As temperatures moderately dip across Dubai, the city’s residents refuse to stay cooped up indoors. Rather they don light jackets and come out to play. Locals swap shopping malls for beaches and parks when the city comes alive with open-air concerts, food truck festivals, outdoor markets and live entertainment.
These are five of our top choices for winter adventures in this lively Middle Eastern metropolis.
A longtime favorite of residents, Kite Beach only seems to get better as new food trucks and cafés pop up along the waterfront.
During the winter months, Kite Beach is the hub of outdoor fitness activities in the city; you’ll find everything from yoga and capoeira classes to jogging clubs training for the next marathon.
If you’d rather test your skills in the Arabian Gulf, try kitesurfing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and jet skiing.
When you get hungry, stroll along the boardwalk to choose from an array of international options, like Turkish doner kebabs, Indian street food, Mexican burritos, Lebanese kaak (traditional sandwiches) and more.
Be sure to stay at least until nightfall; the nearby Sunset Beach is a great spot to watch the changing colors of the sky with the impressive sail of the Burj Al Arab in the foreground.
Hatta Hiking and Biking Trails
Join Dubai’s adventure lovers in the mountainous region of Hatta to explore the newly opened, five-and-a-half-mile-long route that makes up the first phase of the Hatta Hiking Trail.
The rocky path connects the Dubai outcrop’s main sights of interest, such as the Hatta Heritage Village, a park, farms, a biking trail and three dams whose emerald waters surrounded by jagged peaks have become Instagram-famous.
Rent a kayak to traverse the green-hued waters, hike through rugged terrain or explore the rural region by bike — ride solo or join a group on one of Hatta’s dedicated trails. No matter how you choose to explore, make sure to wear suitable shoes — the unspoiled rocky terrain demands it.
Al Qudra Lakes
Exchange skyscraper views for a tranquil lakeside picnic with a 30-minute detour to Al Qudra Lakes, a group of manmade oases in the Saih Al Salam Desert.
Home to around 170 bird species, desert foxes and oryx (a large antelope), the area is a popular camping site for groups and families looking to reconnect with nature.
The more active set can explore the terrain by bike along the 53-mile-long Al Quadra Cycling Track. Find a local group or ride alone while taking in the abundance of wildlife surrounding these artificial waters.
Dubai’s newest beachfront development provides an eclectic escape from city life with year-round fun in the sun, sensational shopping and dining delights. The new hot spot is liveliest on weekends when it’s buzzing with families, groups, couples and, thanks to its quirky street art, Dubai’s coolest Instagrammers.
Beach lovers can relax on a decently sized bit of sand, complete with loungers for hire, while those looking for a little more intensity can rent paddleboards or kayaks.
When hunger strikes, you won’t have to wander far to find an interesting mix of cafés, restaurants and food trucks from favorites like the homegrown Salt burger chain, Mr. Greek and Motomachi.
Contemporary design elements (colorful beach hut toilets, outdoor bucket showers, witty street art, ponds, bridges and beautiful fairy lights) make this a wonderful alfresco dining destination come wintertime.
Dubai Water Canal
While located in the heart of the city, the boardwalk along the Dubai Water Canal offers a surprisingly quiet retreat from all the activity along the busy, arterial Sheikh Zayed Road.
Easily accessible from Al Safa, the boardwalk and the highly photographed Tolerance Bridge are the places to visit around sunset and late in the evening, when they glow with dazzling lights.
You’ll find yourself in the company of families out for a stroll, runners enjoying the winter breeze and photographers with tripods looking to snag the perfect shot.