Explore the UAE’s extraordinary capital on your Abu Dhabi holiday; a modern metropolis emerging from the desert dunes.
Space-age skyscrapers may define its skyline, but Abu Dhabi is a city in touch with its heritage. Explore the dazzling, white marble Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – its wonderfully ornate stylings reflecting rich Islamic culture.
Head to Saadiyat Island to spot the resident turtles and relax on beautiful white sands, and experience the remarkable Louvre Abu Dhabi. Or find world-class theme parks and family-friendly attractions on Yas Island.
Across the city there are fantastic dining options to suit every taste, whether it’s for one of Abu Dhabi’s famous Friday brunches or a candlelit dinner complete with stunning waterfront views.
Start planning the adventure of a lifetime. Book an Abu Dhabi holiday package with Etihad today.
Abu Dhabi is both a modern masterpiece and a cultural capital, home to historical artefacts and incredible contemporary attractions alongside pristine beaches and clear blue waters. Explore it all during your Abu Dhabi holiday.
You can fly to Abu Dhabi if you are a UAE national or resident, or if you are eligible for a visa on arrival. If you’re travelling from select countries, or you’re taking part in the National Vaccination Programme in the UAE, you’ll be exempt from quarantine requirements when you arrive.
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Those who long for nothing more strenuous than reclining on the sands while soaking up breathtaking views across beautifully blue waters will instantly feel at home in Abu Dhabi.
Few stretches of shoreline are as iconic as the Corniche – a stunning skyscraper-framed beach running the length of the city’s waterfront.
Sun-kissed experiences await at Yas Beach – with free access for those staying at Yas Island hotels.
On blissful Saadiyat Island you can spot turtles and even dolphins swimming through the crystal-clear waters. It also has great places to stay, right on the sand.
The vast courtyard and sparkling minarets of the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque make for an awe-inspiring sight.
One of the largest mosques in the world, construction was completed in 2007. The resulting building is an ode to Islamic culture and the UAE’s rich history, blending the architectural styles of several civilisations. Built from gleaming white marble, the building can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers.
Remember to dress modestly when visiting the mosque and other religious sites, covering your shoulders and knees. Women entering the mosque are required to wear abayas, which are provided free of charge.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a work of art in itself. Step inside this extraordinary building and you’ll find installations and exhibitions that are just as striking as its cutting-edge exterior.
Discover paintings, sculptures and artefacts from both past and contemporary masters, as well as a Children’s Museum and café featuring a selection of speciality coffees and pastries.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi’s rich culture and heritage is celebrated through the gleaming, white-domed Qasr al Watan Presidential Palace, the deeply historic Qasr Al Hosn castle and museum, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Al Ain Oasis. Here, an ancient irrigation system brings luscious life to the desert in the shape of thousands of swaying palm trees.
For a quintessential Abu Dhabi sporting experience you’ll never forget, be sure to check out camel racing at the Al Wathba or Al Maqam tracks. The popular Al Dhafra Festival features camel beauty contests, along with traditional poetry, music, and falconry contests.
For the latest fashion, stylish home furnishings, must-have tech and so much more, Abu Dhabi offers a truly luxurious shopping experience.
Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall and the World Trade Center Abu Dhabi are home to the world’s biggest brands, alongside plenty of fantastic dining options.
Discover designer labels, grab a delicious bite to eat or take in a movie. There’s so much here to enjoy.
For a more traditional retail experience, dive into the local markets – or souks. Many specialise in a particular produce or craft, with the Fish Souk and Carpet Souk being among the most popular.
Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk, meanwhile, is a good place to seek out some local delicacies.
You’ll find a choice of incredible theme parks here. Anyone with a love of both the big and small screen will be wowed by the entertainment on offer at Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi.
Superheroes and much-loved cartoon characters spring to life in this magical setting. You can be soaring through the streets of Gotham City alongside Batman one moment and rubbing shoulders with The Flintstones in Bedrock the next.
With plenty of rides and events to enjoy, it has all the ingredients for a perfect day out during a family holiday to Abu Dhabi.
If you want even more thrills, head for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Jump on Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and rocket from 0 to 149mph (240 km/h) in just five seconds.
