kids activities in abu dhabi, things you should know about abu dhabi
Asia, Destination & countries, Travelling with kids, UAE

Kids Activities In Abu Dhabi | Abu Dhabi in a nutshell

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Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are seven states altogether, excluding Bahrain and Qatar who refused to form the colony. It is also the richest and only city that produces around 3 million barrels per day of total oil liquids. Although it is quite commercial, there are plenty of kids activities in Abu Dhabi.

Only twenty years ago you could find nothing in Abu Dhabi, but the desert was converted and filled with greenery in the last years. The government brought and planted 14 million palm trees in one small city only. It became green and environmentally friendly, as a result welcoming many families to visit Abu Dhabi with kids.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is in winter, the season starts in November and lasts up to April. The best months to go to Abu Dhabi with kids would be December and January with the cheapest flights in January. Also, January and February generally attract the greatest number of families because there are lots of things to do with kids in Abu Dhabi.

You would probably like to skip on a summer visit as the temperature may reach up to 40°C to 50°C, with August being the hottest month of the year.

On the other hand, winter will welcome you with the mild warm temperatures ranging between 25°C to 30°C. It is a perfect time to visit Abu Dhabi attractions for kids, relax at the beach or in a swimming pool and get a lot of suntan.

Safety and crime rate

I was surprised to know that Abu Dhabi is an extremely safe city. Nothing is more important for the government of the UAE than to show that their country is safe. Government palaces in Abu Dhabi do not have security guards outside the building, this is only to show how safe their country is. Isn’t it impressive?

Abu Dhabi is filled with CCTV literally on every corner. The crime rate here is very low and scored at 94% for a general feeling of safety in the city. It is quite safe to walk at night in Abu Dhabi too.

General rules, laws and penalties

Things you should know before going to Abu Dhabi

Speaking of things to do in Abu Dhabi, please be mindful of local rules and regulations.

1.       As a non-Muslim you are not allowed to enter the mosques in Abu Dhabi. However, all mosques have impressive architecture, it is worth observing the buildings from outside. The only mosque in Abu Dhabi that allows tourists with a guide only is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The female garment must be loose and cover all parts of the body, including the head. The security there is very strict. If you visit the mosque with the tour guide, usually they have special garments to lend for a visit. There is also an option to rent the garment on spot, but not always.

2.       It is prohibited to sleep, eat or drink in the local transport in Abu Dhabi. The fine is AED 300 Dh. I was told by many people that the government copies the Singaporean system which I indeed find very similar.

3.       Littering is prohibited in Abu Dhabi. Trust me, you will notice it straight away. This city is as clean as your house after spring-cleaning. Besides, Abu Dhabi municipality works towards city cleaning, there are lots of road sweeper trucks. The fine for littering ranges anything between AED 500 Dh up to AED 1.000 Dh.

4.       Abu Dhabi has a zero-tolerance policy on drug possession and trafficking, with some offenses punishable by death or lifetime imprisonment. In 1996, the UAE passed legislation allowing for the death penalty for drug trafficking.

5.       Some prescription medicines that are legal in your country may be illegal in Abu Dhabi, so it’s worth checking on their status before packing them in your luggage.

6.       Public affection, especially between non-married couples, is not well-tolerated in Abu Dhabi. Holding hands is fine but kissing or hugging in public is not acceptable. You can get into trouble with the local authorities.

7.       There are no severe restrictions on wearing different types of clothes. But it is not recommended to expose yourself with too many tight shorts or shirts. You will see that most locals dress in a traditional regional outfit – that is a long white Kandurah and Gutrah (headpiece) for men and a long black abaya with a Shayla (head covering) for women. Some women wear a Niqab (full face covering except the eyes) but it’s not common.

Getting there

It is easy to get to Abu Dhabi by plane. There is only one International airport and it takes less than half an hour to get to the city centre.

Also, some tourists arrive in Abu Dhabi from Dubai. It is a 2-hour drive. You can either take a bus or taxi, however, a taxi might cost you around AED 350 Dh.

If you plan your stay in Dubai, you can always take a one-day tour to Abu Dhabi, in this case, all the transport expenses are included in your tour.

Fun things to do and kids activities in Abu Dhabi

In our case, we had a very limited time and wanted to do more things in Dubai. It is an exceptional place to stay with kids. However, there are plenty indoor activities in Abu Dhabi that worth checking out.

I have booked a one-day trip to Abu Dhabi. I would say if this is an arranged tour, it would be much easier to do it alone, as a couple, a group of friends or with over-five-year-old kids. It may be a bit challenging for youngsters as the majority of the time you are staying in a van, and if you are out, there are set times and deadlines for visiting one place or another. All tour guides managing trips to Abu Dhabi for one day seem to be in a rush, even though it is not necessary. Also, there is almost no time for lunch, so I didn’t see how I could feed my toddler in such a short timeframe. I would definitely recommend visiting Abu Dhabi with kids at least for one night to also enjoy a variety of kids activities in Abu Dhabi that it may offer.

First of all, you could visit places in a more relaxed way (remember you are on holiday!) and secondly, apart from the palace, city centre and skyscrapers visits, there are four amazing Warner Bros. Parks that are must visit as a family. See more about it below this article.

Finally, I highly recommend renting a car when going to Abu Dhabi or Oman to spend a night with dolphins in nature. This will give you all the flexibility and let you fully enjoy your journey.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

So, the first stop is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is the biggest mosque in the entire UAE and the fourth biggest in the world. This mosque is located a bit further from the city centre and the Presidential Palace. It is a 20-minute drive.

