10 things to do in Dubai on a budget

How to see some great Dubai attractions on a budget
Explore both the old and new sides of Dubai for a real taste of the emirate and its cultures. Whether you’re short on time, travelling with family, or just looking for some wallet-friendly options, here are some of the best affordable things to see and do during your trip to Dubai. Some won’t even cost you a dirham.
1

For gold and spices

Bur Dubai Souks

For gold and spices

Bur Dubai Souks

Sample the souks and barter for a bargain

Head to Bur Dubai and explore the modern Al Seef shopping district before jumping on a traditional abra boat, where for AED1, you can take a short trip across the bustling Dubai Creek. Once a busy trading port for the pearling industry, the waterway is in the heart of Old Dubai. Disembark in Deira for the spice, textile and gold souks; soak up the atmosphere and fragrances, and barter for some bargains. The gold in Dubai is of exceptional quality and value, but even if you’re not looking for something new, it is a wonder to simply window-shop. Although open every day, it’s best to visit in the afternoon, when the souks come alive with activity.

Cost: AED1 for the abra crossing. Free to wander the souks.
Contact Details
 Bur Dubai

Ten ways to do Dubai on a budget
2

For Islamic culture

Jumeirah Mosque

For Islamic culture

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai’s largest and most exquisite mosque

You can experience the city’s largest mosque for just AED25. Take a 75-minute guided tour, hosted by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and you’ll learn about the Islamic culture and history of the region. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions on any topic, to learn about Islam and Emirati customs. Jumeirah Mosque is open six days per week for non-Muslims (all except Fridays), with tours at 10am. All visitors are required to dress modestly – long pants or skirts, and long sleeves, with headscarves for women.

Cost: AED25
Contact Details
  Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1
  +971 4 353 6666
3

For sky-high views

Burj Khalifa

For sky-high views

Burj Khalifa

Marvel at the world’s tallest building in Downtown Dubai

No trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing the architectural engineering feats that make the city what it is today. Downtown Dubai is a vibrant hub of activity and home of the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa stands at more than 828 metres high (or a mighty 160 stories). Tickets to ‘At The Top’, the building’s observation deck, start from AED149 per person for spectacular views across the city. You can still appreciate the scale of the tower by standing at the base and trying to capture it all in one photo (you’ll need to kneel down and point your camera up).

Cost: From AED149
Contact Details
  1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai
  +971 4 888 8124
4

For a trip through history

Al Shindagha Museum

For a trip through history

Al Shindagha Museum

Explore the past at Dubai’s newest museum

Located by the picturesque banks of the Dubai Creek, Al Shindagha Museum offers fascinating insight into the nation’s past. Step inside and discover 'Dubai Creek: Birth of a City', a multimedia-led tour that details the area’s development over the years with the help of interactive displays, historic photographs and priceless artefacts. Make sure to stop by the fantastic Perfume House next door, which puts the spotlight on Arabian scents and the role perfumery plays in Emirati society.

Cost: AED15 for adults, AED5 for children
Contact Details
  Al Shindagha, Dubai Creek area
  +971 4 515 5336

Whats on
5

For tasty local dishes

Street food in Dubai

For tasty local dishes

Street food in Dubai

Discover Dubai’s most delicious cheap eats

If you’re hungry, do as the locals do and head to 2nd of December Street for some cheap eats. Formerly known as Al Dhiyafa Street (if your taxi driver is confused), this buzzing street is the place to load your plate with cuisines from India, Iran, Lebanon and more. You’ll find some of Dubai’s best chicken shawarmas at Al Mallah, served in a bread pocket with salty pickles and garlic. Or turn into Al Satwa Street and find Ravi Restaurant for some fresh and delicious Pakistani food for less than AED30. Try the popular biryanis, but bring cash – most places don’t take cards.

Cost: Approximately AED15 per person
Contact Details
  Al Dhiyafah Street, Satwa
6

For inspiring art

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

For inspiring art

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Discover hidden galleries in this charming district

Among the traditional wind towers and preserved buildings of the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, you’ll find art galleries and courtyard cafés that feel like a world away from the ultra-modern city. Meander through the alleys to the peaceful XVA Gallery courtyard for a light lunch surrounded by works of local contemporary artists. Walk to the Arabian Tea House and choose from more than 100 teas, or marvel at the sculptures and art in Majlis Gallery. Al Fahidi is also home to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and the coffee museum.

Cost: Free entry
Contact Details
  Al Fahidi St, Bur Dubai
  +971 4 353 5383

7

For a dip in the Gulf

Kite Beach

For a dip in the Gulf

Kite Beach

Swim in the emerald waters of the Arabian Gulf

With year-round sunshine, 40km of golden sand and a location nestled in the Arabian Gulf, Dubai lends itself to beach holidays. There are many public beaches free for all visitors and residents. Kite Beach is one of them and is dotted with hip cafes and food trucks, including Salt, a favourite of Dubai residents. It is also the perfect beach at which to kite surf and enjoy a myriad of watersports. Equipment and sun-loungers are available to rent, and the beach has lifeguards on duty daily.

Cost: Free entry
Contact Details
  Kite Beach, Jumeirah

Ten ways to do Dubai on a budget
8

For indie entertainment

Cinema Akil

For indie entertainment

Cinema Akil

See new classics at Dubai’s arthouse cinema

Showcasing the best in independent cinema, Cinema Akil is a cultural gem. Starting life as a series of pop-up screenings across the UAE, it finally set up base at Alserkal Avenue in 2018, making Cinema Akil the region’s first permanent arthouse cinema. Today the venue screens some of the finest independent movies and festival favourites such as Ian Bonhôte’s documentary McQueen, the Vincent Van Gogh biopic At Eternity's Gate, and Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War. Open all through the year, it’s well worth a visit as tickets cost only around AED50. There’s also a charming cafe on-site, serving up traditional karak chai and Indian-inspired street food.

Cost: From AED50
Contact Details
  Warehouse 68, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz
  cinemaakil.com

Whats on
9

For dazzling aquatic displays

The Dubai Fountain

For dazzling aquatic displays

The Dubai Fountain

One of the world’s tallest dancing water fountains

The dancing Dubai Fountain attract thousands of visitors every day, as the choreographed water jets put on a dazzling display every 30 minutes from early evening. Although the fountain is free to visit, you can also grab a premium waterside view at many affordable casual dining restaurants dotted around The Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar, enjoying dinner with a view. Shows start from 6pm every evening, performing at 30-minute intervals.

Cost: Free entry
Contact Details
  Dubai Fountain, Downtown Dubai
10

For a desert escape

Desert Safari

For a desert escape

Desert Safari

Leave the city and see how the Bedouins lived

With Downtown Dubai now unrecognisable from its desert origins, a visit to the desert is always a good reminder to see how far this cosmopolitan city has come. If you’re short on time, opt for a desert safari with a 4WD dune-drive. Safaris vary in price, however affordable options start from as little as AED50 (US$14) with light snacks and shared transport included. You’ll get a taste of Bedouin life and be home in your hotel by 10pm.

Cost: From AED50 with Dubai Desert Safari
Contact Details
  Various locations
  +971 54 360 2424

Ten ways to do Dubai on a budget
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