There’s plenty of fun for little racers too, including the chance for them to hone their skills in mini replicas of Ferrari F1™ racing cars.
Adventure seekers will be in their element at CLYMB™ Abu Dhabi. Boasting the world’s highest indoor climbing wall and largest indoor skydiving chamber, it’s a place for hitting new heights.
If you’re looking to cool down after all that excitement, Yas Waterworld, and the similarly wet and wild Aqua Fun waterpark, feature splash-tastic rides, inflatable fun, a wave pool and lazy river.
For some of the best food on the planet, paired with views that are as spectacular as the cuisine, Abu Dhabi offers truly world-class options.
Trendy Al Maryah Island features mouth-watering tastes from around the world, from Greek specialities at Kouzina to high-end Japanese at Zuma – both housed within the stylish Galleria shopping mall.
Book a table at one of the restaurants on Zaya Nurai, meanwhile, and after a welcome drink you’ll be whisked across the water to this island paradise. Think swings in the sea, a coconut-style beach bar and infinity pools on the beach.
The Beach Rotana hotel has a number of superb restaurants – including seafood specialist Finz, overlooking the water. Likewise, the aptly named Catch on the Corniche serves up inventive dishes crafted with ingredients plucked fresh from the Arabian Gulf.
All-day dining is a big deal in Abu Dhabi – try one of the famous Friday brunches at the city’s stylish hotels. For arguably the best beach breakfast in the city, check out the Park Hyatt Beach House.
Indian fusion restaurant Tamba serves up the flavours of the sub-continent with a contemporary twist. Try and bag a table on the stunning roof terrace overlooking the city, perfect for romantic holidays to Abu Dhabi. Diablito also offers twinkling views of the bright Yas Marina lights along with its moreish pizza.
Few things in Abu Dhabi are as delightful as sunset drinks on the marina. This may be a city that excites during the day, but the nightlife is just as thrilling – with numerous spots for food, entertainment and relaxation.
Family favourites include Simon Rimmer’s The Scene at Yas Marina, where classic British pub cuisine is on the menu, and the Italian delights of Carluccio’s – found at Yas Mall and the scenic Eastern Mangroves. When visiting the latter, you can even work up an appetite before your meal with a spot of kayaking.
You’ll find deliciously traditional Arabic food at a host of restaurants around the city. Try the Lebanese Flower for freshly baked bread, homemade houmous and grilled fish and meat, alongside delectable rice dishes.
Classic cuisine can also be sampled with a visit to Mina Zayed Fish Souk, where you can enjoy the experience of selecting your seafood – then having it cooked right in front of you.
Be sure to try delicacies including Arabic dates and desserts. Kunafa is a particular local favourite – a sweet sensation made from pastry, soft cheese and syrup.
If you’re looking to enjoy activities and experiences on your Abu Dhabi holiday, you’ll be truly spoilt for choice.
Dune bashing adventures give you the chance to take to the rolling sands in a roaring 4x4, while Al Wathba Cycling Track is your ticket to two-wheeled excitement in the heart of the desert.
Elsewhere, activities such as shooting, horse riding and wakeboarding are all available at Al Forsan resort.
Abu Dhabi is a great destination for golfers. Tee off amid spectacular surroundings at the likes of Yas Links, Saadiyat Golf Club and Abu Dhabi Golf Club – the latter playing host to the annual Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. For a different challenge, enjoy a round of sand golf at Al Ghazal.
If you want to really test your mettle, take to the track at Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Get behind the wheel of a sleek supercar and take on the famous twists and hairpin turns of this iconic track.
If you’d prefer to experience a Grand Prix circuit at your own pace, take the opportunity to cycle, jog or walk around the Yas Marina track. It’s free to do so – you’ll just need to register in advance.
Away from the skyscrapers and destination shopping malls, you’ll find another side of Abu Dhabi that harks back to the region’s storied history.
Hire a kayak to navigate the calm waters of Mangrove National Park. Paddle through the mangrove forests that skirt the coastline, home to a rich variety of waterfowl and other wildlife. You may even be lucky enough to spot more elusive residents of the mangroves, such as dolphins and dugongs.
