25 things to do in Dubai before summer hits

From picnic brunches to rooftop clubbing, here’s your essential bucket list

There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.” It’s a theory coined by the late, great Eddie Cochran, but that still rings true almost 60 years on, especially in one of the hottest cities in the world. But before you finalise plans for hibernation (pedant alert: it’s actually called aestivation), mop your brow and enjoy this selection of outdoorsy pursuits that will soon be taking a summer sabbatical…

Eat

Dine in the sky

A recent addition to the Dubai culinary scene, Dinner in the Sky has really taken off. The more acrophobic among you might feel tucking into a three-course meal while dangling 50 metres in the air is quirkier than the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, but seats sell out quickly. This flight of foodie fancy will be grounded by the end of May. Boarding passes at the ready…
From Dhs499 per person. Times vary. Until May 20. Dinner in the Sky, Dubai International Marine Club, Al Sufouh, www.dinnerinthesky.ae (050 925 6341).

Eat your way around the Ripe Night Market

If you love fresh, organic produce and imaginative food stalls, you’ve probably already been to a Ripe Market. One of the most popular is the night version in Al Barsha Pond Park, which has the ambience of a mini festival. To stop the spinach wilting, the markets move indoors for the summer, so catch it while you can.
Free. Fri May 13, 3pm-9pm. Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha, www.ripeme.com (04 315 7000).

Enjoy an Al fresco brunch

Dubaians love little more than these fabulous Friday food fiestas, especially when they can sit outside on a terrace as they tuck into helping after helping of global cuisine. No one enjoys a sweat-infused salad dressing, though, so we say head over to Vida Downtown for its recently launched Urban Picnic Goes to France, held outdoors at 3-in-1, before this poolside party goes on hiatus.
Dhs295 (soft drinks), Dhs345 (house beverages). Fri 1pm-5pm. Vida Downtown, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai, www.vida-hotels.com (04 428 6888).

Feast on ice cream
Cooling off with some delectable dairy is one of those wondrous moments of which summers are made. But if you’re in Dubai, such a chilled-out pursuit can quickly turn messy. There’s still time to enjoy the cold treat outdoors before the dreaded melt gets the better of you, though. Let the theatrical Turkish ice cream men attract you with their inventive sorbets or go for a classic gelato. Morelli’s has been in the business since 1907 and it serves up some seriously tasty scoops.
Open Mon-Fri 10am-1am; Sat-Sun 10am-midnight. Morelli’s, The Beach, JBR, www.morellisgelato.com (04 427 9618).

Go food trucking on The Boardwalk
Since its grand opening in November, The Boardwalk at Palm Jumeirah has attracted legions of sun-drenched strollers delighted to wander this 11km stretch of seaside promenade. The food trucks here have been a huge hit, but once summer hits, you’d be freakier than the freakiest freakshake to lunch on one of their benches. Go now.
Prices and times vary. Palm Jumeirah, www.nakheel.com (04 390 3333).

Picnic in the park
While the majority of the northern hemisphere will be laying out their gingham on the lawn and chomping into a cucumber sandwich or ten this summer, picnicking in Dubai will soon seem about as appealing as that last, gone-off slice of prawn roulade. Either pack your own or head to Inn The Park, the superb al fresco offering from the guys who brought us Bystro.
Open Sun-Thu 10am-7pm; Fri-Sat 9am-7pm. Al Khazzan Park, Satwa, www.bystrodubai.com/inn-the-park (056 565 5664).

Exercise

Everybody go surfing

It might seem like an obvious solution to beating the heat, but leaping headlong into the Gulf on a summer’s day might not be exactly refreshing (climbing into a hot bath has almost the same effect). So before you end up feeling like a frazzled fish out of water, hit the waves with Aloha Arabia’s surfing trips.
From Dhs100. Until June 1. Aloha Arabia by Fahrenheit Beachsports, Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.fahrenheitbeachsports.com (04 304 8161).

Go for a jog

Even the most hardy of distance runners would struggle to keep pace in the heat of summer (the Dubai Marathon is held in January for a reason), but before you’re forced to power up the treadmill, enjoy the last few weeks of running with the wind in your hair. The purpose-built track at Jumeirah Beach is popular for a reason, but for somewhere new, try jogging along the Dubai Water Canal and then stop off for lunch when you’re done.
Free. Open 24 hours. Dubai Water Canal, Sheikh Zayed Road.

