3-Day Dubai Itinerary on a Budget
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Dubai is, without a doubt, one of the most luxurious cities in the world. Furthermore, with its many sights and attractions at every turn, the city has enough spectacles to keep you entertained for weeks. Even for unmarried couples, if your curious about hotels check this article out. Check this ! However, if you are strapped for both time and money, here is the ultimate 3-day Dubai itinerary to rule them all.
For three days, you can see and do a lot in Dubai. However, for the budget-conscious, you have cause to be wary about Dubai, as the city can be quite expensive if you don’t know where to visit.
Our recommended visits for a 3-day Dubai itinerary on a budget include:
- Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Dubai Mall
- Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Fountain Show
- The Souks
- Dubai Miracle Garden
- Dubai Museum
- Jumeirah Mosque
- The Dubai Frame
- Palm Jumeirah
- Desert Safaris
With this plan, you get to see many of the popular free sites in Dubai on day one, experience the culture on day 2, and sample all the fun and adventure the city has on offer on your last day.
Read on to get full details of each of these sites, your expected expenditure, and other tips and tricks to help you get the best Dubai experience possible.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
- Location: Financial Center Rd, Along Sheik Zayed road, next to Burj Khalifa tower, Dubai
- Open: 10AM-12AM, everyday
- Cost: Free
While Dubai is a bustling city that promises an abundance of urban attractions, one of the best ways to start any trip is with a healing taste of nature. In Dubai, one of the best places to get this is the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, a reserve in the city that showcases a choice selection of its wildlife.
The Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a wetland that serves as a home for many migratory birds like flamingos, one of the site’s main attractions. Here, you can also find massive populations of other birds, fish, small mammals, and crustaceans.
This wetland reserve sits a short distance away from the city center, offering a sweet reprieve from the urban jungle and an excellent spot to unwind.
One of the only few protected zones in the city, the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, is of great importance both to Dubai and on a global scale. The reserve is recognized as a critical bird area by BirdLife International, as a crucial wetland by the Ramsar Convention, and also as an International Heritage Site.
The Dubai Mall
- Location: Financial Center Rd, Along Sheik Zayed road, next to Burj Khalifa tower, Dubai
- Open: 10AM-12AM, everyday
- Cost: Free
Dubai is arguably the shopping capital of the world, and no one structure encapsulates this better than The Dubai Mall, a 12 million square foot landmark that is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area.
Home to over 1,200 retail stores, more than a hundred restaurants, and several eye-catching attractions like a massive aquarium and an Olympic standard ice rink, it is no surprise that the Dubai Mall is the first pitstop for many tourists visiting the city.
The Dubai Mall embodies the shopping spirit of Dubai, with everything from brand name stores like Versace, Burberry, and Alexander McQueen to a massive network of jewelry shops in the Mall’s Gold Souk. However, shopping is just one of the things you can do here, as the mall features attractions and eye-catching sights from end-to-end.
For the budget traveler, strolling around the mall can be a warm welcome to Dubai life as it is entirely free to enter. However, the many attractions in the mall aren’t, and you will have to reach for your wallet if you want to enjoy them.
Some of the most popular attractions at the Dubai Mall include:
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
This aquarium is a thing of magnificence, as it is one of the largest indoor aquariums in the world. The massive showcase is home to more than 30,000 animals from over 100 different species in an enclosure that can take up to 10 million liters of liquid.
- Ticket: Starts at AED 90
The Dubai Mall Ice Rink
In the mood for some skating? The Dubai mall ice rink features Olympic standard facilities for some of the best fun the mall has on offers. The arena is available to both children and adults, and you can learn skating, take courses, or host birthday parties here.
- Ticket: Starts at AED 75
The VR Park
Tech heads will immediately gravitate towards the VR Park as it is home to the most elaborate assortment of virtual reality experience you have ever seen. An instant hit with both kids and adults, this theme park is an excellent place to have fun.
- Ticket: Day pass goes for AED 150. Alternatively, you can pay for individual attractions at AED 35 apiece.
Whether you are interested in paleontology, or just want to see a grand relic of prehistoric times, the Dubai Dino. This massive 155-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton is that of a Diplodocus Longus from the Jurassic period. The dinosaur skeleton is on display at all times near the center of the mall.
