Dubai is a young city. It is hard to believe that this sprawling metropolis was a simple fishing village 4-5 decades ago. Today, it is totally different. Dubai is home to some of the best architectural marvels in the world. The city has broken several world records by building the tallest building, the largest shopping mall, the largest indoor ski park, and the biggest indoor theme park, to mention a few examples.
Given the scale and opulence of the city’s growth and development, Dubai is without a doubt an expensive city to travel to. However, there are some interesting things that you can do here without spending any money. Let us look at the top 10 free things to do in Dubai.
1. Explore Bastakiya Quarter
Source: uncover.travel; dubai-online.com
One of the top best things to do in Dubai without spending money is visiting the oldest neighborhood of the city, the Bastakiya Quarter, also known as the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood. Although only half of the original neighbourhood exists today (half of it was demolished for development purposes), it has been well preserved. While you walk on the narrow streets of the Bastakiya Quarter, you would be able to see unique houses, which were built by Persian merchants who arrived in Dubai for trading. An important feature of this area is the wind towers, which offered natural air conditioning. While most of the buildings or homes are private properties, several of them have been turned into cafes, boutique hotels, and museums. Get the chance to visit these places for a good look inside.
Timings: 9.00 AM to 6.00 PM
2. Tour the Coffee Museum
While there are several museums at the Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, one of the best is the Coffee Museum and does not charge entry fees. It is an interesting museum to visit if you are a coffee lover as you would get to know everything about coffee, right from its history to the different types of blends. You would also be able to see coffee-related artifacts, which include a coffee pot that is believed to be 300 years old. Apart from all this, you would get to see several other coffee-related things like coffee books, old coffee advertisements, etc. After getting to know so much about coffee, you would surely want to savor a hot cup. Head to the cafe at the museum where you can buy a delicious cup of coffee, which would be the right ending to your coffee museum tour.
Timings: 9 AM to 5 PM (Saturday to Thursday – Friday closed)
3. Check out the Dubai Aquarium
The Dubai Aquarium is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. The aquarium is located inside the Dubai Mall and one of the best things to see in Dubai. Of course, you have to buy a ticket to enter the aquarium and enjoy the numerous experiences. However, you can still see the marine animals without going inside the aquarium. The Dubai aquarium has the largest suspended water tank in the world, and one side of the acrylic panel can be viewed from the interiors of Dubai Mall. In short, you can stand outside the aquarium and watch its 300 marine species (including sharks, manta rays, stingrays, etc.) swimming in the water. The blue acrylic panel with its numerous inhabitants is a sight you should not miss.
Timings: 10 AM to 12 AM
4. Visit VR Park Dubai
Another interesting place to visit inside the Dubai Mall is VR Park. It is a theme park that brings together virtual and augmented reality through 18 interactive rides and games. This VR park Dubai Mall has attractions for all kinds of themes or genres including leisure, adrenaline, horror, etc. Burj Drop, APE-X, John Wick Chronicles, etc. are a few of the most adventurous attractions of the place. The best thing is that the entry to the park is free. However, you would have to pay somewhere around AED 15 to AED 45 for every ride. You can check out each attraction and decide whether you want to give it a try. An important point to note is that kids below the height of 110 cm cannot go on any of the rides.
Timings: 10 AM to 12 AM
5. Spend Some Time at Kite Beach
Dubai has a beautiful coastline and some pretty beaches to boot. While few are private beaches owned by hotels, there are some that offer free access to the public. One of the most popular beaches in Dubai is Kite Beach. Located near Jumeirah’s main street, Kite Street is popular for kite surfing and other water sports like stand-up paddleboarding and wakeboarding. For those who are not interested in adventure, Kite Beach also offers the chance to indulge in beach volleyball or to enjoy a walk or run on its 14 km track. Alternatively, if chilling and relaxing at the beach is your main agenda, Kite Beach is perfect for that too.
