Get some fresh air in your A/C-weary lungs with these top routes
Our city is now becoming far more pedestrian-friendly, thanks to new cycling paths such as the Bab Al Shams route, and new running tracks including a route under the Palm Jumeirah monorail: the great outdoors have never been more accessible. And December is prime time for getting outside. With temperatures hovering in the pleasant mid-20°Cs, there are plenty of organised activities lined up to make the most of the perfect weather: sign up now for the Spinneys Dubai 92 Cycle Challenge on Friday December 14, and Dubai Desert Road Run on Saturday 15. Even if endurance events aren’t your thing, simply going for a walk comes with a host of health benefits. Whether you prefer a stroll, a jog or some pedal-powered action, we’ve rounded up some of the city’s best routes, old and new, for walking, cycling and running.
Walk Dubai creek Approximate length: 5km/1.5 hours.
From creekside smells to bustling souks, and heritage buildings to Dubai’s oldest pub, this short stroll takes in much of the city’s history.
1 Start at Deira City Centre metro station. Walk south down to the creek, then turn right to walk along the water’s edge. Be sure to take in the dhow wharfage on your left, which bustles with activity as boats load up and dock, just as they have done for generations.
2 Call into the Sheraton Dubai Creek (04 207 1721) for refreshments at The Chelsea Arms, which dates back to 1978 and claims to be Dubai’s oldest pub.
3 Continue along the creek, following it round until you reach the seafront and Deira Fish Market. From here, take in the view of the ocean and then turn right down a side street to enter the Gold Souk and Spice Souk.
4 Emerge at the other end of the souks on Old Bastakiya Street, at the Deira Old Souq abra station, and hop aboard a dhow to cross to the Dubai Old Souq station, on the Bur Dubai side. The trip costs Dhs1 each way, and abras run daily until about midnight.
5 From here, turn left and follow the road as it curves round, taking the first right onto Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street. Walk a short distance, and on your right you’ll see Al Fahidi Fort which houses Dubai Museum (04 353 1862). Entry is Dhs3.
6 Once you’ve toured the museum, travel east down Al Fahidi Street and enter the restored Bastakiya neighbourhood, which recreates the city’s affluent merchant district in the late 19th century.
7 Head back the way you came and turn onto Al Mankhool Road, heading south to Al Fahidi metro station, where your trip concludes.
Walk Emirates Living Approximate length: 7.2km/two hours for the short route, 11km/three hours for the long route.
There are dozens of walking routes around this landscaped community, taking in lakes, garden areas and impressive villas. This route incorporates plenty of toilet, snack and rest stops.
1 Start at Links at The Address Montgomerie Dubai for breakfast overlooking the driving range. Make your way out of the resort and down to the main road: at the first water feature roundabout you encounter, take a left along the tree-lined street (straight ahead will take you towards Sheikh Zayed Road).
2 Continue walking down the footpath, following as it curves round to the left for about 15 to 20 minutes. Soon you’ll see a petrol station on the right, next to Meadows Clinic. You’ll then see tennis courts on your left, and behind them a small village centre (known as ‘small Spinneys’) and a roundabout ahead.
3 Go straight across the roundabout, then cross to the right side of the road. This will give you a better view of the lakes of Jumeirah Islands on the right. You’ll eventually approach some traffic lights, with a mosque on the left and The Springs Town Centre (aka ‘big Spinneys’). Pick up a cold drink, and exit to the left. Cross over the footbridge, and enter Springs 14.
4 Passing the security gate, turn right at the first T-junction, and continue straight down to the first left. Take the second left, and a sharp right down a small alleyway. This will open onto a large lake with three fountains.
5 Follow the footpath around the lake (this walk itself takes about 25-35 minutes). Many of the gardens have interesting features – one of the most striking is a large owlery.
6 Once you’ve returned to your point of entry, retrace your steps back to Town Centre to complete the route (4.5km), or back up to The Montgomerie (6.8km).
Run Burj Park Approximate length: 2.6km/15-20 minutes
Downtown Dubai has plenty of pedestrianised areas and wide pavements, and is usually quiet in the morning so you won’t need to dodge the crowds. There are several circular routes that can be linked or repeated to increase the distance, plus a couple of gentle elevation changes and bridges to switch up the tempo.
1 The starting point is in Burj Park, across the lake opposite The Dubai Mall. To reach it, leave the mall and head towards the lake, then follow the lake round to the right, past the base of the Burj and across the humped bridge into the park.
2 Set out in a northerly direction, following the path up towards the northern bridge. Continue up the ramp towards Emaar Boulevard (tip: shorten your stride and work your arms harder to conquer the gradient).
