50 of the best Abu Dhabi parks to enjoy the great outdoors in
The What’s On Abu Dhabi Green List…
With the weather firmly in that Goldilocks temperature sweet spot right now, we’re all about finding the best places to make the most of the great outdoors and if you’re looking for somewhere to pull up and absorb serene green scenes, Abu Dhabi’s HUGE network of parks is a pretty good place to start.
Take a stroll, pack a picnic or read a book in the shade of an old ghaf tree — we’ll take care of the park, you select your recreation.
Sheikha Fatima Park
The Corniche park formally known as ‘Khalidiyah Ladies Park’ has been treated to a dramatic transformation under the direction of master developers Imkan. Located in the beating heart of the city, what will now be known as ‘Sheikha Fatima Park’, covers an area of 46,000 sqm and along with the ever-welcome expanse of urban green will include a range of awesome sporting activities, retail sites, event space, an outdoor cinema, art maze, thrilling dining experiences and more. The lower right corner of the park, which provides the main entry point for the park, is the retail and dining hub. Collaborators include — the fitness sensation that is CRANK, New York style sausage fest Seven Dawgs, Coal Steakhouse, Crunch and Munch Cafe, Sola Restuarant, Chocolate Republic Cafe, Teela House, Starbucks, Social Restaurant, Le Patchouli Cafe, Acai Ko Cafe, and Dialogue. There’s also a nursery, an outdoor cinema, a space for alfresco yoga and a stage for events. The central area is given over to active pursuits with a fully fitted skate park, a pet park, a splash pad area, a toddler play zone, and an indoor boulder climb attraction. You’ll also find ample shaded parking here, with a multi-story car park.
The Garden at Deerfields Mall
Right now the outdoor evening temperatures have hit that perfect alfresco cinema sweetspot. Which makes it even more exciting, that there’s now a new Abu Dhabi location for watching movies under the stars. The Garden at Deerfields Mall, will be showing two screenings each night every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout March. With an early bird session at 6.30pm and a second one at 8,30pm. Access is completely free to shoppers spending Dhs50 per head anywhere in the mall. There are more than 100 comfy beanbags and a special VIP seating area for Deer Club members. There’s a selection of food trucks supplying big screen refreshment and of course, popcorn is available to purchase too.
Al Hayer Oasis
This brand new 2,337 sqm recreational space opened in Al Ain last week. Al Hayer Oasis offers recreational fun times, acres of green space and nursery crop cultivation. Wherever possible, natural materials were used in the construction — palm fronds, for example, were used in creating shades for the play areas. There’s a food kiosk area and central plaza where seasonal events are planned to take place.
The Founder’s Memorial
The capital’s stunning Founder’s Memorial is a tribute to the “life, legacy and values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan”, founding father of the UAE. Learn, pause for reflection, and enjoy the serenity found in the attraction’s Sanctuary Garden, Heritage Garden, Elevated Walkway and breathtaking central artwork. The Founder’s Memorial is free to visit, although bookings must be made in advance via thefoundersmemorial.ae website.
Al Ras Al Akhdar, daily 9am to 10pm daily, free. @foundermemorial
Umm Al Emarat Park
This isn’t just a chill spot for a wee walk, oh no, this park flexes big free-time facilities. There’s an amphitheatre, petting zoo, alfresco cinema, botanical garden, a wisdom garden (because you’re never too zen to wise up) and a miniature train tour.
Mushrif area, entry to the park is charged at Dhs10 per person. Located at Umm Al Emarat Park, ummalemaratpark.ae
This huge centrally-located park features manicured grass and soothing water features. It also has an aquarium, Maritime Museum, a library and its own splash park (Dhs50).
Khor Al Maqta, open 10am to 10pm on weekdays (closes 11pm on weekends), entry Dhs2. khalifapark.com
Brand new and boasting some serious eco honour badges. Spanning 27,500 square metre area of verdant abundance, with over 2,000 types of plant, the park was engineered to recreate a forest environment. Its high tree density combined with an innovative irrigation system, means that it’s a concept that requires 40 per cent less water than traditional park set ups. There’s also sports facilities such as mini-golf holes, table tennis, courts for badminton, basketball, volleyball and football, skate zones and a climbing wall.
Al Reem Island, 7am to 11pm. dmt.gov.ae
Corniche Parks (Family Park, Lake Park, Urban Park, Formal Park, Heritage Park)
There’s a verdant patchwork of award-winning ‘free-to-enter’ parks along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, each with a slightly different theme. The Family Parks (1 and 2) have a range of safe play areas (no men unaccompanied by ‘children or women’ permitted) with a fun mix of installations appropriate for a wide range of ages. You’ll also find a skate park and sport courts for active escapades, a splash pool and barbecue pits if you want to ‘make a day of it’. Lake Park unsurprisingly pairs its greenery with watery vistas, here too — a quaint park bridge that’s perfect for profile shots and romantic promenades. Formal Park has also got a lot going on, aside from the plethora of places to park-up and chilll, rec fans will find a maze and sports facilities including an outdoor gym. At the far Eastern end of the Corniche, head into Heritage Park for dhow harbour views, fountains, play areas, picnic spots and buildings inspired by the nation’s past.
