Please note: this article is sponsored by our partners at Kenwood Travel. The links on this page will take you directly to the Kenwood Travel website.
Not many places can claim to be a city break and island-hopping adventure in one. Abu Dhabi, the archipelagic capital of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the few. It’s an exciting cultural hub, with a series of easy-to-access islands packed with shining skyscrapers, breathtaking beaches, bigger-and-better malls and a clutch of fascinating historical sights.
Add to that its quick six-and-a-half-hour Etihad Airways flight from the UK and the recent scrapping of pre-departure Covid-19 tests for fully vaccinated travellers, and Abu Dhabi makes one captivating city break destination. Sounds like your cup of tea? We’ve tapped UAE and luxury holiday experts, Kenwood Travel, to reveal what else you can expect on an Abu Dhabi holiday.
There’s never really a bad time to visit Abu Dhabi if you’re a vitamin D junkie – the days are long and sunny throughout the year. And all that lovely weather means one thing: you’ll want to hit the beach.
Luckily, Abu Dhabi is blessed with a bunch of them – think the 2km sweep of Corniche Beach or postcard-worthy Saadiyat Beach, which is home to humpback dolphins and turtles. With pristine white sands, immaculate sun-loungers and waters so turquoise you’ll think you’re in the Caribbean, spend just one day on these beaches and all others may well be ruined for you!
Need to cool off? A dip in the sparkling Arabian Gulf is impossible to resist, while away from the water, you’ll stay comfortable in its swanky shopping malls, its indoor theme park and sophisticated hotels. In the summer months, your hotel pool can even be temperature controlled.
You won’t find Abu Dhabi’s crown jewel among the towering coastal skyscrapers. No, the city’s cultural heart – the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – is set back from modern wonders, and it’s well worth taking the time to seek it out. An architectural marvel, all marble and mosaics, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest in the world. It’s incredibly photogenic, so you won’t mind getting lost among its gold-trimmed arches and opulent interiors (its Swarovski chandeliers are hard to miss).
Vying for your attention, however, is another big-name attraction: Louvre Abu Dhabi. The offshoot more than lives up to its name, with an impressive decade-in-the-making building, artworks from the greats and global treasures that reveal secrets of the shared human experience.
Other places to add to your must-see list include the working Qasr Al Watan presidential palace, the 18th-century Qasr Al Hosn and the terracotta-coloured Al Ain Palace Museum. And if you like to shop, Yas Mall has hundreds of retails, as well as tons of dining options, indoor skydiving and indoor play centres for kids.
Love theme parks? You’ll love Abu Dhabi. Its theme park scene is legendary, and you can easily spend a few days getting your kicks on creative coasters and wild waterslides.
Take Yas Waterworld, for example. Here, you can take on a giant six-person tornado waterslide, race your friends down the six-lane Sebag slides or surf the world’s largest sheet wave. Little ones not up for big thrills can float down the gentle 300m-long lazy river, splash in the water playground or declare a water war in a water balloon battle.
Prefer to stay dry? Ferrari World Abu Dhabi might be your thing. A day out here is all about chasing those high-octane thrills on recording-holding rides: Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster, will fling you from 0 to 240km/h in just 4.9 seconds; the Turbo Track culminates in a stomach-flipping zero gravity fall; and Flying Aces takes you 63m above ground on the world’s highest coaster loop.
For action of a different kind, you can step into a movie set at Warner Bros. World. Six immersive zones take you from Superman’s Metropolis to gritty Gotham, with stops in the worlds of the Flintstones, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. There’s 29 amazing rides and attractions for all ages, plus meet-and-greet opportunities with your favourite characters.
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island for the Serengeti. Giraffes, cheetahs, giraffes, gazelles and Arabian oryx roam freely in this sparse and sprawling wildlife reserve, each an integral part of the 17,000-strong animal flock. Want to get up close and personal? The easiest way to visit the island is to stay at the Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara.
Closer to the city, there are a range of desert day trips and overnight stays to consider. At the Arabian Village, you can experience traditional Emirati life with all the modern comforts. Days here can be spent tackling the sands – dune bashing, sand boarding and camel rides are all popular choices. At night, the village comes to life with live Arabian music, belly dancers, and henna artists. Enjoy an authentic Emirati feast, then stay overnight in Bedouin-style ‘woven houses’ or a luxury ‘desert house’ – it’s an experience you won’t forget.
In Abu Dhabi, accommodation it’s all about the opulence of old and modern sophistication – all with that five-star touch. Among the city’s most famous stays is Emirates Palace. A grand hotel that more than lives up to its name (with rooms fit for royalty as standard), Emirates Palace backs onto a private 1km-long white-sand beach and has two huge outdoor pools to lounge by. Young children can be kept busy at the hotel’s kids club and adventure pool, complete with a lazy river run and water slides. Expect to splash out on this one.
Another icon of both Abu Dhabi’s hotel scene and its skyline is the W Abu Dhabi Yas Island. It’s set on the famous F1 racetrack (another world first for Abu Dhabi) and all the facilities you’ll need: two pools, great on-site dining and rooms with a view. Stay here and you’ll also receive complimentary access to Yas Beach.
Your holiday is always in safe hands with Kenwood Travel. Their promise to you:
Speak to one of their Abu Dhabi travel experts today 020 7749 9276 on or book online kenwoodtravel.co.uk.
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