What is it about transport that captures the public imagination? London’s Underground, the New York Subway and countless other networks across the globe have developed cult status and their own iconography. Since 2009 (9.09pm on September 2009, to be precise) Dubai has had its own metro, and in its first year ten million passengers travelled between ten stops on one line. Last year that grew to 109 million passengers, thanks to the expansion of the network to 40 stops on two lines. With that surge in use, it’s safe to say Dubai’s train service is now firmly fixed in both the city’s skyline and its residents’ minds.
Yet far too many residents confess to using the metro too little. With the weather perfect for a day outdoors right now, we gave our Nol card a bruising and visited our favourite spots accessible by train, using feeder buses where appropriate, so you can plan a great day – or six – on the metro.
1 Ibn Battuta
Pick up cheap and crazy gifts
Japanese bargain store Daiso is a haven for cheap birthday gifts, stationery, homewares and much more, with prices starting at Dhs7. Walk five minutes from the station to Ibn Battuta Mall, through the Andalusia entrance with the signpost for Géant.
Daiso is on your left (04 368 5543).
Have clothes made
Hidden down one of the service corridors in the mall, through a set of fire-escape doors in China Court, you will find Al Thawb Al Watani Tailors.
Alterations cost from Dhs20. Walk five minutes from the station to Ibn Battuta Mall. Find the nearest information desk: they will direct you to the appropriate service corridor (04 368 5543).
Brush up your cooking skills
Scafa cooking school runs a range of classes for different skill levels. Walking towards Al Mas Tower, turn left and walk straight for four minutes.
Dhs500 per couple. Unit 16, Cluster I, JLT, www.scafa.ae (04 379 4044).
Check out regional art
JLT’s sole gallery offers exhibitions of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East alongside occasional big names, such as Iranian master Taha Behbani.
Turn right and walk 10 minutes towards the marina. 2204 Indigo Icon Tower, JLT (04 420 3471).
3 Dubai Marina
Try Vietnamese cuisine
Authentic Vietnamese eatery Hanoi serves great summer rolls, phõ (a classic noodle broth) and superb coffee. Summer rolls Dhs18. Walk five minutes from the station towards Almas Tower (the tallest in JLT), Hanoi is on your left, level with the lake and promenade.
Goldcrest Executive Towers, JLT (04 431 3099).
Make the weekly shop green, al fresco and fun
Organic store Blue Planet Green People runs a family-friendly farmers’ market every Friday, selling fresh produce, cake, crafts and more.
Prices vary. Outside Blue Planet Green People at Cluster U, which is three minutes from the exit towards JLT. (04 369 5209).
Hit the driving range
Step outside this station on the Emirates Living side and you’ll find yourself right outside the golf club. Play a round, hit the driving range or try the pub quiz at Spike Bar on Monday nights.
Driving range from Dhs30 for approx 50 balls. Walk through the main golf club entrance next to the right station exit, then walk about three minutes to the clubhouse (04 380 1234).
5 Dubai Internet City
Visit some classic pubs
It’s an easy walk from the metro to the Belgian Beer Café
(Grand Millennium, 04 429 9999), Nelson’s (Media Rotana, 04 435 0000), 1Up (Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites, 04 434 5555) and the Crown and Lion (Byblos Hotel, 04 448 8000). Head straight south out of the station and walk for five minutes, then turn left when you meet the main road. Start your evening at Grand Millennium.
6 Sharaf DG
Eat dumplings at Koreana
Chow down on Korean-style dumplings, mandoo and kimchi.
From the Abu Dhabi exit walk five minutes towards the Ibis Hotel and turn left towards Diamond City to the Koreana restaurant, Barsha 1 (04 392 9918).
7 Mall of the Emirates
Browse bargain-priced furniture
Pass the strip of shops leading to the Emarat service station: after a short walk you will find a 27,800 sqm Pan Emirates megastore, where you’ll find bargain furniture sets and home decor.
Umm Suqeim Road, Barsha 1 (04 383 0800).
Chill at a pool bar
The Kempinski’s pool bar, Mosaic, is often overlooked, yet is perfectly placed to catch the afternoon sun.
A ten-minute walk to the Kempinski Hotel on the ground floor near Virgin Megastore (04 341 0000).
8 First Gulf Bank
Work out at a PT-only gym
Inside Gold & Diamond Park opposite the metro exit, Symmetry Gym focuses solely on personal training.
From Dhs550 for seven-day trial membership. Cross the road and walk through the car park entrance, turn right and head towards More Café for two minutes. Symmetry Gym is on your left (04 346 6479).
Get your paperwork in order
The RTA’s Barsha Center is just five minutes’ walk from this station, where you can sort out a variety of road-related issues, including applying for a UAE driving licence.
Leave the station and turn right, walking past the roundabout – the centre is the only building on your left (800 9090).
9 Noor Islamic Bank metro
View art in Al Quoz
Marvel at European factory relics at J+A Gallery (055 395 0495), 10 minutes from the exit on Street 4a, and contemporary Middle Eastern art at nearby 4 Walls Art Gallery (04 338 8892), which is about eight minutes’ walk just behind Gargash Motors.
