Stock-ABU-DHABI-SKYLINE-22 Image Credit: Supplied

Want to enjoy the sights around the UAE's capital with your family, on a budget? Good news! There are places in Abu Dhabi where you don’t need to spend anything at all. From museums, parks, natural wonders to the city’s most popular landmarks, there’s a lot you can see free of charge. You can even travel to tourist hotspots for free using the Visit Abu Dhabi Shuttle Bus.

1. Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Image Credit: Wam

See the stunning architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to gain a deeper understanding of religion and culture in the UAE. The mosque is one of the world's largest. The grand structure was designed and built by skilled teams from all over the world, including 1,300 Iranian artisans who hand-knotted the main prayer hall's carpet - the world's largest. Entry to the mosque, as well as the cultural tours offered by knowledgeable Emirati guides, is free of charge. Get more details about dress codes and mosque manners on

2. Travel back in time at Heritage Village

Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Ahmend Ramzan/Gulf News

Enjoy a free family-friendly day out at the Heritage Village on the Corniche Breakwater road. Here you can go back in time and discover how pre-modern Emirati lives were lived in a traditional oasis village. The village is an immersive time capsule, with an old-world souk (market), mosque and camp modelled on life in pre-modern UAE. You can shop, discover artefacts and watch artisans make pottery, blow glass and weave fabric on a loom. The village is also home to the Emirates Heritage Club, which hosts workshops for traditional crafts. You can watch craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills such as metalwork, pottery, weaving and spinning yarn. They may even let you try your hand at their trade too. Don’t forget to check out the village’s little spice shop, which offers a range of dried herbs, handmade soaps and plenty of souvenirs to take home to family and friends.

3. Spend family time at Umm Al Emarat Park

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As one of the largest and oldest parks in Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Emarat is a must for families wanting to enjoy some fun in the sun. Explore the botanical garden, see the iconic shade house and stop by the animal farm to meet camels, baby goats, cows and ponies.

4. Beach picnic at Corniche Beach

Abu Dhabi Corniche
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If you’re looking for an inexpensive day at the beach, choose Corniche Beach. The beach is two kilometres of white sand and turquoise waters; a dreamy spot to catch the sunset. There's also a special family zone for groups of beachgoers. The beach also boasts a beautiful seaside boardwalk, with well-kept walkways home to manicured gardens and benches overlooking the Arabian Gulf. From Corniche Beach you can take in views of Lulu Island and one of the tallest flagpoles in the world waving beside the Marina Mall.

5. Explore Al Jahili Fort

Al Jahili Fort
Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

If you’re in the city of Al Ain you must visit the Al Jahili Fort. Al Jahili is one of the largest forts in the UAE, built in the 1890s. The fort's lush gardens and exhibition halls are free to stroll through and enjoy. One of the exhibits is dedicated to explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger who crossed the Empty Quarter — the world's largest sand mass — twice in the 1940s.

6. Stroll along the Corniche

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An Abu Dhabi resident feeding birds during a pleasent weather in the Corniche breakwater Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

A great place to enjoy Abu Dhabi’s year-long sunshine is down by the Corniche. The eight kilometres of manicured waterfront are dotted with restaurants, cafes and benches, all of them perfect to take in the views of the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beachfront has been awarded the coveted Blue Flag status, an internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas guaranteeing clean and safe seawater.

7. Art time at Manarat Al Saadiyat

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Manarat Al Saadiyat is Saadiyat Island’s art, cultural activity and community events centre. The centre's calendar is always packed with free exhibitions and opportunities to create your own art. Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi also boasts two gorgeous beaches which are also home to the protected and critically endangered hawksbill turtles.

8. Hike up Jebel Hafit

Jebel Hafeet mountain Al Ain
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Jebel Hafit is Abu Dhabi’s highest peak. From the top, you’ll capture gorgeous views of Al Ain, the perfect spot to get some nice ‘Insta-worthy’ photos. The peak is also reachable by car in case you’re looking for an easier way to reach the peak.

9. Visit the Founder’s Memorial

The Founder's Memorial
The Founder’s Memorial Image Credit: GN Archives

The Founder’s Memorial is a 30-metre high 3D art installation that depicts the Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Enjoy the beauty of the surrounding gardens and learn more about the history of the UAE. Spread over 3.3 hectares of beautifully landscaped public space boasting indigenous flora, the memorial features a Sanctuary Garden including seating areas and a traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system), a Heritage Garden rich with medicinal desert plants, and an elevated walkway offering captivating views of the Arabian Gulf, the city’s dazzling skyline, and the centerpiece of The Founder’s Memorial, The Constellation.

10. Visit Wahat Al Karama

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The Wahat Al Karama, located opposite to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, has been a photographic attraction for me over the years. Image Credit: Faseeh Fawaz, instagram @lllezz / Gulf News reader

Located opposite Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Wahat Al Karama, a memorial that commemorates martyrs who sacrificed themselves in service of the country. Arrive just before sunset to watch the daily Honour Guard march.