While Dubai is popular the world over for being home to several swanky attractions in the country, Abu Dhabi has an array of renowned destinations for visitors and residents to explore as well. From the exhilarating theme parks on Yas Island to the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque there is certainly no shortage of things to do in Abu Dhabi. In addition to this, there are a lot of places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free as well. Here is MyBayut’s ultimate list of best activities that you can enjoy in Abu Dhabi free of cost.
BEST FREE THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI 2020
With a slew of new attractions in Abu Dhabi, it’s fair to say that the list of things to do in the capital city is increasing by the day. But if you are looking for activities that are budget-friendly, this list of exciting things to do for free in Abu Dhabi will come in handy.
Explore the local culture for free
1. Spend a day at the Majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The first place most people would point out when you think about attractions in Abu Dhabi is the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. One of the world’s largest mosques with the capacity to hold an astonishing 40,000 worshippers, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a pure work of art. Its beauty and splendour make it a deserving entry on our list of best free places to visit in Abu Dhabi.
The Grand Mosque features 82 domes, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers, over 1,000 columns and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. The beautifully landscaped surroundings are also popular with visitors.
2. Experience an authentic Emirati town at Heritage Village
Heritage Village is a recreation of a traditional Emirati Bedouin village and is one of the best cultural and heritage sites in Abu Dhabi. As you walk through the village, you can see how the region’s inhabitants lived ages ago. The area features everything from mudbrick houses decked with palm leaves to Bedouin tents with campfires brewing tea and more. Objects like old swords, pits and other historical objects can also be spotted here. There are also camels, goats and Arabian horses here which make a visit here one of the best free things to do in Abu Dhabi with family.
3. Witness the Rich History and Legacy of the UAE at Qasr Al Hosn
If you want to explore the country’s history without spending anything, visit Qasr Al Hosn. It is the oldest stone building in the country and dates back to the 18th century. The structure was originally built as a watchtower by the Bani Yas tribe for the protection of coastal trade routes and the surrounding settlements. Now Qasr Al Hosn has been transformed into a tourism and cultural destination with plenty of exciting activities for visitors. Although there is a charge to visit the fort itself, you can wander around the artist’s area and other attractions for free.
4. Explore the Mina Markets at Mina Zayed Port
Selling everything from traditional mattresses and machine-made carpets to exotic fruits and vegetables, the markets at the Mina Zayed Port are some of the best traditional souks in Abu Dhabi. Explore the souks, take in the sights and smells for a memorable day well spent. You don’t have to spend anything. But if the urge does hit, a shopping spree won’t cost you that much as the items here are appropriately priced.
5. Visit the Al Ain Oasis for free
A natural wonder you can visit free of cost in the capital is the Al Ain Oasis. The 3,000-acre oasis is home to over 147,000 date palm trees and is also one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in the UAE. Take a peaceful walk through the palms, visit the Eco-Centre and the Eastern Fort.
The oasis still uses the Falaj system, an ancient form of irrigation, to supply water to the entire plantation. And you can see it in action for free!
6. Visit the Hili Archaeological Site
The Hili Archaeological Park is home to some famous archaeological sites. The sites date back to the Bronze Age and feature preserved structures like ancient tombs and water channels, making it one of the best archaeological sites in the UAE. Apart from this, there is a large garden with various plants and flowers that you can visit when the weather is cooler. Entry to the park is free for all visitors.
7. Marvel at the Al Jahili Fort
Located in the Buraimi Oasis, this picturesque fort is one of the city’s most impressive historic structures. And you can visit it without a fee. The Al Jahili Fort was the former residence of the Al Nahyan royal family years ago and is now a popular tourist attraction. Made from mud bricks, the massive structure is a sight to behold and makes you marvel at the mastery of the craftsmen that originally created it.
8. Check out the Al Mezyad Fort
If you love exploring forts, you can also add a visit to the Al Mezyad Fort to your Abu Dhabi free tourist places bucket list. Spread across 3,600 sq.mt. the 19th-century fort has more than 40 rooms. It’s a great spot for history buffs who want to explore the local culture in Al Ain.
9. Visit the Oasis of Dignity memorial
Wahat Al Karama, or “oasis of dignity”, is a war memorial that was built in recognition of the armed forces of the UAE. The beautiful tribute is a popular tourist attraction where you can pay your own respects to the country’s fallen soldiers and civil servicemen. It also features a glittering pool that reflects the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque nearby.
10. Go back in time at the Al -Meraikhi Old House
This is one of the country’s oldest buildings and was the former home of the late Mohammed Bin Hassim Al-Meraikhi, a leading pearl merchant in his time. The site is not always open and you will have to take a ferry across Dalma Island to visit it. But if you fancy local culture, this is the place to visit.
Other things to do and places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free
Apart from cultural favourites, you can indulge in these free activities in Abu Dhabi:
11. Explore the Emirates Palace
An iconic landmark in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Palace is a beautiful hotel that perfectly blends modern luxuries with the magical Arabian hospitality. Visitors only have access to the lobbies and the outdoor courtyard, but the sight of the central passageways and arched ceilings alone will leave you in awe. Wandering through the majestic halls and corridors of the Emirates Palace is another one of the top places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free.
12. Spend a relaxing day at the Corniche
One of the cheapest places to visit in Abu Dhabi is the famed Corniche. You can try out a multitude of activities in Abu Dhabi Corniche which includes walking down the promenade and cycling! You can also take a book and sit at one of the benches while taking in the beautiful views of the sea. 13. Cruise the Dunes at The Empty Quarter
Aptly called ‘the Empty Quarter’, Rub Al Khail is the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert. The largest uninterrupted land mass in the world also has the largest dunes, some of which are more than 150 metres high.
