Luckily for us, there are an array of long and short running routes throughout the city that boast some incredible views. Even better, they have restaurants and cafés offering top grub for that much-needed pitstop.
So, slip into your fresh pair of trainers and have a gander through the list of best places to run in Dubai. Oh, and if you fancy joining a running club so you’re not alone, we’ve got that too.
If you don’t fancy running along the dusty roads of Al Barsha where footpaths are as rare as hen’s teeth, seek out Al Barsha’s Pond Park, boasting a 1.2km track. This gated, landscaped park is in an impeccable state, and features a bouncy running track that encircles a pond. There’s even markings after every 100 metres of the tracks, all to help runners keep track of their progress. For those who want to up the ante, there are also several outdoor gyms around for that extra workout.
Al Barsha Pond Park, Al Barsha 2.
The perimeter around this park, set right in the middle of Burj Lake, offers a 5km concrete circuit that circles an expanse of green, with, of course, the Burj Khalifa looming large in the background. If you can’t take the burn you’ll feel quite quickly in your thighs when running on those bouncy soft-track surfaces, this is the track for you. (You can also cut right through the middle of it and run across the grass if you get too tired to make it to the finish.) With its prime location just across the bridge from The Dubai Mall (and thanks to a handy little kiosk that you’ll pass) provisions aren’t a necessity here. Combine the run with a post-workout refuel at one of the plentiful restaurants in the mall, or sitting outside overlooking the lake and The Dubai Fountain, enjoying a morning coffee you’ll most certainly have earned. (Provided you didn’t cut across the grass, that is.)
Dubai Marina Promenade
If you’re practising for a 10km run and aren’t quite there yet, this route is a great place to push yourself. The 8km loop passes by the picturesque scenes of the yachts berthed in the Dubai Marina and the skyscrapers beyond, though don’t miss the detour at the far end to cross the bridge. There are plenty of spots to stop, rest and refuel if needs be – benches by water features and cafés with huge outdoor seating spaces. If you choose this as your running spot at the weekend, head over early, as it gets busy later in the day with tourists snapping the scenic views and residents shopping, dining and taking long, leisurely walks. It’s a classic Dubai running spot and a great route to tackle if you live close by.
Dubai Water Canal
Definitely one of the most scenic running routes of Dubai, thanks to the towering buildings of Business Bay and Al Habtoor City. Set off on an early morning weekend run and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Canal as the sun rises. However, do this run at night and this is where the new promenade really comes into its own. Start at the Al Habtoor City end and just take a moment to take in the cool, purple lights that the area is bathed in and the waterfall, adding an otherworldliness to this stunning, city centre attraction. It’s also very flat, which is a bonus. There are plenty of food and beverage options along the way, and if you end in Al Habtoor City, the classic Brit pub The Rose & Crown awaits with its classic interiors and proper pub grub.
Business Bay to Jumeirah.
A brilliant beach spot if you have a penchant for top-quality grub by the beach, a bit of beachside shopping, waterparks or lazing the day away on the sand in Dubai. Oh, and for a good run, of course.
Start at La Mer North, on the wooden decking that leads you through restaurants and cafés on your left and the beach to your right. Breathe in the sea air and break into a jog. If you can stick to the work out, the rewards are endless here, as there are plenty of palces to stop off and refuel. Just make sure you resist the urge to ditch the run and pitch up at SALT to dig into a mountain of burgers, instead. Once you’ve completed the near kilometre of boardwalk, make your way back in a loop, this time running on the sand with the Arabian Gulf as your backdrop. Check out our essential guide to La Mer for all you need to know right here.
Jumeirah 1, www.lamer-me.com.
Pick your backdrop in JLT – water or greenery – and then choose a cluster to run around. Clusters O and P are home to the latter. Jog around the park, which comes to life with families and kids playing at the weekends, as well as basketball games on the court and even a flea market if you time it right. It’s a real hive of activity that will spur you on. You’ll also be a stone’s throw from some true stalwarts of the area to end your run in. If you’re after more of a serene run with a tranquil backdrop, head out to the lake at Cluster E, where you’ll also find plenty of top spots for grub, or at Cluster Y, which is just as picturesque, but has a much quieter, more relaxed feel, owing to fewer restaurants in the area. So you can enjoy the calm and the fresh air, and keep the calories off.
Clusters A-Y, JLT.
Palm Jumeirah Corniche
Make sure you’ve got a long playlist of upbeat tunes ready and crank up the volume as you pound your way around the Palm Jumeirah’s 14km beast of a track. This one is for those serious about their street running or determined to up their fitness. You’ll feel it in your legs just a few kilometres in, but you’ll also pass some stunning scenes along the way, since it stretches from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah right the way to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa. Jog, walk or cycle your way along the corniche – you’ll more than likely do all three. This is a popular spot for families, with the park and the beach along the way.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah.
This is one of Dubai’s most classic and therefore popular beaches. You’ll be joined here by beach volleyball players, kitesurfers, beach footballers, Frisbee players and groups of friends lounging and soaking up some rays, stereos pumping, picnic spreads sprawling. It’s an all-round great place to hang out at the weekend. Get some exercise in by running (barefoot, why not?), go for a dip in the sea and then round it all off with a few treats on the beach as you people-watch the day away. Your workout will feel more like a restful day at the beach with a spike of activity if you get here at midday, enjoy the lunchtime sun and run in the afternoon. Then just chill for the rest of the day.
Palm Jumeirah Crescent
The opening of this 11km boardwalk increased the appeal of Palm Jumeirah running tenfold. The boardwalk stretches from One&Only The Palm on the western tip, around to Rixos The Palm at the eastern end, with Atlantis, The Palm looming large and marking your midway point. The view of the Arabian Gulf, and listening to the lapping waves as you run makes this a peaceful route, especially on a leisurely Friday morning. If 11km isn’t long enough, you can even add the 4km run up and down the trunk of the Palm. Happy running.
There are many landscaped public spaces that run through this townhouse community. But, if you don’t live here, park up at the town centre mall and walk over to the community park. A path cuts through the sprawling green space and a huge lake sits in the middle of it. It’s a long, meandering route, helped by the fact that you can alternate between running on the grass and on the pavement, easing up on the muscle burn and mixing up the intensity as you go. Note: the sprinklers in the grass are automatic and might just catch you unawares… You’ve been warned…
Best running clubs
If you find it hard to motivate yourself to run solo, join one of these top clubs and work out with a group this winter.
Adidas Runners Dubai
This 4,700-strong Facebook community (officially part of Adidas) organises regular meet-ups and runs in the morning and after sunset – which is better for these summer months. There’s plenty to get involved with and loads of active members ready to offer advice and support. It even has a nauseatingly rousing opening gambit, to really get you in the mood.
Desert Road Runners
Certifiably the oldest organised running club in Dubai, the Desert Road Runners has been active since 1989. Hosting an annual 10km run, the group also hosts another four or five major running events every year in the winter months, with more regular jaunts taking place between September and April. Juniors and veterans alike are more than welcome.
Dubai Creek Striders
Narrowly missing out on being the oldest running club in Dubai, the Creek Striders was established in 1995 and organise its own half-marathon every year. The group runs weekly interval, track and long-distance training sessions. If you want to go all-in you can even get yourself some branded training gear and show the pavement that you mean business.