Learn to skydive
If you liked the idea eating in the air, why not go the extra mile (or 13,500ft to be a bit more precise) and swap sky dining for skydiving? While Skydive Dubai continues to offer tandem jumps over summer, its desert campus shuts down from June to September, so if you want to fly solo, book the lessons now. Just don’t have a three-courser beforehand…
From Dhs1,500. Open Tue-Sun 7.30am-4pm. Until June 1. Skydive Dubai Desert Campus, Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.skydivedubai.ae (04 832 8080).

Mountain hike in RAK
There are a slew of tour companies offering hiking trips to Ras Al Khaimah, but most of us don’t venture up to the emirate post-May. But RAK is the UAE’s premier hiking spot and if you haven’t already, now is the time to negotiate canyon and mountain trails that will lead you to memorable viewing points. Just make sure you take plenty of water if you’re planning on hiking 1,900 metres up the Hajar Mountains.
Free. Ras Al Khaimah. Visit www.dubaihiking.org for some trail ideas.

Ride a bike in Al Qudra

While the world’s foremost exponents of two-wheeled endurance will be gearing up for the Tour de France in July, your own dreams of pulling on that yellow jersey might have to be put on hold for a few months. But you don’t have to grab the exercise bike from the garage just yet, as Al Qudra’s cycling track is still open and the team at Trek will even rent you a ride.
From Dhs50 per hour. Open daily 6am-10pm. Trek Bicycle Store, Al Qudra Road, www.trekbikes.ae (04 832 7377).

Practise Yoga on the beach

If the word yogi only conjures up thoughts of the bear who hung out in Jellystone Park with a sidekick called Boo Boo, you probably aren’t aware that Talise Spa in Madinat Jumeirah runs a series of beach yoga sessions. There’s something about stretching out in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab while gazing out to sea that soothes the soul. Your asanas will be made a lot trickier (and stickier) soon, so try it now.
Dhs90. Times vary. Until early June. Talise Spa, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.jumeirah.com/mjyoga (04 366 6818).

Take aim with Pursuit Games
Although we’re big fans of the Call of Duty series of shoot ’em ups, there’s nothing quite like rounding up the troops and enacting an outdoor skirmish at JA Jebel Ali Shooting Club’s paintball facility. You might leave with your body (and ego) battered and bruised, but at least you won’t need a medic to deal with your heat exhaustion at this time of year.
From Dhs90. Open daily 10am-10pm. JA Jebel Ali Shooting Club, Jebel Ali, www.paintballdubai.com (04 324 4755).

Tee-off at twilight

For those of you who have been inspired by Sergio Garcia finally breaking his Major duck at the 74th attempt, playing a round at one of the city’s fantastic courses is a must. Many of the world’s greatest tournaments have been settled in twilight and if you book online at The Els Club before Friday June 30, they’ll give you Dhs50 back to spend in the club shop.
From Dhs295 per round. Until May 31. The Els Club, Dubai Sports City, www.elsclubdubai.com (04 425 1000).

Play

Awaken the senses at Dubai Miracle Garden

The desert rose aside, few flowers can survive the rigours of its climate, but our ingenious friends over at Dubai Miracle Garden have managed to keep their displays blooming throughout its fifth season. The floral festival is winding down, though, so make sure you witness the miracle before the petals start a-drooping.
Dhs40 (adults), Dhs30 (kids aged three to 12). Open Sun-Thu 9am-9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Al Barsha South 3, www.dubaimiraclegarden.com (04 442 8902).

Camp out in the desert
Few pursuits can be more wholesome than a camping trip in the great outdoors and in Al Qudra Lakes, Dubai has a gorgeous desert oasis in which to pitch your tent for the night. During the cooler months, campers can face plummeting temperatures after sunset, but at this time of year, there’s no need for those winter woollies as it stays nicely balmy right into the small hours.
Free. Open daily 24 hours. Saih Al Salam Desert, Al Qudra Lakes, Al Qudra Road.

