Destinations / Middle East & North Africa

How to See Dubai on a Budget: Money-Saving Tips & Hotels

Dubai is world-famous for its extravagance, from the sky-high rooftop bars and luxury designer outlets to the desert safaris and Lamborghini rentals. However, it’s still possible to experience this mecca of shopping, architecture and nightlife without going into debt. Whether you’re hitting those free-entry nightclubs, chilling in the parks or exploring the Old Quarter, Dubai has a range of budget-friendly activities.

With more than 400 million annual visitors to HotelsCombined, we’ve also found the best budget-friendly Dubai hotels. These great-value accommodations offer excellent locations, along with on-site dining, spacious suites and enticing leisure facilities.

Budget-Friendly Activities in Dubai

1. The Old Quarter

While a lot of attractions in Dubai cost a pretty penny, the Old Quarter is ideal for sightseeing on a budget. There are numerous attractions that you can explore for free (or close enough), including the famous Gold Souk, 19th-century Al Bastakiya Quarter and the Dubai Museum. There are also many cheap eats throughout the Old Quarter, including Arabic tea houses.

Dubai Old Quarter
2. Scope Out the Cheap Eats

Dubai’s fast-food scene isn’t the same as in Western countries. You’ll notice different names and very different cuisines on the menus, with burgers and wraps ranging from USD $2 to USD $4 at places like Antar Cafeteria and Eat and Drink. There are also reasonably priced chain restaurants, such as the USD $7 Arabic dishes at Reem Al Bawadi and USD $16 breakfast at Shakespeare and Co.

cheap eats in Dubai
3. Free-Entry Nightclubs

This is a lot easier for women in Dubai, as many clubs offer ladies nights with free entry and free drinks for female patrons. However, it’s possible for men to track down free-entry nightclubs in Dubai, including Soho Garden Dubai, Barasti and Vii Dubai. Alternatively, hang out at some of the bars, such as Barrels Sports Pub, Casa Latina and George & Dragon.

free-entry bars in Dubai
4. Running & Cycling Tracks

Staying active is always a budget-friendly activity while on holiday. Dubai is lined with cycling trails that make it easy to explore the city without spending a cent (okay, maybe a little on bicycle hire). If you don’t want to pay to hire a bicycle, simply jog along the coastline while admiring the beaches, architecture and fascinating people.

dubai running and cycling tracks
5. Public Beaches

Speaking of beaches, not all of Dubai’s beaches require you to purchase a sun lounger. The city’s public beaches are just as, if not more beautiful, such as the soft, white sand of Umm Suqeim Beach or the azure water of Al Mamzar Beach Park, which also has an amphitheatre, swimming pools and a grassed picnic area.

public beaches in dubai
6. Local Parks

If you’re sick of the sand and salty ocean spray, spend some time in one of Dubai’s verdant parks instead. Quranic Park is filled with beautiful greenery, including flowering plants, palm trees and orchards. Al Barsha Pond Park has a cushioned running track, outdoor gym equipment and children’s play areas, while Creek Park has various grassy areas for a picnic.

local parks in Dubai
7. Free Events

A city as enigmatic and multicultural as Dubai is never light on events. The official tourism website’s events calendar is the best source for free events throughout the year, including camel racing, kitesurfing and fishing competitions, aquabike racing and rowing championships.

camel racing in Dubai

Expensive Activities in Dubai

1. Drinking Alcohol

Dubai’s strict laws and taxes on alcohol make drinking while at bars, restaurants and clubs one of the city’s most expensive pastimes. Instead, you’re better of avoiding heavy nights of drinking. However, if you really want to partake in a few excess libations, check out the all-you-can-drink brunches, the Tuesday-night ladies nights and the 6pm happy hours.

drinking alcohol in dubai
2. Catching Taxis

Taxis and Ubers are going to rack up a significant holiday bill if you’re catching them everywhere. It’s a lot cheaper to use the Dubai Metro, which typically costs around USD $5 for a trip from Dubai International Airport into downtown. It’s also an above-ground line, so you can soak up the city sights as you travel.

