Just over an hours drive out of Dubai, you will find the adventure playground – Abu Dhabi. With theme parks, water parks and all things fun. One day isn’t enough to check out all the attractions for families. We visited in September and found it quieter due to the extreme heat.
From scorching desert, blissful nature, magnificent architecture, Islamic cultural splendor to year round sunshine, this multicultural city; Abu Dhabi, offers something for everyone regardless of their age and interest.
Looking for more middle east destinations? Consider visiting Dubai
BOOKING YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT ABU DHABI?
Abu Dhabi’s climate is consistently hot throughout the year, so there is no particular peak or off season. The Summer months of March to October can get so hot, even the locals struggle. November to February has manageable weather, you might want to choose this time of year to visit, based on the cultural events that the country hosts.
Our guide to Dubai with Kids has more information about the festivals and events taking place throughout the year. Remember that as Abu-Dhabi is a Muslim country. You should do a bit of homework on how to behave when you get there so as not to offend any of the locals.
BEST TIME TO BOOK FLIGHTS TO ABU DHABI?
There are multiple factors that influence the price of a flight so comparing airlines, departure airports and times can help keep costs down. September is the cheapest month to book,with flights ranging from £310 to £350pp. August is the most expensive month, with flights costing on average £420. We recommend using Skyscanner as a starting place and then searching other providers to see if you can beat their price.
Wednesday is the most economical day to take a flight to Abu Dhabi. To get the best value, try booking a flight at midday . Generally the prices will increase for flights in the evening as these tend to have higher demand.
HOW LONG IS THE FLIGHT?
Average flight from London to Abu Dhabi: 7 hours 15 minutes
The currency in Abu Dhabi is UAE Dirham. Exchange rates vary, so be sure to check prior to your trip.The Bank of England has an extensive list that is updated every day. If you intend on using your credit charge, you may incur charges for payments and cash withdrawals. We often use the Post Office for our exchange or use ATM’s in our destinations.
READ MORE: Flying with Kids – My Top Tips
ABU DHABI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
The airport is 18 miles (30km) from the east of the City Centre. Catch the A1 bus to and from the airport. Easiest thing to do is check whether your hotel has frees transfers included. Most do. You just have to get to the correct side of the airport and wait. A bus with your hotel chain arrives every 30 minutes.
Hiring a car is cheap and easy. You can leave it at the airport, when you’re done. The road signs have English translations and they are wide and mostly straight. If travelling during peak season the roads may be slightly busier. You drive on the right, but the driver sits on the left.
The type of visa you need will depend on factors such as your nationality, the purpose of your visit and the length of your stay. Citizens of the UK can obtain a visa on arrival valid for 30 days. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into the UAE.
If you have entered Abu Dhabi on a visit visa and you wish to work then you should get a probationary work permit, valid for up to 3 months, from the Ministry of Labour. If you don’t get this permit and are caught working while on a visit visa, then you risk being jailed or fined and deported.
If you’re planning to travel with any prescribed or over the counter medicines for personal use, you’ll need to meet the UAE’s specific requirements for your medicine to be allowed into the country.
Visitors must have legal status in the UAE when they depart. If you are subject to a travel ban, involved in legal proceedings, have unpaid debt or are a child subject to a custody dispute, you may be prevented from leaving the country. Thermal scanning is in operation at airports. Departing passengers may be subject to testing, quarantine and medical treatment in the UAE.
Public transport, Taxis and Uber are all present in Abu Dhabi, reliable and safe. Should you wish to rent a car, (we did and explored Abu Dhabi for a day) then all you will need is a deposit and your passport/drivers license. There are rental shops everywhere and the price is pretty cheap in comparison to other countries we have visited and rented in. We tend to use Avis for car hire whenever we travel.
THINGS TO DO
SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE
One of the top three attractions in Abu Dhabi the mosque is magnificent. A great way to start a conservation about religion with kids. Free of charge and free parking, you can visit and leave as you please. We spent around an hour exploring before George got bored.
There are free tours 10am, 11am and 5pm but you might struggle with children of a certain age. You can take prams with you. It is quite a long walk from the entrance to the actual mosque. There are shuttles, try and catch a ride if you can!
Woman will be expected to cover their hair and dress appropriately. They provide clothing for free. I took my own scarf that the lady very kindly, helped me transform. Men are also advised to dress conservatively. When walking to the entrance of the mosque, I used my scarf to cover my shoulders.
£35| Half Day Tour Abu Dhabi
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Nothing beats the rush of flying through the world’s highest roller coaster loop! Can you hear the screams? #FlyingAces #FerrariWorldAD #YasIsland #inAbuDhabi . لا شعور يضاهي الطيران عبر أكبر حلقةٍ معكوسةٍ في العالم! هل تستطيعون سماع صراخهم؟ #طيران_الأبطال #عالم_فيراري_أبوظبي #جزيرة_ياس #في_أبوظبي
This award winning theme park is like no other. Absolutely everything is dedicated to and, inspired by the genius of Ferrari. There are plenty of high-adrenaline rides to choose from, but if your kids say they’ve seen it all before, take them to Formula Rossa. This ride hits 250 kmph (155 mph) in just 4.9 seconds. It’s the worlds fastest rollercoaster.