10 Business Bay
Get fighting fit at KO Gym
The huge SZR branch of this martial arts gym, well known for its kickboxing classes. From Dhs50 per session. Walk over the metro footbridge to the other side of SZR, exit the station heading towards Safa Park and keep walking down until you reach the last building on your right.
Takes approximately tem minutes (050 286 1673).
Laze in the park
In the direction of Dubai Marina, you’ll find one of Dubai’s best-loved green spots – Safa Park.
Walk for 15 minutes out of the station. Dhs3 entry. (04 349 2111).
Pick up imported goodies
One of SZR’s oldest supermarkets, Safestway is loved by North American expats thanks to shelves of imported treats.
Leave the station on the Dubai exit side and walk five minutes towards Shangri-La Hotel (04 343 4590).
11 Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall
Bargain hunt at Souk Al Manzil
The city’s latest market offers vintage, organic and bespoke produce.
Thu-Sat 10am-5pm. 10 minutes’ walk from the station along the boulevard towards Al Manzil Hotel on the right.
Dance at Mojo
This new live music bar gets busy at weekends. Five minutes’ walk from the metro on foot or through The Dubai Mall using the new walkway.
Republique, The Address Dubai Mall (04 438 8888).
12 Financial Centre
Check out art in DIFC
Absorb a number of contemporary galleries, including photography space The Empty Quarter, high-profile Opera Gallery and, at the moment, The Moving Museum.
Ten minutes’ walk from the station towards Gate Village, DIFC (no number).
Amazing downtown views
Some of the best views of Sheikh Zayed Road’s glittering skyscrapers are found at the Four Points by Sheraton’s Pool Bar & Grill.
Cross to the north side of Sheikh Zayed Road and walk five minutes north. Open daily 10am-10pm (04 323 0333).
13 Emirates Towers
Enjoy three courses for Dhs145
This sky-high eatery serves a refined yet affordable business lunch including an entrée, main and dessert of your choice.
Turn left towards DWTC and walk for about five minutes. Vu’s, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8088).
Stop for Middle Eastern street food
Try Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese-style street foods at Zaroob.
Exit the station and walk towards the back of DIFC for about five minutes (800 927 662).
14 World Trade Centre
Hear jazz and dine on steak
Soulful American vocalist Andrea Brown serenades diners every Thursday from 9pm at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Cross to the north side of Sheikh Zayed Road and walk right for five minutes. Table bookings only. The H Hotel (04 501 8666).
Lebanese late-night dining
Head down 2nd of December Street (formerly Al Dhiyafa) to lively late-night restaurant Beirut – you can jump aboard bus 98E for the four-minute journey.
Open daily 9am-5am. (04 398 8881).
15 Al Jafiliya station
Barbecue at Za’abeel Park
This inner-city oasis is the ideal spot to escape the bustle of the city. Walk for around 15 minutes straight and then turn right.
Dhs5 entry. Za’abeel Park (04 398 6888).
Old-school Tex-Mex food
Jump on bus 88, C15 or C26 and head to the buzzing central Satwa roundabout. We recommend old school bar-restaurant Cactus Cantina – the Mexican mixed drinks are legendary.
Open daily noon-midnight. Chelsea Plaza Hotel (04 398 2274).
16 Al Karama
Go for a budget lunch
Save on lunch at budget Indonesian eatery Betawi Café (it’s a Time Out favourite). Try the pecel ayam, a marinated and fried portion of chicken. 15 minutes from the station.
Betawi Café, 4B Street, behind Ministry of Health, Karama (04 357 6245).
Great views across ‘old Dubai’
Head to the top floor Kris With a View bar for great twilight views.
Walk 15 minutes north along Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Street, or take a few stops on bus 22, or any route heading east towards the creek. Open daily 6pm-2am. Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel (04 377 1111).
Sup drinks at The Pub
A classic expat hangout and one of Dubai’s most authentic recreations of a British drinkery.
Two minutes’ walk: head out of the metro, cross Union Square. Open daily noon-4pm, 6pm-midnight. Radisson Blu Deira Creek (04 205 7333).
Look at old-school boats
Union station is perfectly placed for a creekside stroll past the lively dhow wharfage.
Two minutes’ walk south from the station.
18 Deira City Centre
Check out a new bar
Head through Deira City Centre mall for ten minutes to industrial-tinged bar Le Fabrique.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am; Thu-Fri noon-3am. Pullman Deira City Centre (04 603 8080).
Pick up party accessories
If you have an event coming up, Party Centre in Garhoud is a great place to stock up on everything from themed paper cups and balloons to masks and outfits. The store is located opposite Welcare Hospital.
Leaving the station, walk for five minutes south until you spot the huge sign outside (04 283 1353).
20 Dubai Healthcare City
Just a few steps from City Hospital lies traditional Chinese medicine centre Beijing Tong Ren Tang.