metro in dubai
3. Shopping

Shopping is a big reason a lot of travellers visit Dubai, but there’s a lot of money to be saved by avoiding the big shopping centres, such as Dubai Mall. However, if you really need to scratch that itch, look for the more affordable retailers in the city, such as Dragon Mart, which has stores selling everything made and imported from China.

shopping in dubai

The Best Budget Hotels in Dubai from $42

Queen Elizabeth 2

Queen Elizabeth 2
Photo| Queen Elizabeth 2 | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Queen Elizabeth 2 is a retired cruise liner now permanently docked minutes from Dubai’s Old Quarter. The liner’s 50-plus years of history can be felt as you dine and drink at eight restaurants and bars, indulge in therapeutic treatments in the QE2 Spa and swim in the indoor pool. The hotel also has impressive views of Dubai’s skyline and the Persian Gulf.

Choose from 224 refurbished rooms and suites, which offer modern in-room entertainment and plush furnishings. The Standard Rooms are the most affordable and offer sea or city views, king-size beds, baths, tea and coffee and flat-screen TVs. Want a balcony? Upgrade to a Captain’s Club Room or splurge on the two-storey Duplex Suite.

Hotel Highlights 

  • The old-world glamour of the bar, The Golden Lion.
  • The interactive exhibition on the cruise liner’s rich history.
  • Local and international screenings at the 515-seat theatre.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 82 – USD 376
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: Mina Rashid, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Zabeel House by Jumeirah

Positioned next to the picturesque Dubai Creek, Zabeel House by Jumeirah is a hub of entertainment, comfort and gourmet dining. Many guests flock to the rooftop infinity pool, which has cushioned loungers and a bar serving snacks and cocktails. You can also work out in the gym or book a pampering massage at the spa.

Dine on the bank of Dubai Creek at Skafos, known for its traditional Greek, Italian and Spanish dishes. There’s also an international breakfast buffet at Nyon and fresh coffee at Chapters. Budget-conscious travellers might want to book the Popular Room, which has a king-size bed, mini fridge, flat-screen TV and a choice of views.

Hotel Highlights 

  • About 15 minutes’ walk from the Burjuman metro station.
  • Inviting, high-tech meeting rooms with Nespresso machines.
  • The Dubai Creek views and handcrafted cocktails at the rooftop pool.

Star Rating: No Rating
Price: USD 75 – USD 246
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: Al Seef Street Building A, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Al Seef Heritage Hotel

Al Seef Hotel
Photo| Al Seef Heritage Hotel | Provided by LEONARDO

Immerse yourself in Dubai’s history while staying at the heritage Al Seef Heritage Hotel, where the century-old traditional Arabian homes meet the calm water of Dubai Creek. These buildings overlook the rooftops and courtyards of nearby souks and even have their own wind towers. Inside, you can rest comfortably in a Deluxe Creek Room with a king-size bed, Smart TV and Nespresso machine.

On-site dining highlights the region’s traditional flavours with authentic Arabic dishes at Saba’a, which serves home-cooking recipes. Right outside you’ll find a range of affordable cafes and restaurants, including Baba Mahmoud, Yuki No Hana and Khofo Restaurant & Cafe. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • About 15 minutes’ walk from the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Historical District.
  • Heritage accommodation right on Dubai Creek.
  • Spacious Deluxe Souk Rooms with Middle Eastern decor and sofa beds.

Star Rating: No Rating
Price: USD 94 – USD 271
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: Al Seef Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Fraser Suites Dubai

Fraser Suites Dubai
Photo| Fraser Suites Dubai | Provided by LEONARDO

HotelsCombined visitors rave about the spacious and affordable rooms at Fraser Suites Dubai. Get the most out of your travel budget by staying in the 40-square-metre Deluxe Room, which has a sitting area, plush bedding, flat-screen TV, work desk, shower bath and a Nespresso Machine. Spend a little more on the Premier Room if you want a balcony.

Just minutes from the famed Palm Jumeirah, the hotel complements its excellent location with an expansive swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers and a cafe. You can also play tennis, work out in the gym and book a massage at Armonia Spa. Children can enjoy games and activities in the kids’ club, while everyone will love the grilled platters at Absolute Barbecues.

