Abu Dhabi Holidays
Abu Dhabi is one of the most popular destinations in the United Arab Emirates. It features a beautiful skyline with numerous towering buildings, and it is a true image of a flourishing city. Make sure that you check ebookers when looking for flights to get the best out of your journey.
Two places that you shouldn't fail to visit are the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Abu Dhabi Corniche. The historic Sheik Zayed Mosque, the country's grand mosque, features an exquisite design from Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture. If you love beaches, then the Corniche is great for you. It boasts its prestigious Blue Flag status, which assures that its beaches are safe, clean and definitely exciting.
Best time to take a vacation to Abu Dhabi
It is usually hot all year round in Abu Dhabi due to its desert climate. The best time to visit is from November to April, when temperatures vary from 15 to 35Â°C. This is the coolest of the seasons, and it is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities and hit the beach. If you want luxury hotels at discounted prices, you should travel to Abu Dhabi during the summer. Temperatures during this time can rise above 40Â°C, so make sure you wear cool clothing. You should also take note of when Ramadan occurs, as all restaurants are closed during the day and eating and drinking in public is strictly forbidden.
Insider tips for Abu Dhabi travel
A refreshing restaurant with a poolside bar, the Oasis Courtyard serves various refreshing drinks and snacks.
Al Ain Zoo
Feed a giraffe or ride on a camel in this wonderful zoo, which houses over 4,000 animals.
In this well-decorated club with a nice dance floor, you can enjoy the club's amusing presentations with the local crowd.
The Arabian Palace
This eatery offers very affordable foods and an excellent shisha. You can also gaze at the towering skyscrapers while enjoying your meal.
Buy dried herbs and handmade soaps at the spice shop in this reconstructed traditional oasis village.
Abu Dhabi highlights
Picnic on the Corniche
Stretching along four miles of the Abu Dhabi coastline, the Corniche is the ideal place to take a breath and soak up the magnificent skyline of Abu Dhabi.
Turn around to gaze out at the crystal-clear waters of the gulf. Dotted along the route are fountains and lush gardens, perfect for a pit stop and a picnic.
To cool off, move to the beach that runs parallel. It has lifeguard-patrolled swimming areas, volleyball nets, and sun umbrellas. If a stroll is just too slow for you, there are cycle lanes, and the road makes for a charming drive.
Find a Bargain at a Souk
Crammed with stalls, silver-tongued salesmen, and almost anything you could want to buy, Abu Dhabi's souks are unique markets. Haggling is a way of life here and merchants would be disappointed if you did not get involved in this traditional way of doing business, so drive a hard bargain.
Different souks specialise in different things: the Meena Souk is the place to go for carpets, and the fish market is worth a visit just for the chaotic atmosphere of Middle Eastern commerce in full swing.
Take to the Skies
One way to avoid the neck pain you may develop after staring up at so many incredible skyscrapers from the street is to turn the tables and look down on them from the vantage point of a helicopter.
A tour in a chopper gives you a complete picture of Abu Dhabi and its desert isolation. All of the city's major sites and the fantasy islands being created off the coast are included in the route.
Sample Some Shisha
Even for non-smokers there is something fascinating about shisha. In traditional cafes, locals seem to be able to sit all day, sucking flavoured smoke from these burbling, otherworldly contraptions. What attracts you first is the wonderful smell, as the tobacco is infused with apple, strawberry, coffee and just about any flavour you can think of.
Top Abu Dhabi attractions
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Aside from its grand beauty, this mosque is large enough to hold more than 40,000 worshippers.
Abu Dhabi Corniche
The Corniche offers white sandy beaches where you can enjoy various recreational activities, such as biking.
Despite its name, this world-class hotel is not a home to royalty but is just as luxurious.
Another architectural wonder, this iconic hotel features a grid shell with colour-changing glass panels.
If you are a fan of fast Ferraris and thrill rides, you should definitely check out this amazing theme park.
Al Ain Paradise Garden
As its name suggests, this garden is truly a paradise and features about 10 million flowers.
Hili Fun City
Featuring a family amphitheatre and 28 attractions for all ages, the Hili Fun City is a favourite attraction in the city.
Al Ain National Museum
Learn some of the city's unique traditions and customs in this museum, which features plenty of interesting artefacts.
A modern contender to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Capital Gate is the world's furthest leaning man-made tower.
Al Ain Palace Museum
This site was once a home to the country's founder, and you can tour the private rooms and gardens in this historical museum.
Heritage Village Museum
Before black gold was struck and billions of petrodollars flooded the UAE, there were no gleaming skyscrapers, just Bedouin settlements. No less beautiful, these gatherings of tents and mud-built houses are commemorated at the city's Heritage Village Museum. Traditional crafts are brought to life by local tradesman, along with exhibits on the ways of life of farmers and fishermen. All the while camels roam among the verdant gardens.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Named after the father of the United Arab Emirates, the sprawling, pristine white Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a sight to behold. Finished in 2007, the huge structure can hold 40,000 people and borrows architectural styles from all over the globe. The largest mosque in the UAE, it features a carpet weighing nearly 50 tonnes. Visitors are advised to cover up before making a visit.
It is not even finished yet, but Saadiyat Island is already a major tourist attraction. Developers have named it the “island of happiness”. The plan is to build a cultural paradise on this small atoll next to Abu Dhabi.
The Guggenheim and the Louvre have signed up to build sites here, but for now, content yourself with the Manarat Al Saadiyat, an information centre detailing this ambitious endeavour.
