When thinking of how to describe Dubai, the words luxury, opulence and 5-star living come to mind. A playground for the rich and famous. And you’ll be forgiven for thinking a trip to this city will hit the bank balance quite dramatically. But what if we told you that there’s lots of places to visit in Dubai for free? It’s not all supercars, helicopters and yachts, promise.

To help you visit this city on a budget, here’s our list of the best places to visit in Dubai for free:

The fountain dance

Seeing the Burj Khalifa up close is an obvious thing to do when in this city. It’s the tallest building in the world after all and an architectural wonder. But when you’re done marvelling at this masterpiece, stick around and watch The Dubai Fountain dance. It’s another world record – the world’s biggest dancing fountain - with water reaching heights of 500 feet and a light show adding to the creativity in the middle of the Burj Khalifa lake. Watch from the promenade or the bridge that connects to the Souk Al Bahar. A very enjoyable place to visit in Dubai for free.

City Tour – Red Route, Stop: The Dubai Mall

Beachfront bliss

Not all beaches in Dubai are free, but there are couple of public beach options that are definitely worth a visit. La Mer is an eclectic beachfront, developed to diversify what this city has to offer to both visitors and locals alike. Built to inspire, it has buzzing backstreets with street art to spot and a promenade full of activity to meander down. There are lots of cafés and restaurants to chill in after a lazy day on the sand. One of the newest neighbourhoods in Dubai, it has the all-important facilities such as bucket showers, changing rooms, toilets and hammocks (important we think).

Cruise the creek

Not entirely free but still worth a mention, spending just 1 dirham gets you on board an abra or a traditional wooden dhow boat to cruise the creek. An essential mode of transport for the locals, it links old Dubai with the souks of Deira. So an enjoyable way to reach the markets. A great way to see the city of Dubai from a different perspective, and a moment to bob along the water and relax. It’s also the perfect way to get around during rush hour on the roads. Time your ride with sunset to really get the full beauty of the view.

City Tour – Red Route, Stop: Arabian Old Souk

Barter in the souks

Browsing the Old Souks is a way to spy the traditional life in this city. It’s one of the places to visit in Dubai for free that gets you talking with locals. There’s the old souk and textile souk along the creek in Bur Dubai, and the spice and gold souks in Deira. These colourful covered markets are great fun even if you don’t actually spend a dirham. But if you do decide to buy, try your hand at bartering with the vendors  - start at half the quoted price. From dried fruit and nuts, to traditional dress and extravagant displays of jewellery, you’re bound to find yourself bargaining. 

City Tour – Red Route, Stop: Gold Souk / Spice Souk

One for the ladies

If you’re female and in the mood to explore Dubai’s nightlight, you’re in for a treat. When the sun goes down, there are plenty of places to visit in Dubai for free. Bars and pubs offer ladies complimentary drinks, food and basically a good time for not 1 dirham. And you can find a Ladies Night every day of the week. With new venues opening all the time, simply check online to see where to head to that evening. As for the gents, it’s full price I’m afraid…

So there you have our list of places to visit in Dubai for free. And with all that cash saved, why not splash out on a Big Bus tour and see all the sights this city is famous for in style. With the flexibility to hop on and off as many times as you wish for as long as you like, you can plan a day or two of sightseeing at your own pace. For more inspiration on how to fill the rest of your time in this record-breaking city, check out our guide to 3 Days in Dubai.