5 of The Best Things to Do in Dubai On A Budget

Modern Dubai is often seen as a tribute to consumerist luxury: a self-indulgent haven of magical hotels, superlative bars, restaurants, and extravagantly themed shopping malls. But this one-eyed cliché does absolutely no justice to the city’s enchanting contrasts and rich cultural make-up.

Many people simply fly to Dubai for a weekend getaway or week-long trip. But did you know you can also visit this city during a Dubai cruise, which is probably one of the most pleasant ways to travel?

Regardless, my advice is to look beyond the popular perception because you’ll quickly find out that Dubai has much more to offer than is generally supposed.

From the fascinating old city center, with its labyrinth of bustling souks and old Arabian houses lined up along the Creek, to the quirky postmodern architectural skyline of southern Dubai, you will find plenty of things to do on a budget here.

Walk in Creekside Park

Creekside Park is a top choice for jogging, rollerblading, biking, and other activities that will help you stretch and burn some calories, especially if you've just arrived here by cruise boat. Situated along the Creek in the heart of the city, it offers pathways with fishing piers, botanical gardens, playgrounds, barbecue sites, restaurants, and an amphitheater. Concerts and other special events are often held here on holidays and during Dubai Shopping Festival.

Take an Abra Ride on the Creek

Dubai Creek, washed by the waters of the Arabian Gulf, is the lifeblood of old and new Dubai. The contrast of traditional wooden dhows against stunning modern architecture, such as the glass dome-fronted Bank of Dubai and the giant ball-topped Etisalat building, is fascinating. A walk along the Creek is an enjoyable way to discover this multi-faceted city. The most authentic way to get across is by abra or little-motorized boats that have been ferrying passengers back and forth for decades.


You don’t have to spend any money to enjoy Dubai’s incredible array of shops, although I cannot promise that you won’t decide to loosen your wallet. A walk through the souks is as much a shopping as it is a cultural experience. Another must visit is the world’s largest shopping mall. This monument to consumerism houses over 1,000 stores, an ice rink, an aquarium and a vast cinema. The mall also boasts over 150 food outlets offering everything from fine dining to casual eateries.

Visit Bastakiya

Walking through the historic quarter of Dubai is totally free and you will easily find yourself in a fascinating representation of what Dubai used to look like over a century ago. Bastakiya is an idyllic neighborhood of meandering lanes, traditional Gulf houses, and ornate wind towers. The coral stone and cement wind towers once lined the Dubai Creek, keeping the historic houses cooled using innovative air current systems. Although the area dates from the late 1800s, it was completely restored in recent years.

Go to the Beach

Dubai has a number of excellent public beaches. They are clean, safe, and family-friendly. Most people are surprised by just how beautiful Dubai’s beaches are, with powdery white sand and turquoise-colored water. Plus many offer watersports and activities for kids so they are the perfect place to spend a fun day relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city.