Our family friendly Abu Dhabi holiday

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if Abu Dhabi was family friendly, I’d have about £7 now. It’s somewhere we’ve popped into once before as one of my oldest friends lives there (she’s not “old” old, we’ve been friends since we were about 4 years old). And since we’ve been to Dubai about 6 times we decided, with the added bonus of the flight tickets being cheaper, we would check out Abu Dhabi.

It really is very family friendly and there’s a lot to do there for both kids and adults. It’s the capital of the UAE and it reminded me of a calmer kind of Dubai; a bit more residential, but still a lot to keep you entertained for a good few days.

These are just some of the things we did and a couple of things we didn’t do that we definitely would want to next time…

Playing on the hotel beaches

They have some fabulous beaches in Abu Dhabi, both public and private and we spent a lot of time on our hotel one. Everywhere has a light sandy and huge stretches to play on and we built sand castles most days. The heat in November (when we went) reached about 31 degrees and can still get really hot around midday so you definitely need suncream. I believe it can reach up to 50 in the summer which is the same as Dubai and that would be way too hot for me, but some people would adore it! We loved just lounging about and the baby even tried to eat it on occasion. I’m pretty sure he didn’t like it but that didn’t seem to stop him trying every so often. The sea was nice and warm and super salty so the 5 year old was thrilled at finding he floated a bit more easily. I think it built his confidence in the water a bit more but, for now, he still has his arm bands glued on.

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Fairmont beaches 2

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Abu Dhabi Ferrari world

This was my biggest surprise of our trip. I was fully expecting a place with a lot of cars to admire and then a handful of rides that wouldn’t be kid friendly. We didn’t really do much research but knew that we wanted to see it. It’s Ferrari, so you have to don’t you? I was really pleasantly surprised to find it’s REALLY kid friendly. They have so many soft play areas and kid friendly rides and we ended up spending the best part of the day there. I think it would be ideal for 8 and above but we managed to go on a lot. Next time we do need to book some things in advance though to get the most out of it. It is what I call “theme park pricey” but you can find lots of deals online to save some money and hopefully the tips I’ve put in my Ferrari world post might help someone. They really are beautiful cars and you have to admire them close up. You can read all about our trip here.

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Visiting the Corniche

The cornice is a huge stretch across the western front and has been awarded the blue flag status which is the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches. They have a huge sandy beach and it’s a brilliant place to just play, or cycle across their cycle paths or have a go on their outdoor go karts. It’s overlooked by their business and financial hub and there’s a lot of skyscrapers to admire if you like architecture. We had a fun evening of go-karts there. The other half was coming down with the bug that the kids had caught and the poor guy spent a lot of time looking queasy and sitting quietly. I didn’t know it at the time but I would get it about 3 hours after that and we, very very luckily, would end up changing our flight to a day later.

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The Sheikh Zayed mosque

This mosque is such a brilliant piece of architecture. It is a stunning place to visit to admire all the symmetry, the beautiful Swarovski chandeliers, the intricate detail and just the sheer size of it all. I would highly recommend going at least twice, once in the day time to see the white marble in daytime and once at night when it’s all lit up. You can see my nighttime photos of it all here. Entry is free and you do need to cover up but they will give you a gown to wear if you don’t have anything with you. Everywhere seems to love kids there and here is no different. The little ones can have a good run about the courtyards whilst you admire it all.

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Brunch

I had never heard of how big brunches were in Abu Dhabi, or indeed anywhere in the Middle East, but they are really impressive. Like a super sized British brunch (and more), they are held every Friday across a lot of hotels and have everything from classical brunch food to more extravagant lobster, Italian food, Indian food, amazing desserts and a lot of cuisines in between. You can make the mistake of having breakfast beforehand not knowing just how big these brunches are but they are worth the experience at least once as they go on for hours and are very delicious. We had the one at the Fairmont hotel in Abu Dhabi and we loved it. You can see all those photos here.

The Yas Mall

We spent a lot of time in this Mall. It’s huge and there’s so much to do with kids! We loved eating at Rogos, where all your food comes down on loop the loop mini rollercoasters and then spent time wandering about the place. Everywhere seems to have play areas and, at one point, we stumbled into a huge toy shop that had a life size Optimus Prime on one side and a humongous Barbie castle on the other. We had to drag the boys out of there eventually.

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There were a couple of things we didn’t do that I definitely would like to go back for one day. Yas waterworld is a huge water park targeted at all ages and has around 45 water slides. It looks huge as you drive past it and people do rave about it. We decided to give it a miss as the boys had only just recovered from their bug but would love to if we ever went back. And the last place we definitely need to go next time in the Emirates palace. Oh and there’s the Grand prix too. I’m not too sure if that’s kid friendly but I do want to see that at least once.

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It’s a place I’d highly recommend to families as well as couples or groups of friends. There’s enough to keep you entertained for a good few days and you can easily pop to Dubai too in about an hour in a car if you prefer a much more jam packed holiday. I loved the relaxed feeling Abu Dhabi offers and I think we’d definitely go back …maybe next year!