Timings: 10 AM to 10 PM (Sunday to Wednesday) and 10 AM to 12 AM (Thursday to Saturday)
6. Go Bird Watching at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Rarely would you find a wildlife sanctuary in a city that offers free entry to its visitors. Moreover, most people are surprised to know that a wildlife sanctuary exists in the concrete jungle of Dubai. Sitting on the mouth of the Dubai Creek, this wildlife sanctuary is spread around an area of 6.2 km and houses several species of birds. The place has several habitats including mangroves, salt flats, lagoons, and intertidal mudflats. Here, you can catch sight of great egrets, cormorants, sandpipers, grey herons, black-winged stilts, etc. However, the stars of the place are the pink flamingos that can be seen during the winter months.
Timings: 10 AM to 6 PM (Saturday to Thursday) and 2 PM to 6 PM (Friday)
7. Jumeirah Mosque
Religion is one of the integral parts of the Emiratis. It can be seen in their art, architecture and the way they lead their lives. If you want to know more about Islam and the traditions and culture of the Emiratis, a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque should be on your itinerary. The Jumeirah Mosque, with its policy of ‘Open Doors. Open Minds’, is the only mosque in Dubai that welcomes people of all faiths. While the architecture of the mosque made in white marble is something to marvel at, what really attracts people here is you get to learn about the religion itself. Free guided tours are conducted every day at 10 in the morning by local mosque representatives. Moreover, you are even encouraged to ask questions and clear your doubts about religion, customs and traditions.
Timings: 10 AM to 8 PM (Saturday to Thursday – Friday closed)
8. Stroll along the Dubai Canal
The Dubai Canal is the latest gem in Dubai’s cap. An environment-friendly project, the Dubai Water Canal is a 3.2 km long waterway that connects the Dubai Creek to the Arabian Gulf via the Business Bay. Surrounding the water canal is some of the most luxurious hotels, restaurants, and corporate offices. The Dubai Canal is the perfect place to have an evening stroll and spend some quality time with your family and friends. Some of the amenities you would find here include running track, cycling path, 5 pedestrian bridges, dedicated footpaths, smart mobile charging stations, etc. The highlight of the place is the mechanical waterfall between the Canal and the Sheikh Zayed Road. The waterfall stops on its own when it senses a boat nearby. The waterfall show is something you can enjoy here, and it happens between 8 PM to 10 PM. If you want to see the Dubai Canal and its sights more comfortably, you can take a dhow cruise or abra ride.
9. Window Shop at the Gold Souk
The Gold Souk is a traditional Arab market where you can buy gold and other precious jewelry. While it is obvious that you have to pay money to buy something at the gold souk, wandering around the place is absolutely free, and it is something you should not miss. The Gold Souk is located along the Dubai Creek and is home to more than 300 stores that sell gold. Here, you would find all kinds of gold jewelry, right from the traditional designs to the most modern ones. Amongst all the glitter of this yellow metal, do not forget to check out the largest gold ring in the world. A useful tip that would help you in case you want to buy something is to bargain before making the payment.
Timings: 9:30 AM to 9:30 PM (Saturday to Thursday) and 4 PM to 9:30 PM (Friday)
10. Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
We have left the best free thing to do in Dubai for the last, and it is the amazing Dubai Fountain Show. Every evening as the clock strikes 7, the fountains of the Burj Lake (right outside the Dubai Mall) begins a wonderful performance that brings together soulful music, glittering lights, and amazing choreography. The Dubai Fountain Show is a delight to watch, and it happens every half an hour till 11 at night. Obviously, the best part is that you can watch it for free, as many times as you want. Make sure to arrive at the Burj Lake early to get a good spot, so that you can watch the show clearly. The fact that you can see the Burj Khalifa in the background is an added bonus.
Timings: 7 PM to 11 PM
In the Emirates city of Dubai, where most popular tourist places charge an entry fee, having a few that are free is truly a blessing for your budget. The best part is that these free activities in Dubai would definitely add value to your holiday experiences. To ensure that you enjoy all these amazing things, apply for Dubai visit visa a few weeks before you plan to fly to the city.