Beat the heat: 11 free things to do indoors in Dubai

It’s getting toasty out there…

Summer is officially here and if you don’t want to spend much time outdoors, head to these fun indoor spots to kill the time, and the best news? It’s all free.

Here are 10 free things to do indoors in Dubai 

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Dubai Mall Dubai Aquarium

Dubai Mall is home to plenty of stores perfect for those who want to shop and it is also home to the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. The 10-million litre tank is located on the ground floor of the mall and is filled with sharks and rays and thousands of other aquatic animals, comprising over 140 species. You can head inside the aquarium for a cost, but the view from outside is equally fascinating and always nabs the attention of visitors.

Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, open daily 10am to 1am. Tel: (800) 3822 46255.  thedubaiaquarium.com

Chinatown Dubai Mall


Chinatowns across the world – from New York to London – have served as hubs of community, love and culture. And when walking these streets, one thing is abundantly clear: the area’s restaurants are a key part of what keeps the heartbeat of Chinatown pulsing. Can Dubai’s very own fully indoor Chinatown recreate that same magic? It’s certainly giving it a shot with a wave of new restaurants opening up, including Haidilao Hot Pot, Singaporean import Hawker Chan, and Ri Hua Xuan, the restaurant said to have invented the inimitable xiao long bao soup dumpling. You can enter Chinatown Dubai Mall for free and check out the cool interiors.

Chinatown Dubai Mall, opposite Dubai Ice Rink, daily 10am to midnight. thedubaimall.com

Dubai Fountains

boardwalk dubai fountain

Plenty of restaurants at Dubai Mall offer a view of the popular Dubai Fountains. Pick a window seat and enjoy your meal and a show for free. The mesmerizing fountains ‘dance’ to the music of  Andrea Bocelli, Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias and Celine Dion. It’s one of the best free things to do in Dubai – trust us.

Downtown Dubai, open daily 10am to 1am. Tel: (800) 3822 46255. thedubaimall.com

Dubai Coffee Museum

dubai coffee museum

The largest coffee museum in the Middle East is located in Dubai in the Al Fahidi Historical District. It showcases various antique items illustrating regional and international coffee history and culture. You will get to experience different regional styles of coffee including the local Arabic style, Ethiopian style, Japanese style and more. You can sit back and sip on coffee as you get educated in the cosy space.

Dubai Coffee Museum, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bastakiya, Villa 44, Dubai, Tel: (0)4 353 8777. @coffeemuseum

Dubai Festival City


Check out the Imagine Show at Dubai Festival City if you want something more than a dancing fountain. The show has earned two Guinness World Records and includes lasers, light, fire and water to tell remarkable, dynamic stories. And it’s free for you to watch. You can brave the humidity and watch it outdoors, or pick a restaurant and watch it while staying cool. Find out more information here or you can stay up to date on the schedule on @dubaifestivalcitymall

Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai Festival City,  dubaifestivalcitymall.com

Jameel Art Centre

Jameel arts centre - things to do in Dubai

Jameel Arts Centre is a beautiful white building that sits at the south edge of Jaddaf Waterfront. Within the building are unassuming light-filled rooms, bordered by white walls and punctuated by little gardens. These are the hard facts that describe Jameel Arts Centre but they fail to do justice to a gallery space that has become a staple of showcasing contemporary arts in the Middle East. While you’re there, make dinner plans to at Green Michelin Star restaurant Teible for some stunning dishes that celebrate local produce.

Jameel Arts Centre, Jaddaf Waterfront, Mon to Sun 10am to 8pm, Fri noon to 9pm (Tue closed), free. Tel: (0)4 873 9800. @jameelartscentre

Mercato Mall slide

The slide at Mercato Mall on Jumeira Beach Road is back thanks to the return of Dubai Summer Surprises. If you find yourself in the area or shopping at the mall, don’t be shy as you can get your thrills on the slide for free. Upon exit, you will find yourself in a small ball pit where you can snap a fun photo for the ‘Gram. The best news? Both little ones and adults are welcome. Dubai Summer Surprises ends on September 1, so head over before it’s too late.

Mercato Mall, Jumeira Beach Road, free, until Sept 1, @mercatomall 

Mohammed bin Rashid Library

Mohammed Bin Rashid Library - new indoor activity in Dubai

Love reading? The eye-catching Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, the biggest library in the Arab world is the place to be. Inside, you will find a general library space, a young adult’s library, a (colourful) children’s library, a library dedicated to maps and atlases, a media and art library, a business library, an Emirates library, and more. Inside, you will also find a space showcasing an impressive collection of rare and old books in Treasure of the Library. Stay tuned to their social media for events such as movie screenings, workshops, and more.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Al Jaddaf, Dubai, Mon to Sat 9am to 9pm, Fri 2am to 9pm, Tel: (0)4 222 2025. @mbrlae

Alserkal Avenue: Nostalgia Classic Cars

nostalgia classic car free things to do in dubai

Motorheads, this one is for you. Nostalgia Classic Cars in Alserkal Avenue restores and sells classic cars. Their showroom is also filled with Ferraris, BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes from all over the world – guaranteed to make your jaw drop.

Nostalgia Classic Cars, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Sat to Thur 12pm to 8pm, Fri 12pm to 3.30pm. Tel: (04) 321 1757. nostalgiaclassiccars.ae

Alserkal Avenue: Art galleries


Alserkal Avenue is home to several beautiful art galleries and they are all free to visit. All you would need is an umbrella to shade you from the sun as you weave your way through Alserkal’s lanes. You can even avail of a two-hour free valet service at Alserkal Avenue over the summer, and there’s a cute little tuk-tuk available the whole day to take you to your destination within the Avenue. You can stay up to date with all their exhibitions on @alserkalavenue. Want to brave the heat and explore Alserkal further? Here’s a neighbourhood guide to see what else you can get up to.

Sheikh Zayed Road


Above: Photo by @alphaspotting

From taking in the beautiful architecture of the Museum of the Future to catching the tip of Burj Khalifa peeking out from the skyline and seeing the Dubai Frame – this concrete jungle is guaranteed to wow you even as you drive past it in a car.

Images: What’s On and supplied