Everything You Need to Know for a Family Vacation to Abu Dhabi - Family Traveller (USA)
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What to see and do

Yas Island

Kids can meet favorite characters, such as Scooby Doo, or become mini-superheroes in Gotham City and Metropolis at Warner Bros World. Over at Ferrari World, brave the fastest roller-coaster in the known universe or train like Ferrari drivers in an F1 advanced simulator. To beat the heat, Yas Waterworld has everything from surf simulators to waterslides. Visit: yasisland.ae

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Everyone will be blown away by the grandeur and design of this mosque, often considered the “crown jewel” of Abu Dhabi. Pro tip: visit just before sunset to see the mosque at prime golden hour and then watch as the sun goes down for equally striking night views. Book complimentary tours and check the dress code online before your visit.

Visit: szgmc.gov.ae/en

Falcon Hospital

Get friendly with birds of prey on a tour at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Learn the history of falconry, fun facts about the birds (for example: falcons used for hunting get their own passports) and even see a falcon have a pedicure. At the end of the tour, guests can hold the falcons – an experience kids won’t forget.

Visit: falconhospital.com

The Louvre

No Abu Dhabi family vacation is complete without a visit here. With a dome designed to recreate dappled light passing through palm-frond roofs at an oasis, the stunning architecture of this museum is worth the visit alone. The art, which ranges from prehistoric artefacts to modern masterpieces, is laid out in an easily accessible chronological format. There are special audio guides for children, as well as a children’s museum.

Visit: louvreabudhabi.ae

Arabian Nights Village

It’s easy to forget that you’re in a desert while lounging on the beach or strolling the souks, but a tour of the Arabian Nights Village soon changes that. Slide down sand dunes, take a camel ride and savour traditional Arabic dishes, plus stay overnight and sleep like a (luxurious) desert dweller.

Visit: arabiannightsvillage.com

The Abu Dhabi Children’s Library

This innovative, exciting new library space for children just opened in March 2019 and is a fabulous place for visitors to mingle with locals. Inspiration for its immersive learn-and-play areas came from pop-up books and it has a “Book Mountain” at its center. Children can read about sand dunes, climb onto camels or huddle on four-wheel drives before heading out and doing the real thing.

Visit: alhosn.ae


Where to stay

Park Hyatt

On the sandy shore of Saadiyat Island, the Park Hyatt has access to the best beaches in all of Abu Dhabi. It also offers a family pool, an excellent kids’ club, roomy suites and villas, and activities that include wildlife walks and eco boat tours through the nearby mangroves.

Visit: hyatt.com

Colourful tables at Park Hyatt Kids' Club room

Park Hyatt Kids’ Club room

Exterior of Shangri-La Abu Dhabi at night

Shangri-La at night

Shangri-La, Qaryat al Beri

Conveniently located near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and city center, the Shangri-La offers classic arabesque style. Enjoy relaxing beach and garden views, sail down winding waterways around the hotel complex in traditional Arabic boats or take a dip in the pool.

Visit: shangri-la.com

Radisson Blu

Enjoy the beautiful beach and dazzling views of the pale blue waters from the private balconies while staying close to the action at Radisson Blu on Yas Island. From here it’s easy to visit the mall, Louvre museum, all the Yas Island theme parks and other nearby offerings. Plus, up to two kids under 12 stay with their parents for free.

Visit: radissonblu.com

Blue pool, day beds and palm trees at Radisson Blu

Pool time at Radisson Blu

Where to shop

L’Enfant Chic

This store is just for kids’ clothes, selling everything from shoes to jackets and party dresses. It specialises in designer items and stocks the latest seasonal trends – even the local royal family has been known to shop for their kids here, so you know you’re in good company.

Visit: facebook.com/lenfantchicabudhabi

L'Enfant Chic storefront

L’Enfant Chic

Exterior of Central Market Souk

Shopping at Central Market Souk

Central Market Souk

Roam around this multi-story market to find everything from authentic silk rugs to aromatic spices. The friendly shop owners are always happy to tell you a bit about the history behind their products, and it’s a great place to pick up trinkets and souvenirs or another scarf. Stop on the roof garden for a drink or snack.

Yas Mall

In the UAE, malls are hot spots for hanging out and being seen. And, at Yas Mall, there’s plenty to do aside from shop, like Fun Works, a children’s entertainment centre filled with rides and play areas; a Lego Pop-In and Play zone; and even a climbing wall.

Visit: yasmall.ae

Interior of Yas Mall with people shopping

Yas Mall


Where to eat & drink

Telescopes at The Observation Deck at Jumeirah Etihad looking at the city

The Observation Deck at Jumeirah Etihad

Buffets

Buffets work well for hungry families. Head to Jing Asia at the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi-Yas Island, or head to Choices at Yas Island Rotana.

Visit: crowneplaza.com, rotana.com

Jumeirah Etihad Towers

Enjoy high tea and mocktails while taking in the 360-degree views from 900 feet up at the 74th-floor Observation Deck.

Visit: jumeirah.com

Flame & Bake

For a quick, cheap bite, stop at any of this local chain restaurant’s locations and try the juicy shawarma.

Visit: flamenbake.com

The Emirates Palace

It doesn’t get more decadent than the Emirates Palace. Stop here for a truly rich treat. Kids will love the gold-leafed ice cream, while parents can have a signature pick-me-up cappuccino, famously topped with 24-carat gold flakes.

Visit: kempinski.com

 

Gold-leafed topped cappuccino and dried fruit at the Emirates Palace

Gold-leafed topped cappuccino at the Emirates Palace


The Lowdown: Abu Dhabi

How to get there

Etihad Airways flies direct from New York, and you can pre-book children’s meals and cribs. There are even flying nannies on some flights and a family room for premium-class guests at the airport.

etihad.com

How to get around

Cars are the name of the game in the UAE. You can rent a car for the week, or most hotels will arrange taxis and transport to major sites. Uber is also an option.

Top tips

Abu Dhabi is less conservative than you might think – shorts and T-shirts are acceptable in many public areas and bikinis are welcome at hotel pools. Pack lightweight, loose-fitting long pants and shirts, as even in the winter the average temperatures are around 77°F. For women, add a scarf for your head to visit mosques and places with a modest dress code.