If you’re searching for an exotic, family-friendly destination, Abu Dhabi is certainly worth a closer look. Just a few hours from London, an entertaining and exotic destination awaits, where you’ll find a family-friendly mix of theme parks, fine sandy beaches and a rich history to explore.
In this article, we’ll share 7 original activities that parents and children can enjoy while visiting the largest of the seven emirates in the UAE..
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1. Hop onto Yas Island
With its multiple theme parks, Yas Island is an ideal family destination that really does offer something for everyone:
- For thrill-seekers, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is the place to be. This indoor theme park provides a magical experience for kids, complete with characters from popular franchises, such as Looney Tunes and DC Comics. There’s also plenty of white-knuckle options to keep the adults entertained.
- If you’re feeling the need for speed, head to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, where you can take a ride on the world’s fastest rollercoaster and drive your favorite Ferrari models on a virtual circuit. Another must-see for petrol-heads is the F1 track – Yas Marina Circuit, where you can follow the footsteps of your favorite racing drivers.
- For a refreshing day out, take the plunge and head to Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, one of the world’s largest water-parks. Complete with a giant slide that can accommodate up to 6 people, it’s a great place to build some unique memories with all the family.
The more adventurous family members may prefer a trip to CLYMB, where you’ll find 5 climbing walls to suit all ages. If you’re feeling particularly daring, try the largest indoor skydiving tunnel in the world or attempt to scale the 43 meter-high wall.
2. Get up-close with the local wildlife at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
In Abu Dhabi, the falcon has a special place in the locals’ hearts, as a true symbol inherited from the Bedouin culture. The practice of falconry continues today among the current generation, who take great pride in the bird they consider to be “the child of the Bedouins”.
Considering the bird is held in such high regard, it’s little surprise that the largest falconry hospital is located here. Thousands of falcons are treated at the hospital every year, which was opened in 1999 as a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency. During a visit, you can attend first aid sessions (which include general health checks, manicures, and even the replacement of damaged feathers) before posing for a souvenir family photo together with a falcon on your arm.
3. Spend a night in the desert
You can’t visit Abu Dhabi without spending a night under the stunning desert sky on the dunes of the Rub’ al Khali. Also known as the “Empty Quarter”, this is where Bedouins roamed and lived their nomadic lives for thousands of years, together with their camels, cattle and a whole lot of sand.
In the middle of this desert, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara offers all visitors the chance to enjoy a unique journey: cross the Rub’al Khali by camel. Relax with hammam and desert rose rituals in the relaxing spa. Dinner under the desert sky. Prepare to be amazed by one of the most beautiful skies you have ever seen as you enjoy some time-out with the family, totally free of light pollution.
After a relaxing night’s sleep, you’ll wake-up to a range of on-site activities, including dune buggies, walking in the desert, camel or horse riding, a 4×4 experience in the dunes, and even skiing or surfing on the sand.
4. Go back in time at Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village
Experience Abu Dhabi’s rich history with a visit to the Heritage Village, where you can explore reconstructions of traditional Bedouin camps and typical fishing villages.
This fascinating trip into Abu Dhabi’s maritime past reveals what life was like for local fishermen over 50 years ago, before the arrival of the booming oil industry.
It’s also a great place to pick up some authentic souvenirs, with an impressive selection of traditional crafts, clothing and spices to choose from.
Whether it’s past, present or future, Abu Dhabi continues to surprise.
5. Spend a day at Corniche beach
The Corniche coast is an 8 kilometer-long sandy stretch that’s home to some of Abu Dhabi’s most beautiful beaches.
Families can rent bikes and take the kids for a ride along the beachfront, where you’ll find various playgrounds to keep the little ones entertained. There’s also plenty of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a relaxing drink or spot of lunch.
When you’re done peddling, cool-off by taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Corniche with your family: the beach itself has been awarded an international Blue Flag eco-label.
Top tip: visit the beach at nightfall to enjoy one of the UAE’s most spectacular sunsets.
6. Admire the skyscrapers on a boat tour
A trip to the Heritage Village may give an insight into Abu Dhabi’s maritime history, but there’s also plenty of modern-day water-based activities to keep all the family entertained.
Take a boat ride on the Corniche, where you’ll sail alongside traditional dhows and luxury yachts, as you gaze up towards Abu Dhabi’s majestic skyscrapers.
The towering structures are breathtaking for both parents and kids alike. If you’re lucky, you might even see some dolphins swimming in the shadows of the high-rises.
7. Be at one with nature at Jubail Mangrove Park
The last, but certainly not least, of our magnificent 7 family activities in Abu Dhabi is a trip to the Mangrove Park on Jubail Island. It’s a real green gem in the heart of the city, where you can observe the flora and fauna in their natural environment. Keep your eyes peeled while you stroll along the 2 kilometer circuit, as you may even glimpse a passing gazelle.
You’ll find various viewpoints dotted around the park, providing the perfect backdrop for some fresh photos for the family album.
For the more inquisitive kids (and big kids) out there, park rangers can be found on-site to lend a helping hand and answer any questions you may have.
To end the experience in style, check into the stunning Pura Eco Retreat hotel and enjoy its private beach paradise and lush gardens.