By Saqib Ali at Dubai Travel Adventure
Dubai has a reputation for being one of the world’s most expensive cities. For that reason, many travelers remove Dubai from their bucket, thinking they can’t visit Dubai without a hefty investment. Don’t do that! While it’s fair to say Dubai is pricey, smart travelers know how to keep the costs down. One way is to incorporate free attractions like these 5 things to do in Dubai for free into your itinerary. Even if you’re not watching your budget, read on because you’ll want to include these stops on any trip to Dubai.
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CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about finding fun, free things to do in Dubai.
- The Dubai Fountains
- The Gold Market
- Human Waterfalls
- The Aquarium at the Dubai Mall
- Final Thoughts on Free Things to Do in Dubai
1. The Dubai Fountains
In the middle of Dubai, the downtown hosts the world’s largest singing and dancing water fountains. The expansive Dubai Fountain takes up an area of 275 x 100 meters in the synthetic Lake of Burj Khalifa. Pulsing to music, the jets shoot up to 152 meters; at the same time, the pumps lift up to 100 tons of water into the air. It’s an incredible site to see, and one of the best things to do in Dubai for free.
Even if the United Arab Emirates were to begin charging a fee to view this popular show, it would theoretically be impossible as the fountains are extremely high up and visible from all the surroundings in Dubai.
When is the Best Time to See The Dubai Fountains?
The best time to see the Dubai Fountains is a matter of opinion, so you’ll have to decide based on your own experience.
In the afternoon, you’ll find there are just two shows. One is at 1:00 PM and the other at 1:30PM.
On Fridays, the afternoon timetable shifts to 1:30PM and 2:00PM because of religious reasons. Friday is a holy day for Muslims, and on this day, Juma is conducted–the obligatory midday prayer.
During the evenings, you’ll find The Dubai Fountain shows are from 6PM to 11PM.
You’ll want to get there early to get a good spot to see the show. One good place to enjoy the show that may be less crowded is the area around the restaurant, Souk AI Bahar. (To find more amazing rooftop bars in Dubai, check out this guide.)
Many tourists ask why there are such unusual opening hours at most attractions in Dubai. It’s about the weekend. In the UAE, weekends are Friday and Saturday. Thursday is almost a day off because most businesses only work half the day. So, it ends up that from Thursday to Saturday is a weekend.
Performances during the day take place in natural light, and evening shows are in backlight.
The result is two totally different shows, although theoretically, they aren’t different at all!
You might even consider watching both the day and the evening show to make the most out the things to do in Dubai for free. Double fun!
2. The Gold Market (Dubai Gold Souq)
Have you ever seen ten tons of gold jewelry? That’s exactly what you’ll see within one shopping region only in Dubai, in the Deira district.
This isn’t a stand-alone jewelry building; rather an entire shopping area. The Deria district is a dense maze of streets featuring over 300 shops in the space of roughly three square city blocks.
See A Record Breaking Gold Bracelet – For Free in Dubai
The main attraction here is the world’s record-breaking gold bracelet, known as “Taiba Taiba” or “Taiba Star” (Source: Guinness Book of Records). Its price is about 2.2 million UAE dirhams—the equivalent of about $599,000 US dollars!
Even if you don’t want to buy any jewelry, it’s truly worth coming to The Gold Market, also known as Dubai Gold Souq, to search for the record-breaking bracelet, gold dresses, and other golden artifacts.
And, you’ll be glad to know there are absolutely no restrictions on photography at the Gold Market, so you can take images of the Taiba bracelet as a free souvenir.
Related: Find more information on the gold souq here on this blog.
It is estimated that about 10 tons of gold is constantly on sale here. Some guidebooks and Internet sites report as much as 20% of the world’s gold return goes through the Dubai Gold Souk, but this is an overstatement.
If about 3,000 tons of gold are mined globally, it is not possible that 600 tons move through Dubai. But it is fun to imagine the great sums of gold that do pass through here!
Visiting Dubai Gold Souq is one of the best things to do in Dubai for free.
3. Candylicious – Tempting Free Things to Do in Dubai
The biggest store of desserts, candy, and other sweets is located in the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Mall. The Candylicious store is worth visiting to see just how big a candy store could be. The store area, which is about 1100 square meters, is a record!
As if breaking one record weren’t enough, Candylicious breaks a second record with the number of brands it carries. The store claims it offers over 5,000 kinds of sweets here. While the Candylicious store in the Dubai Mall includes sweets from around the world, the majority of the shelves are filled with American sweets.
Hershey brand is promoted very actively in the store, but M&M’s products even more so. By the way, the Candylicious brand is owned by a Singapore company, and most of Candylicious’s stores are in Southeast Asia.
The best news is that admission is free, and you need not spend any money to see the biggest candy store in the world (but you will surely be tempted)!
4. Human Waterfalls in The Dubai Mall
Yet another free point of interest in the Dubai mall is the human waterfall, a soaring water feature and seemingly animated art exhibit.
But first, some important background.
Before the oil era, pearl fishing was the primary source of income for the Arab Emirates. In the UAE, it is traditional to remember your background and honor your forefathers. This exhibit reminds of that history of pearl diving.
The waterfall is actually two cylindrical structures of 30 meters each that recycle water from an overhead reservoir. The waterfalls permeate all four levels of the shopping center, soaring to (or falling from) a height of about 79 feet. It’s a breathtaking experience to see the sculptures suspended in midair above the coursing water, reflecting sunshine from an overhead skylight.
The human waterfalls is perhaps the most picturesque spot in the entire shopping center, and each visitor can admire this free Dubai attraction.
5. The Aquarium at Dubai Mall
While you’re at the Dubai Mall, there’s one more thing to do in Dubai for free: Visit the Aquarium. Yes, there is an aquarium in the Dubai Mall.
The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo includes one enormous aquarium and several secondary ones. You can see the main aquarium at no cost through the huge plexiglass straight from the shopping center’s corridors.
This glass is almost an attraction itself: it is 108 feet long, 28 feet high, and weighs 245 tons. Behind it is the water of a 10 million ton aquarium!
You’ll see the coral reef of the Persian Gulf with all its residents, such as reef sharks and great rays, recreated behind the giant viewing window.
If you time your visit right, you can see the feeding of these incredible marine animals—also free of charge.
Optionally you can purchase tickets for animal encounters, such as feeding the rays, sharks, or crocodiles, or visit the remainder of the aquarium exhibits for an additional admission fee.
Final Thoughts on Things To Do in Dubai for Free
So, can you see that by interspersing some of these free things to do in Dubai you can easily extend your vacation fun and your travel budget? There are plenty of things to do in Dubai that won’t cost any money. And, each one of these things to do in Dubai for free would make an excellent addition to any itinerary.
Which of these fun, free attractions in Dubai would you most like to see when you visit Dubai? Are there other free things to see in Dubai that should be on this list? Please tell us about it in the comments below!
This article is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.