An easy day trip is a visit to the oasis city of Al Ain. The city houses not one but seven oases—little pockets of calm and tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the oppressive heat of the desert. Ingenious irrigation systems dating back millennia allow date palms to flourish here.
The city also lies close to Jebel Hafeet, the second-tallest mountain in the Emirates. The spectacular views are worth the steep road to the summit.
Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation
The artistic hub of Abu Dhabi, the Cultural Foundation promotes new events as well as safeguarding the creative heritage of Abu Dhabi. Here you will find the national library.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi
Costing close to £2 billion to build, the Emirates Palace hotel is a monument to luxury. As you approach the terracotta splendour of the hotel, the view is absolutely jaw-dropping. The enormous hotel sits just back from its private beach, stretching 1.3 km. Away from the beach, perfectly kept lawns, swimming pools, and tennis courts provide the backdrop to 394 luxury rooms. If you are feeling peckish, you won’t be short of options, as there are 12 restaurants and bars on the grounds. Alternatively you can get the private butler assigned to your room to fetch you something to eat.
The deep blue glass of the Le Royal Meridien hotel mirrors that of the Arabian Gulf which it faces. A short walk from the commercial heart of Abu Dhabi and the Corniche, the hotel is perfectly situated for the visitor. Swimming pools, a spa and luxurious rooms make it difficult not to have a relaxing stay.
The Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri has the capacity to cater to the whims of every type of visitor. From rooms, to villas, to serviced apartments, you may come here for a holiday and decide to never leave. You will certainly be well fed during your stay, with restaurants boasting Chinese, Vietnamese, French and Mediterranean cuisine.
Looking out upon the beautiful Gulf waters, the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort is in the perfect location for all that Abu Dhabi has to offer. Just yards away from the Corniche, this five-star hotel will cater to all of your leisure or business needs.
How to move around in Abu Dhabi
Arriving by Air
Visitors arriving by plane will land at Abu Dhabi international Airport. Offering duty-free shopping and quick check-in times even at peak periods, it copes with the burgeoning number of travellers well.
A taxi to downtown Abu Dhabi should take no more than 45 minutes.
A public bus service is also available and certain airlines run free shuttle services.
Another option is to fly to Dubai International Airport and make your way on to Abu Dhabi by bus. The journey should take around two hours.
Abu Dhabi's buses are cheap and run all night. The downside is that the service is not extensive and the timetable not observed as strictly as European tourists might expect.
Inter-city buses are another matter. Every ten minutes comfortable buses leave from the main bus terminal for Dubai and Al Ain. The service runs from mid-morning to around 10pm at night.
White-and-gold painted taxis are easy to find in Abu Dhabi. They are metered, but check to make sure it is on before starting your journey. Fares are cheap but the driving can be hair-raising.
Silver-painted taxis are more expensive, but the cars are of better quality and the drivers safer and with better language skills. They also give receipts.
If you feel like a more independent way to get around Abu Dhabi, consider one of the many Abu Dhabi car hire options.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi often offer complimentary bus and taxi services, so check with the reception desk when you arrive, it could save you a lot of money over the course of your stay.
Abu Dhabi restaurants
A great place to relax for afternoon tea, Cafe Columbia is the elegant eatery tucked away in the lobby of the Beach Rotana Hotel. As incongruous as clotted cream, jam, and sconesmay seem in the desert, as soon as you glimpse the traditional English fare on offer, you will be thinking about second helpings. From your vantage point in the lobby you can watch other guests come and go or turn your attention to the beach the cafe looks out upon.
Set inside the opulent Emirates Palace hotel, Diwan L'Auberge is a wonderful place for special occasions or if you just feel like treating yourself. The enormous dining room is filled with the sound of local musicians plying their trade. The food is Lebanese and has all of the expected staples along with some fantastic fresh seafood dishes.
If Italian is your thing, Boccaccio is the place to go. Specialising in pastas and pizzas, this family-friendly restaurant is part of the InterContinental hotel. Boasting a wonderful view of the marina, a table outside is a great option if you can stand the heat.
Try Miss J's Café (Dana Plaza, Al Kalidiyah) for something a little different. A great spot for an all-American breakfast, the pancakes and doughnuts from this bright and colourful cafe come highly recommended.
Health & Safety
Vaccinations and Hygiene
Abu Dhabi is an area of low malaria transmission. You do not need to take preventive treatment, however long you plan to stay, but make sure you visit your doctor if you come down with fever. As a precaution, you should always protect yourself against mosquito bites.
There are no compulsory vaccinations although you should make sure your standard booster schedule (for tetanus, diphtheria etc.) is up to date.
Be careful to avoid dehydration in the intense heat—drink bottled water to be on the safe side.
Abu Dhabi has a good infrastructure of clinics and hospitals but the standard of treatment can vary between establishments and even between departments of the same establishment.
Security is good in Abu Dhabi, but there is still a small risk of terrorism.As ever visitors should be sensible and follow basic safety guidelines like not walking at night or showing off expensive items.
Clothing: visitors should, where possible, adapt to local customs. Clothing should cover the body and for women this means the head as well, using a head scarf.
Photography: due to heightened security measures, taking pictures of places guarded by police or army is forbidden. This can also include major travel hubs like bus stations and airports.
Driving: the price of petrol is cheap and the roads are well maintained. Take care not to break the speed limit.
Abu Dhabi Holiday Packages
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