The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi intereior courtyard at night

40+ Places to Visit in Abu Dhabi For Free (And Really Cheap!) in 2024

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

Breaking perceptions that Abu Dhabi is expensive, we have been on a mission to find every place you can visit and activity you can do around the capital city of the United Arab Emirates and the entire emirate of Abu Dhabi that is FREE (or really cheap!)

Our benchmark for “cheap” is anything a family of 4 (2 adults, two kids under 12) can do for under AED 100 (Around $27 USD).

You’ll be surprised just how many fun things to do in Abu Dhabi at little or no cost we’ve found!

Let’s see how many of these places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free you can fit into your Abu Dhabi itinerary!

Cultural & Sightseeing Places to Visit in Abu Dhabi for FREE

You may be excited to learn that nearly all of the best cultural places to visit in Abu Dhabi are FREE or really cheap!

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The country’s most beautiful building is a mustn’t-miss attraction for residents and visitors alike and is completely FREE to enter; you can even join a guided cultural tour, completely FREE!

If you are not appropriately dressed, you may need to buy a cheap abaya or kandura from the small souk (these used to be free to hire, but this changed over COVID).

Open Sat – Thu 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, Fri 9:00 am – 12:00 pm & 3:00 pm to 10.00 pm.

You can learn more about visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque here.

Wahat al Karama

Immediately opposite the Grand Mosque, you will find the Wahat Al Karama War Memorial – “Oasis of Dignity”. There is a visitor centre to explore and the Pavillion of Honour, as well as the memorial itself, 31 aluminium-clad tablets representing Emirati lives lost in conflict.

You can also get beautiful photos of the Mosque from the reflective pond. Open daily 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. FREE.

Wahat al Karama memorial in Abu Dhabi

Qasr al Hosn

Abu Dhabi’s oldest permanent structure has been turned into a stunning museum and cultural centre.

This is one of the best cheap things to do in Abu Dhabi, and it will leave a lasting memory of Abu Dhabi’s cultural side, including cultural performances and a tour of the House of Artisans; AED 30 per adult / children FREE.

Open Sat – Thu 9:00 am – 10:00 pm, Fri 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

Learn more and plan your trip to Qasr al Hosn here.

live shows at qasr al hosn
Cultural performances regularly occur throughout the day at Qasr al Hosn

Qasr al Watan

The stunning Presidential Palace is one of the city’s modern wonders and most beautiful landmark buildings.

Entry to the palace itself may blow the daily budget just a little (AED 65 per adult,) but a trip to the Palace in Motion evening sound and light show is just AED 25 per adult / AED 12 for juniors.

Palace in Motion commences at 8.15 pm nightly, last entry 30 minutes before.

Learn more about Qasr al Watan here.

Palace in Motion, Qasr Al Watan the UAE Presidential Palace shown lit up at night in Abu Dhabi
Palace in Motion nightly sound and light show projected onto the facade of Qasr al Watan – a cheap thing to do in Abu Dhabi

The Abrahamic Family House

Opened in 2023, the Abrahamic Family House is an interfaith complex comprising a mosque, a church and a synagogue located on Saadiyat Island. The aim of the complex is to welcome people from all walks of life to exchange knowledge and practice faith. Visitors from all beliefs are invited to visit and learn about the three Abrahamic faiths and their rituals.

Open to visitors Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6.00 pm.

The Abrahamic Family House is FREE to enter, but visitor tickets must be booked in advance and follow the dress code for religious buildings in Abu Dhabi. Worshippers do not need to book tickets but do need to follow specific instructions.

You can find out more here.

Emirates Heritage Village

Based on the breakwater near Abu Dhabi Marina Mall, take a step back in time to experience traditional desert life in the heart of the city. Learn about traditional crafts, Bedouin housing and falconry.

Open Thu-Sat 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Fri 3.30 pm-9:00 pm. FREE entry

To find out more click here.

The Founders Memorial

Situated near Emirates Palace, before the breakwater, this exhibition is a visitor information centre as well as The Constellation, a giant artwork that lights up at night in the image of Sheikh Zayed.

The visitor centre is open 9:00 am – 10:00 pm daily, and FREE tours are possible.

Learn more about the Founder’s Memorial here.

Founders memorial Abu Dhbai lit up at night

Emirates Palace

No need to have an extravagant booking; at most times, visitors are free to come and admire the front steps and inside Emirates Palace. You can take your photos, but remain respectful; covered knees and shoulders are required for ladies and gents, no shorts.

Staying for gold flake coffee, afternoon tea, or a camel burger is, of course, recommended, but anything beyond admiration and a few photos to mark the occasion will likely break the AED 100 daily budget!