Hotel Highlights 

  • Located near Jebel Ali Racecourse and the public Al Sufouh Beach.
  • Has self-contained apartments with multiple bedrooms, full kitchens and living and dining areas.
  • The sandwiches, pastries and cakes served at Serai Lounge.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 74 – USD 795
Guest Rating: 8.7
Address: Sidra Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Sufouh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai

Looking for budget accommodation in Dubai? You’ll be hard-pressed finding more affordable rooms than those at the 3-star Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai, which offer surprising value for money with its central location and on-site facilities. The latter include a fully-equipped gym and a rooftop swimming pool with plush loungers and cocktail service. It also has two cafes, two restaurants and a sports bar.

The Standard rooms have twin or double beds, along with work desks, baths, LCD TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi and tea and coffee. Families can also book interconnecting rooms. Just around the corner is a small cluster of supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, including Caspian Kabab and Walkers Juice Shop. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • The rooftop swimming pool and cocktail service.
  • About 15 minutes’ walk from ADCB Metro Station 1.
  • Indian delicacies at Claypot and various Asian cuisines at Sizzling Wok.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: USD 42 – USD 133
Guest Rating: 7.7
Address: Mankhool and Kuwait Street, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Novotel Deira City Centre

Novotel Dubai Deira City Centre
Photo| Novotel Deira City Centre | Provided by LEONARDO

Part of the City Centre Deira shopping, entertainment and transport hub, the 4-star Novotel Deira City Centre offers exceptional Dubai accommodation without breaking the bank. The Standard Room is ideal for friends with two single beds, a sofa bed, work desk and mini fridge. The Superior Room, meanwhile, has a double bed instead of two singles. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, tea and coffee and modern bathrooms.

On-site dining showcases international flavours alongside Arabic recipes at Tala Restaurant. You can also sip cocktails on loungers by the outdoor pool, work out in the 24-hour fitness centre or use the business corner. The hotel also offers free shuttles to Al Mamzar Beach and is minutes’ walk from Deira City Centre Metro Station 2. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • Has babysitting services and a kids’ club for children over 12 years old.
  • Connected to the shops, cinema and restaurants at City Centre Deira.
  • Has three restaurants and bars and four meeting rooms.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 94 – USD 267
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: 8th Street, Front of Deira City Centre Mall, PO Box 185310, Port Saeed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat

Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat
Photo| Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat | Provided by ICE PORTAL

Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Al Muraqabat showcases the world-renowned Hilton standard of value, luxury and service. The rooftop pool is particularly intoxicating with its city views, but there’s also a business centre, full gym and snack corner. And let’s not forget about the traditional meals served at The Garden Grille & Bar.

The best budget-friendly accommodation is the King Room, which has a king-size bed, ergonomic work desk, HDTV, mini fridge and coffee and tea. There’s also an affordable Twin Room for friends, which families can interconnect with the King Room to create spacious two-bedroom accommodation. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • About 950 metres from the Al Rigga metro station.
  • The rooftop pool and full gym.
  • Cocktails, wine and soft drinks served at The Garden Grille & Bar.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 78 – USD 233
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: Abu Baker Al Siddique Road, Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Novotel Dubai Al Barsha

Novotel Dubai Al Barsha
Photo| Novotel Dubai Al Barsha | Provided by ICE PORTAL

The 4-star Novotel Dubai Al Barsha offers central and affordable accommodations, mere metres from the Sharaf DG metro stop. The hotel caters to business and leisure travellers with its 11 flexible meeting rooms, well-equipped fitness centre, outdoor heated pool and pampering day spa.