- Ticket: Free
If you have kids on your entourage, Kidanza is a must-see. This interactive experience is a massive city replica that treats children to a Sims-like experience of adult life, creating an avenue where they can sharpen their analytical and creative skills while having the best fun time.
- Ticket: starts at AED 160
The Burj Khalifa
- Location: 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai
- Open: 24 hours
- Cost: Free
Once you finish with all of the excitement of the mall, step outside, and you immediately meet one of Dubai’s most prominent sights, the Burj Khalifa. This massive building is the world’s tallest human-made structure at a staggering 2,716.5 feet.
You can choose to enjoy the magnificence of this beautiful edifice from ground level for free or get a spectacular view of the city from any of the building’s observation decks.
The Burj Khalifa has three observation decks on the 124th, 125th, and 148th floors, from where you can get a striking view of the city as well as a top view of the Dubai Fountains which sits at the foot of the skyscraper.
However, the Burj Khalifa is a tourist magnet, attracting hundreds of people at all times of the day, so if you plan on getting a view from the observation deck, we recommend that you pre-book tickets online to avoid the physical queues.
- Ticket: Starts at AED 150
Dubai Fountain Show
- Location: 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai
- Open: 6:00 PM-11:00 PM, every day
- Cost: Free
After a long day of exploring the mall and skies from atop the Burj Khalifa, there is no better way to end the day than to catch the amazing waterworks at the foot of the skyscraper. The spectacular water show is the second largest in the world, a wonder to behold, and a must-see on any Dubai trip.
The breathtaking choreographed show includes amazing lightwork, beautiful music, and water fountains that move to match the rhythms of the sounds while shooting up as high as 100 feet into the air. Without a doubt, everyone should see this stunning sight at least once.
The Dubai fountain show starts every evening from 6:00 PM, with a complete show happening every 30 minutes until 11:00 PM. However, for the best experience, we recommend that you should join the event by 8:00 PM or later, as the show comes to its lively best in the dark of night.
When most people think of Dubai, and its famed commerce sector, the default picture that comes up is a sprawl of modern malls and outlets for every designer brand under the sun. However, Dubai’s status as a trade city is not a recent phenomenon.
Dubai has served as a significant commerce node along the Silk Route for centuries, and the proof lies in its history-rich souks. Here, you will find a picture-perfect mix of traditional Dubai culture and aesthetics, and all forms of merchants, ever-ready for an energetic haggling bout.
The most popular souks you should visit in Dubai include:
The Gold Souk
The Gold Souk in Deira Dubai is the most famous market in the city, and one of the best places to buy gold jewelry in the world. Whether you are seeking big-ticket lifestyle pieces or unique everyday accessories, you will be spoilt for choice in this beautiful bazaar.
- Popular items: Jewelry, gold, silver, and gemstones
The Perfume Souk
East of the Gold Souk, you will find the Perfume Souk that offers the best in traditional Arabian fragrances. Choose from thousands of scents from the many exotic shops, request your personalized fragrance, or just stroll around enjoying the heady scents of this colorful souk.
- Popular items: Fragrances, custom perfumes
The Spice Souk
South of the Gold Souk is the Spice Souk, another of Dubai’s world-famous traditional markets. Here, you will find a massive array of exotic herbs and spices from across Asia for a fraction of the price you will find them anywhere else.
- Popular items: Spices
The Textile Souk
When you finish exploring the souks of Deira, crossing the Creek with a short boat ride will land you in the Textile Souk, a collection of shops that offers the most elegant selection of fabrics anywhere in the city.
- Popular items: Kashmiri, hand-woven fabrics, souvenirs
Dubai Miracle Garden
- Location: Al Barsha South 3 – Dubai
- Open: 9:00 PM-11:00 PM, November-April
- Cost: 10 AED for adults, 5 AED for children (2-12 years), and free for children below two years
Take a break from Dubai highrise towers of concrete and steel with the Dubai Miracle Garden, a site of supreme natural beauty. Since it measures almost 800,000 square feet, this garden is the most extensive natural flower garden on the planet.
On the grounds, you will find groups of flower plants arranged to mimic animals, significant landmarks, and all forms of beautiful objects like airplanes and ships, with something for everyone.
The Dubai Miracle Garden is a vibrant, colorful spectacle that both children and adults love, and it is a must-visit for anyone new to Dubai. However, the grand is only open from October to April, as it stays on lockdown from May to September because higher temperatures in those months increase the risk of flower damage.
