Here are 22 things to do for free in Dubai Image Credit: Istock

Highlights

  • How to get up close to the top tourist attractions
  • Outdoor things to do for free
  • Cultural things to do for free
  • Party for free

Seeing some of Dubai’s biggest attractions can mean spending a chunk of your trip budget on tickets. Burj Khalifa? At least Dh150 for the ticket per person. Dubai Frame? Dh50 per person. However there are so many things that you can enjoy and take part in without handing over a fils.

Despite what people think about the upscale lifestyle of Dubai, it is possible for people to have free fun. The city is becoming more and more inclusive with many things to do and places to go that are free of cost. Desert getaways, museums, days by the park and even some free classes!

Here are 21 things you can do for free in Dubai

How to get up close to the top tourist spots for free:

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa tower Image Credit: File photo

Head to Dubai Mall, and walk outside as if you are going to Souk Al Bahar, to get your best picture with the Burj.

Location Dubai Mall Cost Free Timings Daily from 10am to 12am

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab is one of the world's most iconic buildings Image Credit: GN Archive

Head to Sunset beach. It is the closest public beach to the Burj Al Arab. Free access and open to everyone, it has a picturesque view of the Burj with the beach in there as well.

Location Um Suqqeim 3 Cost Free Timings anytime

Dubai Frame

Dubai Frame Image Credit: Pixabay

The best place to capture a shot of the Dubai Frame is from near Za’abeel Park. The park itself has a Dh5 entry fee, but if you head to the edge of the park, you can get a good shot of the frame. 

Location Zabeel Area, Near Al Jafiliya Metro Station Cost Free Timings Daily from 8am to 10pm

Palm Jumeirah

Aerial view of Palm Jumeirah Dubai Image Credit: WikiCommons

The Palm is worth exploring, especially if you are visiting Dubai. Definitely head to the top of the Palm and watch the sunset on the crescent.

Location Palm Jumeirah Dubai Cost Free Timings anytime

The famous Dubai Skyline

Clouds hover around the Dubai skyline. Image Credit: Lena Moosa/Gulf News Reader

You could literally just drive up and down Shaikh Zayed Road. One of the best spots to see the skyline is from one of the Dubai Canal bridges.

Location Shaikh Zayed Road Dubai Cost free Timings anytime

Free things to do outdoors:

Go to the beach

Kite Beach Image Credit: Flickr

You don’t need to spend money at a fancy resort to enjoy beach access in Dubai. Kite Beach is one of the city’s nicest beaches and the entry is free for everyone. Bring your own juices and lunch and you won’t need to spend a penny. Kite Beach even has free Wi-Fi and a running track if you’d rather exercise on land than in sea.

Location Jumeirah Beach Road Cost Free Timings anytime

Walk around the Dubai Water Canal

A view of Dubai Canal at night. The Canal itself is a sight to behold. The 3.2km extension ranges 80 to 120m in width and cuts through Dubai’s main artery, the Shaikh Zayed Road, across Safa Park and into the residential Jumeirah district.There is also a mechanical waterfall, where the Canal meets the Shaikh Zayed Road bridge. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Take your time along the illuminated walkways and pedestrian bridges that overlook the Dubai water canal and enjoy the sight of the mechanical waterfall. It’s a perfect place to take photos and just enjoy a relaxed, cool and free evening. The Wi-Fi there is really good too.

Location near Business Bay Metro Station Cost Free Timings Anytime

The Dubai Mall Fountains

Dubai Mall Fountains dancing during the night time Image Credit: GN

It’s a favourite go-to spot among residents and tourists. The Dubai Mall fountain is an unforgettable experience that really just moves everyone because of its beauty and synchronized dance and song.

Location Dubai Mall Cost free Timings Evening shows daily from 6pm to 11pm, every 30 minutes

Visit Fossil Rock

Fossil Rock Image Credit: Wikimedia

Fossil Rock is an unforgettable and surreal experience. Many of the fossils there are said to be over 80 million years old. To get there you need to drive down the Dubai- Hatta road through to Al Awir. Once you arrive at Fossil Rock, take a moment to sit among fossils that are over millions of years old, enjoy clear blue skies, rocky hills and pristine dessert sand in one of the UAE's natural wonders. Have a picnic with some packed lunch and enjoy!

