Abu Dhabi is the ultimate family destination. Its dry lands spill with water parks, amusement venues, and zoos to keep the whole family refreshed from the scorching year-round weather. The UAE’s capital city is all about breaking boundaries: Experience the fastest roller coaster in the world, the Gulf’s very first theme park, and the world’s largest indoor theme park. And just to make planning your holiday that little bit simpler, we’ve rounded up the best family attractions, family friendly hotels, and airlines to fly with to Abu Dhabi:
WEATHER: Abu Dhabi is a destination with almost year-round sunshine, little rainfall and near-perfect winter temperatures. Between September and May, the temperatures are a pleasant 25 degrees while the warmer summer months from June to September often exceed 45 degrees when visitors can make use of the exciting Summer Season Programme.
SUMMER SEASON PROGRAMME: Abu Dhabi’s Summer Season runs from July to September and promises a diverse programme of international shows, shopping promotions, prize draws, and hotel and attraction offers presented by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority across Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and the Western Region.
BEST TIME TO GO: The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is between September and May when the temperature is more bearable at around 25 degrees.
CURRENCY: Dirham (1 Dirham = approx. £5)
TIME DIFFERENCE: 3 – 4 hours ahead, depending on UK daylight saving
FLIGHT: 7 hours direct from London
LANGUAGE: Arabic but English is widely spoken
VISA: No Visa required for British passport holders
FAMILY FUN PARKS
Yas Waterworld is the only Emirati-themed waterpark in the world, inspired by the UAE’s heritage of pearl diving. Its 45 rides are themed by “The Legend of the Lost Pearl” and include 5 attractions you won’t find anywhere else on earth. Ride the largest hydro-magnetic powered 6 person tornado waterslide, tackle the world’s longest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards, or dare the 550m rollercoaster – the only rollercoaster where you can shoot water at targets, trigger special effects and drop water bombs on the people below you!
GPS: 24.487646, 54.599626
Ferrari World is the first Ferrari branded and largest indoor theme park in the world. It has the fastest rollercoaster in the world (Formula Rossa) which races at a speed of 250km/hour in 4.9 seconds. Visit the largest Ferrari Store, race Ferraro-themed go karts, and enjoy live shows and racing memorabilia.
GPS: 24.483249, 54.607385
Wadi Adventure is the first man-made white water rafting, kayaking and surfing facility in the region. It is home to the largest manmade surf wave and the longest kayaking channel in the world – and its artificial beach is a great place to relax and soak up the sun.
GPS: 24.093872, 55.738808
AL AIN ZOO
Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals with 30% of its 180 species endangered. Visitors can look forward to feeding giraffes, riding camels, and petting the animals at Elezba petting zoo. Designed just like a farm, the petting zoo is a great place for kids to play with friendly and gentle animals, such as sheep, goats, llamas, chickens, and ducks. Picnic areas are available.
GPS: 24.179243, 55.739608
EMIRATES PARK ZOO
Emirates Park Zoo has over 1,700 animals, including a predator enclosure with white tiger, Siberian bear, lion, cheetah, and zebra. Its misting system keeps the animals cool in the hot summer months.
GPS: 24.546312, 54.674616
ARABIAN WILDLIFE PARK
The Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island is home to over 10,000 free roaming animals and takes up over half the island. Get close to giraffes from a viewing platform or enjoy 4×4 nature drives to see Arabian oryx, gazelle, giraffe, hyena, and cheetah when you stay at Desert Islands Resort & Spa.
GPS: 24.314931, 52.594202
THE FALCON HOSPITAL
The Falcon Hospital has is the largest falcon hospital in the UAE with over 11,000 falcons being treated each year. Enjoy an interactive falcon tour where you can learn the history of falconry, see a falcon getting a pedicure, watch them fly in a free flight aviary, and get a photo with a falcon on your arm.
GPS: 24.407346, 54.699325
FAMILY DAYS OUT
Drive through the sandy slopes of Abu Dhabi on an exciting 4×4 desert safari. The trip includes a chance to sandboard down the dunes and ends with dinner in a large open-air camp in the middle of the desert where you can enjoy Arabic food and entertainment, such as belly dancing, camel rides and henna art.
This 8km waterfront is scattered with cafes, restaurants, and kiddies’ play areas. There are pedestrian and cycle paths for exploring (Fun Rise Sports has bikes that fit 2 or 3 passengers on the back) and the Blue Flag Corniche Beach is a great spot for a picnic with lifeguards and beach umbrellas. Don’t forget to ride The Marina Eye, an enormous wheel that dominates the Abu Dhabi skyline and offers incredible views of the city.