Extraordinary Chaos
Wander Mum

Family friendly things to do in Abu Dhabi

the Pigeon Pair and Me

44 Comments

  1. Sarah MumofThree World November 28, 2016 / 9:00 am

    It does look and sound amazing. The mosque is beautiful and that sand looks gorgeous! I’m amazed at how much you crammed into a week, especially as you were all poorly!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…50th ParkrunMy Profile

  2. Mini Travellers November 28, 2016 / 9:50 am

    That mosque is absolutely stunning and it sounds like you had a really really fun holiday. Lovely to be able to pop out and see friends too. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  3. Lolo November 28, 2016 / 12:07 pm

    Abu Dhabi is one of those locations on my bucket list! It might be family friendly but I’m a little nervous to hear about the recent rape case of a British woman and how they’re treating her. 🙁 #MondayEscapes
    Lolo recently posted…Exploring Nuremberg’s Christmas MarketMy Profile

    • Notmyyearoff December 30, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      It’s such a good place to go and see it all. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to do it on my own but the hotels there look very secure and safe. Hope you make it one day x
      Notmyyearoff recently posted…2016 – Another year of Not My Year OffMy Profile

  4. Ruth November 29, 2016 / 1:32 am

    I am glad you found tons of activities for you and your kids. I am also glad you are educating others on the many great places to visit in Abu Dhabi. How many days you spent there? #MondayEscapes
    Ruth recently posted…Street Art in Dallas (Deep Ellum)My Profile

  5. Nisbah - Five Adventurers November 29, 2016 / 7:49 am

    Gorgeous pics Taz, looks like you had an amazing time. I loved Abu Dhabi, it had a lovely feel to it and perfect for families.

  6. Kirstie November 29, 2016 / 11:07 am

    I spent a day there but would love to go back to extend the visit. Our top tip is biking the Grand Prix circuit. One weeknight a week and thousands turn up to do it. Get there early to hire a bike for your kids as they do go quickly…(the bikes and the kids ;-))

  7. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) November 29, 2016 / 8:48 pm

    I wish we had spent a bit more time in Abu Dhabi when we went to the Grand Prix. Looks like it has lots of variety. That Optimus Prime is very impressive! Oh, and the Grand Prix is brilliant…very new and organised with good facilities. There were some children there when we went – younger ones had ear protecters on. Thanks for linking #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…City Tripping #55My Profile

  8. Emma Raphael November 30, 2016 / 10:06 am

    Beautiful photographs, that last one especially is just stunning! It’s a part of the world that I cannot wait to visit, Abu Dhabi looks so interesting! And I have already seen your posts about the food!! 😀 x
    Emma Raphael recently posted…Dream Jobs – A History of Flight AttendantsMy Profile

  9. Jo Addison November 30, 2016 / 11:58 am

    I’d probably be another person who would ask you if Abu Dhabi was family friendly! I think the answer is a resounding yes though! I love the architecture in the Mosque and my boys would love the shopping centre.

  10. Cathy (MummyTravels) November 30, 2016 / 2:22 pm

    This is so interesting to read – it feels like Dubai grabs all the limelight and Abu Dhabi is still a bit unknown but there’s so much to see here and a bit less glitzy alternative too. Every photo I’ve seen of the mosque looks astonishing too.
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…Family day out: Brooklands Museum in SurreyMy Profile

    • Notmyyearoff December 30, 2016 / 7:57 pm

      It is a bit like that. Dubai is a bit like Las Vegas with all the glitz and glamour and Abu Dhabi is a bit more like its quieter neighbour. Such a good place to go though!
      Notmyyearoff recently posted…2016 – Another year of Not My Year OffMy Profile

  11. Hayley @hayleyfromhome December 1, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    Love your photos Tas, you look super tiny next to that massive transformer. It’s a good job you stood there for scale 🙂 I’ve honestly never thought about the middle east for a family holiday but then I’m really not great in the heat! It does look beautiful though and following your photos your boys obviously had a great time!
    Hayley @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Winter Styling with Lighthouse ClothingMy Profile

    • Notmyyearoff December 30, 2016 / 8:00 pm

      The boys would just love the beaches, they are so clean and it is hot…but not too hot so it’s a good time to go in Autumn. I’m sure it reaches the 50s in the summer.
      Notmyyearoff recently posted…2016 – Another year of Not My Year OffMy Profile

  12. Lauren @ youneedtovisit.co.uk December 2, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Abu Dhabi looks great. We went to Dubai earlier this year and would love to return and spend a few days in Abu Dhabi. Ferrari World looks amazing!

  13. Erica Price December 4, 2016 / 9:07 am

    It sounds more family friendly than Doha. We struggled to find enough for H to do there, so decided to leave him at home.
    Erica Price recently posted…Week 48 of 2016My Profile

  14. Corey with fifi + hop January 8, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    This is a part of the world I’m continually intrigued by and love reading about, for not sure when in the near future we’ll be able to visit. Looks beautiful and fun and family friendly. The brunch alone..#culturedkids

  15. Natalie January 18, 2017 / 3:45 pm

    The mosque is GORGEOUS! We had the chance to see our first mosque in Istanbul last summer and I just love the ornanate details but this chandelier is just breathtaking. Would love to see it in person.

    We always travel with the kids and love showing them the world. Giving them the opportunity to see other cultures and realize that they way they do things is not the only way is valuable! We prepare them for what they’ll see by reading books about the history and art, etc, of a destination to help them have a foundation before they go. I’ve made some destination specific lists of books, too. So much work and happy to share!
    Natalie recently posted…Tips for Wyoming visit with KIDSMy Profile

  16. Monika February 12, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    Tas, this looks fab! We’ve been eyeing up the UAE for a while, security and guaranteed sunshine are a draw. Why did you choose to go there? Did you go to visit the friends?
    How did you get around?

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