An example is the massive Moreeb dune which has to be seen to be believed — rising at a whopping 300m.
13. Get that adrenaline pumping at the Yas Marina Circuit
How about an evening of free fitness in the city’s very own Yas Marina Circuit where you can have a dose of the Formula 1 experience? You can run or cycle around the expansive motorsport circuits on certain days of the week, making this one of the best free activities in Abu Dhabi. Plus registering for the activities is also free for members of the Abu Dhabi Cycling Club. Here is what members are in for at the Yas Marina Circuit:
- TrainAM which is on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 06:00 am
- TrainYAS for cyclists, runners and walkers which runs according to a schedule available on the Yas Marina Circuit website.
These free fitness activities in Abu Dhabi’s most famous location are certainly exciting for adrenalin junkies!
14. Gear up for a day of cycling at Al Wathba Track
Next on our list of free things to do in Abu Dhabi is cycling on the Al Wathba track. Home to one of the best cycling tracks in Abu Dhabi, the Al Wathba Cycling Track is a public road which is open for cyclists all day. Thanks to the solar-powered lights, you will also have no trouble riding through the course at night.
Apart from a stellar track, there is also an ADNOC Oasis store where you can stop by for refreshments. So pack-up your bicycle and drive down to Al Wathba Track. It is located just of the E22 Abu Dhabi-Al Ain Road and makes for an awesome option for those looking at things to do in Abu Dhabi for free.
15. Enjoy classic movies courtesy of Cinema Space
When we mentioned things to do for free in Abu Dhabi, you probably did not expect the list to include a free screening. But Cinema Space makes it happen! Started in 2014, the initiative shares restored and contemporary flicks via free community screenings. Better book your seat fast. Reservations are limited!
16. Enjoy sun, sand and surf at Al Bateen Beach and Al Qurm Beach
Al Bateen Beach is one of the capital’s city’s hottest seaside destinations. And best of all, its totally free to visit. You can build sandcastles at the beach, go fishing at the Al Bateen Fishing Spot, play in the surf and more.
Another one of the best Abu Dhabi places to visit for free is a trip the Al Qurm Beach. This is a fairly smaller beach compared to the others, but it offers the perfect setting for a small picnic with friends and family.
17. Play volleyball by the beach at Hudayriat Island
If the other two beaches don’t tickle your fancy, make your way to Hudayriat Island and enjoy a game of volleyball – it is one of the most fun things to do in Abu Dhabi. But if volleyball isn’t your sport, there are five football fields, four basketball courts and four beach football courts for everyone to enjoy! Apart from that this beautiful beachfront has cycling tracks, food trucks and a children’s’ play areas.
Apart from the mentioned destinations, you can also visit some of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi free of cost.
18. Appreciate the beauty of art at the Etihad Modern Art Gallery (EMAG)
If you are into art, the Etihad Modern Art Gallery is one of the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi free. Situated just behind the Al Bateen Mall, EMAG is a multi-purpose space that hosts art shows and exhibitions featuring works from local artists. They are also known for hosting some of the best free activities in Abu Dhabi for art lovers, such as art workshops, poetry nights and music events. This free entry gallery is open Saturday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
- Etihad Modern Art Gallery contact: +971-2-621-0145
19. Learn a new language at the Language Club
If you’re looking for free activities in Abu Dhabi that are fun but also educational, go to the Language Club. It is a free initiative and is run by translator and linguist Marisol Vasquez. Participants can practice their skills in a fun environment via dynamic activities and workshops.
The club currently covers eight languages — English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Russian, German and French. You can learn any of these for free!
20. Have a picnic at Reem Central Park
For those looking for free places in Abu Dhabi to visit with family, Reem Central Park on Al Reem Island is a must-visit! From a fully equipped skate park to a wide range of restaurants, there are plenty of activities in Reem Central Park for adults and kids alike!
21. View exhibits at Manarat Al Saadiyat
Located on the stunning Saadiyat Island, Manarat Al Saadiyat follows a similar concept to the above mentioned Etihad Modern Art Gallery. They have an ongoing calendar of free events in Abu Dhabi that include workshops for children and adults in topics such as printmaking, self-portraits, figure drawing and robotics. Being one of the best Abu Dhabi art galleries, it offers an all-encompassing experience for people looking for free places to visit in Abu Dhabi.
- Manarat Al Saadiyat: +971-2-657-5800
22. Catch a glimpse of Flamingos in their natural habitat at the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
Looking for free nature tours in Abu Dhabi? Visit the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. It’s similar to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, where flamingos and dozens of other bird species migrate. If you love learning more about the region’s natural wonders, it’s the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free.
23. Explore the Liwa Oasis
The Liwa Oasis is a verdant space in the middle of red sand dunes and is located north of Rub Al Khali or the Empty Quarter. Like the Al Ain Oasis, it is one of the popular oases in the UAE. It is also home to nine forts that were constructed by Bedouin tribes in the 19th and 20th centuries for the protection of precious water reserves. Two of the forts still stand today and you can visit them for free.
24. Visit Green Mubazzarah for a weekend getaway
The majestic hills at the base of Abu Dhabi’s highest peak make for quite a setting. While you will have to pay for access to the hot springs and other activities, entry to the park is free.
That completes our list of things to do and places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free! If the urge to splurge does hit, you can always indulge in the many other activities in Abu Dhabi during your trip.
While you are at it, check out these free things to do in Dubai for a change.