8 Hidden Gems in Dubai: A budget travel guide
8 Hidden Gems in Dubai: A budget travel guide

The city of Dubai offers so many opportunities for locals and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the culture and traditions of this unique city. However, in addition to doing the well-known touristy things, take the time and explore the lesser known gems of the city to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the city to the fullest extent.

This tour guide of the hidden gems in Dubai is the perfect place to start and can be used to have an ‘out-of-the-box’ experience during your stay in this wonderful and interesting city. So, get out there and soak up the diverse experiences that the biggest city in the UAE has to offer

Villa 51

This small and somewhat understated perfume store has a spotless reputation for providing authenticity and amazing varieties of countless original perfume brands. Make a trip to Villa 515 and immerse yourself into the world of rich aromas and the science behind perfume and scent creation. Don’t stop at just smelling the delightful aromas, you can also learn about the craftsmanship behind the art of perfume crafting during your visit. Not only this, but Villa 515 has a behind-the-scenes laboratory where customized perfumes are made as well as a salon for perfume consultation.

Cinema Akil

Say goodbye to everything you thought you knew about visiting the cinema when you step into the Cinema Akil. This unique cinema offers you a very different movie experience than the one you’re accustomed to in the United States. The independent theater brings you films that aren’t extremely common when you think of the cinema. Take a trip there during a night in Dubai, grab some snacks, and get comfy for a refreshing movie experience.

Interestingly, while the cinema’s permanent location is on Alserkal Avenue, keep an eye out because they also have regular pop-up events around UAE.

General 3am Dubai

The General 3am Dubai was conceptualized and made by Emirati artist and entrepreneur Rami Farook and takes a unique and creative approach to boutiques and cafes.

The General 3am Dubai is a creative public space, cafe, and concept store. The unique thing about this space is that it proudly and loudly supports UAE-based brands and artists such as Broke Club Official, AZRA, Gasah Studio, and Karrouhat just to name a few. Visit this coolly curated concept store and laid-back cafe and support some of UAE’s coolest brands.

Dubai Coffee Museum

If coffee is a passion of yours, you won’t want to miss out on this hidden gem. The founder of this enterprise started this passion project out of his pure fondness for the bitter beverage and everything surrounding it.

Interestingly, the Dubai Coffee Museum is a converted Emirati home. Step in here to immerse yourself in the history and origin of coffee, browse an impressive antique collection, and participate in tasting in the amazing upstairs cafe.

Seven Fortunes

Once you learn all about coffee and its origins from the Dubai Coffee Museum, experience and explore the diverse and complex local coffee scene in Dubai. Located deep within Al Quoz, Seven Fortunes coffee roastery showcases their unique craftsmanship through their high-quality specialty coffee.

The store offers a careful selection of hand-pick coffee beans from all around the globe. This selection results in unique, exciting, and delicious flavors of any coffee you choose at Seven Fortunes.

The Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Culture and Understanding (SMCCU)

The Shaikh Mohammad Centre for Culture and Understanding is the perfect place for a deeper insight into Emirati traditions; you can learn Emirati traditions and culture directly from Emiratis. Here, you are able to take a tour through the old Al Bastakiya neighbourhood of the Al Fahidi Historic District. Within this tour, you will also be able to visit Al Farooq Mosque and after the tour concludes, you’ll have the opportunity to do a question and answer with the Emirati guides.

Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience

If traveling around the desert on a traditional camel caravan seems exciting to you, try the Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience. Live a day in the life of a Bedouin in the Dubai desert and immerse yourself in the heart of the Dubai desert. The Bedouin camp is located in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve and is one of the largest unfenced Desert Reserves in the UAE.

You will be able to experience and enjoy the sunset Bedouin falcon and Saluki dog demonstration. You will also have the chance to participate in a traditional dinner and learn more about the culture and historical adventure of a bygone era.

Courtyard Playhouse

In the mood for a good laugh? The Courtyard Playhouse is an impressive hidden gem nestled in the creative center of Al Quoz in the city of Dubai dedicated to improv comedy. The theater itself is a small, cozy, and intimate 60 seat auditorium which makes performances that much better and personal. It is also family owned, lending to a more friendly experience during their shows.

There are typically comedy shows three times a week and even some vintage film screens scattered throughout the week. If you’re interested in getting up on the improv stage and gaining a more hands-on experience, the theater also offers improvisation acting workshops for all ages - so get acting!

Foodie gems

You’re bound to work up an appetite after exploring the intricate city of Dubai all day. Stop into this humble seafood restaurant, located in Jumeirah’s fishing harbour, for some of the freshest seafood in Dubai. Not only will the food win you over, but the stunning views will leave you wanting to come back. Make sure to head there in the late afternoon in order to catch the beautiful sunset right by the cute fishing boats within the harbour.

If you’re not a big seafood lover, try Nomad located on Jumeirah Road. This restaurant is one of the best burger joints in Dubai and brings together big flavors and comfort foods such as burgers, mac n cheese, and loaded fries. Not only is the food delicious, the colorful dishes make it the perfect addition to any Instagram feed.

Typically, such local titbits of advice are provided by local private tour guides. If you’re looking for more such tips on discovering the city’s hidden gems, talk to your Dubai tour guide for recommendations!


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