If you’re thinking that you need a lot of spending money for Dubai, think again. Whilst there are many activities which require admission fees and some form of payment, there are some paramount sites which are not only free, but hold meaning to the country itself. Read below to find out more.
1. Visit Shindagha Historical District
Strategically positioned near the edge of the creek of Dubai, this was once the living area for all ruling Sheikhs of the city. As years have passed on, these Sheikhs have moved out and this place has now become a quiet and peaceful area to roam around in. Maintained well, it acts as a great place to escape when you’ve been in the hustle and bustle of the city life.
2. Visit Bastakiya Quarter
Taking it’s name from Bastak in Southern Iran, this place was designed and constructed by Persian traders who once contributed towards trade in the city. Today it is open to visitors to roam around and visit it’s various attractions such as the Dubai Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
The Bastakiya Quarter really does make an effort to portray to visitors the true culture of Dubai and illustrates how ways of life have evolved, grown, and changed. Being the oldest residential areas in Dubai, it really is worth a visit.
3. Visit The Mosques
It was never was the case that Mosques, which are originally built for devout worshippers, have now become a tourist attraction. Dubai has some of the most remarkably designed and new mosques scattered throughout the city. It will be difficult to miss one as they stand with pride manifesting their majesty through their minarets and domes. Visitors to Dubai make it a point to go and visit some of the mosques as many of them are open to the public visiting. Just ensure that you are dressed modestly (covering your arms, legs and head).
If there was one mosque I’d recommend visiting in Dubai, it would have to be the Jumeirah Mosque. It welcomes non-Muslim guests 6 days and week and is finely located close by to the sea making it a perfect place to wonder, pray, relax and unwind.
4. Visit The Beaches
This is a must. With Dubai being a year round destination, it offers visitors great scenic and picturesque beach settings. Perfect for anyone wanting to snap those pictures, lay on the beach or even go for a swim. The temperature of the water is usually perfect and the sand is so soft that one could end up laying there for hours.
5. Visit World Mega Malls
Dubai is truly mega when it comes to malls. Whilst the city possesses the largest shopping mall (based on total area), it also boasts other malls which visitors usually do not pay attention to. Such malls include the magnificent Ibn Battuta mall. This mall not only caters for shopaholics, but it also exhibits a theme throughout of Ibn Battuta – once the world’s famous Muslim traveller from Morocco. It is for that reason that today Ibn Battuta Mall is considered the largest themed shopping mall.
6. Visit Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
This is by far the largest free-viewing aquarium screen I have seen in the world. Okay, so technically you have to pay for an entire tour of the aquarium, however I think the screen viewed from outside does a perfect job. You will see many different types of sea life and if lucky, you may even catch the aquarist feeding the fish.
The Aquarium is located inside the Dubai Mall. Don’t forget to see the world record OLED videowall which is on the wall above the aquarium viewing screen.
7. Move With The Fountains
After strolling through the Dubai Mall, make sure you visit the Dubai Fountains boasting the largest performing fountain show in the world, where the water literally dances to the music in perfect choreographed harmony. The show schedule is as follows; Saturday to Thursday 1pm and 1:30pm, Friday 1:30 pm and 2pm and every evening 6pm-11pm every thirty minutes. Each show lasts for 5 minutes. The performance can be viewed from many locations around Downtown Dubai however the most popular spot is the Waterfront Promenade outside the Dubai Mall. Make sure you arrive early to get a good spot at the front to view the fountains in all their glory.
8. Drive Down To The Hatta Water Dam
If you have some time on your hand, why not drive down to the Hatta Water Dam. Featuring turquoise waters, rugged mountains and an untamed natural environment, this place provides a city dweller with a breath of fresh air. You can also go kayaking or paddling if you want. To get here, either take a taxi or drive down with your rented car. It’s completely safe and visited by many throughout the year.
9. Visit The Souks
If you’re eager to get a taste of Old Dubai, visit the many souks which are located in the Old part of Dubai, also known as Deira. You can take an Abra ride (short boat ride) across from the Bur Dubai Abra Station to Deira Old Souk Abra Station to find many of these souks.
If you’re looking for a profusion of spices and herbs and almost any exotic ingredient, head over to the Spice Souk, in Al-Buteen in the old part of Dubai. When shopping for spices and herbs, Dubai is the place to be as it houses base ingredients from around the world. However, do be careful as the prices quoted can be hard to hear. Make sure you haggle and if not happy with the price try elsewhere.
Tip: Buy whole and grind. That way the taste is much better! Also make sure you store stuff like this in cool dark places.
10. Abra Ride
Okay, technically this one is not free but it’s so cheap that you may as well call it free. For around 1AED you can get a 5-10 minute boat ride from designated stations which will take you for a scenic ride along the creek of Dubai. Leave the cruises to a side and jump on one of these Abras to really feel like a local.
Some of the Abras run 24 hours but there are some that start at 5AM and end at 12 midnight.
The most commonly travelled route is from Bur Dubai Abra Station to the Deira Old Souk Abra Station. This takes you from the new part of Dubai to the old part of Dubai.
If you’re looking for a personalised tour, just turn up and speak to one of the drivers.