai Aquarium and check out the Underwater Zoo while you’re at it.
18. Kick back at Kite Beach
Kite Beach is a crowd favourite when it comes to Dubai beaches. There is no entry free, which means you can just lay down your towel and soak up the sun. The beach is known for an array of water sports, some of which you can enjoy for free! Best of all – you can snap a photo for the memory books with the world-renowned Burj Al Arab as your backdrop.
19. Enjoy a sun day at La Mer
Another beautiful beach that doesn’t require packing your wallet is La Mer. The popular beach boasts a number of activities for everyone, so this is the perfect place for a family visit. Stroll along the promenade and admire outstanding street art or grab a table at one of the many wonderful cafes and restaurants offering gorgeous views of the beach.