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Off The Beaten Track: Dubai Travel Tips - The Alternate Travel Guide

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Burj Al Arab showing behind palm trees in Dubai
What is in this blog? Table of contents:

Our latest instalment of Off The Beaten Track, The Alternative Travel Guide sees us head to the millionaires paradise. The city of skyscrapers, ports, and beaches. where big business goes down and tourists flock, in this blog we will be discussing things to do in Dubai.

Located in the middle east with a climate for sunshine year-round, average high/low (°C) temperatures ranging between 24°/14° & 41°/31°, and just (approximately) 4 days rain per year, it is no wonder that Dubai is a tourist hot spot. Pardon the pun.

Aside from this, Dubai offers tourists the idyllic blend of ultra-modernism, impressive new-world architecture, and authentic Arabian hospitality and culture. Dubai is the home of Shimis Yoga Center where modern, minimal and beautiful architecture aside hospitality collaborate to become what is known as the instagrammable yoga studio. Why not head down for a well deserved yoga and meditation retreat experience.

In this guide, we hope to prove to you that not everything in Dubai, despite its reputation as a millionaire’s paradise, has to be on the upper end of the price scale!

So, join us, as we run you through our top Dubai travel tips.

The peak of the Burj Al Arab with the Palm Jumeirah and speed boats

The best cheap things to do in Dubai

There are not only plenty of budget friendly things to do in Dubai, but there are also a few FREE activities that just cannot be missed (and in our opinion, they also rank as some of the best things to do in Dubai full stop!).

Dubai Fountains (FREE) – 

Located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. This just so happens to be the world’s tallest building, and next to the infamous Dubai mall. You will find the city’s most popular tourist attraction, the Dubai Fountains.

Not only one of the best cheap places to visit in Dubai, but also one of the best cheap things to do in Dubai with a family. Young or old, you have got to marvel at the worlds largest dancing fountains, with daily shows, two in the afternoon and one every 30 minutes in the evening!

Afternoon times – 1pm, 1.30pm, or 2pm (depending on the day).

Evening times – 6pm – 11pm, 30-minute intervals.

Dubai Beaches (FREE) –

A trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the beach, would it? And the good news is that Dubai has plenty of beaches that are free and accessible to everyone.

If you want our opinion, we recommend Marina Beach, possibly the liveliest beach in Dubai. Not only are there a selection of playgrounds for the children, but also plenty of dining options along The Walk.

You might also want to head to Jumeirah Beach. Jumeirah Beach is located near the famous Burj Al Arab Hotel (another must see), so you can tick two things off your Dubai bucket list at once!

Spice Souk & Gold Souk (FREE) –

Spice Souk and Gold Souk are traditional markets, which are free to attend. You may be persuaded to part with a coin or two to take some souvenirs home for friends and family. Wherever you go in the world, local markets are a great place to experience the real culture and tradition of the area you are in, and Dubai is no different!

While these three are just a small selection of the free and cheap things to do in Dubai, there are plenty of others!

Dubai Butterfly Garden (AED 55) -

Dubai Butterfly Garden, the worlds largest covered butterfly garden is home to more than 15,000 butterflies from over 50 different species. With a Dubai Butterfly Garden kids cinema which shows educational movies and animations along with family favourite Disney movies this is a great family-friendly trip idea also.

With prices starting from AED55 which is approximately $14 (£11) and children under 3 going free this is a perfect cheap Dubai attraction. Located just down the road from the Dubai Miracle Garden near Motor City.

Sunset showing the Burj Al Arab and palm trees in JBR

The best cheap things to do in Dubai at night

Dubai has a vibrant nightlife scene, with great places to dine, drink and party (responsibly of course).

However, if you are looking for cheap things to do in Dubai at night, that are perhaps a little more family friendly, then you are in luck!

The Souks, traditional, open-air markets, really come alive at night, and are some of the most exotic marketplaces anywhere in the world. So, any visit to a Souk is sure to capture your intrigue and is undoubtedly one of the best cheap things to do in Dubai at night!

Dubai Fountains also have shows on until 11pm. As we mentioned before, seeing the water spouting up with the fluorescent lights could not be more magical!

You could also visit the Dubai desert conservation? This desert conservation reserve offers a range of evening/night time activities including: luxury dune dinners, night desert safari and overnight desert camping.

Alternatively you could take a day trip to the Dubai desert conservation as they offer other daytime activities which include: A camel ride, sand boarding, hot air balloon rides, falconry, archery and horse riding.

Burj Khalifa reflecting the Dubai sun

The best things to do in Dubai as a family

The Burj Khalifa (currently the tallest building in the world) is undoubtedly one of the most iconic towers in Dubai, so if you are looking to create lasting memories with your family, why not take a trip to the top (or as high as the public are allowed to go!) and take in the amazing sky views of Dubai.

Highlights include: 

  • The highest deck observatory in the world with 360-degree bird's eye view of Dubai and sky
  • An outdoor terrace where you can enjoy an awe-inspiring view
  • An interactive experience that uses motion sensors to explore Dubai
  • High Power Telescopes to see the various landmarks of Dubai's skyline
  • Personal tours by guest ambassador at level 148


A skip the line ticket to the “At the Top Sky Experience” which allow you to visit floors 124, 125 and experience a VIP tour of floor 148 are around AED 459 for adults and children, that’s roughly $105 or £85 each! Children under 4 are free, however. This ticket also offers complimentary pastries, dates and hot drinks.