Location Maleha Cost Free Timings anytime (daytime recommended)

Have a picnic in Al Qudra lakes

Al Qudra Lakes Image Credit: Wikimedia

A great natural area to spend an afternoon. The Al Qudra lakes are spread over 10 hectares in the middle of the Saih Al Salam Desert. The man-made Lake is supplied with water by the Jebel Ali sewage treatment plant of Dubai Municipality, thus has created a natural habitat of rare breeds of birds, fish and other smaller animals. Get in touch with nature in this free to enter area and have a picnic with friends and family. Most importantly, do not forget to clean up after yourself.

Location End of al Qudra Road Cost Free Timings anytime

Enjoy an amazing light show in Dubai Festival

Dubai Festival City Imagine light, sound and water show Image Credit: Supplied

‘Imagine’ is Dubai Festival City’s record-breaking attraction, which uses the power of light, water and fire to offer a kind of sensory experience. They use 30 fountains and surround sound to give the audience a unique multisensory show.

Location Dubai Festival City Mall promenade Cost Free Timings Weekdays: Star Dancer show at 7pm and 9pm, A Child’s Dream show at 8pm and 10pm, Weekends Star Dancer show at 7pm and 9pm, A Child’s Dream show at 8pm and 10pm and 11pm

Cycle on the Qudra track

Al Qudra Cycle track Image Credit: GN

Cycling is one of the best types of cardio exercise. If you are a cycling enthusiast then Al Qudra is the perfect place for you to cycle long distance and the best part, is that it’s free.

Location Al Qudra Cost Free Timings anytime

Art and Culture for free

Visit the Dubai Coffee Museum

Coffee Museum Image Credit: Supplied Coffee Museum

Located in the Al Fahidi district, Dubai is home to the UAE’s first museum dedicated to coffee. The museum opened its doors in September 2014 to mark International Coffee Day, which takes place on September 29. The museum is a showcase that connects the past and the present of the coffee world. The ground floor of the museum is made up of 6 different rooms including the different roasting and brewing styles from various countries, which are live demonstrated. The first floor of the museum offers a large selection of books about the history of coffee as well as documentaries that visitors can watch in the media room. Coffee lovers can also sit and enjoy some tasty coffee in their homey and cosy coffee lounge as well as purchase related items from the museum gift shop.

Location Villa 44, Al Fahidi Historical District Cost Free Timings Daily from 9am to 5pm, closed on Friday

Free Movies: Al Serkal Avenue’s Cinema Akil

Cinema Akil Image Credit: Cinema Akil

In partnership with independent cinema platform Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue presents regular film screening programs featuring independent, art house, foreign and classic movies. Some of the film screenings are free to attend, and take place in the new dedicated Cinema Akil space in Warehouse 68 in Al Serkal Avenue.

Location Al Serkal Avenue Cost Free Timings various

Gold Souk in Deira

Gold Souk Image Credit: GN

The Dubai Gold Souk is a traditional market in the heart of old Dubai by the creek. This market mainly sells gold, silver and precious stones. You’ll find the odd seller of handbags here and there, but it’s just a great place to walk around to really get the feel of old Dubai. The souk is home to over 300 retailers. Some have been there for over 40 years, while others have just set up shops a few years ago. It is a must visit for tourists who want to see more than just the glitz and glamour of the UAE.

Read: Your ultimate guide to Dubai’s Gold Souk

Location Al Ras Deira Cost Free entry Timings 10am to 10pm (some stores are closed between 1pm to 4pm)

Check out the Dubai Spice Souk

Spice Souk Image Credit: GN

The Dubai Spice Souk is a delight to the senses. It’s a traditional market in the heart of old Dubai near the Gold Souk. This market mainly sells herbs, spices, soaps and much more. The souk is home to over 150 small retailers. A visit to the spice souk is a great opportunity to see herbs, spices and salts in their raw and natural form. The people working there, will try and educate you on the origins and history of the spices, so make sure you listen with an open mind. Most sellers have been trading spices in the souk for over 20 years, so their experience shouldn’t be taken with a grain of salt.

