An Abu Dhabi holiday with your kids is amazingly easy to do. Direct flights from the UK take just over seven hours, year round and there’s no jet lag to worry about. As the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it’s also the destination for stunning family resorts, many of them on equally incredible beaches. And if you’re looking for things to do, Abu Dhabi can’t do enough for families. Take a look and don’t miss our great Destinology offers on fabulous family holidays in Abu Dhabi.
We asked Experience Abu Dhabi to give us just eight great reasons to plan a family holiday in the UAE Capital. Here they are.
Easy travel makes an Abu Dhabi holiday perfect for families
UK flights to Abu Dhabi take just over seven hours and as there’s no jet lag, it’s a blissfully easy travel experience with kids. To make it even easier, Etihad Airways offers direct daily flights year-round from both London Heathrow and Manchester Airport. In fact, more and more UK families are taking an Abu Dhabi holiday during shorter half-term, Easter and October breaks because travel is so simple compared to other destinations with similarly sensational weather.
Al Ain: the phenomenal garden city flourishing in the desert
Drive east of Abu Dhabi, away from the sparkling coast, and you might expect to meet mainly desert and rugged mountains. The emirate’s landscape is dramatic and often magnificent, but the one thing you probably wouldn’t predict was a lush, green garden city tucked into all that drama, just 90-minutes away from Downtown Abu Dhabi.
Welcome to Al Ain, the garden city and one of the world’s oldest, permanently inhabited settlements. Unsurprisingly, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an enormously popular destination with families.
Browse markets and discover Qasr Al Muwaiji fort
- As much a vivid, flourishing oasis as a city, Al Ain is traced all over with shaded pathways which invite you to explore, contemplate or simply gaze in awe-struck wonder. And however you’re recording your travels these days, don’t forget to come fully charged to take advantage of endless photo-ops.
- Younger kids find wandering around Al Ain’s palaces, iconic forts and archaeological parks incredibly exciting. But it’s the sense of how truly ancient Abu Dhabi actually is that astonishes older children the most.
- Don’t miss the traditional Camel Market, and Al Ain’s colourful souks are where to buy (or just browse) anything from authentic crafts to fragrant spices.
- Take a tour of Qasr Al Muwaiji fort. Built over 100 years ago, this striking building is fascinating to explore and contains an excellent museum which details the rich and complex history of Abu Dhabi’s ruling Al Nahyan family.
- Visit the Eco-Centre to learn about the ancient Al Ain oasis and its remarkable hydro-engineering. Then stroll around and enjoy the lush planting, towering palms, bird song and gently flowing streams of the oasis itself.
Jebel Hafit Mountain: the Abu Dhabi holiday drive of your life
If Jebel Hafit mountain sounds familiar, it may be because you’ve seen images of the stunning road which snakes up to the summit. It’s now one of the world’s most famous drives, so it’s worth a few twists and turns to put it under your belt. Plus, the views at the top are as spectacular as you’d expect from the second highest peak in the UAE which stands at a lofty 1,920m above sea level.
Jebel Hafit Desert Park: adventure in Abu Dhabi’s natural playground
Driving up Jebel Hafit is an unforgettable experience. Although, if kids want to get hands-on with adventure, that’s all going on at the foot of the mountain in Jebel Hafit Desert Park.
This has to be one of the most awesome natural playgrounds on earth. Wide open skies, monumental crags and peaks, the dazzling light and, once your gaze accustoms to the landscape, countless colours endlessly changing throughout the day. Scenic splendour aside, families love everything you can get up to here.
Explore Abu Dhabi’s unimaginably ancient history
- The park stretches for nine kilometres at the foot of Jebel Hafit mountain and is part of the Al Ain UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Hiking with guides is a great way to discover the park with older kids. Adventurous teens can even mountain bike here.
- Camel or horse riding are thrilling ways to explore this extraordinary landscape.
- Visiting the 5,000 year old Jebel Hafit Tombs which date back to the Bronze Age is another only in Al Ain experience kids will never forget.
Desert Glamping: add a stargazing night to your Abu Dhabi holiday
You don’t have to tear yourself away from the wonders of Jebel Hafit Desert Park at the end of the day. In fact, staying over is actively encouraged and once kids hear about Skylight Domes, the decision might be out of your hands.
