The UAE capital and emirate of islands, Abu Dhabi has all the theme parks, waterparks and beaches kids could ever want.
It’s also in the process of opening the first Louvre outside France and, the new building which impresses most in the glittering cityscape, is a mosque.
Only two hours from Dubai, Abu Dhabi has been considerably more heritage savvy than its neighbour and that hasn’t gone unnoticed: the UAE’s only World Heritage site is here and Sir Bani Yas Island is designated a ‘World Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination’.
Al Ain is the UAE’s only World Heritage site and the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlement – less than two hours’ drive from Abu Dhabi city.
The world’s largest expanse of sand, Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), covers four Arab states and the historic oasis of Liwa in Abu Dhabi is one of the main gateways to this natural wonder.
Direct flights all year round from London with a flying time of just over 7 hours.
Year round sunshine with temperatures between 22 and 25˚C in December and January, rising to 35˚C in August.
Abu Dhabi’s built on 200 islands, so it’s the only emirate for natural island-hopping.
Sitting on the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi has dozens of white sand beaches, mangrove forests, oases, wadis and the UAE’s only links golf course.
The dazzling city you see today has been around for less than 50 years and packed with modern architectural legends, as you’d expect. It’s the heartland of glossy, expensive shopping malls, big and beautiful beaches, modern plazas and the long, long Abu Dhabi Corniche for everything from kids’ playgrounds and cycle paths to ocean-front restaurants. There’s tradition here too in the magnificence of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, charming souks, ancient pearling boat cruises and the mesmerising view of the Arabian Gulf – always the city’s finest asset.
The oldest inhabited settlement in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Al Ain is a brilliant combination of lively newness and the emirate’s most ancient history, less than two hours from the centre of Abu Dhabi city.
Covering over a third of Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbia is where vast Rub Al Khali meets the
Arabian Gulf and, you can’t walk two steps, without running into a view so awe-inspiring it leaves you speechless.
Less than half an hour from Abu Dhabi city, Yas could quite happily call itself ‘Entertainment Island’. Ferrari World theme park is here along with enormous Yas Waterworld and Yas Marina Circuit which hosts the annual F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. If you want sand and sea, Yas Beach is relaxed and easy-going for families and – unusually – has plenty of parking nearby.
Everyone drives everywhere in the UAE and hiring a car is the best way to explore Abu Dhabi with kids and give yourself freedom to visit more of the islands and historic areas. If you want to avoid driving, resorts will arrange transport or tours to major sites and taxis are easy and inexpensive for getting around different city districts.