15 free things to do with kids in Dubai

Pet animals, go camping, explore souks, see a miracle and more


We know how easy it is to spend money in Dubai, so we’ve rounded up a selection of wallet-friendly things for you and the sprogs to enjoy, that are all free!

Splash around at Dubai Marina Walk
As well as boasting spectacular views of yachts and palm trees, Dubai Marina Walk has fun walk-through fountains (located near Spinneys and Starbucks). Pack an extra set of dry clothes and allow the tykes to get wet, running through the fountains, while you enjoy people watching in the pretty surroundings.

Take a walk around Safa park
If the monsters are driving you up the wall, why not bring them to Safa Park to burn off some excess energy. With a specially designed running circuit around its outer edge; after a couple of laps of the 3.5km (approx) track, you won’t have any trouble getting hyperactive kids to go to bed! Open 24 hours.

Visit cute animals at The Animal Sanctuary & Petting Farm
This non-profit organisation provides a home for hundreds of cute animals including porcupines, ponies, cockatoos, deer, cows, flamingos, baboons, ducks, guinea pigs, kinkajou, ferrets, goats, cows and more, which have been rescued or donated to the farm. Kids’ have the ultimate opportunity to get to know the animals, as they are allowed to feed, stroke and cuddle them. Free. Donations welcome. Open Daily from 9am-7pm. www.poshpawsdubai.com (050 273 0973).

Stroll around the world’s biggest mall
With all its different areas, walking around the Dubai Mall is a great way to exercise and keep the nippers entertained for a few hours. Don’t forget to visit the aquarium; a huge section of the tank is exposed to the public to view for free, offering a brilliant photo opportunity to take pictures of its fascinating sea creatures. Be warned though: we can’t promise that you won’t spend any money at the abundance of tempting shops! www.thedubaimall.com (04 362 7500).

Chill out at JBR
JBR is a tourist hotspot that lures people from all over the world to enjoy its surroundings that include a beach and a vast array of shop and cafes. Entry to the beach is free, although do bear in mind that there aren’t any facilities such as toilets or showers; however, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby. Pack a towel, some snacks, and don’t forget your sunscreen!

Watch Dubai Fountains water show
Take the kiddies to watch a dazzling display of water action at the world’s largest dancing fountain. The sprogs will be amazed at the mesmerising show where water spurts to reach heights of 500ft, dancing to a mix of rhythmic Arabic and international beats. Free. Afternoon shows at 1pm and 1.30pm. Evening shows Sun-Wed 6pm-11pm, Thurs-Sat 6pm-11.30pm www.thedubaimall.com (04 362 7500).

Discover Bastakiya District
Give the kids a taste of old Dubai with a trip to Bastakiya District. Established towards the end of the 19th century by textile and pearl traders from Bastak, Iran, it attracts tourists to view its traditional architecture, trendy galleries and cafes. There are options to experience various guided tours, however there is a charge for this service. For information on guided tours visit www.cultures.ae.

Visit Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
Bring the brood to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary where you can discover hundreds of magnificent birds, including plenty of pink flamingos. It’s best to visit in the morning between 9am-9.30am, as during this time, you have a better chance to see them feeding. Entry to Ras Al Khor’s flamingo hide is free. Open Sat-Thurs 9am-4pm. www.wildlife.ae (04 606 6822).

Go camping in the desert
Providing you already have the necessities (tent, BBQ, food supplies), camping is a fantastic and free way to see and stay in different parts of Dubai. The more the merrier is the motto, so round up the kids, invite your friends and head off to a sandy location of your choice; don’t forget to bring a torch and toilet roll to avoid drama!

Observe the light and sound show at Wafi Mall
Egyptian themed Wafi Mall puts on a spectacular light and sound show every day. Take the kids’ and watch their facial expressions light up when they see the pyramid shaped building come to life with lights projected across it, accompanied to music, creating a unique performance. Free. Daily at 8pm and 9.30pm. www.wafi.com (04 324 4555).

Feed the turtles at Madinat Jumeriah
There’s more to Madinat Jumeriah than restaurants, bars and luxurious hotels, as it is also home to cute turtles! What’s more, twice a week, there are regular turtle feeding sessions that the kiddies can enjoy. Free. Every Wednesday at 11am and Friday at 1pm.

Explore Deira Gold Souk
Renowned for enticing visitors from all over the world, Deira Gold Souk plays host to different cultures, all in search of a unique treasure. It’s fascinating to experience the vibrant souk atmosphere, while window shopping, gazing at the eye-catching offerings of gold, diamonds, rubies and all that glitters.

Walk around Dubai Miracle Garden
In true Dubai style, a country that prides itself on having the biggest and best, the soon to be opened Miracle Garden holds a Guinness World Record for The Largest Vertical Garden. You’re bound to be captivated by the presentation of 45,000,000 colourful flowers in spectacular shapes and sizes. The garden is currently undergoing a new development phase that is set to open in October, with new facilities including a kids’ play area. Kids under three free. Dhs20 for three plus. Al Barsha www.the-miracle-garden.com (04 422 8902).

Visit Khan Mourjan
Inspired by an ancient 14th century souk in Baghdad, Khan Mourjan provides an authentic souk experience in the comfort of an air conditioned setting. The souk is divided into sections which draw inspiration from different parts of the world including Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Morocco. Its attractive decor features a stained glass window ceiling reminiscent of many of mosques in the Islamic world that is interesting to see. www.wafi.com (04 324 4555).

Play at Marina Walk
Underneath many of the bridges at Dubai Marina Walk, you’ll find plenty of parents and nippers making the most of the free playground facilities. It’s a good opportunity for the kids to make friends while you socialise with other parents.

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