Doha's Green Corniche - Five Perfect Parks by the Ocean
We all know that getting outside, especially into nature, is good for you; it has many physical and mental benefits. Time spent in the fresh air and surrounded by greenery has been shown to lower stress levels and blood pressure, reduce the risk of major illness, depression and anxiety, as well as to boost mental health and increase life expectancy. Plus, spending time in the great outdoors gives us time to relax, play, socialise and get fit.
Finding greenery in the world's desert regions might seem impossible, but in Doha, Qatar's capital city, there are many parks and green spaces. From family gardens to rambling acres of parks, green city plazas to decorative flower beds along the roadsides, Qatar's metropolis is surprisingly verdant. And so it should be; the nation's rulers are keen to ensure the health of its citizens in a new era of modern technology and convenience and to diversify its economy by becoming a Middle Eastern tourist hotspot. To that end, the state has spent many years cultivating green spaces, beautifying its city and creating appealing outdoor attractions.
Nowhere demonstrates Qatar's commitment to creating diverting outdoor spaces for its people and visitors than the Doha Corniche.
Doha's Corniche is a wide promenade flowing along the city centre's coastline for seven kilometres. From the beginning of the walkway to the end, some of the country's finest and most important buildings and landmarks can be found along its length - the National Museum of Qatar, The Museum of Islamic Art, Souq Waqif, Dhow Harbour, the Amiri Diwan, the Qatar National Theatre, the Sheraton Hotel and the skyscrapers of West Bay. Public art installations can be admired from one end to the other, and the palm-lined boardwalk, overlooking the sparkling waters of the Gulf and bordered by green lawned and planted curbs, pathways and reservations, with a cloudless blue sky above, make it an idyllic place to visit. However, it is the addition of the many parks and open green spaces, from its tip to its toe, that makes the Corniche an outdoor haven for all to enjoy.
Check out our top five spots along the Corniche where you can take in a breath of fresh air and stretch your legs surrounded by nature's greenery:
Al Bidda Park
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Al Bidda Park is the largest open space along the Corniche. Its green lawns span 174.5 hectares, intersected by two of the city's main roadways to create three distinct areas linked by garden bridges. Walkways, running and cycling tracks, exercise equipment, sports courts and pitches, seven children's parks, camel tracks, water features, a green maze, cafes and restaurants, monuments, heritage sites and an amphitheatre make this park a top destination for anyone and everyone. Even the family dog will be at home in Al Bidda - the park is pet friendly. There is so much to do and so many different terrains and features to explore; one day isn't enough; this is the type of place you would visit again and again.
Our favourite things to do and see at the park include relaxing at the water plaza, which offers stunning views of the Corniche and West Bay. Strolling over the hills to the north of the park to grab a bite to eat at the Fire Station (Doha's premier art gallery and artists' residence) and spending an evening grilling and chilling at one of the park's BBQ stations (set into grassy mounds like Hobbit houses) while the kids play.
Al Bidda sits between the Amiri Diwan and Qatar Sports Club and can be reached via the Doha Metro at either Al Bidda Metro Station on the Green or Red Lines or the Corniche Metro Station on the Red Line. The Park also has numerous underground parking areas accessed via the main roads around the grounds.
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The Hotel Park is located at the very far end of Doha's Corniche in front of the Sheraton Grand Hotel's iconic pyramid-shaped building, the nation's first international hotel that opened in 1979. Surrounded by skyscrapers, this small but perfectly formed park offers wide pathways that zig-zag across its length, creating areas of lawn for picnicking, relaxing and leisure activities, a large shaded children's playground, and a water garden full of tiered water features. A man-made hill at the centre of the park is perfect for catching the sea breeze and admiring the 360 views of the surrounding area, and numerous restaurants, cafes and food kiosks are provided to keep hunger at bay. The park also offers bike and roller skate hire.
We love this park - tranquil for much of the year despite the city's hustle and bustle but coming alive for Qatar's various festivals, including the much loved Qatar International Food Festival.
The park, adjacent to Al Dafna Park, one of the oldest parks on the Corniche, has plenty of car parking, with an underground parking facility located beneath its lawns and pathways. The outdoor space is also a short 5-minute walk away from the Red Line's Doha Exhibition and Conference Centre Metro Station.
Museum of Islamic Art Park
Image: Fitria Ramli/Shutterstock.com
At 28 hectares, the Museum of Islamic Park is the second-largest green space on the Corniche, and it is a fabulous place to spend some downtime. The park, which takes its name from the Museum that shares the site, is located on the waterfront of the Corniche and curls around the water's edge to two open-air cafes that look across the sea to West Bay - it is one of the nicest views in the city. Palm tree-lined paths lead visitors through the grounds to picnic areas, water fountains, planted gardens, two huge children's playgrounds, a large grassy mound (perfect for climbing…and rolling back down), an 80ft tall art installation by Richard Serra, and to the wonderful Museum of Islamic Art Museum itself.
We could while away the hours at MIA Park relaxing on the hill overlooking the ocean, but one of our favourite things about the park is the array of festivals and events held there during the winter months. We especially love the weekend Bazaar, which offers a variety of stalls selling gifts, handcrafts, accessories, paintings, clothing, food, jewellery and artwork, all sold by residents who hail from all over the world.
The park lies adjacent to Dhow Harbour and across the road from the unmistakable Qatar National Museum, constructed to resemble a desert rose crystal. The nearest Metro station is Souq Waqif Metro Station on the Gold Line.
Souq Waqif Park
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Souq Waqif Park sits opposite the Corniche Promenade, lined with wooden Dhows, and in front of its namesake, Souq Waqif. The traditional market, with its labyrinth of alleyways and sand-coloured buildings, and the coastal view, is a captivating setting for spending time outdoors. While the souq park is relatively small compared to others along the Corniche, it's full of entertaining diversions. From the lawned areas and planted gardens with a myriad of walkways and seating to the kids' play equipment shaped like a boat, the amphitheatre to the playful splash pad water feature, spending time in this park will prove that good things come in small packages.
Our favourite time to head to Souq Waqif Park is in the evening when the park is lit up, the market behind is bustling with life, and children play in the colourfully illuminated dancing fountains.
The park sits adjacent to the Amiri Diwan, less than a ten-minute walk from the Souq Metro Station, located on the Gold Line. Drivers to the park can leave their cars in the underground parking facility for the souq.
Image: Viktor Hladchenko/Shutterstock.com
Main image: Jaem Prueangwet/Shutterstock.com
One of the newest parks on the Corniche, Umbrella Park, is also one of the most photographed of Doha's parks. In the middle of the park's green lawns, dotted with trees and bushes, and a network of pathways, cycle tracks and running routes are several paths that run under arched canopies. And it is these covered walkways that are inspiring so many Instagram shots. Each canopy is hung from the floor to the roof in cascading plants, flower and plant-filled hanging pots and, right at the very top, an array of brightly coloured umbrellas. The colourful tunnels, the contrast of the intense blue skies above, and the towering skyscrapers of West Bay in the distance make a delightful setting for some stunning photos…the park is pretty nice too.
Across the road from the park, next to the General Post Office, is another park that is also worth a visit, the aptly named Post Office Park. This open space offers three distinct areas, all defined using tracks and pathways to create three postage stamps when viewed from above. With an additional 900m jogging track and a 1.5km long cycle path, Post Office Park is a great place to visit if you want to burn off some energy.
Umbrella Park is sandwiched between the Qatar National Theatre to the south and the Post Office to the north. There is plenty of parking nearby, though for those on public transport, one of the Corniche Metro Station exits brings you straight up into the park grounds.
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