Today for my ‘5 things your kids will love about… ‘ series I have the pleasure of hosting family travel blogger extraordinaire Keri. Author of Babyglobetrotters, a fantastic resource for globetrotting families, Keri is an expat mum now living in Abu Dhabi and today she shares with us the 5 top things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids kids
Top things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids
1. Desert Exploring
You can hardly come to the Middle East and miss out on the desert. The first thing you should do is skip the big cities and get out to see the real UAE, getting a taste of Bedouin life. There are several companies that offer day safari or overnight packages with activities ranging from camel riding to dune bashing, henna to belly dancing, sand boarding or quad biking.
For a great overnight family trip we recommend Arabian Nights Village who can do transfers from the city, based about 1.5 hours into the Liwa Desert. If you are looking for all this, along with a luxury resort including kids club, you can’t go wrong with Qasr Al Sarab. If you are lucky enough to visit in December, the Al Dhafra Festival where the main feature event is a camel beauty contest is not to be missed too!
2. Great Views
Next up let’s get a good look at the city and the stunning azure waters that surround Abu Dhabi island (many visitors don’t realise they are in fact on an island!). Maybe not quite on the scale of neighbouring tower the Burj Khalifa in Dubai but the stunning Observation Deck at 300, part of Etihad Towers, Jumeirah hotel, offers amazing 360 vistas sure to keep kids happy.
You can see how old and new city merge here, the exceptionally opulent Emirates Palace hotel then the truly unimaginably large new Presidential Palace in glistening white marble. If that doesn’t have you amazed, looking at the size of the mega-yachts in the Palace Marina and the Intercontinental will definitely have you all gawping! Tickets are AED75 but include a meal voucher, under 6’s are free.
Although it’s quite an opulent place to walk into, you’ll not feel out of place with kids here.
3. Yas Island
If you’re looking for the best place to stay with a load of attractions, then basing yourself on Yas Island is a great idea. As well as being incredibly close to Abu Dhabi airport, it is known as the entertainment and family fun district of the Capital, and for good reason. As well as containing the world’s largest indoor theme park with the world’s fastest roller coaster – Ferrari World – the centerpiece Yas Mall has a huge range of family-friendly shops and free entertainment options (our kids favourite is the double story slide inside virgin megastore!) With a huge cinema complex, massive Fun Works with My Works mini city and giant soft play, it’s definitely the best place to escape from the heat.
Other attractions on Yas include the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit (you can walk/run/cycle around here for free on a Tuesday night); a huge restaurant and entertainment district along the Yas Marina (more staring at amazingly expensive yachts – and many charter companies leave from here if you want to hit the water); and of course a winner for families Yas Waterworld is the perfect place to cool off.
You could honestly spend a whole week here and have a different activity every day.
4. Friday Brunch
An institution here in the UAE is Brunch. Don’t be mistaken into thinking this just a meal between breakfast and lunch: it is far more serious than that. Firstly, they don’t start until lunchtime, but they involve all you can eat and drink buffets, live cooking stations, chocolate foundations, specialty cheese rooms, children’s entertainment and so much more!
Held on Fridays (that’s the weekend here) they are very much a part of the modern UAE culture and a not to be missed gastronomic experience for the whole family. We talk about some of our favourites here but there is a vast range across the city to choose from – you can really pick your preferred cuisine, view, kid-friendliness, whatever option works for you. Under 6s usually eat for free, under 12s half price. Prices range vastly by hotel (and quality of champagne) but expect between 250 – 600 AED for booze inclusive packages.
5. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
And last but not least a trip to Abu Dhabi cannot be complete without visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Built in dedication to the UAE's founding father, this megalithic marble structure is an absolute architectural masterpiece. The glistening white minarets can be spotted from miles away, along with the call to prayer at this huge house of worship.
Kids may not be overly entertained here but it is a must not miss attraction. Dressing correctly for the occasion is essential but don’t worry, you can hire (free) full-length abayas and kandora’s to ensure you are respectfully dressed.
So there you have it, 5 of the best for Abu Dhabi with kids. Don’t forget to check our important facts guide before a visit to the UAE as there are a few nuances about the country that it helps to know to make sure you are abiding by religious guidelines in this welcoming and friendly Muslim country.
I hope you enjoyed reading Keri’s top picks for visiting Abu Dhabi with kids: have you been?