Perched on the Gulf Coastline, Dubai is one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai. This luxurious city is surrounded on one side by dry sand and the beautiful Persian Gulf on the other side. Known for its high-rising architectural wonders, palm-shaped islands, captivating attractions, and colorful nightlife, Dubai is one of the most visited cities in the world and among the most sought travel destinations for Indians. Though one of the costliest cities in the world, Dubai offers several activities for visitors without spending a penny. If you are still in shock and wondering about the things which can be enjoyed without spending any money, then here’s a quick list of some free things to do in Dubai as part of Dubai tour packages.
Wander Through Al Fahidi Historic District
Also known as Bastakia Quarter, the Al Fahidi Historic District in Bur Dubai is one of the oldest heritage sites in Dubai, and among the most picturesque places to visit in Dubai. Situated along Dubai Creek, this village was built in the late 19th century by Persian merchants due to its relaxed trade tariffs. This place gets its name from Bastak, Iran, the origin of many of the traders who first plied their trades. A visit to this historical neighborhood is one of the best free things to do in Dubai, for anyone who appreciates history. Tourists will notice ancient-style of houses with wind towers, beautifully carved wooden doors, and wooden lattices while walking on the narrow winding lanes of Al Bastakia village. Now, many of the houses are open to the public in the form of the Dubai Museum, Arabian Tea House, Majlis Gallery, and Ostra.
Watch the World-Famous Dubai Fountain
One of the most popular things to do in Dubai for free is to watch the beautiful display of the Dubai Fountain that dance to the popular tunes of Whitney Houston and Celine Dion and many more. Situated at the base of the iconic Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain features the largest choreographed fountain system in the world equipped with 6600 lights and 25 colored projectors. Submerged within the 30-acre Burj Lake in front of Dubai Mall, it consists of five circles of different sizes and two arcs of jets. During the show, these powerful jets shoot water sprays to a height of up to 150 meters in the air with the soothing music of traditional Arabic or contemporary style. The Dubai Fountain offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for its visitors completely free and is a must include in your honeymoon packages.
Bask in Dubai’s Stunning Architecture (Burj Khalifa, & the Cayan Tower)
From the world’s tallest tower to space-age structures that defy gravity, Dubai is home to stunning skyscrapers and architecture. Architectural wonders in Dubai are considered nothing short of a marvel worldwide. Among them, Burj Khalifa and the Cayan Tower are the most popular buildings in Dubai. Standing 828 m high, Burj Khalifa is the most iconic and tallest building in the world comprising 163 floors. This mega tower displays neo-futuristic architecture with two observation decks on the 124th & 148th floors from where one can get a breathtaking view of Dubai city. The Cayan Tower, located in Dubai Marina, is another architectural marvel and among the tallest building in Dubai. Standing 307 m tall, the building consists of 75 floors with a unique helix shape. The curved design of the building keeps the interior protected from direct sunlight while reducing the impact of strong winds. If heights aren’t your thing, or you’d rather not pay for the viewing platform, there are plenty of opportunities in Dubai to take a selfie in front of these iconic buildings.
Explore Dubai Mall & Watch Free View of the Dubai Aquarium
Situated next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall which covers more than 1 million square meters. The mall features around 1200 stores, two anchor department stores, and hundreds of food and beverage outlets. Shopaholics will rejoice at the Dubai Mall as it offers everything from makeup to home furniture and from branded to regular outfits. Besides, the Dubai Mall is also home to the largest Dubai Aquarium, a 10-million-liter tank that houses more than 33,000 marine life and more than 400 sharks. One can catch a glimpse of this beautiful Dubai Aquarium for free from outside the entrance of Dubai Mall. It has won a Guinness World Record for the world’s “Largest Acrylic Panel”.
Pray At Grand Mosque & Jumeirah Mosque for Free
If you would rather not visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, head to the Bur Dubai Grand Mosque instead as part of your Dubai Trip. Located in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, the Grand Mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in Dubai. Built-in 1998, the mosque exhibits true Islamic architecture and is the epitome of Dubai’s cultural and religious heritage. This multi-domed mosque has 9 large domes, 45 smaller domes, and a central courtyard that is supported by 1048 columns. One can also pray at the Jumeirah Mosque, the most photographed mosque in all of Dubai. Also known as ‘the two-minaret mosque’, this mosque was built in 1976 in Fatimid style, and is the only mosque in Dubai that is open to non-Muslims over the past ten years as part of its Open Doors, Open Minds policy, which is designed to bring different nationalities together. Visitors can go on free tours from Sunday to Thursday from 9 AM to 11:30 AM.
