What are the top things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids? Find out in this insider’s guide to the best kids activities in Abu Dhabi, including tips on the best desert adventure, where to find family-friendly brunches and how to visit the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with little ones – Updated 2021
Abu Dhabi has been on my travel wish list for quite some time now.
A safe, modern yet exotic city, it often comes up as an easy stop-over destination when traveling between Europe and Asia but it is clearly a lot more than that!
A lovely family destination for winter sun, Abu Dhabi has plenty to offer to families with kids of all ages and today I have asked my friend and colleague Keri, a Abu Dhabi local, for all her best tips.
This is a guide to the best things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids based on her tips and experience!
After this post, don’t forget to also check out our Abu Dhabi packing list with all you may need for a great stay.
Good to know! Planning a family trip while expecting? Abu Dhabi is a great destination for expecting mothers too: have a look at this great Abu Dhabi babymoon guide to see what I mean!
Please note: this post contains affiliate links and, should you make a purchase through them, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Top things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids
Go desert exploring – great activity with kids in Abu Dhabi for adventurous families
You can hardly come to the Middle East and miss out on the desert and Abu Dhabi is a great place for a first desert adventure with kids in tow!
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.
Several companies offer day trips to the desert from Abu Dhabi: have a look at this one (kids age 3 and up), which includes several activities and also has good cancellation options – always handy when travelling with small children especially!
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 desert resort by Anantara.
This is a very beautiful luxury resort with turrets, courtyards, pools and of course that wonderful exotic, desert feel you have been dreaming of when planning a trip to this part of the world!
The resort has rooms and villas also for families with kids – not a budget option by any stretch of the imagination but if you can afford it, it is rather special!
Top tip: If you are lucky enough to visit in December, you can experience the Al Dhafra Festival where the main feature event is a camel beauty contest – guaranteed fun for the whole family and sure to get more than a giggle from your kids!
Look at the city from above – best viewpoints to experience in Abu Dhabi with children
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, the stunning Observation Deck at 300 is part of Etihad Towers and Jumeirah hotel, and 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.
Get busy on Yas Island – the very best place in Abu Dhabi for kids!
Let’ be honest, while the desert and the view are great, you cannot bring the kids to Abu Dhabi and not bring them to the fabulous Abu Dhabi theme parks in Las Island!
My son has a glimpse of those on TV and made up his mind Abu Dhabi was the place to be for him and indeed, Yas Island is fun central in Abu Dhabi for kids and has tons of family attractions.
Here you find:
Ferrari World – Ferrari Themed Park with the fastest rollercoaster in the world
Warner Bros Abu Dhabi – amazing rides in the companies of WN heroes and beloved family characters
Yas Waerworld – ana amzing waterpark with exceptional rides, perfect for those hot days!
On Yas Island you also have Yas Mall – with a huge range of family-friendly shops and free entertainment options – a kids favourite is the double storey slide inside virgin megastore!
Yas Island is incredibly close to Abu Dhabi airport and it is known as the entertainment and family fun district of the Capital!
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);
You could honestly spend a whole week here and have a different activity every day: Yas island alone places Abu Dhabi on our list of the best cities in the world to visit with kids!
Indulge in Friday Brunch in Abu Dhabi
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.
Keri talks about some of their 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.
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Abu Dhabi most beautiful landmarks for kids and adults
And last but not least a trip to Abu Dhabi cannot be complete without visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which you can easy with kids too.
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 but there are more!
More family things to do in Abu Dhabi
Visit the incredible Emirati Palace and stay for lunch or a refreshing drink: take in the opulent decor, the beautiful gardens and get the kids to embrace a place like no other
Enjoy the Abu Dhabi Corniche, perfect to walk on the pedestrian walkaway, play, relax and experience Abu Dhabi family-friendly beaches
Explore the Abu Dhabi mangroves with a kayak trip! a fun way for kids and adults to experience an unexpected and unique natural wonder in the UAE
Go do Dubai – ok, I know it is silly to recommend going to another place but Dubai is super close to Abu Dhabi, it is rather different which makes it interesting and has plenty to do for families. Have a look at the best things to do in Dubai with kids, I am sure you won’t want to miss it!
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi with children
Abu Dhabi is a family friendly, easy city to visit however, you need to go in the right season or the heat can be unbearable and massively hinder your sightseeing.
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi with children is the European winter, especially the months between late October and late March.
At this time, the weather is hot but not unbearable: at a glance, this is what to expect in Abu Dhabi in the cooler season
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Where to stay in Abu Dhabi with kids
Abu Dhabi has a great selection of family hotels and child-friendly resorts with wonderful family rooms, kid-friendly pools, and kids clubs. Some you may like are:
Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi resort in central location, with good family rooms, beach access, kids play equipment, pool, babysitting service
Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island – In a great location to enjoy what Yas island has to offer and with all the family attentions we always experience in Hiltonhotesl, one of our safest choices when looking for family accommodation
Anantara Qasr Al Sarab desert resort – a luxury, wonderful resort with rooms and villas, perfect for a family luxury getaway like no other
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 things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids. Safe travel planning!
Please note: the attractions and activities mentions in this post are included for information purposes only and neither we or the author received any compensation for their mention.