Dubai is a very expensive travel destination and recently got ranked 14th-most expensive city in the world for ultra-wealthy.
However, there are still some cheap and awe-inspiring pursuits you can do in Dubai without spending a dime. Apart from the regular flock to Dubai’s enormous malls, its countless public parks, man-made lakes and its serene beaches to spend your day cost-free, let’s take a tour of the other free things you can do in Dubai:
1. Mohammed Bin Rashid Library
The newly opened Mohammed bin Rashid Library has set foot as the largest Arab world library.
Located in Al Jaddaf on Dubai Creek, the library’s architectural design resembles an open book sitting on a rehl (a traditional lectern which holds the Quran). The Library spans 54,000 square metres which is home to more than 1.1 million printed and digital books in Arabic and foreign languages, a 500-seater amphitheater, a literary museum, a conference centre, a colorful children’s library with a play area, the Languages Garden, a gift shop and a café.
This library of future has a robotic system set in place to retrieve books for readers in less than 10minutes. Entry to the library is free but those wishing to visit must first register on the website https://mbrl.ae/ or on the app.
Open Timings: Monday to Saturday from 09:00AM to 9:00PM and is closed on Sundays.
2. AC Ferry Ride
Enjoy a free Air-Conditioned Ferry Ride from Al Ghubaiba Marine Station to Souq Al Marfa.
You can soak your views at the Deira Corniche, Deira Old Souq, Dubai Creek and the Gold Souq during your ferry journey. The 20-minute ferry trip runs between Souk Al Marfa and Al Ghubaiba from 6pm to 10pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only. The free rides are available only till August 2022.
3. Alserkal Avenue
A modern and artiest part of the town in Dubai, Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz is packed with art galleries, performing arts spaces, dance studios, artisanal cafés and more. This iconic art hub has become a popular parade for gallery exhibits and seasonal events.
Visitors can also drop by Cinema Akil – Dubai’s biggest independent film platform for movie screenings or watch art performances to indulge yourself into a world of culture without spending a penny. Even if you are not an art fan, this place is going to blow your mind off with all its creativity.
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4. Take a stroll across Bluewaters Island
Situated on a man-made island off the shores of JBR beach – Bluewaters Island is another vibrant lifestyle destination in Dubai which houses the world’s largest observation wheel – Ain Dubai. Pedestrians can reach the island using the 265-metre connecting bridge, The Wharf Link, that is linked to the JBR.
Ain Dubai is closed for now, yet you can marvel at the stunning structure towering over the island and pose for a selfie standing underneath it. You can also stretch across the bridge connecting the island to capture astounding views of the JBR beach and also take an Abra ride to Dubai Marina for just 5Dhs.
5. Watch Flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Center
What about a free visit to an incredible wildlife center? Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is the wetland reserve in Dubai conserved and managed by Dubai Municipality. Three bird hides are located strategically throughout the sanctuary to give visitors a closer look at birds and other wildlife in the area.
Also referred to as the ‘Cape of the Creek’, the sanctuary is home to a large number of bird species, crustaceans, mammals, fish and reptiles along with a variety of plants. While the fancy flamingos are highlighted more in the sanctuary, you can also spot herons, osprey, sandpipers, egrets, kingfisher, black-tailed godwit, Eurasian spoonbill, the sand racer, cormorants and horned vipers from the free-to-use hides.
Location: Ras Al Khor Road, Ras Al Khor, Dubai.
Open Timings: Winter (Oct-March): 07.30AM to 05:30PM, Summer (April- Sept): 06:00AM to 06:00PM
6. Al Seef Dubai
Nestled along the Dubai Creek, adjacent to Al Fahidi neighbourhood is Al Seef – a vintage destination where the old meets the new; showcasing the unique blend of city’s proud past with its better future.
Spread over a span of 1.8kms featuring traditional pedestrian street and modern waterfront promenades, it is a one-stop leisure and retail destination to shop, dine and experience local Emirati culture through events that are held throughout the year. Al Seef is popular for hosting various festivals, including art exhibits, musical performances and live cooking stations. Don’t forget to check out the Museum of Illusions while you’re here, especially if you’re visiting with kids.
7. Barasti Beach Pool
Beach clubs typically charge for access to their facilities, but Barasti beach club in Dubai offer its pool totally free to its visitors. This brand new pool includes a huge deck with plenty of sun loungers, but make sure you reach early to secure a lounger as they get filled quickly.
Location: Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai Marina.
Open Timings: 11:00M-02:00AM Sat to Wed | 11:00AM – 03:00AM Thur-Fri
8. IMAGINE, Dubai Festival City Mall
The IMAGINE attraction at Dubai Festival City Mall offers multi-sensory experience by harnessing the power of light, water, lasers and fire, combined with giant aqua screens, 30 stunning fountains and surround sound to give a never-life-before encounter to its audience.
This record-breaking presentation boasts the largest water screen projection in the world. The show begins after the sun goes down, with more than 2.5m lumens of light and lasers illuminating the night sky and it uses surround sound to deliver a 360-degree story to emotionally connect with the audience.
Timings: 07:00PM to 11:00PM everyday of the week.
9. The Pointe and the “Palm Fountain”, Palm Jumeirah
Located at the tip of the man- made island Palm Jumeirah is “The Pointe” with its views towards the magnificent Atlantis The Palm. It is one of the best ‘instagrammable’ places in Dubai to take some cool snaps, feel fresh sea breezes and amazing views alongside its 1.5km promenade.
The Palm Fountain dominates the center of the stage here – which is the world’s largest dancing fountain. The two giant floating platforms cover 14,000 sq meters of sea water, towering at 105 meters, and lighting up the sky of Dubai with magical 3,000 LEDs.
The show goes on daily from sunset to midnight every 30 minutes.
10. The Lagoons, Dubai Creek Harbour
The iconic waterfront – The Lagoons, Dubai Creek Harbour is located on the Ras Al Khor Road along the shores of Dubai creek, just 10-minute drive from Downtown Dubai. It offers beautiful skyline and waterside views to relax yourself and spend your evenings.
The best time to visit this place is during early evenings to get the best view of the sunset. It also has a children’s play area.
11. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
The Dubai Aquarium is located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall. It is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world, offering breathtaking views of the aquatic life of animals.
The 10-million liter aquarium tank houses thousands of aquatic animals, comprising over 140 species. More than 300 Sharks and Rays live in this tank, including one of the largest collections of Sand Tiger Sharks in the world.
Museums you can visit for free in Dubai
12. Coin Museum
The Coin Museum is located in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood near the Ruler’s Diwan in Bur Dubai. The museum is appealing to those with interests in rare coins belonging to different historic eras.
Opened in 2004, this museum consists of two floors with eight rooms presenting more than 470 rare coins from throughout the Middle East, including Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.
Open Timings: 08:30AM to 03:30PM from Monday to Thursday and 08:00AM to 11:30AM on Friday (04 392 0368).
13. Coffee Museum
Are you a coffeeholic? Dubai’s Coffee Museum is a coffee lover’s paradise to learn and discover different varieties of coffee. Visitors will encounter a travel back through Arab history and retrace the story of traditional Emirati style of coffee.
The ground floor of the museum houses the Majilis and showcases various coffee extraction and roasting methods. You will also find Middle Eastern Antiquities related to coffee in UAE like antique coffee grinders, roasters, ancient coffee pots, kettles.
The first floor of the museum has some books related to coffee dating back to 18th century, wherein you can sit and flick through these books while you take a sip of your favourite coffee.
Location: Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur Dubai.
Open timings: 09:00AM to 05:00AM; Saturday to Thursday. The museum is closed on Fridays (04 353 8777)