February 25, 2024
Lifestyle Travel UAE

How to explore Dubai as a tourist on a budget

Gulf city has tons of pocket-pleasing attractions to offer

With its iconic cityscape skyline, luxury shopping malls, and extravagant attractions, Dubai may seem like a destination reserved for the well-heeled traveller. However, beneath the sheen of luxury lies a Dubai that can be explored on a budget, allowing global tourists to experience the city without breaking the bank.


Start your budget-friendly Dubai journey by choosing wallet-friendly accommodation. While the city boasts high-end hotels, numerous budget options offer comfort without compromising quality. Look for guesthouses and budget hotels, or even consider booking through online platforms that offer affordable rates on various accommodations.

Dubai tourist
Centrally located LEVA Hotels accommodation. Image: LEVA Hotels

Located in the centre of Dubai City, overlooking the Burj Khalifa and walking distance to metro stations, LEVA Hotels, alongside Sheikh Zayed Road, is well worth staying in.

Local transport

Dubai’s public transportation system is not only efficient but also budget-friendly. The Dubai Metro system connects exciting city areas, making it an excellent option for travellers looking to explore on a budget.

Dubai tourist
Get around the city on the Dubai Metro network. Image: DTCM

Purchase a Nol card for seamless travel on public buses, trams, and the metro. Alternatively, ride-sharing apps and traditional taxis are available for convenient and reasonably priced transportation.

Discover Old Dubai

Uncover the heart of Dubai by exploring its historic districts. Head to the Al Fahidi historic district, where narrow lanes wind through traditional wind-tower architecture.

Dubai tourist
Browse through the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort. Image: DTCM

Visit the Dubai Museum in Al Fahidi Fort to learn about the city’s history. Wander through the vibrant souks, like the Spice Souk and Gold Souk, where you can soak in the local atmosphere and perhaps find some affordable treasures.

Beach bliss

Dubai’s beaches are a haven for budget travellers. Jumeirah Beach, with its pristine sands and breathtaking views of the Burj Al Arab, is a perfect spot for a relaxing day under the sun.

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Laze it up on one of the many beaches. Image: DTCM
Dubai tourist
Enjoy free entry to Jumeirah Beach. Image: Arnold Pinto

Pack a picnic, enjoy the free public beach access, and take in the beauty of the Arabian Gulf without spending a dirham.

Culinary adventures

While Dubai is known for its luxury dining, there are plenty of affordable options to satisfy your taste buds. Head to Al Dhiyafah Road, a haven for budget-friendly eateries serving authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.

Dubai tourist
Dubai City is a foodies’ paradise. Image: DTCM

Explore the diverse flavours at the local markets, like the Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Market, where you can sample fresh produce and local delicacies at reasonable prices.

Free attractions

Many of Dubai’s iconic attractions can be experienced without spending a fortune. Witness the mesmerising Dubai Fountain show at the base of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, for a free and unforgettable experience.

Dubai tourist
Dubai Fountain is a must-visit; for free too! Image: DTCM

Additionally, explore the picturesque Dubai Marina, home to stunning skyscrapers and a vibrant promenade.

Cultural exploration

Keep an eye out for free cultural events and festivals happening during your visit. Dubai frequently hosts events that showcase its rich heritage and diverse cultural tapestry.

Dubai tourist
Art and culture venues abound in Dubai. Image: DTCM

These events, from art exhibitions to music festivals, allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture without breaking the bank.

Outdoor adventure

Escape the urban hustle and explore Dubai’s natural beauty. Hike in the Hajar Mountains or embark on a desert adventure.

Many outdoor activities, like hiking and stargazing, come with little to no cost, offering a unique perspective on Dubai beyond its cityscape.

Dubai tourist
Arabian Nights Tours desert camp. Image: Arnold Pinto

No visit to Dubai is complete without visiting a desert camp, to experience an unforgettable camel ride, go dune bashing, and marvel at a mesmerising belly dancer. A hot favourite for all these experiences is Arabian Nights Tours (www.arabiannightstours.com, +9714 321 6565).

Dubai tourist
Enjoy off-road adventure in desert terrain too! Image: Arnold Pinto

Dubai, often associated with luxury, can be explored on a budget. By embracing the city’s more affordable options and delving into its cultural and natural wonders, global tourists can unlock an unforgettable experience without compromising their wallets.

So, pack your bags, set a budget, and get ready to discover the hidden gems of Dubai without the hefty price tag.

Featured image: A visit to Dubai need not break the bank. Image: DTCM

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, space, aerospace, aviation, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, fashion, and automotive verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally and protecting the world’s oceans from plastic pollution, overfishing, and climate change. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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