Dyes are an important class of pollutants, and can even be identified by the human eye. Disposal of dyes in precious water resources must be avoided, however, and for that various treatment technologies are in use. Among various methods adsorption occupies a prominent place in dye removal. The growing demand for efficient and low-cost treatment methods and the importance of adsorption has given rise to low-cost alternative adsorbents (LCAs). This review highlights and provides an overview of these LCAs comprising natural, industrial as well as synthetic materials/wastes and their application for dyes removal. In addition, various other methods used for dye removal from water and wastewater are also complied in brief. From a comprehensive literature review, it was found that some LCAs, in addition to having wide availability, have fast kinetics and appreciable adsorption capacities too. Advantages and disadvantages of adsorbents, favourable conditions for particular adsorbate-adsorbent systems, and adsorption capacities of various low-cost adsorbents and commercial activated carbons as available in the literature are presented. Conclusions have been drawn from the literature reviewed, and suggestions for future research are proposed.