23 things to do outside in Dubai
After enduring the sweltering summer here in the UAE, it’s finally safe to step outdoors once again.
But where to go? Here are our picks of the things to do outside in Dubai, and the top alfresco spots to enjoy the cool climes.
Take a wander and hit the stores in these open-air mini malls
The lowdown: Boxpark uses shipping containers as the base for cool and quirky boutique stores along Al Wasl Road.
What shops are there? Aside from being a bit of a treat for the eyes, Boxpark houses a plethora of offbeat brands such as Australian stationery favourite Typo, the godfather of onesies OnePiece and shoe brand Toms for socially conscious shoppers. They even throw in free Wi-Fi along the strip. There are also plenty of dining options that you wouldn’t find in a regular mall. And now that’s it’s cooler, you’ll find it a far more pleasant area to stroll along.
Don’t miss: The pop-up art exhibitions tucked in between the shops.
Al Wasl road, Jumeirah, Dubai. Tel: (800) 637227. Taxi: next to Emirates NBD bank.
The lowdown: The latest addition to JBR, The Beach was opened this year by Will Smith. With the Fresh Prince’s seal of approval it unveiled four plazas, each with shops, restaurants and activities for all the family.
What shops are there? With a backdrop of the Arabian Gulf, The Beach is home to brands such as Roberto Cavalli Junior and S*uce On The Sea. It also has an inflatable water park and a cinema to keep those who aren’t all that fond of retail therapy entertained.
Don’t miss: Dubai’s answer to Muscle Beach thanks to the Warehouse Gym’s outdoor fitness centre, complete with weights, ropes and machines.
The Beach, opposite JBR. Tel: (800) 637227. Taxi: JBR, The Walk.
The lowdown: A cluster of pretty shops and cafés surrounded by townhouses.
What shops are there? Besides the delightful patio at The Pantry Café, we love Aster Flowers where beautiful bouquets are arranged.
Don’t miss: Have you ever gone to a party and felt the sense of guilt as you turn up empty-handed? Last-minute gift-givers can choose from a range of stunning items from the S*uce gift vending machine, which is open 24/7.
Al Wasl road, Jumeirah. Tel: (800) 637227. Taxi: Opposite Safa Park.
The lowdown: As one of the trendiest areas in Jumeirah, City Walk offers everything you need in a walkable area, from grooming to shopping.
What shops are there? City Walk houses ready-to-wear line Michèlle Belau, Rivoli watches and one-stop beauty shop, Sephora, among many others. A trip to the Hummingbird Bakery is a must for those with a sweet tooth, and we challenge anyone to walk past Godiva without having to pop in for a sneaky chocolate.
Don’t miss: Burn off those Godiva calories with a barre class at Physique57.
Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai. Tel: (800) 637227. Taxi: Crossroads of Safa street and Al Wasl road.
PICNICS TO GO
No need to dig out the tupperware or bulk-buy cling film – let these venues do the hard work for you
Perfect for hungry families, BookMunch’s hampers are filled with mini versions of the café’s popular sandwiches, signature salads, a selection of cheese, nuts and pickles, pinwheel sandwiches for little ones and mini muffins, chocolate pots and cakes. The standard hamper will feed two to three people, or you can opt for a bigger basket for four to six picnickers.
Al Wasl Square, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 7.30am to 10pm, Dhs220. Tel: (04) 3884006. Taxi: Al Wasl Square.
Pre-order a basket loaded with finger sandwiches, mini rolls, mini quiches, scones and preserves and a mini cheese board. Breakfast versions are also available with cute bacon and egg pies, mini muesli pots, savoury scones and sweet muffins. Throw in some take-away flat whites or lattes and you’ve got yourself a perfect morning feast in the fresh air.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, daily 7.30am to 6.30pm. Tel: (04) 3498498. Taxi: Spinney’s Beach Road.
For a jolly fine picnic fit for a king, Fortnum And Mason offers a variety of baskets to choose from, packed with the finest foods from the British Isles. You can also build your own bespoke hamper.
Near Dubai Fountains, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, Sun to Wed 9am to midnight, Thur to Sat 9am to 1am. Tel: (04) 3882627. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.
This popular Mediterranean spot in JBR (the food is so delicious it was the winner of two hats in The Black Hat Guide last year) whips up fun beach-perfect picnic hampers. Their spread includes three meaty skewers, chips, tzatziki, eggplant salad, pitta bread and orange pie and costs Dhs90 per person.
The Beach, JBR, Dubai, daily noon to midnight. Tel: (04) 4305249. Metro: Dubai Marina.
Perhaps not a traditional picnic item, but sushi is light to carry and easy to eat while reclining on a blanket. Get your chopsticks around the new range of lunchboxes-to-go from Sushi Art. You have three options to choose from: Lunchbox A comes with a crab avocado roll, dynamite roll and a cucumber maki; Lunchbox B is stuffed with chicken spring rolls, salmon avocado rolls and an avocado maki; Lunchbox C is a selection of salmon dishes; and Lunchbox D is a cheese and cucumber maki with a veggie spring roll.