Go camel trekking

Camels remain revered in the UAE, given their historic hard work. But as well as being doughty animals, they’re also full of character – as anyone who has ever seen them through a tantrum or demand stroking will agree. Arabian Adventures runs an excellent morning trek that includes a bubbly breakfast beside a man-made lake in the middle of the desert. It’s a unique experience, to say the least.
From Dhs300 (adults), Dhs250 (kids). Daily (half day, morning). Arabian Adventures, Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, Dubai-Al Ain Road, www.arabian-adventures.com (800 272 2426).

Make a splash at Wild Wadi Waterpark
Waterparks are loads of fun, but queuing in the summer heat, not so much. May could provide your last opportunity to truly appreciate the cooling-off period. Wild Wadi remains one of the best parks around, with its UAE residents’ offer and women-only sessions on Thursday nights giving you extra reason to splash the cash.
From Dhs195. Open daily 10am-6pm (Thu 8pm-midnight). Jumeirah Beach Road, next to Jumeirah Beach Hotel, www.jumeirah.com (04 348 4444).

Shout it from the treetops at Aventura

One of our favourite recent additions to the city’s entertainment scene, Aventura is a wonderland of assault courses and general outdoorsy fun, up among the ghaf trees of Mushrif Park. Unfortunately, it all comes to an end soon (for a few months at least) as such aerial exploits will leave you feeling a bit ropey when the mercury hikes up.
Dhs140 (adults 1.4 metres tall and above), Dhs125 (juniors from aged six and 1.15 metres to 1.39 metres tall), Dhs10 (non-participants and kids aged five and under). Open daily 9.30am-6.30pm. Mushrif Park, Al Khawaneej Street, www.aventuraparks.com (052 178 7616).

Take an Abra ride

Compared to many major cities, travel in Dubai is pretty cheap, but while millions of people take the Metro each year, an infinitely more enjoyable way of navigating the city is on an abra. These humble, old-school vessels will ship you over the Creek for just one shiny dirham coin. They now run on the Dubai Water Canal, too, and for Dhs25, you’ll get an hour’s tour. Experience it before it gets sweltering.
Dhs1 (Creek), Dhs25 (Dubai Water Canal tour). www.rta.ae (800 9090).

Wander the souks
Unlike the city’s vast selection of malls, Dubai’s souks don’t have the luxury of top-of-the-range coolers. What they do have, though, is a dazzling array of bargain buys that you won’t find in any chain stores. So if you fancy an afternoon of browsing and bartering, head to the old town before all the haggling leaves you uncomfortably hot under the collar.
Opening times vary. Bur Dubai, www.visitdubai.com.

Party

Get down at a super-club

Summer means Dubai’s outdoor clubs put their speakers in storage and switch off their strobes. Okay, so the most hardcore clubbers will still work up a sweat when they’re standing under the air-con but even they would struggle on the White Dubai dancefloor during sweaty season. If you haven’t thrown some shapes in Time Out Dubai’s Club of the Year 2017, now’s your chance.
Open Tue 10pm-3am; Thu-Sat 11pm-3am. White Dubai, Meydan Racecourse Grandstand Rooftop, Nad Al Sheba, www.whitedubai.com (050 443 0933).

Hit the beach

The global phenomenon that is Nikki Beach finally arrived on our shores last year and has been making waves ever since. It might be open all-year-round, but unless you have Teflon skin, we doubt you’ll be dancing barefoot on the sand once the summer months come around. So grab a cabana now, kick off those flip-flops and see why Jack Penrod’s beach brand is such a big deal.
Open daily 11am-9pm. Nikki Beach, Pearl Jumeira, www.nikkibeach.com (04 376 6162).

Taste Ibiza

The UAE’s incarnation of the Balearic hot spot Blue Marlin Ibiza has an atmosphere unlike any other and brings over a whole raft of top international DJs and acts. But even the best parties have to wind down at some point, so you’ll only have a few more chances to don your stylish swimwear and feel that Ibiza vibe.
Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Until May 26. Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel And Resort, Ghantoot, www.bluemarlinibiza-uae.com (056 113 3400).

Up on the roof

There are few better ways to get the weekend started than meeting up with friends after you’ve clocked off. While some just like to go to their local (guilty!), branch out a little and enjoy the last of post-work, roof-terrace sundowners before it gets so hot your drink starts to boil. For the best views in town check out 40 Kong, winner of our Best Outdoor Bar/Pub award this year.
Open daily 7pm-3am. The H Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.40kong.com (04 355 8896).

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