It also serves international cuisine at its on-site restaurant, 365 All Day Dining, and Caribbean snacks and tropical cocktails at its poolside bar on the 7th floor. The Superior Room is the most affordable option with a double bed or two twin beds. It also boasts lounge seating, a work desk, free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • The rooftop pool with a bar and loungers.
  • Activities and games at the on-site kids’ club.
  • Free daily shuttles to shopping malls and beaches.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 94 – USD 480
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Opposite Sharaf DG Metro Station, Sheikh Zayed Road, Barsha 1, Al Barsha, Emirate of Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Xclusive Hotel Apartments

The central Xclusive Hotel Apartments is located in the historic downtown Bur Dubai area near various metro stops, restaurants, bars and attractions. The one and two-bedroom apartments offer affordable self-contained accommodation in Dubai. They feature full kitchenettes, private balconies, flat-screen TVs, lounge areas and washing machines.

Don’t miss out experiencing the rooftop pool, where you can relax on a sun lounger while sipping on cocktails. There’s also a well-equipped fitness centre and various meeting rooms with state-of-the-art presentation technology. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • About one kilometre from the BurJuman shopping mall.
  • The rooftop pool and sun terrace.
  • Self-contained apartments with living rooms and kitchenettes.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 85 – USD 278
Guest Rating: 8
Address: Street 17B, Behind Spinneys, next to Burjuman Mall, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai

Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai
Photo| Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai | Provided by LEONARDO

Located next to the Nad Al Sheba Horse Course and Sheikh Rashid Hall conference centre, the 4-star Novotel World Trade Centre Dubai guarantees comfort and convenience for a low price. The Superior Double and Twin rooms come with LCD TVs, lounge seating, complimentary Wi-Fi and mini bars, while the Family option has two additional single beds.

You can dine on a variety of international dishes at Entre Nous Restaurant or purchase coffee and mocktails from Cafe Cream. Watch live jazz and blues at Blue Bar, relax by the outdoor pool or work out in the fitness centre.

Hotel Highlights

  • The 12 high-tech meeting rooms with support staff.
  • Has a sauna and massage treatments.
  • The Smoked Scottish Salmon and Pan Fried Scallops at Entre Nous Restaurant.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 98 – USD 353
Guest Rating: 7.9
Address: Zabeel Road 2nd, PO Box 9622, Trade Centre 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa

Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa
Photo| Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa | Provided by LEONARDO

The award-winning Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa is located on the edge of the historic Al Souq Al Kabeer neighbourhood. It offers a range of luxe services, including a beauty salon, sauna, Jacuzzi, outdoor pool, full gym and 24-hour room service. You can also book body treatments and massages at Zaitoon Spa and dine at seven on-site lounges and restaurants.

The affordable Classic Room has a king-size bed or two twins, along with a work desk, mini bar, tea and coffee and traditional decor. You can also upgrade for views of the historic Dubai Museum’s sandstone facade. 

Hotel Highlights 

  • The Mediterranean and Egyptian dishes at Pharaoh Café & Restaurant.
  • Live entertainment and sport at Sherlock Holmes English Pub.
  • A few minutes’ walk from gold dealers in Al Souq Al Kabeer.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 102 – USD 206
Guest Rating: 8.4
Address: Al Fahidi Street, Opposite Dubai Museum, Dubai City Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

FORM Hotel Dubai

FORM Hotel Dubai
Photo| FORM Hotel Dubai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

A member of the prestigious Design Hotels group, FORM Hotel Dubai has a stylish Cozy Queen room with a custom-designed pillow-top mattress, lounge seating and a rain shower. You can also upgrade to a king-size bed or a book an Ideal Twin for two twin beds.

The hotel has a rooftop gym and offers private yoga sessions, while the pool area is ideal for relaxing in the sun. Business travellers will appreciate the 10-seat boardroom with video conferencing.

Hotel Highlights

  • The rooftop half-length Olympic swimming pool.
  • Runs bespoke art and foodie tours.
  • A short walk from the Al Jadaf metro stop.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: USD 94 – USD 271
Guest Rating: No Rating
Address: Al Jaddaf, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Hotel Location

Explore Dubai on a Budget

It’s easy to experience Dubai on a budget thanks to the city’s free events, bargain shopping areas and convenient metro system. The range of affordable Dubai hotels allow you stick to your travel budget, offering enticing extras, such as rooftop pools, gourmet restaurants, gyms and day spas.

Where do you want to stay in Dubai? Let us know in the comments below.

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