Safa, Zabeel, Mamzar, Barsha, Mushrif and more of Dubai's best parks
Al Safa 2 Park A tiny little park, situated in a quiet, tree-lined residential area of Al Safa. It’s not very well sign-posted but once you manage to find it, the place offers plenty of parking and a great spot to retreat from the city for a few hours. Through the week, it’s only open to women and children, making it popular with mums and toddlers.
Facilities: Manicured gardens, lots of benches, picnic tables and a walking path as well as sandy play areas and miniature basketball, volleyball and football courts.
Shops or kiosks: A small kiosk that sells soft drinks and snacks.
Nature: Lots of trees and shrubs, pink, white and yellow flowers and plenty of birds.
Pets Allowed? No. 3/5
Free. Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri and Sat 8am-11.30pm, public holidays 8am-midnight, (050 420 2892). Take Al Manara (West) off Sheikh Zayed Road. Turn right onto Al Wasl Road then first right, continue straight for a while then the park is on the left. Women and children only allowed on weekdays. No restrictions on weekends.
Al Barsha Pond Park An oasis of green in predominantly sand-infiltrated Al Barsha, this park is built around the perimeter of a man-made lake and is popular throughout the week as well as at weekends with joggers, families, fitness fiends, kids’ birthday parties and picnickers.
Facilities: Jogging track, bicycle hire, jumping castles, basketball and tennis courts, playgrounds and fitness equipment.
Shops or kiosks: Small kiosks close to the entrance sell popcorn and soft drinks.
Nature: Palm trees line the track surrounding the lake and there are plenty of grassy areas to picnic.
Pets Allowed? No. 3/5
Free. Sun-Thu 8am-11pm. Fri-Sat. 8am-11.30pm. Al Barsha 2, near Emirates NBD Bank (no number).
Tip: The smooth, flat jogging track lining this park is perfect for polishing your rollerblading and skating skills.
Al Quoz Pond Park The location of this park seems a little odd, wedged in the corner where two roads meet. A sign at the entrance reads ‘families and residents only’, but it’s hard to know which residents. Nevertheless, you’ll still find plenty of families with kids, joggers and the like.
Facilities: Adequate parking, playgrounds, a cushioned running track that skirts the park’s pond as well as some basic exercise equipment.
Shops or kiosks: None.
Toilets: Yes, including a water fountain offering free drinking water
Nature: In terms of greenery, you’ll find grassy lawns, flower beds and a scattering of trees. The park’s pond, though, is fenced off, so if you’re looking to skim stones or row on the lake, you’ll be disappointed.
Pets allowed? No. 2.5/5
Free. Open Sun-Thu 8am-11pm, Fri-Sat 8am-11.30pm, public holidays 8am-midnight. Al Quoz 2, at the intersection of Al Khail Road and Al Meydan Street. (050 852 8513).
Safa Park A huge expanse of green in the heart of the city. Families, couples, teenagers, joggers, yoga enthusiasts, rollerbladers, kite-flyers and nature lovers can all be found here.
Facilities: Barbeques, play areas, ponds, boats, waterfalls, football and basketball courts, running track, a bird sanctuary, an amphitheatre, a wedding hall and even a Ferris wheel.
Shops or kiosks: Vending machines and small kiosks as well as The Archive, a library, cultural centre and coffee shop.
Nature: Over 16,000 trees and plants including palm trees, almond trees, frangipani trees, and colourful flowers. Lots of birds, bats, ducks, geckos, fish and even the odd iguana!
Pets Allowed? No. 4/5
Dhs3. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat 8am-11pm. Located between Al Wasl and Sheikh Zayed Road Interchange 2 (04 349 2111).
Burj Park A strip of perfectly manicured grass nestled in a pitch-perfect position overlooking the Burj Khalifa, there’s not an awful lot of hustle or bustle at this park, but most non-residents will visit for the view. What you get here is an interrupted, full-on vista of the world’s tallest building in all its glory. This expanse of greenery would be perfect for a picnic whilst gazing up at that view. Or you can opt for a cycle ride around Old Town and the area surrounding the Burj Khalifa. There are bikes for hire by the park entrance.
Shops and kiosks: We are told a kiosk will operate during the more cooler months.
Free. Open 24 hours daily. Located directly behind Burj Residences, Downtown Dubai (no number).
Creekside Par Head to Bur Dubai and you’ll find one of the city’s prettier parks. It has a lovely promenade alongside the Creek, offering some spectacular views of Dubai while dhow boats nestle on the water. It’s a great park to walk around with plenty of greenery, which all makes for a very relaxing atmosphere.
Facilities: There are allocated barbecue spots, restaurants, kids’ play areas with swings and climbing frames, a go-kart track, bikes to rent, mini-golf and even cable cars. You’ll find Children’s City, which is an education and adventure park for kids here, too.
Shops or kiosks: Burger stalls and stands sell a variety of ice-creams including London Dairy.
Nature: You can see some mammals of the sea and catch a show at the indoor, fully air-conditioned Dolphinarium.
Ittihad Park, Palm Jumeirah Ittihad Park is a palm tree-lined promenade-style affair, surrounded by a 3.2 kilometre jogging track. Squarely aimed at running enthusiasts, this place is perfect for an early-morning/evening jaunt. Landscaped rockeries and the odd water feature improve the scenery along the straight running route, and there’s even a variety of gym equipment on the way, should you feel up to a quick burst of squat thrusts or push-ups. Sadly, there’s a bit of a lack of greenery, except for the aforementioned trees and the odd tiny strip of grass here and there.
Facilities: Gym equipment and two kids’ playgrounds.
Shops and kiosks: None.
Nature: Lots of different species of bird, including Hoopoes.
