Get ready for an urban adventure as you bike, walk and glide your way through some of the most popular districts in Dubai.
The city of Dubai dazzles by day and sparkles by night, with skyscrapers towering for attention and golden sand beaches beckoning. There’s so much to explore and while taxis are cheap and plentiful, many of the city’s best attractions can be discovered from alternative perspectives. Ditch the car and hop on the Dubai Metro, charter new waters by boat, tour the city on board the tram or cycle alongside spectacular desertscapes.
/ Making waves
Visitors can embark on several water-based adventures while in Dubai. From the atmospheric AED1 journey aboard a traditional wooden abra as it crisscrosses its way along the waters of the Dubai Creek, to luxury yacht cruises that pull out all the stops with gourmet feasts and fine entertainment – it’s time to follow the wave.
Interestingly, your journey doesn’t need to be confined to specific districts either, thanks to the Dubai Ferry. This unique form of public transport lets you cruise along from one seaside location to the next. Simply purchase your ticket at a nearby ferry station or use your Nol card. There are five main routes to choose from, with terminals at Al Ghubaiba, Dubai Canal and Dubai Marina Mall.
Most people like to start at Dubai Marina Mall, enjoying water views of the dynamic district before making their way to Palm Jumeirah and alighting at Atlantis, The Palm. Another alternative route that’s a bit longer (over 30 kilometres) lets visitors begin their journey at the Al Ghubaiba station by Dubai Creek, before taking in sights of Dubai Canal and Dubai Marina.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Dubai Marina to Atlantis, The Palm + Al Ghubaiba to Dubai Marina
/ Track star
The Dubai Metro – an automated, driverless metro system – is easily one of the most affordable ways to get around the city. You’ll need to purchase a one-way ticket at the station or opt for a Nol card, which can be used across the emirate’s public transport network. We recommend booking Gold Class for the best seats. There are two main lines – the Red Line, which runs from Rashidiyah in the south to Jebel Ali in the north, and the Green Line that services the districts in Old Dubai, running from Al Qusais to the historic Dubai Creek.
Heading north, start your journey at Emirates Towers and take in prime views of the city from the comfort of the metro’s cabins. You’ll want to stop at Downtown Dubai, which boasts a number of record-breaking attractions, including the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, and the world’s biggest shopping complex, The Dubai Mall.
Business Bay station is another popular stop, thanks to the striking new Dubai Canal. This 3.2km long waterway winds its way from the creek all the way through Business Bay to the Arabian Gulf. It’s regarded as one of the city’s greatest urban transformations with the precinct boasting world-class hotels and strikingly designed pedestrian bridges that present unforgettable views. If you’ve got the time, stay on the Red Line as it presents even more postcard-worthy views.
RECOMMENDED STOPS: Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Station + Business Bay
/ Ride along
While the historic neighbourhoods of old Dubai continue to thrive, there’s no denying the pull of ‘new Dubai’. Whether you’d like to spend the day walking alongside Dubai Marina’s skyscrapers or simply lounging in the sunshine at Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR), the Dubai Tram will take you there. Pick up a Nol card from the tram station, as this is the only way you’ll be able to pay for travel – children five and under can ride for free.
The tram travels in a loop in one direction, around the JBR district and Dubai Marina, before heading to the Palm Jumeirah station and Al Sufouh area. If you’re short on time, hop off at JBR and make your way to The Beach. Aptly-named, this waterfront destination has it all with al fresco shopping and dining, cool water sports and play areas for both the young and young at heart. A short walk from here is the new Bluewaters Island development – home to yet more sun, sea and sand, as well as the soon-to-be-operational Ain Dubai, lauded as the world’s biggest Ferris wheel.
If you’d like to keep exploring, get back on the tram and admire the glistening buildings of Jumeirah Lake Towers and Dubai Marina, before alighting at Palm Jumeirah station. Here, you can catch the monorail for incredible views of this manmade island– shaped like a date palm, it stretches five kilometres into the Arabian Gulf and boasts some of the city’s finest luxury hotels.
RECOMMENDED STOP: Jumeirah Beach Residences 2 + Palm Jumeirah
/ On your bike
With dedicated cycle paths, easy bike rentals and glorious winter sunshine, cycling in Dubai is a breeze. Popular tracks include Dubai Marina, Nad Al Sheba and Dubai Autodrome, although first-time visitors are often drawn to the shoreline of Jumeirah.
Plan ahead and book your preferred ride at The Cycle Hub (thecyclehub.com) or Wolfi’s Bike Shop (wbs.ae) before making your way to shore. With paths stretching from Jumeirah 1 to Umm Suqeim, there’s plenty of iconic sights along the way, including the famous sail-shaped hotel, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, the charming Jumeirah Fishing Harbour and the laidback Kite Beach that attracts top kitesurfers. There are several hidden gems just waiting to be discovered too, such as the Black Palace Beach – a superb stretch of sand, tucked away from the main street, offering picture-perfect views. And, if you’d like to refuel, there are plenty of pit-stops in the area, including a variety of hotels, beachside cafés and restaurants.
If you’re keen on something a bit more challenging, spend the afternoon at Al Qudra. Trek Bicycles (trekbikes.ae), located conveniently at Al Qudra’s cycling path, has a wide range of bikes available for rent. Pedal your way across the scenic 86 kilometres course and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of rolling desert dunes.
Byky bike rental stands are also dotted around key locations including Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeriah, with an easy, instant payment option these bikes are ideal if you fancy a leisurely ride while taking in some top attractions.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Jumeirah 1 to Umm Suqeim + Al Qudra Cycling Path