If you are looking for culture, adventure, year-round sun and entertainment, you will find lots of things to do in Abu Dhabi. This travel guide will help you plan your family holiday to ensure you see the highlights of Abu Dhabi and don’t miss out on the best things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids.
If you have ever wanted to visit a country full of Eastern promise, then Abu Dhabi could be the one for you. It started out as a small island with only palm huts, but in recent years has transformed itself to the cosmopolitan, high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi is a surprisingly great place for a family holiday. It’s only 8 hours away and is hot and sunny all year round. There are loads of top attractions for kids, including Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and a great beach. We visited with the kids and these were our best things to do in Abu Dhabi:-
Take a tour of the city
Abu Dhabi is not a city you can easily walk around, as it is vast and very hot, but you could take in the wonders by car or a city tour.
Some of the highlights of Abu Dhabi’s attractions include a drive along the Corniche to take in the skyline views, a visit to the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, brunch at the Emirates Palace Hotel, a peep at the Sheikh’s Palace, a visit to the Louvre Museum and a visit to one of the many markets.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
You cannot fail to be impressed with the magnificent architecture of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is one of the world’s largest mosques, yet retains an air of serenity and elegance. Sheikh Zayed created it as a haven to celebrate cultural diversity.
This impressive design masterpiece has huge symmetrical marble pillars, towers and domes. There are beautiful water pools and intricate interior design features. It can boast the world’s biggest chandelier and carpet, both of which were hand-made.
Non-muslims can visit, but must remember to dress respectfully.
Admission is free.
Opening times 9:00-22:00 Saturday–Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays.
Stroll along the Corniche to the beach
The Corniche is the promenade that stretches 5 miles along the Abu Dhabi waterfront. Along the way you will find play areas, cafes and restaurants.
There are 3 sections of beach, for families, singles and the general public. They are clean and sandy and have been awarded Blue Flag status. There are lifeguards on the beaches and floating fences in the sea, so it’s very safe. The water is warm and clear, so perfect for kids – especially those who like fishing.
I think the Yas Marina F1 circuit and Ferrari World was the attraction which first enticed my F1-loving husband to Abu Dhabi. As well as the circuit itself , there is the world’s first Ferrari-branded theme park. For thrill-seekers there are lots of rides, including the world’s fastest roller-coaster. There is also an impressive collection of ferraris through the ages.
However, Ferrari World also offers a lot for kids who like a slower pace – electric go karts, stimulators and interactive challenges. For kids who don’t mind heights, there is also a great Junior Training Camp, with climbing walls and suspension bridges to develop climbing agility.
Yas Waterworld is a great waterpark and was one of our favourite things to do in Abu Dhabi. It has over 40 rides, slides and attractions.
As we were there during Ramadan, it was nearly empty and we didn’t have to queue for any of the rides. In fact, the only time we had to wait is when we needed more people on a family ride as we weren’t heavy enough – oh that was music to my ears!
One of our favourite trips in Abu Dhabi was the desert safari, when we got to experience a day in the life of an Arab.
There are many companies offering similar trips. These include sand-bashing, camel riding, dressing as an Arab and surfing in the dunes. This was all followed by an Arabian banquet.
Watch a desert sunset
After a long day, a cold drink and watching the sun set over the Abu Dhabi desert is perfect.
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