The Beach, JBR, Dubai, daily 11am to midnight, Dhs59. Tel: (800) 220. Metro: Dubai Marina.
Throw down a blanket and plonk yourself on the grass
10. Barsha Park
Good for: Running
A running track and lots of frames, bars and exercise machines will keep you huffing and puffing around this park. The central pond means there’s usually a cool breeze, there’s also a snack bar, and loads of parking.
Al Barsha 1, Dubai. Taxi: Next to Al Barsha Mall
11. Zabeel Park
Good for: Working
If you’re keen to get some fresh air but it pains you to loosen your grip on your laptop, Zabeel Park is for you as it has WiFi.
Zabeel 1, Dubai. Metro: Al Jafiliya
12. Burj Park
Good for: Gazing
Rest shopped-out feet on this lush lawn beside the world’s tallest building. Oh, and the world’s tallest fountain. Good views all around then.
Downtown, Dubai. Metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall
13. JLT Park
Good for: Playing
One of JLT’s lakes was filled in last year to make a 55,000-square-metre park, much to the delight of residents. Children can play in the sandpits and playgrounds. Adults can run on a cushioned running track or shoot hoops on the basketball court.
Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai. Metro: JLT
14. Al Mamzar Beach Park
Good for: Contemplating
This secluded park sits on a small headland at the mouth of Khor al-Mamzar near Sharjah. There are plenty of open spaces with barbecues and kiosks that lead out to white-sand beaches.
Al-Mamzar Creek, Deira, Dubai. Taxi: Al Mamzar Beach Park
Open-air spots where you can stretch in the sun
They say it takes two to tango, and it seems the same maxim applies to acroyoga. A blend of yoga and acrobatics with a dash of Thai massage, classes are fun, challenging, and will build trust. Weekly outdoor sessions in Zabeel Park involve working in pairs to perform a variety of balancing poses, building up to headstands and handstands.
Phoenix Rising, Zabeel Park, Dubai, Fri 9.30am, suggested donation to charity Dhs50. Tel: (050) 1525961. Taxi: Zabeel Park, Gate 1.
As yoga studios go, the glassy surface of the Gulf is hard to beat. Stand up paddleboard yoga (or SUP to its fans) comprises yoga sessions on paddleboards in the sea. Being on water means those downward dogs will boost your core strength even more than they do on solid ground.
It’s free and it keeps you fit, so what’s not to like about the Lakshya Yoga Free Community classes held every Saturday at Barsha Pond Park? Run by the softly spoken Elouise ‘Lakshya’ Erlings, classes focus on Hatha practice and are open to all.
Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha, Dubai, Sat 7pm to 8pm, free.
Whether you want to harness the power of the moon, or simply practice yoga in the dark, these fun full moon monthly yoga sessions return to Internet City’s spacious amphitheatre from October. Don’t forget to bring a yoga mat to the session – the next one is on October 16 and will involve an impressive 108 sun salutations.
Internet City, Dubai, 4pm to 7pm, donation. Tel: (050) 5537765. Metro: Nakheel.
Here’s where to stretch your legs in Dubai
19. Al Barsha Park
This cushioned track is very popular with runners. It’s just under 2km, with markers every 100m, and the landscaped gardens are well looked after. There are toilets here too.
Al Barsha Park, Behind Al Mawakeb School, Al Barsha 2, Dubai, daily 8am to 10pm. Metro: Mall of the Emirates
20. Bay Avenue Park
This recent addition to the Business Bay neighbourhood is perfect for outdoorsy, active types. Not only does it boast a running track, there’s also free-to-use workout equipment and a skate park.
Bay Avenue Park. Al A’amal Street, Business Bay, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Metro: Business Bay
21. The Beach
There’s something wonderful about jogging alongside the sea, but we’d recommend this track at The Beach on JBR for early morning runs. If you wait until the evening you’ll have to dodge swarms of other runners and beach goers.
The Beach, JBR, between Hilton Hotel and Sheraton Hotel, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Taxi: The Beach JBR
22. Jumeirah Corniche
The latest purpose-built running track to open in Dubai is also the longest. A whopping 14km of sponge surface lets runners trot alongside Jumeirah Beach, from Dubai Marine Beach Resort all the way to Burj Al Arab.
Jumeirah Corniche, Behind Sunset Mall, Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Taxi: Sunset Mall
23. Al Ittihad Park
Located on The Palm between the Golden Mile and the Shoreline, this track clocks in at just under 3km and is set in a pretty garden. While it’s popular with dog walkers and boot campers in the mornings and evenings, it rarely feels congested. After your run, pop into Sophie’s Café (Shoreline Apartments, Building 7) and refuel with a smoothie or green juice. You’ve earned it.
Al Ittihad Park, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, daily 24 hours. Taxi: Palm Jumeirah