For reservations and more information, click here.

Warehouse 421

A cultural destination in Abu Dhabi’s port area of Mina Zayed. Warehouses have been transformed for artistic expression, understanding, and further development of the UAE’s creative community.

Keep your eye out for FREE workshops and revolving exhibits.

Learn more about Warehouse 421 here.

Manarat al Saadiyat

Enjoy many FREE art exhibitions, film screenings, and paid workshops in this creative space and cultural hub on Saadiyat Island. Shows can book out, so reservations are still required.

Open 10:00 am8:00 pm.

Learn more about Manarat al Saadiyat here.

Housed inconspicuously in a villa in Al Bateen (Behind Al Bateen Mall), this contemporary art space and café is FREE to visit and enjoy works from Emirati and UAE-based artists.

Open Sat-Thu 10:00 am – 9:00 pm.

Learn more about Etihad Modern Art Gallery here.

Abu Dhabi Children’s Library

Abu Dhabi’s stunning children’s library is well worth a visit. You can spend hours looking at books in the comfortable and quirky reading spaces around the 5,250-square-meter site, and it’s all completely FREE!

Located at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation in Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street in the Al Hosn area of Abu Dhabi.

Open 9:00 am – 8:00 pm Saturday – Thursday and 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm Friday.

Learn more here.

Camel Racing

No trip to the UAE is complete without taking in a dose of camels, and what better way to do it than watching them race at the Al Wathba race track? Sure, there might be more 4WDs than camels… it’s all part of the fun.

Held weekends and public holidays during the cooler winter months around dawn. (Exact timetables and information is hard to come by). An amazing place to experience the heart and soul of Abu Dhabi, and one of the best things to do for FREE in Abu Dhabi

camel racing at al wathba festival abu dhabi

Abu Dhabi Fish Market

Visiting a local market is an interesting addition to any trip, and the most interesting market in Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly the fish market. The new Fish Market, opened in 2022, has 104 fresh fish stalls and 44 cleaning stations.

Whilst it’s missing some of the charm of the old fish market, it has the same bustling atmosphere and is a great place to see the variety of fish and seafood caught locally.

Open daily from 7:00 am until 9:00 pm (10:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays).

The market is completely FREE to enter.

Did you know Abu Dhabi tourism operate a FREE shuttle bus between key Abu Dhabi attractions? The only catch is, you need to have booked your attraction tickets through their website. It’ll save you a tonne in Abu Dhabi taxi fares though, so well worth considering getting your attraction tickets this way.

Outdoor Family Fun in Abu Dhabi for FREE

There are so many great outdoor spaces and beautiful beaches in Abu Dhabi that can be enjoyed totally FREE (or with a very small entry fee).

The Corniche and Al Bahar

The Corniche Beach has been one of Abu Dhabi’s highlights for years, whilst A’l Bahar opened in 2018 as a new family entertainment district on the beachfront near to Nation Towers.

Much of the beachfront has been rejuvenated and is FREE to use during daylight hours. The family beach area has a small fee of AED 10 per adult for the use of clean and relatively private facilities.

Abu Dhabi Cornice beachfront

You could optionally spend money on some extras, including bike hire and activities within the A’l Bahar complex, such as ropes courses and the inflatable obstacle course that may blow your daily budget.

Several play parks, splash areas and skate parks all along the Corniche, though, are completely FREE.

Public beach areas have lifeguards on duty during daylight hours, and the Corniche footpath stays open 24/7 for recreational use.

Umm al Emmarat Park (formerly Mushrif Park)

You will find this beautiful family park in the centre of Abu Dhabi island. Its botanical gardens, play parks, wadi, petting zoo and extensive lawns make it the perfect urban escape.

A cover charge of AED 10 per person applies. Additional activities such as feeding the animals and using the train cost extra.

You will also find the RIPE food & craft market on a Saturday afternoon (3:00 pm9:00 pm) during the cooler winter months.

Open 8:00 am to 12:00 midnight – learn more here.

Umm Al Emarat Park Abu Dhabi
Enjoy the tranquillity of Umm al Emarat Park, a cheap activity to enjoy in Abu Dhabi

Reem Central Park

Reem Central Park on Al Reem Island is another newer public park, packed full of food trucks and recreation spaces for all ages to enjoy – FREE.

Learn more about Reem Central Park here

Yas Gateway Parks

For one week of the year, they are car parking for the Grand Prix – the other 51 weeks, two superb free parks for families to enjoy!

