Dubai is often described as a city of superlatives – bigger, brighter, more exciting. As such, the emirate has become synonymous with the United Arab Emirates.
However, Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, makes a serious case for being your next family vacation destination.
Voted one of the most family-friendly tourist destinations
In a survey conducted by Club Med in 2019, Abu Dhabi ranked ninth among the ten most family-friendly tourism spots in the world. It joins the illustrious company of London, Paris, Berlin, Bangkok, Vienna, Budapest, Stockholm, and Lisbon.
The results of the study were based on different criteria, including average cost of a vacation, the average price of a meal at a typical restaurant, the number of visitors from the United Kingdom, government policies, social norms, and performance based on the United Nations; World Happiness Report.
This enviable accolade does not come as a stroke of luck. For several years now, Abu Dhabi has made serious strides in making itself a leading family holiday destination by bringing in luxurious hotels and thrilling attractions that can rival the best of what the rest of the world can offer.
The best time to visit
Planning to visit the emirate? There are two best times to visit Abu Dhabi, especially if you are coming in as a family: between April and May and between September and October. During these periods, the weather is fair, while the crowds are not that big.
In terms of pleasant weather, many consider winter to be the perfect time. However, the main drawback of scheduling your visit around this time is the crowd. Due to the pleasant weather, December is Abu Dhabi’s peak season. You’ll have to contend with larger crowds for hotel rooms and taxis.
Getting to Abu Dhabi
From the United Kingdom, you can book a direct flight to Abu Dhabi through either the British Airways or Etihad Airways. If you are coming from the United States, there are a few airlines that fly directly to the emirate, including KLM and Lufthansa.
There are no direct flights between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Instead, you can ride an airline shuttle, take a public bus, hire a taxi, or rent a car.
In the city itself, there are a few ways to get around.
Abu Dhabi’s bus service is your number one option for traveling around the city. The buses are air conditioned, and the fare is cheap. But to pay for your fare, you will need to secure a Hafilat card from the central bus station.
There are also several taxis operating in the city. Seasoned travelers and residents consider taxis as the most convenient mode of transport for going around Abu Dhabi.
Finally, you and your family can consider hiring a car for the duration of your stay in the emirate. For this, you will need a driver’s license from your home country.
Occupying a substantial amount of territory, Abu Dhabi has plenty to offer for practically every member of the family. Here’s a brief look at some of the top attractions of the city.
No visit to Abu Dhabi would be complete (at least for the car lovers in your family) without making a pitstop at the Ferrari World.
Housed in an enormous area measuring 2.1 million square feet, Ferrari World offers many thrills for people of different ages, from motorsports memorabilia to themed rides.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Recognized as one of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was completed in 2007.
Apart from its size, the mosque boasts of its stunning design, brought about by the work of local architects in partnership with Italian and British designers. This design is an amalgamation of different influences in and beyond the Middle East.
Warner Bros. World
Like Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World is located in Yas Island, adjacent to the Abu Dhabi International airport.
Your kids are in for a treat as the theme park deftly combines interactive entertainment with shows and rides. The park is divided into different zones, including those for characters from classic cartoons and heroes and villains of Gotham and Metropolis.
Located at Abu Dhabi’s beachfront, the Corniche is considered by many residents as the perfect starting point when visiting and exploring the city.
This eight-kilometer stretch of beachfront offers opportunities for dining, strolling and lounging around. You and your kids can even swim at the beach, which has lifeguard stations, picnic stations, and a lawn area.
Mangrove National Park
Some tourists assume that the UAE is one big desert landscape. On the contrary, the country has diverse landscapes.
If you are visiting the emirate, you can check out the Mangrove National Park, which serves as home to different species of birds.
If bird-watching is not your cup of tea, you and the whole gang can go kayaking or simply marvel at the area’s stars: the mangroves.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Abu Dhabi is home to one of the world’s premier falcon welfare facilities.
Take a tour inside the facility and immerse yourself in all things falcon, including the storied history of the bird in the region.
Observation Deck at 300
Marvel at the city’s sleek skyline at the Observation Deck at 300. Located in Jumeirah At Etihad Towers, the Observation Deck offers visitors a 360-degree view of the city from the highest vantage point.
Ride. Slide. Swim. Round off your visit to Yas Island by making a stop at the Yas Waterworld. The waterpark is popular among both tourists and residents because it offers different fun opportunities for all the members of the family, from kids to adults.
Where to stay
As the leading tourism hub in the region, visitors will find a diverse number of accommodations that suit different needs and budgets.
Before you book a hotel for your upcoming visit, it is a good idea to find out what your available options are based upon your budget, needs, and if you are traveling in a group, the size of your party.
Inquire about the different policies of each hotel in your shortlist. Be aware that as a Muslim country, unmarried couples are not allowed to share a hotel room in the UAE. Also, take note that hotels have different policies with regards to alcohol, smoking, and even bringing your own food.
It is worthwhile to consider staying in a hotel that is near the areas that you are planning to visit, like an Abu Dhabi international airport hotel. This will allow you to save both time and money.
Finally, take into account the time of your visit. If your schedule is flexible, consider visiting Abu Dhabi during the off-peak season so you can take advantage of different deals.
If you wish to make your search for a hotel more efficient, consider creating a shortlist of establishments that meet your requirements and, from there, narrow down your choices based on the criteria mentioned above.