*Article updated May 2020. Information and prices correct at the time of publication, but may be subject to change and/or availability.
1. Visit Aquaventure Waterpark
Yes, you can visit Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm hotel for free on one day a year – your birthday. If you register your birthday on this website you’ll get a “Free Aquaventure Waterpark Birthday Offer” voucher which is valid on the date of your birthday and the following six days (you can only use it once, of course). Given the price of a regular Aquaventure ticket, it’s definitely one of the best value free things to do in Dubai!
2. Visit Coffee Museum Dubai
This is a sort of museum-come-shop-come-shrine to all things coffee! Located in a villa in the Al Fahidi neighborhood, the Coffee Museum Dubai tells the history of coffee and has an impressive collection of coffee-related artifacts, including a 300-year-old coffee pot. There are books about coffee, old examples of coffee advertising, and lots of roasting demonstrations which give the whole museum a lovely aroma. The staff also know pretty much all there is to know about the bean so chances are they can answer any and all of your coffee-related questions. Entry is free but don’t leave without buying a cup of coffee in the shop; we promise it’s worth the money.
3. Ride an abra
Ok, this isn’t strictly free but at Dh1 a ride it’s as good as! The abra boats at Dubai Creek are one of the city’s best value-for-money experiences. You can hop on one of the small wooden boats – which are usually filled with commuters – and sail down the creek taking in the great view of old and new Dubai. The main abra stations are at Dubai’s Old Souq and the Dubai Gold Souq.
4. Check out the art at AlSerkal Avenue
Dubai isn’t all shiny, new skyscrapers! And if you take the time to delve a little deeper you’ll find an eclectic diverse cultural scene, lots of it inside AlSerkal Avenue. The Al Quoz gallery district is free to enter and you can wander in and out of as many galleries, pop-up shops or concept spaces as you like, before stopping for a hot drink or cold-pressed juice at one of the coffee shops.
5. Go camping
Camping is one of the best – and most fun – things you can do for free in Dubai. There are plenty of secluded (and not-so-secluded, if you’re not feeling brave!) spots to camp in the desert just a few kilometers out of the city. With lots of expats leaving in the summer months you can often pick up some great deals on pre-loved camping equipment on Dubizzle.
Read more: Top camping spots to explore in the UAE
6. Hit the beach
Dubai has some great free, public beaches where you won’t have to spend a dirham in order to have fun. JBR Beach, Kite Beach Dubai and Umm Suqeim Park Beach are three of the most popular. JBR Beach has plenty going on for kids and you can spend as much or as little as you want in the nearby cafes, shops and restaurants. Read all about our picks for the Top 8 beaches in Dubai here.
7. See the Ras Al Khor flamingos
You’ve probably seen the hundreds of pink flamingos that live in the water near the junction of Ras Al Khor Road and the Dubai-Al Ain highway, but did you know you can get a much closer view? At the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary you can pick up a pair of binoculars and hide out in one of the three wooden birding hides near the water’s edge. Entrance is free and the huts are open between 9am and 4pm Saturday through Thursday. It’s a wonderful free activity to do with children.
8. Free walking tour of Dubai
Even as a Dubai resident, you shouldn’t turn down a free walking tour because you never know what new things you might stumble across. Or if you’ve got friends or family visiting and you’re feeling a bit lazy – this could be the answer! AiroTour offers free walking tours around the city for between 2 and 20 people at a time. You won’t pay for the tour but AiroTour asks that you tip your guide if you think they did a good job.
9. Take a tour of Bur Dubai Grand Mosque
If you don’t want to take yourself or your visitors all the way to Abu Dhabi to see the (albeit magnificent) Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, head to Bur Dubai instead. You can get a free tour of the Grand Mosque in one of Dubai’s oldest and, as some would argue, most authentic neighborhoods. The guides work for the Islamic Information Center so they know everything there is to know about the mosque and Islam. The mosque is close to the textile souk and the Dubai Museum so there’s plenty around to keep you busy.
Open: Sunday through Thursday 9 – 11.15am. Near the Ruler’s Court Office, Ali Bin Abi Taleb St, Bur Dubai
10. Go cycling in the desert
If you can get your hands on a road bike and helmet (you can rent from Trek Dubai), cycling at Al Qudra’s 50km of track is one of the best free things to do in Dubai – and something you should tick off your bucket list. The scenery of red desert, the odd camel and even an oryx is stunning, especially at sunset. Best of all? It’s free.