- Location: Al Fahidi Fort, Bur Dubai
- Open: 8:30 AM-8:30 PM Saturday to Thursday, 02:30 PM-08:30 PM Friday
- Cost: 3 AED for adults, 1 AED for children
Do you fancy seeing Dubai before the skyscrapers and the buzz of modern city life, then you are in luck. The Dubai Museum offers a detailed excursion into life in Dubai before the discovery of oil and the rapid urbanization of the city.
At the museum, you will find large dioramas designed to replicate the life of everyday Dubai people of old, with scenes from the souk, traditional houses, the Creek, and the desert. The galleries showcase the general culture of the region with both recent items and artifacts that date as far back as the 1800s.
Furthermore, you can get a more immersive feel for the progression of the city with a timelapse video that chronicles the layout of Dubai from the 1960s to around 2007.
Cartography enthusiasts as well get some love from the showcase, with massive maps of the old city, as well as others that show the progression of the urban landscape over the years.
Also, visitors get a taste of Dubai’s animal life with the depiction of both camels and wild animals of the desert and the sea. On the other hand, a representation of an archeologist, as well as the presence of excavated skeletons and other archeological finds, pay homage to everyday activities in these parts.
At the far end of the museum’s compound, you will find another eye-catching edifice, the Al Fahidi Fort, a functional guard tower from ancient Dubai. Initially constructed in 1787, reports claim that the fort is the oldest building still standing in Dubai today.
Once you finish exploring the grounds, an excellent way to end your visit is a gift shop that sits close to the southern exit of the museum.
- Location: Bur Dubai
- Open: 10 AM and 2 PM, except Fridays
- Cost: 35 AED
Jumeirah Mosque offers you an opportunity to learn about Islam, the religion of the region while touring one of the beautiful mosques on the planet. This iconic landmark is one of the only two mosques in the city that are open to non-muslim visitors.
The massive 1,200 capacity structure features a white stone construction in traditional medieval Fatimid tradition, a large central done, and two towering minarets on each side of the dome. The entire build showcases superior design and intricate artistry that makes this site a must-see on your Dubai trip.
It’s a good thing then that the mosque is open to visitors for six days each week. On every day of the week except Friday, you can participate in one of two tours of Jumeirah Mosque, with the first at 10 AM and a second one by 2 PM. Registration for each trip is available on site 30 minutes before the program begins.
On these 75-minute guided tours, participants follow local mosque representatives around the premises, enjoying the view while learning about Islamic customs, rituals, traditions, holidays, and cuisines.
Furthermore, the guides welcome questions throughout the tour, photography is entirely allowed, and you even get to sample an assortment of traditional Arabic cuisine during the excursion.
The only requirement for this event is that guests dress modestly, and the mosque’s management makes it easy as they provide optional traditional dresses to visitors for the duration of the tour.
The Dubai Frame
- Location: Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Dubai
- Open: 9AM-9PM, everyday
- Cost: 50 AED
Initially opened in January 2018, the Dubai frame is one of the newest landmarks, and it is up there with the best when it comes to being eye-catching. The massive 150-meter structure is larger than life picture frame that gives you a couple of unique views of the city.
Both sides of the frame overlook two contrasting sections of Dubai, with one side facing modern Dubai and landmarks like the Burj Khalifa and the Emirates Towers. In contrast, the other side overlooks the lower part of the city that includes the souk at Deira and Karama and Umm Harare regions.
Plus, you get to witness this magnificent sight from a 150m vantage point atop the frame, from where all of Dubai falls into one single breathtaking 360° view. From here, visitors can step out onto an exhilarating 93-meter glass bridge that forms the top end of the structure, connecting the two towers.
Completing this genuinely unique experience is a set of galleries in the frame’s towers that take you visually appealing imagery of old Dubai, the modern city and its landmarks, and the Dubai of the future as envisioned by the emirate’s leadership.
All three galleries are surreal virtual reality systems that include audio-visual output, holographic projections, and even the use of mists and scents, creating one immersive experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Day 3 is time for some no-holds-barred fun, and no place in Dubai screams fun like Palm Jumeirah. This series of artificial islands is where Dubai comes to play as it offers some of the poshest hotels and apartment towers, high-brow restaurants, and an abundance of beaches, spas, and infinity pools.
