15 of the best budget-friendly outdoor activities in Dubai
There are plenty of ways to make the most of Dubai’s glorious winter weather…
Whether you’d prefer to stay close to the city or head into the desert, here are some of the best outdoor activities in Dubai that cost little to nothing…
Hop on a Dhs1 abra ride in Old Dubai
The Dhs1 abra rides in old Dubai should be on everyone’s UAE bucket list – at least once. They are a great way to explore both sides to the historic old town – from Deira to Bur Dubai. Many locals use the boats to get from point A to point B and avoid traffic but it is a charming experience, especially if you go around sunset.
Spot flamingos at Ras al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is located just a few minutes’ drive from Dubai Mall. More than 20,000 birds of 67 species inhabit the area, which is most famous for its magnificent flock of flamingos. To see them, head to one of three viewing hides dotted around the perimeter of the sanctuary. The sanctuary is free to enter, and is open from 7.30am to 5.30pm during the winter season, and from 6am to 6pm between April and September.
Cycle down Meydan track
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Cycle or run along this picturesque track in Dubai overlooking the iconic skyline. You can hire hybrid bikes from Dhs50 per hour and Dhs80 for two hours, or road bikes from Dhs70 and Dhs99 for two hours. All bike rentals come with a helmet, light, bottle holder and phone holder. The rental store and café is open from 5am to 11pm daily.
Splash around in Dubai Hills park
Located within walking distance from Dubai Hills Mall, this green space is the perfect place to spend the day outdoors, unwind, and explore. There’s a skate park, toddler park, older children’s park, a dog park, sports’ courts, splash pad, wave pool, and plenty of green space to run around. The park is free, apart from the splash pool which costs Dhs60 to enter.
Visit one of Dubai’s outdoor markets
The Ripe Market takes place at the Academy Park every year from October to May. Founded as a way of sourcing seasonal and local products, Ripe was created to bring the freshest and tastiest produce for residents to enjoy. The market takes place on Saturdays and Sundays, with an entrance fee of Dhs5. There’s a range of organic eateries, stalls filled with home décor, and jewellery, plus workshops, live entertainment, a children’s park, and more.
The Ripe Market, Academy Park, Al Sufouh, 9am to 9pm Sat, 9am to 7pm Sun, from October 15 until May 14. Tel: (ripeevents.com
Go camping in the desert
It’s officially camping season. Pack up the car and head out of the city to the beautiful Dubai desert. Beginners can set up camp in Al Qudra near the Love Lakes while more seasoned campers can head to the sand dunes of Liwa. Wherever you go, you’re bound to make memories to last a lifetime. Don’t forget the marshmallows!
Head to Hatta for a day of adventure
Hatta is one of our favourite spots for escaping the city with a myriad of adventures on your doorstep. From mountain biking to waterslides, a honey bee farm to a swan lake, it is the ultimate adventure haven. There’s an affordable new way to get to Hatta from Dubai: the Hatta Express Bus from Dubai Mall costs only Dhs25 per person and only takes one and a half hours. On arrival in Hatta, there’s the Hop On and Off bus from Hatta bus station to transport visitors around the main attractions, for just Dhs2.
Enjoy a local lunch on Jumeirah beach
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Those who enjoy walking along Jumeirah 3 beach, will have probably passed the quaint Tent Jumeirah Restaurant. The local Emirati restaurant on the beach has some of the best views of the Burj al Arab as well as old Emirati fisherman memorabilia. Enjoy their fresh juices (Dhs21), seafood dishes, and traditional chicken shawarma (Dhs22) while relaxing in the sand.
Explore the Mangrove Beach in Umm Al Quwain
Roughly an hour from Dubai, this secret beach opened to the public in 2020 and is perfect for a beach day. With public amenities, you can rent kayaks, paddle-boards and when you get hungry there is a cafe where you can grab a snack. You and your loved ones can paddle in the water, snorkel or just kick back and relax on the sand. It’s Dhs20 to enter with your car, and you can camp here overnight for a fee of Dhs100. If you want to make a proper day out of it, you can also BBQ here as long as you leave the beach untouched upon departure. Guests won’t have to leave their fur babies at home, with this beach being pet-friendly.
Pedal boats in Al Barsha Pond Park
Located next to Al Barsha Mall, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained at Al Barsha Park. Open from 8am daily, there’s a cushioned 1.5 kilometre running track and accompanying cycling path, both of which encircle the lake. There’s also basketball courts, gym equipment, bicycle hire, children’s play areas, bouncy castles, and pedal boats for hire.
Check out Dubai’s newest public beach
A new public beach has opened to families and their pups on Dubai Islands. Bragging pristine shoreline and crystal clear waters, the new, free-to-access, public beach is open from sunrise to sunset. You’ll find it on Dubai’s northern shoreline past Port Rashid, just a hop, skip, and jump from Centara Mirage Beach Resort and Hotel Riu Dubai. Best news? Your four-legged companion can splish and splash in the water to their hearts’ content.
Dubai Islands Beach, Dubai Islands, near Deira past Port Rashid, open daily all day long, free. @dubaiislandsbeach
Take a hike
In June, a new 10km hiking trail opened to the public in Dubai’s Mushrif National Park. The free-to-use trail is open year-round and, with multiple tracks, is suitable for everyone from beginners to seasoned hikers. The mountain trail features public restrooms, safety instructions, signage with directions, and rest areas as well as sculptures, stairways, bridges, and slopes to provide hikers with the best views of Mushrif Park’s landscape and wildlife.
Watch the sunset from Palm Jumeirah’s corniche
Whether you’re walking, running, cycling, rollerskating, or having a picnic on the wall – nothing beats the sunset from Palm Jumeirah’s corniche.
Travel the world at Global Village
Returning for its 28th season, Global Village returns this October 18 for six months. Year after year, Global Village receives millions of visitors from all around the globe who check out the park’s vibrant atmosphere, captivating shows, delectable cuisines, and unique shopping opportunities. Entry tickets are priced at Dhs20 (Sunday to Thursday) and Dhs25 (Friday and Saturday) or you can get them online beforehand for Dhs18 and Dhs22.50 respectively.
Global Village, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road E 311, @globalvillageuae
A lake in the desert? No, it’s not a mirage, it’s real! Love Lakes is perhaps one of the most well-known man-made lakes in Dubai. The interlocking hearts have garnered plenty of interest since it was first revealed a few years ago. The Love Lakes can be found in Al Qudra Oasis and are best seen from an aerial view. On land, whether you’re picnicking, walking or taking in the sunset, it’s certainly a wonderful UAE nature spot to do it in. Nearby at Al Qudra Lakes, you’ll find plenty of flamingos, ducks and swans.