3 When you reach Emaar Boulevard, near the entrance to the Burj, turn right and almost double back on yourself down the narrow steps that run alongside the water.
4 Follow the path around The Dubai Mall lake and pass Burj Steps on the left-hand side. Keen runners (or gluttons for punishment) can try a few shuttle runs up and down the steps for an extra workout.
5 Continue around the lake in front of the mall (best to do this route early in the morning to avoid the crowds). Pass the bronze bull statue at the foot of The Address Downtown, then head up the ramp between the hotel and the mall onto Emaar Boulevard.
6 Turn right and cruise down the wide, flat pavement. Need refreshments? There’s a Spinneys across the road, just after Al Manzil.
7 Pass The Palace on your right, then turn right and jog down the steps into Emaar Square. Cross the square and head over the humped bridge back into the park, which will take you back to your starting point. For a longer run, try two or three laps.
Run Palm Jumeirah Park Approximate length: 2.5km/15-20 minutes
Located between the Shoreline Apartments and the Golden Mile, the new Palm Jumeirah Park features a bouncy running track and exercise equipment , plus play areas and ponds for kids. The route up the trunk of the Palm isn’t the most exciting, but the location is convenient for residents and nearby Media City workers.
1 Access to the park is easiest from the Golden Mile side of the trunk. After parking your car, cross over to the other side of the monorail and you’ll come across the start and finish line. Jog towards Atlantis (which you’ll be able to spot in the distance).
2 Continue straight ahead and you’ll spot small grassy areas on your right, as well as play areas and ponds underneath the monorail line.
3 If you wish, stop off to use the exercise gear, including pull-up bars, on your left, or use the grassy area to do some sit-ups.
4 Once you get to the end of the straight, the route takes you round to the other side of the monorail track, heading in the opposite direction, where you can continue back towards the beginning of the trunk.
5 Follow the bouncy track to the opposite end (you’ll zip past the car park on the right, and a number of covered play areas). Once you’re heading towards the finish line you’ll spot more grassy areas (sit-up opportunity!) and more exercise equipment, such as a climbing structure. Continue past the finish line and stop at the grassy area on the right to stretch and cool down.
Cycle Al Qudra to Bab Al Shams Approximate length: 85km/two hours and 40 minutes
This new route is a family-friendly track, currently nearing completion, that loops round a nature park. There are plenty of diverting sights for nature lovers en-route, including protected species, ghaf trees and sometimes a spot of falcon hunting.
1 Start at Al Qudra road (bisecting Dubai Bypass Road, near Arabian Ranches), at the first roundabout after Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club, and continue cycling straight for approximately 17km, until the end of the road. Here, cross the road to the next roundabout – the 50km loop around the park starts here.
2 Following the track for 15km, turn right to reach Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa. The resort is used to catering to cyclists on this route, and makes a great mid-route pit stop for coffee and cake.
3 Back on the path, the route becomes more remote, so make sure you are well prepared for emergencies such as punctures, and are carrying plenty of water. The path becomes more interesting at this stage as you cut across the desert, with possible sights including oryx or Arabian antelope.
4 As you cycle, watch out for endurance riders training their horses, and locals engaged in falcon hunting.
5 The path continues in a loop, so keep cycling until you return to your start point on the main road. You can also turn back towards Bab Al Shams and retrace your steps if you want to cycle a shorter route. www.cyclechallenge.ae (055 9911 779).
Cycle Marina Walk to Promenade Approximate length: 6km/45 minutes.
While many of Dubai Marina’s main roads and pavements are sometimes obstructed or incomplete, the inner walkway lining the water is almost entirely free of obstacles, providing wide paths perfect for cycling, rollerblading, walking and running.
1 Set off from Reem Al Bawadi, at the Spinneys end of Marina Walk. Your ride will lead you along the walk route, past cafés and kiosks.
2 When you reach Stefanos, keep following the path round to the right, instead of veering onto the main road to your left. Go under the bridge ahead.
3 Following the path, you’ll soon reach Marina Mall – pop into one of the cafés for refreshments.
4 Continue under the next bridge, past Dubai Marina Yacht Club. Once you reach the first bridge after the Yacht Club, take the path up to the main road, and cycle across the bridge.
5 Turn right at the lights on the other side and follow the road round to Marina Promenade.
6 Dismount and take the steps down to rejoin the marina walkway, passing the coffee shops and continuing your ride, heading under the first bridge.
7 At the second bridge, take the path up and cross back over to the side on which you started. Descend the ramp, and head back towards the Marina Walk area where your ride began.