GPS: 24.471198, 54.337429
Take the kids out for a day on the ice at Sparky’s ice rink in Khalidiyah Mall. The amusement park also has a 4D cinema, kids and adults rides, and arcades for plenty of family fun. Other ice rinks are available at Zayed Sports City and Marina Mall.
GPS: 24.470002, 54.351779
Gather the family together for a night of bowling in the largest bowling alley in Abu Dhabi at Zayed Sports City. There are other bowling alleys available at the Armed Forces Officers Club, Abu Dhabi Country Club, Marina Mall, and Khalidiyah Mall.
GPS: 24.415887, 54.453524
Spacewalk at Abu Dhabi Country Club is the only place to go indoor skydiving in Abu Dhabi. It’s here that you can enjoy the thrill of skydiving without an airplane or parachute. Suitable for kids 3 years and up.
GPS: 24.461305, 54.375426
GLOW IN THE DARK MINI GOLF
Kids will love the glow in the dark mini golf in Dalma Mall. Each of the 18 holes is lit with neon lights and has interactive objects along the way. Suitable for kids 3 years and up.
GPS: 24.333534, 54.522793
The largest and newest indoor play centre can be found in Yas Mall. Fun Works has two floors jam-packed with fun and educational attractions, from rollercoasters and arts and craft workshops, to a 5-storey soft playhouse.
GPS: 24.488825, 54.608692
Situated in Al Wahda Mall, Kidzfactory offers plenty of things to do from hobby crafts to themed days where you can create your own snow globes, collages, candles, and more. Attractions include an Art Lab, Doodle Den, and Paintball Plant.
GPS: 24.470217, 54.372559
Adventure Zone in Dalma Mall is a fantastic family attraction with plenty to do for all ages. Look forward to exciting attractions like a 3.5m climbing wall, trampoline park, skate park, bike pump track, cable climbs, and more.
GPS: 24.333525, 54.522772
ART & POTTERY CLASSES
Art Beat offers arts and crafts classes and workshops for the whole family, from painting and clay modelling, to glass painting and ceramics. Abu Dhabi Pottery also offers a wide range of family and kids classes.
GPS: 24.437405, 54.415210
TOP 5 FAMILY HOTELS IN ABU DHABI
YAS ISLAND ROTANA
Yas Island Rotana is a fantastic family hotel on Yas Island. Guests can enjoy unlimited access to Yas Waterpark as well as FREE transport to Yas Waterworld, Yas Marina Circuit, and Ferrari World during their stay. The hotel has a heated outdoor swimming pool, a kids’ pool, tennis courts, and more. Find out more.
RITZ-CARLTON ABU DHABI GRAND CENTRAL
Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is a top choice for families with babysitting services and an excellent kids club that has a new activity happening every hour of the day until 10pm. It also has a private beach and one of the largest swimming pools in the Middle East. Find out more.
ST REGIS ABU DHABI
St Regis Abu Dhabi has a focus on families with child sized bathrobes and slippers, stepping stools, kids’ menus, child care, and more. Treasure Island Children’s Club at Nation Riviera Beach Club is shaped like a pirate ship for kids 4 – 10 years and is FREE to hotel guests. Find out more.
Emirates Palace has plenty to keep the little ones busy with swimming clinics, arts and crafts, mini water polo sessions, lazy river races, face painting, and other exciting games. There are 2 swimming pools with sun decks, tennis courts, and more. Find out more.
ST REGIS SAADIYAT ISLAND
St Regis Saadiyat Island offers special touches for the kids as well as the adults. Expect a special turn down for kids’ beds with warm milk and goodnight treats, child sized bathrobes, mini slippers, and more. The hotel has a kids’ pool with water slides, a nanny service, as well as a cave themed kids’ club. Find out more.
FAMILY FLIGHTS WITH ETIHAD AIRWAYS
Etihad Airways offers direct flights from London to Abu Dhabi in less than 7 hours. Here are a few reasons to fly with Etihad Airways:
FLYING NANNY: Yes, you heard right. Etihad’s flying nannies look after your kids, armed with a goody bag of games, face paint, and magic tricks, as well as drawing competitions, hand puppets, and origami.
IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: We’re talking animated movies, interactive games, and music for teens. What’s more, every child gets a welcome pack full of games, activity books and stickers.
MEALS: Baby food and fun meals are available for babies and children. If you wish to bring your own food and milk, these can be warmed on board.
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