Famous for its luxurious hotels, groundbreaking architecture, and sparkling nightlife, most people expect a trip to Dubai to come with a hefty price tag. It’s true that you can spend loads of money living it up in the city’s most extravagant hotels and attractions. But there are options for budget travellers and tips to keep costs low as well.

Cost Guide to Dubai

  • Airfare: Between $190 and $1200, depending on season and origin airport.
  • Accommodation: Lowest rates in shared dorm hostel rooms are $27, a room in a luxury 5-star hotel is around $300.
  • Attractions: See the museums and cultural streets of Dubai for as little as $5 a day, or splash out on $55 a day for desert experiences.
  • Transportation: On average is $10 per day for a mix of taxis, metros, and buses.
  • Food and Drink: Street food starts from $3, fine dining menus from $75, and draft beer from $8.

Airfare

Dubai airport is the main hub of Emirates Airline, which connects the city directly to major airports all over the world. Depending on what season you travel in, you might be able to bag a cheap flight. Direct flights from London start from $570 return, or can be as low as $320 if you don’t mind a connection. During the high season between December and February, flights from London tend to cost around $950 return.

Return tickets from New York or Los Angeles start at $900, direct with Emirates during low season. During high season, flights from these major US cities tend to be in the region of $1200 return.

Cities like Delhi and Mumbai enjoy a direct budget option with FlyDubai with return fares starting at $190 from Mumbai and $200 from Delhi. Getting from Singapore to Dubai direct starts at $450 return.

Accommodation

There’s a wealth of accommodation to suit all travel styles in Dubai. Check in to a fabulous five-star hotel if you’re willing to splash the cash. Hang out in a sociable hostel or budget hotel to keep costs low. Or sample a slice of real Dubai life in an Airbnb, which can be much cheaper than a hotel, but just as luxurious.

Dubai is home to some of the most extravagant hotels on the planet. Towering luxury lines the heart of the city with rooftop infinity pools looking out over the skyline and glitzy cocktail bars with panoramic views.

Get to know fellow travellers in the communal spaces and budget dorm rooms of hostels, which are perfect for anyone on a budget. Or, if you fancy self-catering and want to save a bit of cash, choose an Airbnb room or entire apartment.

Where To Stay

  • Hostels: Choose At The Top Hostel if you want a clean budget option with the same breathtaking city views as a luxury hotel. The price per dorm room starts from $27 per night. Or you can stay at the super friendly Solo Traveler Hostel for views of the Palm Jumeirah Islands. The price starts from $40 per night.
  • Budget Hotels: At The Country Club Hotel, you can enjoy beach views on one side and city views on the other. Rooms are spacious, clean, and start from $60 per night. Choose the XVA Art Hotel for a bit of culture in your stay. Part boutique hotel and part art gallery, double rooms in this cosy nook start at $95 a night.
  • Luxury Hotels: Sprawl out on a slice of pristine private beach at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah. Double rooms begin at $300 a night. Or, stay in the old heart of the city and live like a sultan in the palatial Palazzo Versace Dubai. Double rooms furnished with a Versace finish start at $305 a night.
  • Airbnb: An ensuite private suite in Jumeirah III is available from $40 a night. Or enjoy an entire studio apartment to yourself in Downtown with shared pool access and canal views from $75.

Attractions

With so many cool things to do in Dubai, there’s a danger of spending all of your money at once. Depending on what your sightseeing priorities are you can see the cultural highlights of the city for next to nothing, spending around $5 a day on museum access. If you want to embrace the adrenaline-fuelled trips into the desert, you’re looking at more like $55 for a day trip.

The highlights of the city include the world’s tallest building. Head up to the viewing platform at the top of the Burj Khalifa, entry costs $37 to levels 125 and 124. At ground level the impressive Dubai Fountain shoots jets of water into the air and displays a dazzling light show at night. Tickets cost $19.

Housed in the ancient walls of Al-Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum tells the history of the city from ancient trading days to the present. Exhibits are world class and the entrance fee is next to nothing at $0.80.

Head out into the desert for an adventurous 4×4 safari, tearing up the dunes. Day trips from the centre of Dubai start from $55.

For something a little different, discover Dubai’s historic side. A cheap way to see the iconic skyline and discover the atmospheric streets of Old Dubai is to catch a traditional wooden Abra boat from Bur Dubai to Deira. At just $0.30 for a ride across Dubai Creek, this is one of the best kept secret sights in the city. Once you reach Deira Old Souk you can explore the winding streets of the gold or spice souks for free, unless you want to buy something of course.

Explore the largest flower garden in the world at Dubai Miracle Garden where over 775,000 square feet of land is covered in rainbow bloom, including an amphitheatre and aeroplane within the grounds. Entrance costs $13.

Transportation

Due to the extreme heat in summer and lack of pavements, Dubai is not designed to be explored on foot, so you’re going to end up spending money on public and private transport. The average cost of transport per day is $10 per person.

Taxis are abundant across the city and can stop anywhere as long as it’s safe. This is often a cheap and convenient way to get from place to place at around $3 for a 14km journey. Buses are a slower, but super-cheap alternative. Bus journeys can be bought using a NOL card, which also works on the Metro. A short journey on the Metro or by bus costs $0.50.

Food & Drink

You’ll find meals to suit every budget and tempt every taste bud in Dubai. The sheer choice of places to eat is one thing that stands out in the city. Fancy a slice of pizza? You can get a margarita at Carluccio’s for $13 in the city centre. A sushi platter costs $45 for two.

Live it up in one of Dubai’s Michelin-star restaurants or celebrity chef establishments. An 8-course tasting menu at Carnival by Trisend is at the budget end of fine dining at $75 a head. Folly by Nick and Scott is a sumptuous affair with a Michelin star, and a 5-course tasting menu here will set you back $100.

An enjoyable budget option is to hit the street eateries of Old Dubai where cosy curry houses will serve you a slap up meal for just US$3.

Alcohol is expensive in Dubai, and you’ll pay an average of US$19 for a cocktail in a swanky rooftop lounge. Draft beer is the cheapest drink option, but at an average of US$8 per pint, it’s still pretty expensive.

How To Save Money On A Trip

Travelling doesn’t have to cost as much as you think. Here’s some expert tips on how to make the most of your money while you’re on the road.

  • Be flexible with your flights dates. One of the most expensive parts of travelling are long-haul flight fares, so if you’re able to fly during low season or fly out on a Tuesday rather than a Friday or Saturday you might find the cheapest deals.
  • Go self-catered. There are loads of self-catering options in Dubai in the form of serviced apartments and Airbnb studios. Cooking dinner or buying in breakfast supplies instead of eating out for every meal is a great way to save the pennies.
  • Avoid alcohol. One of the most expensive things in Dubai is the alcohol, so switching to mint tea or soft drinks during your stay will bring down the price of your trip.
  • Eat street food. Do as the locals do and head to a traditional street food restaurant instead of eating international cuisine.
  • Prioritise your budget. Decide whether you want to spend money on fine dining or upgraded accommodation, or if you want to experience the best luxury attractions over a shopping spree. Plan your budget before you arrive.

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