Dona Cherian, Guides Writer
A typical tourist day in Dubai might seem too expensive for residents and regular visitors to the city. Here we plan an entire day for you with things to do for less than Dh15 or free! Get ready for the perfect ‘tourist day’ in Dubai.
Travel in Dubai can be expensive with taxis. Start off with purchasing a Nol card (metro card) which can be used for cabs, trains, trams and buses across Dubai.
Depending on where you're staying and where you go the metro can cost you anywhere from Dh3 to Dh13 one way while feeder buses (taken from the metro and have bus numbers with F as a prefix) are free as long as you hop on within 15 minutes of exiting the metro station. The card costs Dh25 which includes Dh19 as card balance, so the net cost is Dh6.
A relaxing start with yoga (Free!)
Free yoga classes are available, almost daily across, Dubai's parks and beaches - more so during winter months (October to April). Most classes during the summer are in the evenings, usually post 7pm. These are weekly classes by private licensed yoga teachers in various areas. Ensure that the instructor is licensed by perusing their website or relevant social media pages.
This season, the Beach at JBR has 4 free weekly classes throughout winter for free. All you need to bring is a bottle of water and your Emirates ID, and rent a yoga mat from Adventure HQ.
A plate of South Indian goodness for breakfast (Dh13)
After a stroll and stretch at the beach, take the metro back into Deira for some authentic South Indian food. While South Indian, or specifically Tamil breakfasts are pocket-friendly, they are also mostly vegan and good for digestive health.
Step into one of the many Sangeetha/Aryaas restaurants for a strong cup of tea and a plate of 15 signature mini idlis (healthy South-Indian rice cakes) with sambhar (a vegetable curry). This will set you back by Dh13.
Cross the Creek (Dh1)
If you are on the Deira side of Dubai as you can do both of the above (eating and the abra ride) from that side, then cross the Creek on an abra to Bur Dubai where our next activity is.
Or get to Al Ghubaiba metro station, from wherever you are, and walk to the abra station. The walk itself is fun with old alleyways and street shops.
An Insta-friendly history tour (Dh3)
After your refreshing breakfast and ride, it’s time to know a little bit about the history and culture of UAE. Al Fahidi Fort of Dubai Museum is located at the southern side of Dubai Creek and is around 200 years old offering visitors a deep understanding of the culture and history of the city and the country.
From trading and markets in different eras to astronomy, shipbuilding and traditional houses, the fort is a maze of information. Admission to the museum itself will set you back by Dh3 and guess what, the guided tour is for free!
Try some Arabic coffee (Dh1)
A proper tourist day in an Arab country is incomplete without a hot cup of Arabic coffee and there are many outlets which boast authentic brews. The coffee museum at Al Fahidi district is your best option to try coffee with Ethiopian, Egyptian and Emirati styles of live brewing, and features traditional decor and seating as well.
Located near the souks, this is perfect for a pick-me-up drink after all that shopping and walking.
One shawarma sandwich! (Dh8)
We hope you are hungry now. Sit down to a shawarma plate meal which includes meat, ‘kuboos’ (Arabic bread), hummus and French fries. At around Dh8 a sandiwch and Dh20 a plate (which can easily be shared between two people). Add a drink and this meal will not cost more than Dh15 per person.
Read up on our guide to some of the best shawarma places in Dubai first.
Some Dubai Canal views coming up (Free!)
As the sun sets, the view from the bridge overlooking the canal is beautiful. Take a metro ride to Business Bay and then walk up to the area around the canal which has Wi-Fi and charging points, so you can share all your pictures from the day. Take the lift up to stand on the viewing bridge to get some beautiful pictures from there as well.
This bit you could also do after a stop at Dubai Mall, just one metro stop behind Business Bay, to see the water fountain shows under the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. We didn't include this as a primary item as it is on most tourist checklists anyway.
Al Serkal Avenue’s Cinema Akil (Free!)
Tired of all the walking around? Take a cab from Dubai Canal to this next venue for less than Dh15 (might vary based on traffic).
In partnership with independent cinema platform Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue presents regular film screening programs featuring independent, art house, foreign and classic movies. All the film screenings are free to attend, and take place in the A4 Space cinema room or outdoors in The Yard. Perfect for the improving weather. Contact them to know which movies are on each night.
Party for free!
So we are pretty sure you've memorised our ultimate guide to free ladies' nights throughout the week - if you haven't, you can do so here. Men needn't fret, because most of these places also have weekly or daily happy hours, gents' nights and free entry. This partying may not fall under our budget of Dh15 for the gents, but at least entry might be free or you could pay a cover charge. Go on, splurge a little.
Some budget shopping options you can fit into your day
Shopping the traditional way (For less!)
Malls and shopping centres are aplenty in our beautiful city but for those who prefer a traditional market experience and great products at bargain-able prices, the souks in Deira are the best to visit for clothes, spices, accessories, perfumes and jewellery, gold and other items.
Even more thrift shopping? Say yes!
For thrift shopping outside of souks, hit up Mercato store in Fahidi (not to be confused with a mall in Jumeirah), Greenhouse in Deira and Day to Day stores which have outlets in various parts of the city. Find home-décor items, clothes, confectionary, stationary, beauty products and much more for less than Dh10.
Get home early
The last trains from most stations are at or before 11.30pm and the metro stops functioning by 12am on both red and green lines. Hopefully you've found a place to party near your nest, but if you haven't, hurry and get the metro or try getting an Uber X (they're running a pilot run) which is the next best affordable option.