Abu Dhabi Holidays
As the proud capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a bucket list metropolis, inclusive of five-star hotels and sprawling shopping malls. Whilst it is world-renowned for its powder-white beaches and modern skyline, Abu Dhabi also offers an abundance of must-see landmarks and must-do activities. Immerse yourself in the traditional emirate lifestyle with a trip to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque or fulfil your supercar fantasy with Ferrari World tickets. If it’s an action-packed visit you seek, look no further than a dune bashing desert safari, inclusive of emirate cuisine, camel rides and sandboarding. The diversity is endless when you holiday in Abu Dhabi, with sensational opulence, true Arabian heritage & hundreds of once-in-a-lifetime activities all just a seven-hour flight away.
Top Holiday Deals to Abu Dhabi
Featured Abu Dhabi Hotels
Currency: UAE Dirham
Time Difference: GMT + 3 hours
Flight Time From UK: Approximately 7 hours
Weather: Temperatures ranging from 20°C - 40°C
Language: Arabic, with English widely spoken
Ramadan: 13th April – 12th May 2021
Dialling Code: +971
When to Visit
The United Arab Emirates enjoys a hot climate and little rain, so holidays work well no matter when you travel. The busiest time is from November to April when temperatures are coolest, perfect for outdoor adventures, beach activities and water-based sports. During the summer months, the heat can rise to 40°C or higher, but visitors can find bargains on hotels, enjoy indoor decadence at all-inclusive resorts or cool off at stylish beach clubs with white-sand beaches. The Islamic month of Ramadan varies each year, so check the dates before travelling as opening hours of attractions and restaurants can be affected.
What to Pack
Due to the intense summer heat, lightweight clothing, sunscreen,and sunglasses are essential when travelling this time of year. Winter months and trips to air-coned attractions call for coverups, long-sleeved tops and trousers.
When visiting cultural sites, it is important to respect tradition and dress appropriately – men must wear trousers not shorts, whilst women will be asked to cover their head, midriff, legs, shoulders, and arms. Generally, communal clothing items are provided in places where these rules are enforced however, it is courteous to be aware of Islamic dress and respect such beliefs whilst visiting Abu Dhabi.
Where to Stay
Whilst the natural beauty of Saadiyat Island is difficult to top, the 27-square-kilometre land mass is populated with breath-taking man-made attractions designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winners. Home to the Abu Dhabi Louvre and Manarat Al Saadiyat (Arabic for ‘place of enlightenment’), art and connection are widely celebrated here in the capital of creativity. Additionally, the island is known for itspicturesque, protected beaches inhabited by the endangered Hawksbill turtles; enjoy a sunset walk or visit the exclusive Saadiyat Beach Club for a livelier seaside experience.
In just a 5-minute car ride from downtown Abu Dhabi, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a collection of luxurious hotels and the Arabian Gulf’s first beachfront golf course. The Saadiyat Beach Golf Club was designed by South African golf-pro Gary Player, respectfully mirroring the islands natural landscape. Enjoy culture, beaches & a game of golf whilst residing in stunning resorts such as Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island & Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.
The Corniche offers visitors an 8-kilometre-long promenade sandwiched between the glistening skyscrapers of the city and the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf. Soak up the sun on the beach or hire bicycles and ride around fountained park areas. Visit attractions including the Capital Gate, Marina Mall, and Lulu Island accessed via private boat and home to a handful of selective restaurants and coffee shops with activities including camel and horse riding.
If where city meets beach floats your boat, there are a selection of luxury 5* hotels situated along the Corniche coastline including the stunning Sheraton & Corniche Hotel, or the famous beachfront property Emirates Palace.
Abu Dhabi’s blossoming entertainment destination has an attraction to suit every taste. Visit Yas Marina Circuit, home to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, for on-track racing experiences. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is home to two record-breaking rollercoasters, the world’s fastest at 240 kmph, and the world’s tallest inverted loop at 52m. Meet all your favourite characters at Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi or make a splash at Yas Waterworld, voted the best waterpark in the Middle East. Brand new to open on the island is CLYMB Abu Dhabi – an indoor facility offering the world’s tallest climbing wall and widest skydiving chamber.
Things to Do
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
A truly iconic Abu Dhabi landmark is none other than the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, rated 3rd on TripAdvisor’s list of top 10 world landmarks. This colossal masterpiece can house more than 40,000 worshipers and boasts unmatched decadence and detail, from the 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers to the world’s largest handmade carpet. If you are looking for a strong dose of Abu Dhabi culture, a guided sunset tour around the Grand Mosque is a must-see and an incredibly humbling experience.
