Part of Marina Walk. The 1.7km long walking route along the Marina Harbour

Cut costs on your stopover: 7 Fun and Free things to do in Dubai

Published: 29-10-2019

Looking for free things to do in Dubai? I don’t blame you! Dubai isn’t the cheapest destination to go to. Even though flights are relatively cheap – because Dubai International Airport is used as a hub between Europa and East Asia – the city itself is not as cheap. Especially doing activities like take the elevator in the Burj Khalifa or doing some dune bashing in a 4×4 will shrink you budget tremendously.

Dubai isn’t the cheapest destination

Dubai is a perfect destination for a short city break or for a stopover on your way to Asia or Australia, for example (if you’re from Europe). Anyone who does not want to spend a lot of money in Dubai, there are fortunately enough fun and free things to do! Curious about how expensive Dubai is? We shared all our travel expenses in Dubai in our ‘How expensive is Dubai‘ article.

7 fun and free things to do in Dubai

Below you’ll find seven free things to do in Dubai to make your stay in the brand new metropolis a bit less expensive than it already is:)

Dubai Marina

The Dubai Marina is the longest man-made marina in the world and therefore well worth a visit. A 1.7 kilometer long walk has been realized along the water to give you the opportunity to admire the huge yachts and the skyscrapers which encircle the marina. Normally we can’t stand the decadency of these places, but in Dubai you might as well accept it. Dubai wouldn’t be the same without is really. Even though the yachts aren’t free, the marina walk is. After the walk, settle yourself on Marina Beach for a nice sunset.

Part of Marina Walk. The 1.7km long walking route along the Marina Harbour

Stroll through the souks of Dubai

Many know Dubai from it’s tall buildings and enormous malls. You almost forget there was a town before the oil era. Around the north mouth of the Dubai Creek a lot of old buildings can still be found. Like the Bur Dubai Souk. Even though the souks these days are more and more aimed at tourists, it’s still possible to see how it went in the United Arab Emirates all those years ago.

One of the old souks of Dubai converted into a souvenir market

Admire the tallest building in the world: Burj Khalifa

Even though riding the elevator to one of the observation decks of the Burj Khalifa isn’t free, admiring it from the streets is. Walk around the tallest building of the world and take some unique pics. The best place to see the building is from the square in front of the Dubai Mall.

Burj Khalifa during daylight

Free things to do in Dubai: The largest fountain show in the world

Dubai has a lot of world records. A lot of them are pretty silly, but one really cool one is the largest fountain show in the world. The fountains span an area of 275 meters/900 ftand during the show the water reaches heights of 150 meters or 500 ft. The show is held twice during the day at 1:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. and every half hour from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. During the fountain show, a light show is displayed on the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Mall fountain show. The largest in the world and it's for free!
Light show on Burj Khalifa during the fountain sho
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Dubai Mall

Dubai has the largest shopping mall in the world. I know.. *sigh* This is getting boring, but the Dubai Mall is another ‘biggest on the planet’ record. It houses 1200 shops divided over seven floors. In center of the second floor you’ll find the Dubai Aquarium, which is only the 12th biggest aquarium in the world. I know, pretty surprising, right? Entrance to the aquarium is not really cheap, but a huge tank can be seen from just outside the aquarium entrance for free. Another fun fact: the mall has 14.000 parking spots available. Luckily you arrived by plane. Needle-and-haystack wise, I mean.

Here’s the floor plan of the Dubai Mall to give you an idea of how big it is.

One of the entrances of the Dubai Mall
The public aquarium in the Dubai Mall (one of the best free things to do in Dubai)

Mall of the Emirates

Another immense mall in Dubai is the Mall of the Emirates. Nothing special, just another town in a huge building. But instead of houses, there are shops. more than a thousand of them. What this mall is mostly known for is the indoor ski hall, which is the only one in Dubai. Skiing in the middle of the desert? Yeah, that’s right! Pretty impressive how they pulled this one off. It’s an awesome sight, looking both ways of the mall. One way you’ll see dust and sand blow past the window in the blazing heat. The other has people in ski jackets, hats and gloves skiing past the window.

It goes without saying that skiing in the mall of the Emirates isn’t free , but if you would like to experience skiing in Dubai, book your day pass here.

Entrance of the Mall of the Emirates. With indoor ski hall

Get a tan on the beaches of Dubai for nothing

You’re probably not surprised not all beaches are accessible for free. They are either private beaches or beaches with an entrance fee. Three popular free beaches were you can get without payment are Al Mamzar Beach, Jumeirah Beach and Marina Beach are three of the most well known free beaches of Dubai. All these beaches have a spectacular view on one of the surrounding skylines Dubai has.

Kirsten on Marina Beach in Dubai
The skyline on Marina Beach

Do you have more tips on free or cheap things to do in Dubai? Let us all know in the comments! Thanks!

Kirsten - Even when I was a child I already knew I was going to explore the world. Now, in my early thirties, I have done pretty well in following my dream. In 2014 Erick and I started Travelaar.nl, a Dutch blog on which to share our adventures with the world. In 2017 we started Travelaar.com to share our articles with the rest of the planet.