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Dubai

10 free things to do in Dubai

How to experience the best of Dubai for free
Whether you’re planning a short stopover or a longer break in Dubai, the city offers something to suit everyone – including a number of fantastic free experiences. From world-class art and poolside lounging to racing revelry and showstopping spectacles, here are just some of our favourite free things to do in Dubai.
1

Dancing water

The Dubai Fountain

Dancing water

The Dubai Fountain

Head to The Dubai Mall waterfront promenade to catch The Dubai Fountain’s dancing jets of water in action and you won’t be surprised why this makes every tourist’s bucket list. Combining state-of-the-art technology and a remarkable setting beside the world’s tallest tower, The Dubai Fountain is a mesmerising spectacle of light, music and choreography – all for free. Join the crowds every half hour to watch as streams of water, reaching up to 140m high, dance to the tunes of traditional Arabic music, Indian pop songs and even Michael Jackson.
Contact Details
  Burj Lake by The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai
  +971 4 362 7500

2

Gallery hopping

Alserkal Avenue

Gallery hopping

Alserkal Avenue

One of the city’s most popular art hubs, Alserkal Avenue is teeming with creativity. Spend an afternoon exploring some of Dubai’s eclectic artwork, housed within cleverly-designed warehouses, including 20th-century art furniture at La Galerie Nationale and Middle Eastern-inspired contemporary works at the Isabelle van den Eynde Gallery. Take a break from art to feast your senses at Dubai’s very own chocolate factory – Mirzam. Cocoa beans from around the world are carefully sorted by hand here, before being roasted and ground for the smoothest, richest flavours. Afterwards, head to MAD Gallery by rebel watch brand, MB&F, for a glimpse into the weird and wonderful world of kinetic art and horological machines.
Contact Details
  Street 8, Al Quoz
  +971 50 556 9797

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3

Splash in

Aquaventure Waterpark

Splash in

Aquaventure Waterpark

Get ready to slip and slide. Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm gives away free day passes on your birthday, which means you can ring in the big day at one of Dubai’s most exciting waterparks. Don’t miss famed rides such as the Leap of Faith or Tower of Poseidon – you guessed it – for free. Vouchers are valid for a week and can also be used for discounted group admission to Dolphin Bay or Sea Lion Point for you and three guests. Register on Atlantis’ website to access this treat.
Contact Details
  Atlantis, The Palm
  +971 4 426 2000

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4

Sense of history

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Sense of history

Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood

Once the epicentre of city life, the serene Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood presents a treasure trove of delights. Admire the traditional courtyard houses with wind towers, also known as barjeel. These distinctive structures acted as centuries-old air-conditioning systems by directing cooler winds down into the home. Take the time to follow the winding alleys and discover expansive courtyards peppered with museums, art galleries and charming cafes. You can easily spend an afternoon immersed in Dubai’s culture.
Contact Details
  Opposite Al Fahidi Street
  +971 600 560000

5

Sun and sand

Beaches in Dubai

Sun and sand

Beaches in Dubai

Dubai is blessed with year-round sunshine as well as some of the best beaches featuring turquoise waters and golden sand. While most hotels feature private beach clubs for their guests, visitors can also enjoy the sunshine at one of Dubai’s many free public beaches. Kite Beach is a popular choice, with its urban city-meets-sea vibe, as is the Umm Suqeim Beach, which remains open until midnight. Take your pick. 

Contact Details
  Umm Suqeim Beach

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6

Shark selfies

Dubai Aquarium

Shark selfies

Dubai Aquarium

The Dubai Mall stands out as one of our favourite destinations in the city for all-round fun. The mammoth space has it all from the best brands to world-class attractions, including Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Hailed as one of the largest indoor aquariums of its kind in the world, here you can observe resident Sand Tiger sharks, rays and more than a hundred other aquatic species as they glide by the main glass wall. For a closer look, you’ll need to buy a ticket so you can enter the 48m walkthrough tunnel.
Contact Details
  The Dubai Mall
  +971 4 448 5200

7

Sporting fun

Camel racing

Sporting fun

Camel racing

Experience the thrill of the traditional Bedouin sport of camel racing at the Al Marmoom Race Track on Dubai-Al Ain Road. During race season, head down to the tracks in the early hours of the day to see the majestic beasts thunder down the track, guided by high-tech robot jockeys. You’ll soon find yourself cheering alongside the trainers who shadow the action in sturdy 4x4s – it truly is a sight to behold. Organised by the Dubai Camel Racing Club from September onwards, these highly-competitive races take place early in the morning at 6am as well as in the afternoons around 3pm. 
Contact Details
  Al Marmoom Camel Racetrack, Dubai-Al Ain Road
  +971 600 555 559

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8

Play time

The Beach

Play time

The Beach

There’s always something happening at The Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence. At any given time you can expect to see pop-up markets selling locally-made arts and crafts and designer trinkets from further afield, roaming entertainment, art installations and even spectacular fireworks on special occasions. Walk along the sleek palm-lined esplanade and take it all in or go for a swim in the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf. For a small fee, you can also stay active by joining morning yoga classes or working out in the fully-equipped gym by the sea.

Contact Details
  Opposite JBR, Dubai Marina
  +971 4 317 3999

9

River of dreams

Riverland Dubai

River of dreams

Riverland Dubai

At the heart of Dubai’s mega theme park destination, Dubai Parks and Resorts, is Riverland, an expansive space with surprises at every turn. Inspired by different eras, Riverland takes you on a tour of a medieval-themed French Village, exotic India Gate, 1950s-style American boardwalk and The Peninsula, reminiscent of 19th century European architecture. Best of all? There are no entry fees. Along Riverland’s kilometre-long waterway, which regularly hosts fun events, you’ll also find fantastic restaurants and shops. Tired of all that exploring? Take a break and enjoy an express reflexology massage at Feet First or dine at Japanese restaurant Katsuya by Starck or gourmet cafe Leopold’s of London. 

Contact Details
  Dubai Parks and Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road
  +971 4 820 0000

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10

In the frame

Burj Al Arab

In the frame

Burj Al Arab

Rising dramatically out from its own island, just off the Jumeirah coast, Burj Al Arab has become a true symbol of Dubai hospitality. The luxury hotel’s distinctive sail shape beautifully reflects the city’s maritime heritage and is one of the most recognisable (and Instagrammable) spots in the city. For the perfect selfie, head to Umm Suqeim Beach and capture this Dubai icon in the background.

Contact Details
  Umm Suqeim Beach