Browse tickets for the Burj Khlifa experiences via Tiqets here.

From our experience this is one of, if not the best thing to do in Dubai as a family!

Visit Ferrari World Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
- Yes, we confess. This attraction is actually located down the road in Abu Dhabi which is approximately a one hours drive from Dubai, but hear us out, this attraction is well worth the travel.

With a host of rides and attractions, dining options and shopping on offer this is a great experience for every family member. With the ticket options available from Ferrari World you can gain access to up to 4 theme parks within Yas Island.

Browse family tickets for Ferrari World here.
Browse all tickets to Ferrari World here.
Find day trip tickets with transfers from Dubai included here.

a flower plane and vibrant flowers in Dubai Miracle Garden

The best things to do in Dubai for couples

Again, everything that we have already mentioned would make a great activity for couples visiting Dubai. But, if you are looking for the best things to do in Dubai for couples specifically, then take a look at the following ideas:

  • The Miracle Garden – Dubai Miracle Garden, which features more than 250 million plant species and 50 million flowers in almost every colour, is one of the must-see destinations for visitors, particularly couples because of its stunning beauty. An excellent spot to take a romantic photo or two!
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides – It’s up, up and away for a Hot Air Balloon ride! Providing your significant other isn’t afraid of heights, could seeing the desert and the city from the sky be any more romantic? If you want to elevate this experience and make it undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Dubai for couples, try a sunrise or sunset flight!
  • Candlelight Concerts – Nothing quite screams romance like a beautiful candlelight concert, does it? Which is why a candlelight concert could be one of the best things to do in Dubai for couples. They take place at surprise venues all over the city, with both classical and more modern genres to choose from.

An arial picture of the Love Lake in the Dubai desert sand

Romantic things to do in Dubai

A quick trip to the Al Qudra area, south of the city, and you will find the aptly named ‘Love Lake’ which is also know to some as Heart Lake. It is, of course, heart shaped, and is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. With picnic facilities and BBQs, can you think of a more romantic thing to do in Dubai?

Why not visit at sunset and take a romantic stroll around the heart shaped lakes?

palm trees and a river along the Dubai old town district

The best things to do in Dubai alone

If you are a solo traveller and are looking for the best things to do in Dubai alone, then rest assured there is plenty for you to do!

Aside from literally anything we have already mentioned, after all, your own company is often the best, there are plenty of other activities you could enjoy.


Solo travelling in Dubai definitely does not have to be a no go!

The Burj Al Arab along the beach at The Palm Jumeirah

Things to do in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

Jumeirah Beach Residence which is also known as Dubai JBR is located in New Dubai, the waterfront residence offers a whole host of things to do, from soaking up the UAE sun to visiting the wide range of outdoor cafe's, restaurants and even cinema's. Listed below are the top 5 things to do in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area:

  1. Skydiving - One of the most thrilling Dubai attractions. This more adventurous activity offers you the ability to see The Palm Jumeirah from the skies.
  2. Visit the Dubai Marina Yacht Club - from here you can take a yacht tour around the luxury Dubai marina with breakfast or a BBQ on offer.
  3. Relax at the beach - Soak up the hot sun along the Arabian coast, with a range of smaller family-friendly activities available here.
  4. Visit the Emirates Golf Club - Play a round of Golf on this luxurious United Arab Emirates golf course.
  5. Outdoor Cinema - Relax and watch a film in the Dubai sun at the outdoor cinema located along the JBR beach. There is also an indoor cinema (Reel Cinemas located in the Dubai Marina Mall.

Are you allowed to drink in Dubai?

Now, if you enjoy a cheeky tipple or two when you are on your holidays, you could be forgiven for asking ‘Can I drink in Dubai?’, before heading out there on your next trip..

The good news is, yes, you can drink in Dubai. Be warned Dubai is incredibly strict when it comes to public drunkenness. It has a zero-tolerance policy on drinking in public places. including beaches.

But enjoying alcohol is perfectly legal, as long as you respect the culture and the rules that are in place.

So, with this in mind, the next question you might be asking is, ‘Where can I buy alcohol in Dubai?’. Again, the good news that tourists are allowed to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two in hotels, restaurants and bars attached to hotels, providing they have the correct licencing.

You are even allowed to drink in the privacy of your hotel room. To do this, you can either purchase from the hotel, or apply for an instant 30-day alcohol license. This permits you to buy alcohol from liquor stores in Dubai.

Be warned, alcohol prices are notoriously high in Dubai. So with that, and the strict laws around it, it might be best to limit yourself to one or two while there. After all, there are plenty of other activities to do!

Our Dubai Travel Tips

We hope you’ve found Dubai travel tips and the information on cheap things to do in Dubai. As well as things to do for families, couples and as a solo traveller interesting, informative and helpful.

With a little luck, you may even end up using some of this information on your next trip to the skyscrapers, ports, and beaches that is Dubai!

Don’t forget to subscribe and get our exclusive Moonsand holiday discounts straight to your inbox!

Take a look at the other destinations in our Alternate Travel Guide:

Things to do in New York
Things to do in Phuket
Things to do in Bangkok
Things to do in Paris

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