Pets Allowed? No. 3/5
Free. Open 24 hours daily. Located between Golden Mile building 2 and 3. Palm Jumeirah. (no number).
Tip: Preparing for a 10km? Attempt three laps of this park (9.6km) and you’ll be in good shape.
Al Mamzar Park An absolutely massive area, Al Mamzar is just as popular for its five beaches as it is for its park facilities. The coast here is stunning: lined with palm trees and calm waters. You can also relax in shaded, grass areas, or stroll along the winding footpaths near the barbecue areas and climbing frames. The variety on show makes this a great place to spend a lazy Saturday. It’s a bit of a trek to get to from New Dubai, and often quiet in the week.
Facilities: Designated barbecue areas, a swimming pool (Dhs10 entry fee), a bright blue skate park, plus an atrium, basketball, football and volleyball pitches. There are also some rather snazzy beach cabins available to rent for Dhs200.
Shops or kiosks: Several kiosks serving snacks such as ice-cream. Bring your own water, as a medium-size bottle here will set you back Dhs6.
Nature: The most noticeable wildlife is birds, with plenty of animated tweeting coming from the trees.
Pets Allowed? No. 4/5
Dhs5 per person, Dhs30 per car. Sun-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat 8am-11pm, Al Mamzar (04 296 6201).
Media City Park This park has a giant lake to one side complete with a large fountain spraying water some nine metres in the air. There’s a path around the lake and benches dotted along the route. With plenty of green space this park is a popular spot with Media City workers chilling out at lunch but there’s less to keep kids occupied than at parks located in more residential areas.
Facilities: None, though the park does host the occasional music concert and seasonal festival.
Shops or kiosks: Although there are no shops, the park is right next to a selection of decent restaurants including Circle and Urban Bistro. The Media One Hotel is also just over the road. Toilets: No. Nature: Here you’ll find ducks, geese, terrapins and giant carp. Pets Allowed? No 2.5/5
Free. Open 24-hours daily. Dubai Media City, between the CNN Building and the Media One Hotel (no number).
Tip: Unless you want the army of greedy Media City ducks to follow you, we recommend you avoid walking around with a plastic bag...
Mushrif Park Located near Uptown Mirdif and Khawaneej, this desert park covers 5.25 square kilometres and is full of little surprises, such as the area displaying traditional houses from around the world, including a replica of a traditional German Hausbarn, a Thai house and even a blue toadstool house.
Facilities: Swimming pool, covered areas, equestrian centre, camel riding, barbecue areas, playgrounds, cycle track, volleyball, basketball and handball courts.
Shops or kiosks: The option is there to grab fast-food style fare at the Malik Burger restaurant, but we’d suggest taking a picnic.
Nature: Desert palms and shrubs, peacocks, camels, horses, rocky ponds and streams.
Pets Allowed: No. 4/5
Dhs10 per car, Dhs3 per person. Sun-Wed, 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat, 8am-11pm. Heading on the E311 towards Sharjah, take the next major right turn after Mirdif City Centre and the park is well signposted (04 288 3624).
Port Saeed Plaza Park This small community square offers a welcome spot of nature amid the hustle and bustle of busy Deira. The plaza is laid out with paths converging on a central paved area, with grass and trees in between and plenty of benches. The place is full of visitors taking a break from work nearby, or out with small children.
Facilities: The park has a 400 metre running track, which is mainly used by power walkers and runs around the circumference of the park. Barbecues, shisha and cycling are not allowed.
Shops or kiosks: No.
Toilets: No. Nature: On our visit, we noted plenty of birds.
Pets Allowed? No. 2/5
Free. Open 24 hours. Behind City Seasons Hotel, near Deira City Centre, Deira (no number).
Woof Nestled between the warehouses of Al Quoz, this park is aimed at the city’s small-to-medium-sized canine residents. Currently, it’s more a doggy daycare than playground, but once the weather cools, the outdoor areas will be opened up to clients to bring their pets along in the evening to socialise with other pooches. There are also tentative plans for movie nights and barbecues – though as with all facilities, you and your pet (or pets) must be registered with Woof in order to have the chance to attend.
Zabeel Park A huge, beautifully landscaped park spread over two sections connected by pedestrian bridges. Popular with families and fitness fans and quite busy at weekends, Zabeel also boasts a cute train that takes visitors on a park tour. There are some great shaded areas for parents with small children.
Facilities: Barbecue/covered cooking areas, toilets, bicycle track, jogging track, lake with boat hire, water fountains, children’s edutainment centre and play zone, cricket pitch, plus a huge car park.
Shops or kiosks: Yes, kiosks selling plenty of refreshments.
Nature: Lush and green with lots of birds.
Pets Allowed: No. 4/5
Dhs5 per person. Dhs40 for boat hire. Sun-Wed, 8am-11pm, Thu-Sat, 8am-11.30pm. Located at the crossroads of Sheikh Zayed Road and Sheikh Rashid Road, a few minutes’ walk from Lamcy Plaza (04 398 6888).
JLT Park The up-and-coming area’s once grim-looking central lake will be transformed into a park covering 55,000 square metres, due to be completed by the end of 2013. As well as a pedestrian bridge linking the north and south areas, the green space will house fitness equipment, a small amphitheatre and kids’ play areas.
Crocodile Park Featuring more than 200 freshwater and saltwater crocs, this 20,000 square metre park will be situated near Mushrif Reserve and the city’s new zoo Safari Dubai. Due to be completed by November 2014, the park will invite visitors to learn more about the species.
Holy Qu’ran Park Dubai Municipality’s religious-themed park is due to open in September 2014, and will feature 54 different plants mentioned in the Qu’ran, as well as an outdoor theatre, fountains, a desert garden and running and cycling tracks.