While guests under 1.3m will be able to enjoy the majority of rides. There are a few that are restricted. Hence the above and below 1.3m ticket pricing. Children below the age of 3 are admitted free of charge accompanied by their parents. Parents may be asked to provide ID to verify age of guests younger than 3.
£128 | Ferrari World & Sheikh Mosque Combined Tour
WARNER BROS. WORLD
Right next door to Yas Waterworld you will find Warner Bros World. It’s pretty spectacular on the scale of theme parks. And exactly what you would expect from a billion dollar price tag. The 1.65-million-square-foot, climate-controlled Warner Bros World park has 30 rides, including Batman: Knight Flight, which allows visitors to experience flying in the Batwing!
Entirely indoors, it’s a perfect break from the heat. Covering DC Comics heroes and villains through to Looney Toon favourites and the Flintstones. You will have a magical family day out.
£65 | Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi Admission Ticket
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مع أكثر من 40 لعبةً، منزلقاً مائيّاً ومرفقاً ترفيهيّاً، الأوقات في #ياس_ووتروورلد مرحٌ مستمرّ! اشتروا تذاكركم الآن. #جزيرة_ياس #في_أبوظبي With over 40 world-class rides, slides and attractions, there are splashes to remember at #YasWaterworld! Book your tickets now. #YasIsland #inAbuDhabi
Let’s start with the figures: 43 attractions, 15 football pitches and a waterslide that’s 235 metres (771 feet) long. Whether they want to try bodyboarding or try hitting targets with jets of water, they’re going to get wet. There are plenty of special effects and lasers amongst all the rides and slides too.
The Abu Dhabi waterpark has been designed for families and children. It has three different slide and splash areas. Rides are split into 4 different “thrill levels.” There should be something to suit everyone in the family.
£56 | Yas WaterWorld General Admission
AL AIN ZOO
Forget concrete feeding houses and brick enclosures, at Al Ain Zoo you get to see wildlife in surroundings that look more or less exactly the same as their natural habitats. There are over 4,000 animals here, and around a third of them are classified as endangered.
The zoo is really doing its bit to help conservation. A hidden gem amongst Abu Dhabi’s tourist places, there’s a gentle petting zoo and a children’s garden onsite for the very little ones too. And it’s cheap!
£8 | Al Ain Zoo Admission
OBSERVATION DECK 300
Observation Deck at 300 is based in Etihad Towers. Featured in Fast & Furious 7, it consists of 4 towers. To enjoy the view, enter through the Jumeirah Hotel reception. Then take the lift to the 74th floor for stunning views of the city. We especially love the view over Emirates Palace and the new Royal Palace.
It’s a great place to come for morning or afternoon tea with a great range of teas, coffees and cakes. It’s a civilised placed but well-behaved kiddies are more than welcome. Prices once up there are rather high but if you visit later on, you can watch an epic sunset.
£52 | Abu Dhabi Family Photoshoot
DESERT SAFARI AND CAMEL RIDE
Take a break from the skyscrappers and enjoy a change in scenery. Be collected from your hotel and there are several activities in the desert. Camel rides, sand buggies, 4×4 cars and dune surfing. Age and height restrictions apply to the buggies and surfing.
But if you have a baby carrier you can take a camel ride together as family. Many children find this more appealing and fun! The guides are really helpful if you have any questions. And the animals are well looked after. You can also enjoy a BBQ as part of your package if you chose to.
£52 | BBQ Dinner, camel ride and 4×4
MARINA EYE FERRIS WHEEL
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"Life is like a ferris wheel…sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. In the end, you just have to learn how to enjoy the ride” #quotes #quoteoftheday #behappy #ferriswheel #flag #naturephotography #nature #backtolife #abudhabi #amazingabudhabi #inabudhabi #mydubai #streetphotography #sky #marinaferriswheel #marinamallabudhabi #uae
You don’t need to keep your eyes peeled to spot Marina Eye. This Ferris wheel towers above the Corniche, just along from Marina Mall. It’s a smooth and gentle ride to the top. With 42 standard cabs plus a few plush ones, if your kids are demanding a bit of VIP treatment! Enjoy the view from the very top and then make the short walk to the Corniche for a day sunbathing and swimming at the beach.
£45 | Big Bus Abu Dhabi Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
YAS MARINA F1 CIRCUIT
If Ferrari World isn’t quite enough for your adrenaline, and you’re not here for Grand Prix weekend. Why not book an actual lap of the GP track? There are various different test drive experiences you can take as either a passenger or driver. This one is for parents only!
For all members of the family, all ages and sizes, you can walk run or cyle around the track. For free. There can be queues for the free bikes. So you might want to pay 50AED to hire a nicer one!
£23 | 90-Minute Small-Group Yas Marina Circuit Tour
The Corniche Road spreads across an impressive 8 kms of manicured waterfront. Littered with children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways. Cafés and restaurants and the Corniche Beach, which has a lifeguarded beach park.
It was awarded coveted Blue Flag status – the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean and safe bathing water. And costs nothing! So back your swimming gear and enjoy a family day at a slower pace.
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