Stretching over a kilometre from wing to wing, this national landmark is one of the world’s most opulent hotels. It is set on 1.3km of private, pristine beach on the city’s magnificent Corniche, with suites furnished in gold and marble, acres of gardens and 114 domes of Arabic architectural splendour. Emirati royalty and visiting dignitaries stay on the top floor in the six Rulers' Suites.To feel like a royal yourself, try their world-famous cappuccino with real gold flakes!
Qasr Al Hosn
For those seeking out a more historic landmark, Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest stone building in the city and a national monument. Designed by Mohammed Al Bastaki and built around the 1790’s this statuesque icon is otherwise known as the watchtower. Many refer to Qasr Al Hosn as the most significant buildings in Abu Dhabi as it has been home to an array of prominent entities including the ruling family and the government as well as a consultative council and then a national archive. Its walls have seen a multitude of happenings of which tourists and locals alike find fascinating to visit.
Just beyond Abu Dhabi city is the Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter, the largest expanse of sand in the world, recently depicted in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the desert planet of Jakku. Take a day trip for dune bashing in 4x4s, camel trekking, sand surfing, and dinner beneath the stars. Alternatively, escape the dunes for an open jeep safari on Sir Bani Yas Island, home to thousands of free roaming oryx, gazelles, giraffes, and even cheetahs.
Take to the waters and experience the city of Abu Dhabi by boat. Relax on deck and experience a guided tour through both the inshore channels of the city and the coastline of Samaliyah Island. Spot both wildlife and city lights on the sunset tour sailing by Raha Beach, past the traditional beachfront Emirati village of Samaliyah to circle back to Yas Island. A sensational experience combining both luxury and adventure.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
The magnificent Louvre Abu Dhabi establishes the city as the cultural hub of the Middle East, with a permanent collection complemented by masterpieces on loan from key French institutions, including works by Titian, Rodin, Picasso, and Matisse. The galleries depict the story of humanity with each chapter focusing on shared ideologies that connect people to one another. As well as their permanent collection, the Louvre Abu Dhabi hosts 4 rotational collections each year following a complimentary thematic approach.
This world-renowned artistic hub features a fantastic Children’s Museum, in a special two-floor section of interactive learning. Whilst also offering a rooftop café, allowing visitors to end their day with sunset views of the Arabian Gulf.
Experience the city of Abu Dhabi from 300 metre up. Venture above the clouds and enjoy clear, birds-eye views of the city below. Located on the 74th floor of the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers is the cities highest vantage point, enabling those brave enough to secure outstanding skyline captures, beach snaps and sea shots. Grab a sky-high snack in the cafe famous for its afternoon tea or take to the cocktail menu with their signature Etihad Sparkler.
Emirate cuisine is traditional of the UAE’s heritage and has only recently started gaining in popularity. Although the city offers a multitude of restaurants spanning all types of international cuisines, national dishes traditionally combine Middle Eastern & Asian ingredients enhanced with local herbs and spices for a totally unique, must-try flavour. Abu Dhabi’s national dish isKabsa, an infused mixture of basmati rice, either lamb or chicken, vegetables, and an array of spices, traditionally served in a large pot placed in the centre of the table. Local drinks consist of Gahwa, otherwise known as Arabic coffee and is often served as a welcome drink alongside a cup of dates. Another local favourite is Jallab, a fruity syrup drink made up of grape molasses, dates and rose water. Such drink is popular during Ramadan when Muslims need a drink to keep them hydrated during their daylight fast.
Events & Festivals
Eid Al Adha
Seen as one of the most important celebrations in the Muslim calendar, Eid Al Adha is the festival of sacrifice marking the end of Hajj. The celebrations commemorate the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son. This year the holy festival is celebrated from the 19th – 23rd July 2021, with additional prayers at morning and evening, best dress, and mass mosque attendances.
As the UAE’s Formula One motor race destination, Abu Dhabi has hosted a prestigious Grand Prix since 2009 on the contemporary Yas Marina Circuit designed by Hermann Tilke. Experience 55 laps of high speeds, atmosphere, and adrenaline as you sit in one of 5 grandstands built to shade spectators from the dazzling desert sun. If you enjoy living life in the fast lane, be sure to visit during December, as this year’s event runs from the 10-12th December 2021.
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship
One of 6 professional golf tournaments in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is highly anticipated annual sporting event. Founded in 2006, it is particularly famous for its ‘Hero Challenge’ and starting the ‘Race to Dubai’ season attracting some of the world’s top players.
Taking place early in the year, many golf fanatics time their Abu Dhabi visit to coincide with such an occasion. Although this year’s tournament has already taken place, don’t miss your chance to get close to the action in 2022.
UAE National Day
When visiting Abu Dhabi during December, your visit may fall across United Arab Emirates’ National Day, taking place on the 2ndof December 2021. A joyous celebration marking the union of the seven states and an impressive sceptical for both locals and tourists to experience. From firework displays to street parades, the celebratory festivities take place across the entire Gulf and arenot to be missed.