Grab bikes or scooters, or enjoy the play parks and barbeques in Gateway Park North and Gateway Park South. FREE.

Sheikha Fatima Park

46,000 square meters of reimagined urban space make up the beautiful oasis that is Sheikha Fatima Park. Set back a block from Abu Dhabi Corniche, Sheikha Fatima Park is split into three zones.

Zone 1 contains winding pathways through landscaped gardens. Zone 2 includes a skate park, splash park, a beautiful outdoor playground and an indoor play area, as well as Abu Dhabi’s only pet park, whereas Zone 3 contains a large grassed area for sports, concerts and outdoor cinema in addition to numerous cafes and restaurants. There are various murals around the park that also shouldn’t be missed!

The park is open daily 10:00 am -10:00 pm

Entry to the park is FREE. Some activities attract a small charge.

Learn more about Sheikha Fatima Park here.

Al Bateen Beach

On the west side of Abu Dhabi Island, the low-key Al Bateen Beach is a family winner. Safe patrolled swimming with an adjacent play park and lawn and a women-only section (Paid, 25AED adults, 5AED kids).

Open 10:00 am to 10:00 pm; swimming allowed until sunset.

Learn more about Al Bateen and Abu Dhabi’s other beaches here.

Al Hudayriat Island

The bridge to nowhere now leads somewhere! Located to the west of Abu Dhabi island (continue along 19th, beyond Al Bateen Beach), Al Hudayriat Island is a sports and recreation paradise!

Put together your own basketball or beach volleyball games, play on the pristine white sandy beach or let the kids run off some steam at the playground. There are numerous food trucks as well as a handful of permanent restaurants. Change rooms are on site, and the beach is patrolled until sunset.

Hudayriyat Beach sign at the swimming beach

The beach itself is completely FREE (yes, even the deck chairs and umbrellas!) You’ll pay extra for sporting activities such as those run by Circuit X for kids and the hire of sports pitches. The bike tracks around the island can be used for FREE.

You’ll also find the Hudayriyat Heritage Trail, exploring the island’s past, for FREE.

Saadiyat Beach

The most stunning stretch of white sand beach in the Middle East, facing the Arabian Gulf, is home to a string of luxury beach resorts and beach clubs.

Whilst you’ll need to play for any of the club and resort facilites, Saadiyat Beach itself is public property and free to walk and splash in.

Eastern Mangroves National Park

Stroll the 4.5 km-long promenade starting at the Eastern Mangroves hotel complex. For an extra cost, you can hire kayaks or eco donut boats to enjoy the mangroves close up, or take a stroll along the Al Gurm Corniche, stretching to 19th Street.

You can read a more detailed review on kayaking the Eastern Mangroves here.

Jubail Mangrove Park

Head to Jubail Mangrove Park, just off the Saadiyat highway, for a longer walk through the mangroves. Explore the mangroves from elevated boardwalks.

Entry to the boardwalk is 15 AED for adults and children over the age of 7, and children under 7 pay 5 AED, making this a fairly cheap activity for a family of 4.

You can opt to pay more to enjoy your experience with a park ranger as a guide, or perhaps you might like to book one of the many kayaking experiences that take place on the site.

Open daily 7:00 am -9:00 pm.

For more details click here.

Explore the beautiful boardwalk through Jubail Mangroves

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Based just outside of the city, heading towards Al Ain on the Truck Road you’ll find this protected wetlands area, home to over 250 species of birds, including Flamingos.

Limited operating hours, Thu & Sat 8:00 am – 4:00 pm from September to April only (TBC it changes each year). FREE.

You can learn more about viisting Al Wathba Wetlands here.

FREE Sports & Recreation Activities in Abu Dhabi

Yas Marina Circuit

Whilst attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will set you back a packet, you can exercise almost year-round on the Yas Marina Circuit track for FREE. The 5.5km Yas Island track is open to the public 3 nights a week for TrainYas plus a few mornings to run, walk or cycle.

Pre-registration is needed. Every Monday, Tuesday (ladies only) and Wednesday from 6:00 pm (Wednesday only in summer)

Learn more here.

Al Wathba Cycle Track

Those who like to get some distance in their ride should head just beyond Mussafah to Al Wathba, near Endurance Village. The Al Wathba Cycle Track is open 24/7 (floodlit at night) and has 8km, 16km, 20km, 22km and 30km options, completely FREE.

Khalifa International Bowling Centre

You can never go past bowling for some indoor family fun! Prices at this ZSC venue start from just AED 25 a game (plus look out for 2-4-1 vouchers).

Learn more about sports on offer at ZSC here.