Free consultations Mon 9am-noon and Tue 2pm-6pm. Dhs210 per session. Leave the station outside City Hospital and walk east. The centre is on your left (04 435 6905).
Enter the Crystal Maze
British fans can indulge in some TV nostalgia at Wafi’s Encounter Zone themed areas.
Leave Exit 1, cross the road and turn right, walking towards Wafi for around four minutes. www.wafi.com (04 324 4555).
21 Oud Metha
This old-school sports bar has a great atmosphere on match days, fed by more than 55 screens.
Use bus 22,or any bus going south, for five minutes. Open daily noon-3am. Ramee Royal Hotel (04 334 4088).
Shop at Lamcy Plaza
This bustling mall has a handful of good stores, including lingerie giant La Senza and men’s workwear stalwarts Pierre Cardin and Ted Lapidus.
From the station, take bus 42 towards the mall. Oud Metha (800-52629).
22 Al Fahidi
Enjoy an Emirati lunch
Indulge in traditional food with local flair while learning about the culture, religion and customs of the Emirati people at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Brunch Dhs80. Sat 10am. Take bus C7 from the station for five minutes towards Al Mussallah Road (04 353 6666).
Explore the galleries of Al Fahidi
As one of the oldest heritage sites in Dubai, the maze of winding alleyways formerly known as Bastakiya holds a treasure trove of galleries, including The Majlis Gallery and XVA Hotel.
Five minutes from station. Majlis Gallery, Al Fahidi Street (04 353 6233); XVA Hotel, Al Fahidi Street (04 358 5117).
Eat a camel burger
Find out what camel tastes like at the charming Local House Coffee Shop & Restaurant.
Burger Dhs35. Open Sat-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 1pm-11pm. 15 minutes’ walk. Head north on Al Mankhool Road until the roundabout, which is opposite the café. Al Fahidi (no number).
23 Al Ghubabia
Step back in time at a Sheikh’s house
See how Emiratis lived in bygone eras by visiting Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House, home of the ruling family until Sheikh Saeed’s death in 1958.
Dhs2 entry. Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-8.30pm, Fri 3pm-9.30pm. Thee minutes’ walk north along the creek (04 393 7139).
24 Al Ras
Go for gold in Deira
Explore the gold souk, which offers up-to-the-minute market prices.
Walk for three minutes up 103 Road (no number)
25 Palm Deira
Visit the fish market
Check out the bustle as traders go about shifting the day’s catch – you’ll find everything from shark to exotic crustaceans.
Open Sat-Thu 6am-1pm; 4pm-10pm; Fri 4pm-10pm. Five minutes’ walk west along the coast, opposite Gold Souk (no number).
26 Baniyas Square
Shop for spices or gold
The souks stock everything, including some of the world’s cheapest saffron. There are also about 300 specialist retailers offering yellow gold and wedding jewellery.
Located near Sikkat Al-Khali Street, near Baniyas Square, five minutes from the metro (no number).
Check out the Al Ahli club
Five minutes’ walk from the metro, behind Al Mulla Plaza, you can watch Al Ahli Club’s local league football matches for free. The club houses a pool, gym and café for members. Al Ahli Horse Riding Club is also open to non-members.
From Dhs150 for a 45-minute horse ride, www.alahliclub.com. Horse riding (04 298 8408); football (04 298 8222).
28 Al Qusais
Hit happy hour at The Darts Pub
Grab some hops and settle in somewhere new. The Darts Pub’s happy hour runs daily from noon until 4pm and while (ironically) there are no darts boards, you can play pool instead.
Open daily 7pm-midnight. Fortune Plaza Hotel, Al Nahda Road (04 263 5500).
Tariffs and times
A single metro fare costs between Dhs2 and Dhs6.5 depending on the distance travelled. Fares are cheaper if you use a top-up Nol card, with single journeys from Dhs1.8 to Dhs5.8. A basic silver Nol card costs Dhs20, including Dhs14 of credit.
Trains run Sat-Thu 6am-11pm, Fri 2pm-midnight.
Dubai Metro fines
• Putting your feet on seats
• Eating and drinking on trains
• Bringing animals on trains
• Travelling without a valid ticket
• Spitting, littering or staining trains
• Carrying alcohol inside trains
• Sleeping in waiting areas
• Using a forged Nol card
• Tampering with a safety or security device
On the water
The water bus runs along the creek every 15 minutes from Al Seef to Al Ghubaiba, stopping at Dubai Old Souk, Sabkha and Banyas. Dhs2 per journey. Sat-Thu 7am-10pm; Fri 10am-midnight.
RTA runs two tourist-friendly water ferry routes: one from Al Ghubaiba water transport station along the creek to Jumeirah and back, and the other from Marina Mall to Atlantis and back. There are four hour-long trips per day at 9am, 11am, 5pm and 7pm. Tickets Dhs50 standard, Dhs75 gold class.
For a luxurious journey, you can book a water taxi for up to 11 people at Dhs400 an hour to travel wherever you choose (by water, obviously). The service runs daily 10am-10pm (800 9090).