Dubai is a haven for celebrities and the wealthy. Five-star hotels dominate the skyline, and shopping is in the news. Budget travellers, however, can have a great time without spending a lot of money if they are familiar with the area.
Do you want to enjoy almost-free boat rides, drinks, and stunning city views? Listed below are some of the most enjoyable activities that won’t break the bank in Dubai.
Budget-Friendly activities in Dubai
Zabeel Park, one of Dubai’s largest green spaces, is just past the World Trade Centre roundabout. The landscaped park has a bike track, a boating lake, and a mini-train for kids. Zabeel Park costs Dhs5 ($1.40) to enter and is home to the Ripe Market on Fridays and Saturdays.
Careem Bike Share
Dubai’s public transport authority unveiled 800 pay-as-you-go bicycles in 2020. It costs Dhs20 ($5.45) for an unlimited number of 45-minute rides all day. From the saddle, see Dubai Marina’s neon lights at night and the Burj Khalifa.
Dubai has 265 miles (425km) of cycling tracks and plans to add 400 miles (650km) by 2023. In five years, 3500 solar-powered bicycles will be docked at 350 stations across the city.
Dubai Fountain Floating Boardwalk
The Dubai Fountain dances in a lake in front of the Burj Khalifa. Floating platforms added in 2017 get you 30 feet (9m) from the fountains, which can shoot water 460 feet (140m). The boardwalk gives a perfect front-row view of a Dubai Fountain performance for just Dhs20 ($5.45).
A traditional wooden boat with a motor and a single bench seat is the most authentic and cheapest way to cross Dubai Creek. Once the abra is full, it crosses the Creek for Dhs1 (30 cents).
Choose the Dubai Metro. Dubai’s two-line driverless trains offer cheap public transportation. Buy a Nol card and load it with 80 cents for a short trip or $2 for a longer one. The metro operates from 5.30 am (10 am on Fridays) until midnight. You can upgrade to Gold Class, which includes free Wi-Fi.
Despite being the biggest mall, Dubai Mall is expensive. Visit the souks in Dubai Creek (markets) Instead. In Deira, buy gold, frankincense, saffron, and cinnamon. At the same time, you can purchase pashminas and Arabian slippers in Bur Dubai. Never fear to push for a better deal.
Dubai’s biggest mosque is Jumeirah. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offers daily tours (except Fridays) for Dhs20 ($5.45). Visitors can ask questions about Islam and Emirati culture during the 75-minute-tour. In mosques, Remember to cover your knees and shoulders.
Fifty years ago, Dubai was very different. The city grew from a pearl-diving and trading community around the Creek in four decades. Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort charges Dhs3 (80 cents) for admission. Learn about Dubai’s Bedouin and Emirati past. Dubai Museum isn’t modern, but it shows how much life has changed.
Dubai Museum15. Dubai Marina Water Bus
Water buses shuttle between Marina Walk, Marina Terrace, Marina Mall, and Marina Promenade every 15 to 20 minutes. At sunset or after dark, boats float past the shimmering towers. One-day passes cost Dhs25 ($6.80) or Nol Cards.