FREE Places to visit in Al Ain

There are so many fun and free (also really cheap!) things to do in the culture capital, Al Ain, which sits 1.5 hours away from Abu Dhabi, making it a great day trip location.

  • Jebel Hafeet – a great experience to road trip to the tallest peak in Abu Dhabi emirate for spectacular views over Al Ain and the border to Oman. FREE.
  • Green Mubazzarah – picnic or dip your feet in the natural hot springs at the foot of Jebel Hafeet. FREE (The little train is an extra AED 20 per adult/10 AED per child, and camping in one of the chalets comes with an overnight fee).
  • Experience the UNESCO World Heritage Sites – which include the Al Ain Oasis (FREE) Hili Archaeological Park and the Hafeet Tombs in Jebel Hafit Desert Park (some experiences paid).
  • Al Ain Palace Museum – the birthhome of the country’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed, is a beautifully restored example of traditional Bedouin architecture. Open 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. FREE.
  • Qasr al Muwaiji – the birthplace of Sheikh Khalifa, historic fort and exhibit. FREE.
  • Al Jahili Fort – historic building and photography exhibit, also stroll the beautiful Al Jahili Park next door. FREE
  • Al Ain Zoo – arguably one of the Emirate’s top tourist attractions, including the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre. Adults AED 30, kids AED 10.
  • Souq Al Qattara – shop at the handicrafts market on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays during winter. FREE (but bring your spending money for some unique souvenirs!)
  • Camel Souk – you don’t get a more real and interactive experience than the heart of a camel market in Al Ain! FREE.
Experience the Camel Market in Al Ain, a great free cultural experience in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Emirate – FREE Places to Visit Beyond the City

If you’ve got your own set of wheels and you’re confident driving in Abu Dhabi, there’s a huge big sandpit out there to explore! Once you’ve accounted for the cost of fuel, why not try:

  • Dune Bashing in the empty quarter (or almost any patch of the desert!)
  • Explore the Fossil Dunes (8:00 AM to 8:00 PM) and the unique salt lake near Al Wathba – FREE
  • Go camping at the beach or in the desert (sand driving experience and equipment necessary)
  • Explore Dalma Island and Al-Meraikhi Old House – a historic pearl diving home (Ferry charges apply, but entry to the island and the museum is FREE).
  • Stroll the Mamsha al Mugheirah boardwalk- the Western Region’s answer to the stunning mangroves; here, you’ll find a beautiful and educational boardwalk experience, food trucks and much more in this rejuvenated beachfront location.

Whilst we cannot promise you entry into the Yas Island theme parks or a ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster totally free, we can guide you to where there might be a deal to be had on some of Abu Dhabi’s paid attractions:

  • Over summer, kids can go free to the likes of Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World with two paying adults – family deals like this tend to run for a limited time period from June to September.
  • Pick yourself up the popular savings app The Entertainer – it comes in an annual package or a free ‘lite’ bundle with dozens of 2-4-1 or buy one get one free style discounts on top Abu Dhabi dining spots and attractions, so at least one of your goes FREE!
  • For Abu Dhabi residents entitled to a Fazaa card, use it! So many places offer discounts to cardholders, but they may not be openly advertised or disclosed, from tourist attractions to play centres, retail shops and restaurants.

FREE Transport in Abu Dhabi

Some more money-saving tips in Abu Dhabi you may not be aware of:

  • Getting around Yas Island is made easy with FREE Yas Express minibuses. These operate between the hotels and key theme park and tourist attractions on Yas Island, as well as services that run from Saadiyat Island to Yas and Dubai to Yas Islanddaily.
  • Are you transiting between Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a flight? You may be able to use the Free airline buses operated by Emirates and Etihad to get across the UAE

Staying in Abu Dhabi for FREE

Now, what could be better for saving money on your city stay than getting your accommodation for free?

Etihad is offering transit passengers through AUH an appealing option to stay in one of their designated hotels free of charge for 1 and 2-night stopovers.

There are a few catches on being able to utilise the free night(s) – namely, your flight must be with Etihad (or Etihad-operated codeshare), and you must stay at least 24 hours. Your transfers and meals are NOT included – but as we’ve shown you above, there are so many ways you can see Abu Dhabi on a budget.

We go into a lot more detail here on how to claim your Free Etihad Stopover in Abu Dhabi.

We hope this guide to FREE places to visit and really cheap things to do in Abu Dhabi has proven that there are still plenty of things you can do in Abu Dhabi on a budget beyond the glitz and glamour.

Before You Go… Important Things To Consider Planning A Trip To Abu Dhabi

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.

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