The Galleria Al Maryah (Family Park, Sky Park and Sports Park)
There are a trio of rooftop parks available for free perusal in one of the city’s best-loved malls, The Galleria, in case you need to break up shopping time with some more grounding surroundings. Family Park is located on level two (south) near the food court and includes soft-play, slides and climbing frames (although some of the facilities are temporarily closed). The Sky Park is located on level four (south), and the Sports Park is located on level two (north) next to the air-conditioned suspension bridge.
The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Sat to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thu and Fri 10am to midnight, free. Tel: (02) 493 7400, @thegalleriauae
Jubail Mangrove Park
Jubail Mangrove Park opened in January last year, offering visitors the opportunity to explore one of this region’s most fascinating natural habitats. Found nestled away on a quiet outcrop of Jubail Island, Abu Dhabi — the mangrove park became an instant hit with locals, residents and tourists. It features a meandering 2.3km boardwalk and sits in close proximity to the city. There’s plenty of ways to explore this fascinating ecosystem including ranger-led, guided boardwalk (from Dhs50), kayak (Dhs100), and e-canoe tours (from Dhs80) of the mangroves.
Jubail Mangrove Park, Al Jubail Island (next to Saadiyat Island), Abu Dhabi, 8am to 7.30pm daily, Dhs15 for adult, Dhs10. Tel: (05) 63032423. park.jubailisland.ae
A ‘Green Flag’ certified park located in the Al Nahyan area of Abu Dhabi, Delma Park is packed with active amenities such as tennis courts, a gym, climbing wall, rubber running track and a clutch of crafty kid’s playground equipment.
Open daily 8am to 11pm, free, Al Nahyan
Reem Central Park
This decent-sized park on Al Reem Island offers four multi-sports courts, water features, a skate park, dining facilities (including 800Pizza, Jelly Belly ice cream and Taqado) beach sports, canal walks and playgrounds. It also has a stunning mural to the late, great basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
Al Reem Island, daily 6am to 11pm, reemcentralpark.com
Al Ain Oasis
If you’re looking for green, Al Ain AKA ‘The Garden City’ is a pretty good place to start. This 1,200-hectare desert oasis is found in the middle of Al Ain and attained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2011. It contains more than 147,000 date palms, trees bearing mangos, oranges, bananas, figs and jujube. With its whimsical shaded pathways beneath fractal canopies it’s a place that provides a shuddering contrast to the urban jungle of Abu Dhabi’s cityscape. There’s also an Eco-Centre that offers insight into the conservation efforts at the oasis, and a look back at its history.
Al Ain, open daily 9am to 5pm. Tel: (03) 711 8251, take a virtual tour at visitabudhabi.ae
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Corniche towerscape, this oasis of green is a great spot to hide from summer heat. Distinguishing features include the grand entranceway, a beautiful central water feature and inside refreshment area.
Zone 1E8 opposite Corniche Hotel Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 11pm, free.
Al Khalidiya Park
One of the city’s biggest and oldest parks, this emerald expansive is dotted with kids play areas and sits conveniently, right in the heart of the city.
Al Khalidiyah, daily 8am to 11pm, free
A brand new leisure and entertainment district opened on Hudayriyat Island last year, and it is rammed with awesome activities. Some are paid attractions, such as the Circuit X skate park, splash park and OCR Obstacle Course. Other such as the bike parks, public beach, outdoor gym, Heritage Walk and overwater cycling track, are free.
Al Hudayriyat Island, timings vary for each facility, hudayriyatisland.ae
Close to the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve (which is also well worth a visit) along the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain road, is Wathba Park. It has plenty of kid-entertaining facilities, barbecue pits and is home to the massive Wathba Library.
Al Wathba, daily 8am to 11pm, free
Yas Gateway Parks
Yas is probably best known for its theme parks, but it’s throwing down pretty hard in the leafy green park department too. The Yas Gateway Parks are a bit of secret alfresco gem, rarely very busy and kept in immaculate condition. They’re divided into ‘North’ and ‘South’ sections, with a selection of kids covered play facilities in the North and group sports courts in the South. Both sides of the park have big open grass spaces that are perfect for an enthusiastic kick about, intense game of frisbee or spot of kite flying.
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Highway, Yas Island, open 24 hours, free.
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Al Rahba Park
Another Green Flag-winning and pleasant community park, Al Rahba features some great kids play areas and outdoor sporting equipment. It’s located a little out of town, close to the E11 (Abu Dhabi — Dubai highway).
Al Rahba, E11, 8am to 11pm, free.
Other notable parks around Abu Dhabi
Sharea Park; Kathem Park; Rabdan Park; Al Shamkha Park; Baynona Park; Al Shahama; MBZ Park; Bani Yas Ladies Park; Musaffah Park; Al Bahia Park; New Airport Park; Old Airport Park; Al Waqin Park; Al Shuwaib Park; Bin Al Jesreen Park; and Al Basra Ladies’ Park.
Parks in Al Ain
Al Sulaimi Park; Nahil Park; Green Mubazzarah; and Al Aamerah Park.
Parks in Al Dhafrah
Madinat Zayed; Al Mirfa Park; Zayed Al Khair; and Sila Park.
Images: What’s On Archive