Despite being a sprawling urban metropolis in a desert, Dubai has a surprising number of lush parks and beautiful green spaces to visit and enjoy.

Dubai's parks come in all shapes and sizes and with a wide array of amenities, from simple lawns and playgrounds to sanctuaries for wildlife migrating between Africa and Asia. Some parks host pop-up farmers' markets and small shops on the weekends. Be aware that some parks charge an entrance fee for access to the area.

Here are the best parks in Dubai.

Editor's note: During COVID-19, please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government health advice. Events may be subject to change.

Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park with the skyline of Dubai in the background
Zabeel Park is home to the recently opened Dubai Frame © Katiekk / Shutterstock

1. Zabeel Park

Zabeel Park, a huge space where lots of palms and other greenery provide plenty of shade, is a weekend family favorite. It brims with activity zones, including a pretty lake with boat rides, an adventure playground, covered barbecue areas, a jogging track and a miniature train. It is also home to the Dubai Frame, which has a viewing gallery at 500 feet (150m). Zabeel Park hosts a flea market on the first Saturday of the month from October to May.

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Running track at Al Barsha Pond Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The jogging track at Al Barsha Pond Park is one of its most popular features © Glen_Pearson / Getty Images

2. Al Barsha Pond Park

Al Barsha Pond Park is a welcome patch of greenery surrounding a pretty manmade lake where you can rent a kitschy swan boat for a paddle around the water, which kids will enjoy. Al Barsha has a jogging track, bicycle rental, playgrounds and tennis courts. The Ripe Night Market is held here from 10am to 8pm every Saturday with food stalls, yoga classes and children's activities.

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Flowers and a pavilion at Creek Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The peaceful gardens at Creek Park are a quiet respite in the Bur Dubai neighborhood © boggy22 / Getty Images

3. Creek Park

Creek Park is one of the emirate's oldest and largest parks. It stretches for 1.6 miles (2.6km) along Dubai Creek and is popular with Bur Dubai expats, who arrive on weekends to give the barbecue pits a workout. The gardens are quite nice, but many of the family-geared attractions such as playgrounds, minigolf and a children's museum are a little outdated.

The Village of Flowers at Dubai Miracle Garden
Colors sprout from 100 million flowers at Dubai Miracle Garden, promoted as the largest in the world © Olga Slobodianiuk / Getty Images

4. Dubai Miracle Garden

There’s a sense of Alice in Wonderland–esque surrealism when entering Dubai Miracle Garden, which covers nearly 22,000 sq ft (2000 sq m) and is touted as the largest natural flower garden in the world. Wander past quirky bloom-covered peacocks, clocks and castles (a 60ft-tall Mickey Mouse was the showstopper in 2018).

Alternatively, chill out in a cabana with billowing drapes and floor cushions. Home to 100 million flowers and adjacent to the enormous nine-dome Dubai Butterfly Garden, it is incredibly popular, attracting 55,000 visitors a week. The garden gets extremely busy on Fridays and Saturdays (especially Friday afternoons) and public holidays, so visit midweek if you can.

5. Al Khazzan Park

One of Dubai's oldest parks, pocket-sized Al Khazzan Park has been given a total reboot and is now entirely solar-powered, giving it the right to the title of being the first “zero-energy” park in the United Arab Emirates. It incorporates a landmark water tower and the laid-back Inn the Park cafe with a library stocked with vintage Middle Eastern magazines. There's also a shaded area next to the playground where parents can hang.

Boat on the water at Safa Park in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A jogging track loops around the lake at Dubai's Safa Park © boggy22 / Getty Images

6. Safa Park

A green oasis in the center of the city, the pretty Safa Park hugs the new Dubai Canal, which has diminished its size somewhat. The park comes with a boating lake, jogging track, shady picnic areas with barbecue pits and a children's playground.

7. Mushrif National Park

One of the oldest parks in Dubai, dating from 1974, Mushrif National Park covers more than 2 sq miles (5 sq km) of natural ghaf forest, which is a haven for birds, including owls, Orphean warblers, hoopoes and black redstarts. The park has plenty of manmade attractions as well, including walking trails, bicycle tracks, a large children's playground, pony and camel rides, a swimming pool and barbecue pits. There are also a couple of basic but acceptable restaurants and cafes.

Flamingos in a pond at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary with the Dubai skyline in the background
Flamingo congregate in Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary on Dubai Creek © tampatra / Getty Images

8. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary

Incongruously framed by highways, the surprising Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary on Dubai Creek is an important stopover for migratory waterbirds on the east Africa–west Asian flyway. Gracious pink flamingos steal the show in winter, but avid birdwatchers can spot more than 170 species in this pastiche of salt flats, mudflats, mangroves and lagoons spread over an area of around 2.3 sq miles (6.2 sq km).

Three accessible platforms house fantastically sharp binoculars. There are common sightings of broad-billed sandpipers and Pacific golden plovers. In winter, great spotted eagles and other raptors may be patrolling the skies.

9. Al Ittihad Park

Al Ittihad Park is a lovely green space for families with a jogging track, playgrounds, an adult exercise zone and plenty of grassy areas for picnics or relaxing. There are also masses of greenery, with many plants and trees labeled. The park is flanked by convenient cafes and restaurants.

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