Dubai caters to all budgets with a host of free attractions and affordable options. With a little bit of research and planning, you'll find that the city has something to suit all tastes, preferences and price points. Here's our guide to making the most of your Dubai holiday, and saving some dirhams, too.
Find a great travel deal
Dubai's peak travel season is between October to March, when the weather is at its best and the city is buzzing with activity. But the summer months are the ideal time to visit if you're on a budget. You'll find great deals on hotels, lower airfares and discounts at top malls and attractions. While the weather heats up, you'll still be able to make most of your trip as many of Dubai's top attractions are indoors and air-conditioned. What's more, you can take in yearlong sunshine at one of the emirate's many luxurious beach resorts
at bargain prices during off-season months, too. Summer is also the time for the year's second biggest shopping festival, Dubai Summer Surprises
that is usually held during July and August (expect sales of up to 90 per cent off!).
Use public transport
Save some cash by hopping on board the Dubai Metro, which covers key areas of the city including the airport and popular tourist sites. Most major malls like Mall of the Emirates
, Deira City Centre
and The Dubai Mall
are along the metro network. The most cost effective option is to purchase a 'Nol' card, which can also be used to access the tram in Dubai Marina
, the Palm Jumeirah
monorail and public buses that reach every neighbourhood in the city. Nol cards can bought and topped up at all metro and bus stations, and several malls and supermarkets across the city.
If you're visiting Old Dubai, hop aboard traditional water taxis, known as abras
, when crossing the iconic Creek. Not only will this wooden boat get you to the other side of town for just AED1, you'll also enjoy a scenic view of the traditional Arabian houses, wind towers and minarets, set to the backdrop of the new skyline.
Stay and dine on a budget
Alongside the many luxe resorts and hotels are several more affordable hotel options. Don't forget to look for Airbnb deals or apartments in key locations, especially if you're travelling as a family or group and need some more space. Apartments or villa accommodations usually come with a fully stocked kitchen so you can even cook or order some takeout to save money on meals. Alternatively, choose a budget hotel
outside the city centre that's located on the metro line for additional savings.
You can get a taste of Dubai's melting pot of cultures in the Karama, Bur Dubai and Deira neighbourhoods, where a string of hole-in-the-wall cafes and eateries offer delicious bites for as little as AED10. Our favourites include Pakistani fare at Ravi's, or Iranian kebabs at Special Ostadi. Mall food courts also cook up fast food and snacks that won't put a dent in your wallet. If you’re staying at an apartment with cooking facilities, you can easily stock up on essentials for breakfast or store some snacks to carry along to keep you going through the day.
Pick up an attractions pass
A little research can uncover an endless series of discounts and deals for food
and beverages, spas
, theme parks
and tourist experiences.
Plan your dream deals-focused itinerary with Dubai Pass
and get pre-paid, discounted access to some of the city's best attractions
, tours and sightseeing packages.
You can also find deals on websites and apps such as Groupon, Cobone or The Entertainer, which lists hundreds of 2-for-1 discounts at restaurants, spas and more. Don't forget to ask your hotel concierge for value-for-money deals too.
Look for spots with free entry
A great way to save money is to minimise on paying entry fees. Lot of places in Dubai offer free access to attractions
or alternate views.
For example, public beaches
offer stunning views and sunny vibes for nothing at all. Head down to Kite Beach
or La Mer
for the day to sunbathe, take a dip in the ocean or play some volleyball for free. You can grab a bite at one of the many food trucks or restaurants along the shore. One of Dubai's most popular attractions is The Dubai Fountain
sound and light show, which is also free to view with a backdrop of the world's tallest tower, Burj Khalifa
Shop smart with Duty Free and get a VAT refund
Dubai Airport's Dubai Duty Free
has grown into one of the biggest travel retail operators in the world, offering designer merchandise, perfumes
, cosmetics, electronics, food and toys. There's plenty of special deals and package offers across various product categories that can be a great bargain. Dubai Airport also has a special section for tourists to recover VAT
paid on their expenses in the UAE, so don't forget to keep your shopping bills and food bills ready to get a tax refund before you leave the country.