10 Affordable Things to Do in Dubai
It’s easy to spend a ton of money in Dubai, but there are affordable activities to explore too. You can do everything on this list for less than $100 and would take about 3-5 days to do everything mentioned. Most items on this list are free, but a few will come with a worthwhile price. Read more about being in Dubai on a budget!
Related: Learn more about the UAE
1. Walk the Marina
The marina is a beautiful area full of high rise condos and restaurants. Between all the boats and the new construction luxury, it gives me Miami vibes. It is easily reachable along the metro and you could spend hours walking up, down, and around the marina to find your perfect lunch spot.
2. Off-road in the Arabian Desert
Want to go dune bashing and sand boarding? It won’t cost you too much. You can find tours through Viator or Get Your Guide for less than $50 a seat. It’s nice to get out of the city and see how quickly the scenery changes. For a half day, exciting adventure the price is worth it.
3. Head to the top of the Burj Khalifa
Perhaps the most famous building in the UAE, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. While access to the top floor is restricted, visitors can head up to the 125th floor for $30 to take in some impressive views. This viewing deck can get crowded, so they also offer a view from the 148th floor for almost $100 per ticket. You can buy your tickets online and in advance to save yourself from the crowds. I went (with the cheaper option) during a weekday morning and did not deal with long lines.
4. Chill on the Beach by Burj al Arab
Staying in the Burj al Arab is usually well over $1,000 a night, but looking at it is free! *disappointed laughter* You can get views of Burj al Arab from a few spots along the beach. There is a public beach along with portions that are private for hotels. I wanted to find a spot without as many people so I tried to see if I could access the private beach. I walked through the Jumeriah Beach Hotel, bought a coffee to qualify myself as a guest, and then spent hours on their patio and quiet private beach. I went in the morning and for awhile I was the only person on the beach.
5. Watch the fountain light show
This was one of my favorite things to see. Every night the pool around the Burj Khalifa does a fountain show as well as uses its entire facade of the building to display a colorful light show. It is loud, highly animated, and so much cooler than anything I’ve ever seen in Las Vegas. Although the fountain show was designed by the same company as the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the accompanying show on the exterior of the Burj Khalifa take it into a whole new level. There are several shows in the evening depending on the day so check the schedule. Best of all, it’s entirely free.
Related: Singapore Lightshow
6. Explore Old Dubai
There are lots of things to see in the old Dubai neighborhood. Here is where you’ll find traditional gold and spice souks. The shops look a bit touristy, but nonetheless are fun to see. You can spot several minarets, hear the call to prayer, and stroll along the creek too. Step off from the Al Ras metro stop and you’ll quickly find the bazaar. Many of the budget activities in Dubai involve exploring on foot. Bringing your camera and creativity makes it more fun too.
7. Browse the malls
So you didn’t fly halfway around the world to see another Zara and H&M, but some of Dubai’s most famed attractions are part of the malls. There are two main ones: the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. The gigantic aquarium and access to the Burj Khalifa are found in the Dubai Mall, while the skiing slopes are at the Mall of the Emirates. Admission to the attractions come with price tags that quickly add up, but the good news is that you can watch some of the skiing from a viewing window and get a sneak peak of the aquarium through a multistory acrylic panel looking right into a giant tank. The malls are a great option, especially on hot day as it’s comfortably air conditioned.
8. Stroll along La Mer Beach
You can spend an afternoon or even a whole day on the beach here. There are spots to rent a towel or a beach lounger and plenty of stylish restaurants to choose from if you get hungry. Although, if you want to keep a tight budget in Dubai, I recommend bringing your own snacks from a local market instead of buying meals at the restaurants. With its palm trees, swimwear boutiques, and string lights along the boardwalk, it has the feeling of a beachy Rodeo Drive.
9. Check out Jumeirah Mosque
Very few mosques are open to non-Muslims, but this one is. For about $10 you can have a guided tour to learn more about Islam. The mosque is right by La Mer beach so you could do both in one day and stay on budget.
10. Ride an abra on Dubai Creek
While to some locals, these boats are just a normal part of transportation in the city, they can be a fun little cruise across the canal in Dubai. It’ll take you from one side to the other so you can explore further into old Dubai. It lasts only 5 minutes each way, but it costs less than a dollar. Visiting Dubai on a budget is definitely possible when much of the exploration utilizes public transportation such as the abra boats.
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