Yes, Dubai is famous for ingenious architecture and a skyline that will put most cities to shame, one of the greatest feats of engineering Dubai has on offer is Palm Jumeirah. The site features a group of artificial islands made from reclaimed land and laid out to form the shape of a palm tree when you view them aerially.
However, the picturesque landscape is just the beginning. Here you get to enjoy some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, including Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, The Palm, and Atlantis. World-class dining options are available aplenty with a selection that includes 101 Dining Lounge, Nobu, and at least 80 other restaurants.
Even transportation is entertainment here, with your options including the Palm Monorail, yachts and speedboats with private touring companies, or regular options like public transport on the elaborate network of roads and tunnels.
Enjoy the island by lounging at the beach clubs that feature infinity pools and spas, or wait for nightfall, when those same venues transform into lively nightclubs with live DJs on deck.
Other popular activities you can join at Palm Jumeirah include:
- Skydiving with Skydive Dubai
- Swim with the Dolphins at Atlantis
- Enjoy waterslides and other waterworks at the Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis
- Join a guided kayak tour with SeaYou
- Join City Circuit 25-minute helicopter tour around the islands and surrounding Dubai
- Enjoy glorious desert sunsets from The Penthouse at Five Palm Jumeirah
For most tourist visitors to Dubai, a Dubai trip is not complete without a visit to the desert, and it is not hard to see why.
The many desert safaris available to you just outside the city offers one of the best avenues for enjoying an authentic experience of the indigenous culture while feasting your eyes on picturesque dunes and breathtaking views of where the desert meets the ocean.
With everything from overnight camping to hot air balloon rides available out here, you are in for a treat and some of the best fun you have ever had. Three of the most enjoyable desert safaris available in Dubai include:
Overnight Safari, Offered by Rayna Tours and Travel
- Cost: 385 AED
With travel, one sure way to guarantee the best experience possible is to go all in, and this desert safari by Ryna Tours and Travel offers an avenue to do just that.
The overnight tour starts in the evening with some dune driving to the camp location, camel rides for participants, and then the opportunity to take some fantastic photos in the glorious desert sunset.
Throughout the night, available treats include a belly dancing show, a fire show, henna painting, an open bar, and guided stargazing experience. Furthermore, after enjoying the sunrise at camp, participants can participate in other optional activities like quad biking and sand skiing.
Dune Riders Safari, Offered by Dream Explorer Dubai
- Cost: 545 AED
For people who prefer a slightly more adventurous, adrenalin-sparking safari, this dune riding safari Dream Explorer Dubai is the way to go.
From the get, choice rock tracks help set the mood as guides chauffeur you to the desert to start your adventure.
Once you land on sand, the thrill begins. Participants of the tour get a custom twin-seat dune buggy, outputting a kick-inducing 1500cc and with manual gears for complete riding control. Get that adrenaline thumping as you glide across the sea of red, eating dunes, some of which present heart-thumping nearly 90° drops.
However, despite the load of thrill you get on this safari, you never have to worry about your safety. Each member of the entourage gets helmets, fire extinguishers, and roll cages protecting their buggies. Plus, the entire ride is done convoy-style under the watchful eyes of certified advanced guides.
To add to the exhilarating dune ride, you also get stops for photos, refreshments, as well as optional sandboarding.
Overnight Desert Safari, Offered by Platinum Heritage
- Cost: 900 AED
This luxury safari by Platinum Heritage is for when you want to go all out, enjoying picking of the best of what Dubai Safaris have on offer. The tour starts with your hotel pick up in a 50s style vintage roofless land rover that immediately opens up the portal into desert wonderland.
Furthermore, on your way to the desert, you get a barrage of beautiful stories and anecdotes that acquaints you with Dubai’s history, its tradition, and its unique local customs. You also get stops in the dunes for photos and an exciting falcon show.
However, the real fun begins at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where you transfer from your classic rides to an even more dreamy camel ride through the reserve to the campsite. If you are lucky, you can also feast your eyes on the oryx and gazelles native to the region.
At the camp, available treats include traditional dance and drumming, henna painting, Arabic coffee making, and an assortment of Emirati cuisine.
Finally, at dawn, a dreamy hot air balloon flight across the desert caps this genuinely magical desert safari experience.