Location Al Ras Deira Cost Free entry Timings 10am to 10pm (some stores are closed between 1pm to 4pm)

Visit Jameel Art Center

Jameel Art Centre Image Credit: Supplied

Jameel Arts Centre, is a contemporary art space in Dubai that opened in November. Located at Jaddaf Waterfront, the Centre is home to multiple gallery spaces and curated art commissions, projects, and solo and group exhibitions, drawn both from the Art Jameel collection and through regional and international artist collaborations. The art pieces displayed are amazing and the venue itself is located in a very peaceful beachfront area in town. Make sure you head upstairs onto the rooftop garden to see glow in the dark light up palm trees and other plants.

Location Al Jaddaf Waterfront Cost Free timings Weekdays from 10am to 8pm, and weekends from 10am to 10pm

Take a tour of Alserkal Avenue

Al Serkal Avenue is a great and free place to hang out Image Credit: Al Serkal Avenue

One of Dubai’s coolest and most unique artsy spots. The avenue is home to art galleries, classic cars, record stores, many different cafes and even a chocolate factory. Also check out Nadi Al Qouz, which is an integrated space that is open to anyone and everyone. You can sit and work there or just catch up for a coffee.

Location Al Serkal Avenue, Al Qouz Cost free Timings Open daily, but most shops are closed on Friday

Walk around Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall Image Credit: WikiCommons

Although many of the shops in Dubai are more on the higher end pricey side, you can still walk around and admire the mall for free. Inside the mall there are incredible views of the Burj Khalifa and the fountains, you can browse book stores, look at the indoor aquarium and window shop.

Location Downtown Dubai Cost Free to enter Timings Weekdays from 10am to 12am

Drive down to Hatta Pools

Hatta Dam Image Credit: WikiCommons

Want to find yourself in the middle of a wallpaper-worthy backdrop? Look no further than good-old Hatta. The drive is worth it as you wade feet-first into the pristine green-blue waters that form the centre-piece of the gritty rocks around them. Make sure to carry an ID and other verification documents with you since the pools are technically in Oman. Explore the rich, well-preserved culture of Hatta on the way too, by visiting the Heritage Village if it’s open.

Location Hatta Cost Free Timings anytime

Party for free

Ladies night

Ladies Night Image Credit: GN

In Dubai women can enjoy nights out without spending a dime. Ladies night is a ritual and an institution for expat women all over the city. Many venues offer free beverages and amazing discounts on food. Read our guide on where to party for free every single day of the week.

Clubbing

White Room, a new open-air nightclub at Dubai's Meydan.

Most clubs in the UAE offer free entry. Some of the top places to visit include Cirque Le Soir, Cavalli, One Oak, Stereo Arcade, Society and White just to name a few. Get there earlier than 11pm to avail problem free entry and enjoy a night of dancing without spending any money. If you are going to order a beverage or get a table, expect to shell out money.

Or...Spend Dh1

Go on an abra

Abras cross the creek in old Dubai Image Credit: GN

One of Dubai's oldest modes of transportation and the easiest way to get across the creek. It's definitely an enjoyable experience.

Location Bur Dubai (Creekside) Cost Dh1 per ride Timings Daily from 5am to 12am

Dh 1 Bombay Toast

Bompay Toast can be found at Dh1 in most places in old Dubai Image Credit: GN

Bombay toast is the Indian equivalent of French Toast. It's unbelievably good.

Where to get it: At different street side cafés in Satwa and Deira

Try some Dh1 Arabic coffee

Arabic coffee Image Credit: Wikimedia

A proper tourist day in this Arab country is incomplete without a hot cup of Arabic coffee and there are many outlets that boast authentic brews. Look around the area and you'll definitely find someone on a street corner, who will serve you a cuppa.

Location Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai Cost Dh1 Timings all day