Wandering The Old-Style Gold & Spice Souks
From spice souks to gold souks, these souks in Dubai are the traditional marketplaces where goods are bought and sold. A shopping spree isn’t cost-free under usual circumstances, but there is no rule against some free window shopping. However, the traditional souks in Dubai provide enough free entertainment, especially for new visitors. The products here are not priced and the sellers were not specific with pricing where more discounts would be granted. The famous gold souk in Dubai is widely considered the largest gold bazaar in Arabia lined up with hundreds of jewelry shops. Here, one can find different types of gold jewelry ranging from necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, to wedding rings, and lots of trinkets. The spice souk is another famous souk in Dubai that one must visit where you can get varieties of spices including rare medicinal herbs and pure saffron. Wandering through the lanes of these souks gives you a fascinating slice of history well preserved and chockfull of culture and traditions.
Get Picturesque Views of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah for Free
The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is a luxury hotel in Dubai and among Dubai’s most famous tourist landmarks. Managed by the Jumeirah hotel group, it is one of the tallest hotels in the world that earned its place under the list of Dubai monuments by its sail-like architectural silhouette. Connected with a bridge to the shore, Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach. With its highest level of luxurious interiors, unique architecture, and an artificially created island, this hotel is listed as one of the most expensive hotels in the world. Though it can be visited by a guided tour, one can admire its architecture against the setting sun from Sunset Beach for free while in Dubai.
Stroll At Alserkal Avenue for Free
Visiting Alserkal Avenue is one of the cool free things to do in Dubai. Alserkal Venue was once and industrial area, but now it is an eclectic display of Dubai’s diverse cultural scene. It is home to several interesting spots like contemporary art galleries, dance studios, pop-up shops, cafes and coffee shops, event centers and more. Among them, the Al Quoz Gallery is one of the most famous galleries with free entry that showcases a beautiful display of contemporary artwork, unique paintings, as well as seasonal events and open-air community days. So, don’t miss to visit this place during your Dubai Trip.
Hit the Beaches of Dubai
With calm sparkling waters, soft white sands, and the Arabian sun shining bright, visiting the beach is the best plan for anyone looking for free things to do in Dubai. JBR Beach, Jumeirah Beach, Al Mamzar Beach, Kite Beach, and Umm Suqeim Park Beach are some of the most famous beaches in Dubai that attract a large number of tourists as well as locals. Just head to any of the free entry beaches while in Dubai and take advantage of the facilities including running tracks, volleyball courts, skate parks, and even beach libraries.
Visit Dubai Museums for Free
If you are looking for free things to do in Dubai with kids? Take them to any of the free-entry museums in Dubai that include the Coin Museum, Camel Museum, and Coffee Museum where kids get a chance to learn about the history of the nation and view artifacts from the past. Located in BUr Dubai, the Coin Museum has eight rooms brimming with information about historical money from the UAE and beyond. While in this area, you can also visit the Coffee Museum cum shop where you will get to know about the history of coffee and can try different kinds of it. The museum is also home to artifacts associated with coffee including books and more and is one of the free attractions in Dubai. Also in the Al Shindagha Area, the Camel Museum is another free museum to visit in Dubai. Different sections in the museum are dedicated to the history of camels in UAE, the relationship between camels and Arabian people, camel racing, and camel anatomy. It also houses an auditorium for presentations. This is one of the best free things in Dubai.
Soak in the Sunset at the Dubai Marina
Built along the Persian Gulf shoreline, Dubai Marina is entirely a man-made canal city that has been developed by Emaar properties of the United Arab Emirates. Designed by HOK Canada, Dubai Marina is home to gorgeous high rises, luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and vibrant nightclubs that attracts a large number of tourists every year. With a 5.3-mile boardwalk lined with shops, hotels, and restaurants, the best way to explore the Marina is by taking a stroll across the promenade. The yachts gliding in and out of the Marina give it an exclusive feel without having to splash out. Also, don’t forget to witness the beautiful sunset while in Dubai Marina which adds more beauty to the place.
Watch Flamingos At The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Watching the pink flamingos in Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai is one of the best free things to do in Dubai. It is a haven for birdwatchers as it is home to many migratory birds like the grey heron, flamingoes, cormorant, osprey, and black-winged stilts, among others. There are hiding huts in this sanctuary from where you can spot the beautiful birds and flamingos by using binoculars. It is also a great spot for weekend outing with kids. Besides, the sanctuary also features salt flats, intertidal mudflats, mangroves, and lagoons which adds beauty to the birds flocking in their natural habitat. The entry to this sanctuary is free but one need to take permission of the Marine and Wildlife Section of Dubai Municipality at least three days in advance.
Santhi is an avid traveler and primary contributor to the blogs at Trawell.in. She has explored most of the states in India and gained vast knowledge on tourist destinations in India and abroad. She also contributes content to other travel websites.