The Capital of the United Arab Emirates, it is slightly less flamboyant than little brother Dubai down the road, and can easily be easily overlooked.
But make no mistake, the vibrant and culturally rich city of Abu Dhabi deserves far more than an overnight stop to fully appreciate what it has on offer and reach below its glossy exterior.
Best time to visit Abu Dhabi
Being in the heart of the Middle East, expect long hot summers and mild winters, making the best time to visit from late October through to late April.
If you are visiting during the summer, be conscious of the fact you will need to spend most of your time indoors. There is still plenty to see and do, but it’s likely too hot to be at the pool and beach during the day. Conversely in mid-winter its fabulous for outdoor sightseeing and exploring, but probably a little too cold for a dip in the ocean.
Also, bear in mind the timing of religious holidays in the UAE. Being a Muslim country, Islamic holidays are observed, particularly the Holy month of Ramadan where tourists might see several differences in day-to-day life.
How to get around Abu Dhabi
Although the central city is relatively easy to navigate operating in a fairly easy grid system, most visitors will choose to take taxis rather than hire a car or take public transport.
Taxis are relatively cheap and easy to get hold of and will (hopefully!) understand the ever-changing road numbering systems. A lot of roads have recently been renamed and renumbered so it’s not uncommon for people to still navigate by landmarks rather than addresses.
The Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is located approximately 40 minutes from ‘Downtown Abu Dhabi’ with several transportation options. You can also easily connect to neighbouring Dubai in just over an hour.
Best Family Hotels in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi hotels can offer incredibly good value for money for families. The larger family tends to be well catered for with suite options, interconnecting rooms and serviced apartments all readily available.
Hotels are dotted all over the city, so there is no one central place to base yourself. This means you can decide whether you are here for sightseeing and activities, prefer being close to the beach, or want to opt for a mix of culture and great views.
Top family attractions in Abu Dhabi
On the surface, Abu Dhabi might not look as exciting for families as the flashier Dubai but rest assured there’s still plenty to keep the little ones entertained. The city does generally move at a slower pace, but it is very family orientated and perfectly blends modern lifestyle with it’s traditional Bedouin past if you just dig a little beneath the surface.
In a city surrounded by water its no surprise that cooling off in the ocean at one of the cities luxury resorts is a popular choice, or visiting the much-acclaimed opening of the Louvre Museum is likely to be high on many parents lists. And how can we forget one of the most architecturally stunning buildings in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?
Bound to be high on most kids’ wish lists is Yas Island. Just outside of the city, Yas is a purpose-built entertainment complex that includes the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit set around the stunning Yas Marina, along with Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and the newly opened Warner Bros World.
Listen to our Podcast interview with our co-founder Keri to hear exactly how to plan your visit to Abu Dhabi – including a 3-day family-friendly Abu Dhabi itinerary.
Packing List for Abu Dhabi
Almost year-round you’ll find summery beach weather in Abu Dhabi, though you may understandably be unsure of what to wear if this is your first time visiting a Muslim country. To help with any confusion over what is acceptable we have this detailed guide to the dress code in Abu Dhabi.
Beyond your clothing, you’ll also want to think about packing the right electronics, toiletries and that all-important baby gear including car seats and strollers.