Written by Kate Lord Brown
Qatar’s green spaces offer young and old a welcome break in the city.
Warm, sunny spring days are the ideal time to visit Qatar’s many parks and gardens. Each has its own unique charms, and there is a place for everyone, whether you enjoy culture, sports, or adventure playgrounds with younger visitors.
The wide-open green spaces of Aspire Park are a firm favourite with families, and there are plenty of activities in the 88-hectare site, including well-equipped playgrounds. Like most parks in Qatar, it opens around 7.30am, and it is a relaxing place to walk or jog (look out for the baobab trees). Children particularly love the arcing fountains near the lake at the heart of the park on a warm day, so perhaps pack an extra set of clothes. The park also has a choice of cafés and restaurants, or take a blanket and stock up for a picnic at nearby Hyatt Plaza. There are excellent smooth pathways around the park, so it is a great place for young visitors to enjoy cycling and scooting.
Dahl Al Hamam Family Park in Madinat Khalifa, a short drive from Landmark Mall, is another popular destination, particularly at weekends. Among the flower-lined paths, there are several well-shaded playgrounds, and there are areas for basketball and football. A big attraction is the skateboard park, where young visitors can let off steam safely on their boards and scooters.
A newer addition to Doha’s green spaces is the Museum of Islamic Art’s stunning park. It offers beautiful views across the Corniche to the city’s skyline, and a wide range of cultural and play activities. Walk along a palm-lined path from the museum and you’ll discover two playgrounds, a café, and a gift store. It’s a great place to unwind with the family and enjoy everything from biking, bungee trampolines, and paddle boats to kite flying.
Barzan Olympic Park, which opened in 2012, has wonderful facilities for children and adults. There are playgrounds, tennis courts, football pitches, fountains, swimming pools, and multifunction courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball. Or perhaps just enjoy a stroll through the park with a cup of karak from the café.
If you are travelling out of Doha, there are plenty of neighbourhood parks to enjoy, such as the newly renovated Al Khor Park, home to a variety of zoo animals and birds, and Al Ruwais Park in the north of Qatar. Ruwais also offers the Abu Dhalouf Park, where visitors can enjoy the beach as well as play areas. There is also Al Shahaniyah Park, which opened in 2014, a 2.6-hectare park to the west of Doha, and Al Khairaitiyat’s charming local park to the north.
For water lovers, Qatar’s Aqua Park reopens for the season on April 1, 2016 (aquaparkqatar.com). For those who prefer to take it easy, there is the wave pool or lazy river, but thrill-seekers shouldn’t miss the breathtaking blue-and-white Boomerango waterslide which towers above the water park. There are also cafés on site to keep everyone happy. A short distance from the centre of Doha, the park is a relaxing and fun-filled day out for all the family.
If younger visitors need entertaining as the weather gets warmer, don’t miss Qatar’s indoor playparks. Jungle Zone in Hyatt Plaza is a popular destination for local families, and Gondolania in Villaggio is a theme park with bowling, laser wars, and go-karting. Landmark Mall also has Circus Land, and Ezdan Mall has Funville.