The city is something of a haven for wildlife. Flamingos can be spotted at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Saadiyat Island’s shores are home to endangered Hawksbill turtles and Sir Bani Yas Island is where you’ll find majestic animals including giraffes, oryxs and cheetahs.
The Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the Abu Dhabi calendar. Time your trip to coincide with the race and soak up all the atmosphere at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, where the skills of the world’s leading F1™ drivers are pitted against 21 testing turns.
The race is part of a weekend of dazzling events for the whole family, including performances by some of the world’s biggest music stars.
Other top sporting events include the UAE Tour road cycling race, plus football, tennis and UFC.
UAE National Day is celebrated on 2 December each year, marking the day when the United Arab Emirates was formed in 1971. Fireworks light up the night sky, while there are concerts and heritage attractions to enjoy.
Alongside all this, you can catch live music concerts at venues across the city, as well as outdoor cinema experiences on beaches, islands and in parks – from drive-in theatres and hotel screenings to movie nights at Yas Marina.
An array of cultural exhibitions and festivals take place throughout the year – just check the Abu Dhabi events calendar for details of what’s coming soon.
This corner of the city is home to Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace. In a good location for exploring, you can enjoy a little regality of your own at the five-star InterContinental Abu Dhabi – which is also ideal for family breaks.
The hotel has access to a private marina and beach area – perfect for relaxing after a day in the city. It’s also a good spot for booking a sunset cruise.
Those looking to pack their Abu Dhabi holiday with activities should look no further than Yas Island.
Staying in this corner of the capital means you’ll have attractions such as Warner Bros. World™ and Yas Waterworld right on your doorstep.
There are some fantastic hotel options here including Yas Island Rotana, Centro Yas Island and W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island.
This stylish corner of the capital is where you’ll find Abu Dhabi’s National Exhibition Centre and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Al Rawda Arjaan by Rotana is an elegant option if you’re looking to stay in the area, while the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal is perfect for luxury stays.
You might also want to consider the stylish Fairmont Bab Al Bahr or the opulent Shangri-La Hotel – both offer private beaches and stunning views of the Grand Mosque.
To enjoy the height of hospitality out among the dunes, look no further than the Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa.
Private plunge pools and delectable dining await among spectacular, sweeping landscapes.
Al Ain is a fabulous area to stay if you’re looking for similarly serene views, with the five-star Al Ain Rotana offering garden views and art deco touches.
Tilal Liwa Hotel – in the Liwa desert – is the perfect place to get away from it all.
Arabic is the official language of the UAE, but English is commonly spoken too. You will also hear a variety of other languages while exploring this multicultural society.
The best option for getting around the UAE capital is by taxi. There are also free bus services to popular locations and attractions.
Airport transfers to your hotel can be pre-booked with Etihad.
The national currency is the UAE dirham (AED). Most places will also accept credit or debit cards and ATMs are widely available.
The dress code in Abu Dhabi is typically modest – especially around mosques and malls, where you should cover your shoulders and knees.
Things are more relaxed in the city’s hotels, though swimwear should only be worn at the beach, swimming pool or waterpark.
Abu Dhabi’s origins lie in the pearl trade. The Arabian Gulf was a world-renowned destination for pearl divers in the 18th century, with its rare jewels among the most highly prized on the planet.
The deserts outside the city, where oil was found in the mid-20th century, now make for the ideal off-roading experience. Hop in a buggy and enjoy an action-packed dune bashing adventure.
In recent times Abu Dhabi has embarked on a grand tourism drive, building destination attractions and world-leading museums, transforming the desert city into a magnet for those in search of culture, adventure and luxurious relaxation.
Islam is the official and predominant religion in the UAE. Islamic culture plays an important role in everyday life, so it’s important to consider local customs and dress during your holiday to Abu Dhabi.
Many of the city’s most impressive sites have their origins in Islam. Be mindful of local customs and cover up when visiting religious sites.
Other religions are also practised in Abu Dhabi. There are a number of churches in the city, with St Andrew’s in the Al Mushrif area well-known for its diverse congregation and community spirit.
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