Think luxurious hotel suite, only surrounded by nothing but the immense peace of the desert. Each Dome sleeps up to four, so this is a perfect adventure for families. No comfort has been missed off the list from king-size beds to a private bathroom, cable TV and WIFI, your own fire pit as well as air-con and a mini-bar.
Kids will love the vast views and complete freedom and we can’t think of any environment more conducive to gently resetting busy parents and aligning them fully with the Abu Dhabi holiday mood.
Yas Island: the entertainment island kids won’t want to leave
Yas Island has so much going on all day, every day, that saying you could spend an entire Abu Dhabi holiday here is no exaggeration. To date we don’t know anyone who has – too many temptations elsewhere – but you definitely could and you wouldn’t regret a minute.
The fun starts just 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi city and it covers every possible excitement from world-first theme parks and waterparks to a vast shopping mall, marina, golf course and even its very own Yas Beach.
Ride the world’s fastest rollercoaster
- Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi covers an area equivalent to 15 football pitches and makes good use of every bit of the space with 40 astounding rides and slides. The world’s largest surf-able sheet wave is here, but you’ll be pleased to know there are lazy rivers too, so even the youngest kids aren’t left out.
- Ferrari World Abu Dhabi sits under the largest space-frame structure on earth and includes the world’s fastest rollercoaster as well as its highest loop. Your kid’s knuckles will never have been whiter, we promise.
- Set aside an entire day for Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi and even that might not be enough. This Yas Island theme park covers 1.65 million square feet and includes no fewer than 29 sensational rides along with movie experiences, character meet n greets and plenty of opportunity to eat, drink and snack.
- Yas Marina Circuit hosts the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It’s a phenomenal motorsports’ venue and where you can get behind the wheel yourself and make like Lewis Hamilton. A range of packages are available, so the choice of car is down to you. But if speed is your thing, this could be the most unforgettable experience of your entire Abu Dhabi holiday.
Louvre Abu Dhabi: another world first for your Abu Dhabi holiday
You’ll find the amazing Louvre Abu Dhabi at the heart of Saadiyat Cultural District. It’s the first Louvre outside France and, like the original, almost as famous for its architecture as its art collections.
Set aside plenty of time for your visit, the Children’s Museum alone will captivate your kids. Then, once you’ve seen inside, take a totally different view and book a guided kayak tour around the museum. It’s another only-in-Abu-Dhabi experience.
Saadiyat Island: the calm, cultured and beachy base for an Abu Dhabi holiday
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is reason alone to visit Saadiyat Island, however, the cultural heart of Abu Dhabi could also be the perfect base for your family holiday.
Not only is this lovely island home to some of the emirate’s best family beach resorts, it’s where you’ll find some of the best beaches, full stop. Unique in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat’s white sand shores are punctuated by pockets of lush green and tend to be low on crowds and high on tranquillity. So tranquil that Hawksbill Turtles nest here. In fact, several of the beachfront resorts have outstanding turtle programmes geared towards engaging kids in conservation and caring for these critically endangered creatures.
Abu Dhabi has over 200 islands and Saadiyat still stands out. So even if you don’t base your holiday here, definitely dip in for the day. There’s a lot to tempt you, including Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, shopping at Mamsha Al Saadiyat and the laid-back cool of Saadiyat Beach Club.
How to plan an Abu Dhabi family holiday
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Abu Dhabi take from 7 hours, 15 minutes. Etihad Airways flies daily from both London Heathrow and Manchester year-round.
With over 15 years experience in luxury travel, Destinology is a leading provider of exceptional, high-end holidays. A unique blend of first-hand destination expertise, first-class service, and superb relationships with carefully selected travel partners, allows the team to create the ultimate, personalised 5* holidays. With Destinology, you receive a true concierge experience, ensuring all the details – the ones that really matter to you – are taken care of personally, passionately and to the highest standard.
Call the team now on 01204 802 075 or visit Destinology.
Visit Experience Abu Dhabi for everything you need to know about easy and extraordinary family holidays in the UAE capital this year and next.