Best Places to Visit in Dubai for Free & Cheap
It’s true that much of the city’s offerings are designed to be exclusive but this is as much a city of real, regular people as any other. You know, people who live in apartments and take the metro to work, and do the same kind of routine stuff that people do in other cities. Unfortunately, the western media has decided to go with a certain, often exaggerated, image of the city and ignore exploring its other faces.
That’s why I tell most new friends I make on the road that if they’re ever in Dubai, they should let me know- so I can tell them where to find the real, raw (okay, maybe not as gritty as other cities) parts of the city and so that they don’t go away with the same image that’s been drilled into their minds by popular media.
Right then, let’s get to it. Here’s my ever-expanding ultimate list of cheap and free things to do in Dubai and the best places to visit in Dubai for free, in no particular order. I’ve also added a map of the best places to visit in Dubai on a budget that you can save and share to help plan your trip.
The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, a haven for birdwatchers, is something of a secret in Dubai, unknown even to many long-time residents and one of the most fun free family activities in Dubai. If you’re visiting Dubai with kids, they will love this experience.
Watch the Dubai Fountain Dance By The Burj Khalifa
There’s two reasons to head to the lake just outside the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. One, to stare up in amazement at the architectural marvel that is the world’s tallest skyscraper and two, to see the Dubai Fountain, the world’s biggest dancing fountain, sway to the tunes of international artists. The Dubai Fountain, in my opinion, is simply the best of all free things to do in Dubai Mall.
The water reaches heights of 500 feet and the performance, enhanced by lights takes place inside the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake. If you don’t mind the 60 Dirhams charge, then you can actually cruise the lake in a boat and watch the show onboard. Personally, I find the free option of watching from the promenade or the bridge that connects to the Souk Al Bahar just as great. For a particularly romantic spot, head to one of the steps of Souk Al Bahar (after you turn right coming over the bridge from the Dubai Mall. Show times are from 6.00pm to 11.00pm daily, every 30 minutes.
Have an Epic Beach Day at Kite Beach
Kite Beach is definitely my most favorite free-to-enter spot in Dubai and it’s where you’ll find me most weekends during the cooler months. Kite Beach is a public beach, Dubai’s largest, on the Jumeirah coastline. While the beach is open round the year, it’s liveliest between October and March (which is the best time to visit Dubai) when the weather cools down considerably. This is where the city’s cool kids, hipsters, yogis, and good ol’ regular folks come to hang. Plus it’s an excellent things to do if you’re visiting as a family, among other cool things to do in Dubai with kids.
There are beach loungers (available to rent) but you can also just bring your towels, umbrellas, tents, or beach chairs and enjoy the sun, sand and water. If you like the idea of some beach time, then this is also one of the most fun and cheap or free family activities in Dubai. If you walk along the water in the direction of the Burj Al Arab (the massive sail-shaped hotel you see), you come upon the quieter Sunset Beach, which as the name suggests, is one of Dubai’s best sunset spots.