The mosque looks massive. Here are a few impressive facts about it:

  • The biggest mosque in the UAE and the fourth biggest in the world.
  • The mosque was built in eleven years and opened its doors to the public in 2007 for the first time.
  • Its capacity is over 40,000 worshippers at one time.
  • It has Abu Dhabi’s largest floral mosaic display specially designed by the British artist Kevin Dean.
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque does not use any paint, it is constructed and fully covered with the white marble. You should see how clean this mosque is, there are hundreds of cleaners working for the mosque on a daily basis.
  • The mosque’s construction cost is estimated at a half of billion US Dollars.

The mosque is free to enter, and you don’t need tickets. General visiting times are from Saturday to Thursday, 9am to 10pm. The mosque is closed to tourists (but open to worshippers) on Friday mornings. It reopens for tourists after 4.30pm. Tourists now can visit the mosque walking through the special lanes. Due to some damages that were caused to marble, tourists are no longer permitted to walk in the centre of the mosque or cross it, unlike worshippers.

Every visitor has to wear special clothes. It shall be loose a long-sleeved shirt and long loose pants for females. Males are not allowed to wear shorts. However, regardless of our clothing style, the entire female group was given special clothing provided by a tour guide. I believe you can also rent the dress at the entrance. 

Now the facts that will blow your mind.

  • The mosque owns the largest hand-knotted carpet, weighing 35 tons and covering 5,700 square meters. It is a worship one-piece carpet made in Iran and brought into three pieces by three aircrafts. It took two years and 1,200 workers to make this piece an absolute miracle.
  • It also owns three absolutely gorgeous chandeliers, all of them were made by a German company. The biggest chandelier weighs 12 tons and carries 16 million crystals, on top of that it is all made out of gold. The others are made from gilded stainless steel and brass using approximately 40kg of 24 karat galvanized gold.
  • There are 82 domes of various sizes at the mosque.

Qasr Al Watan – The Presidential Palace

Among all the things to do in Abu Dhabi, The Presidential Palace, so-called Qasr Al Watan, was our second and one of the most impressive stops. The construction of this building started in 2010 and lasted for seven years. This palace is meant to receive government officials and host different summits. So, there are rooms where tourists are not permitted to enter but just take a nice Instagram shot.

Qasr Al Watan Library holds a vast collection of rare books and manuscripts.

 “The Power of Words” – this is a work of art inspired by a quote from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“Wealth is not money and oil. Wealth lies in people, and it is worthless if not dedicated to serve the people.”

The whole building looks absolutely stunning. I couldn’t take my eyes off the walls. We had only one hour to walk around, but honestly, I’d suggest you give it at least two hours. Plus, you have got a park outside.

The palace has a museum on one side that was filled with historical and cultural aspects. On the other side you could find a huge hall where the government officials have their meals. Opposite the hall there were some insightful signs filled with information on political values of the country.

We were quite impressed by the collection from different countries, such as The Qurans, swords, garments, medals and so much more.

Etihad Towers

Stop number three. It is a complex of buildings with five impressive towers. This may be one of the coolest kids activities in Abu Dhabi. The towers are located opposite the Emirates Palace hotel and feature offices, apartments and a luxury Jumeirah hotel.

We were able to visit one of these towers and had a gorgeous view overlooking the whole of Abu Dhabi. When you look from the top, you will realize that, like in Dubai, there are lots of empty spaces prepared to be filled with numerous attractions.

Yas Island

It is a popular leisure island and one of the top tourism projects in Abu Dhabi. Yas Island holds the Yas Marina Circuit, which has hosted the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. The most two important attractions are:

Yas WaterWorld

Yas WaterWorld is an Emirati-themed waterpark that is set across more than fifteen hectares of land. It is one of the best kids activities in Abu Dhabi because it is home to more than 40 rides, slides and attractions, including Bubble’s Barrel, Rush Rider, and Bandit Bomber which is the longest suspended roller coaster in the Middle East over 550 metres long. The most important thing is that this park is for everyone, including babies and toddlers.

You can and should spend the whole day in this park. 

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is another indoor amusement park and first Ferrari-branded theme park that has the record for the largest space frame structure ever built. Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, is also located here. 

The Corniche Road

Another one of the most fun kids activities in Abu Dhabi is the Corniche Road. It is worth mentioning because it is an amazingly beautiful and relaxed place to be in Abu Dhabi. You can easily spend the whole day and it is perfect for family vacation.

It is 8 km long, and includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, restaurants, cafés and the Corniche Beach. So, the best day on the beach is guaranteed.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

For museum lovers visit Louvre Abu Dhabi – an art and civilization museum, which is also a part of a thirty-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government. 

Saadiyat Island

One of the most luxurious neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is the place to go for large villa complexes, five-star hotels, and romantic beachfronts. Even if you can’t afford to stay here, this is one of the most fascinating areas of Abu Dhabi to check out for an insight into how the richest of the country live their lives.

Shopping in Abu Dhabi

Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is famous for its shopping. It has numerous shopping malls where you can spend days. For the shopping lovers we have rated top malls of Abu Dhabi:

1.       Abu Dhabi Mall – a world-class shopping establishment with over 200 stores.

2.       Yas Marina Mall – located on Corniche Road in one of the most beautiful city areas. It has over 400 stores and will be a perfect solution for your evening after family beach day on Corniche Road.

3.       Avenue at Etihad – includes all the major fashion houses combined with top-quality boutique stores.

4.       The Galleria – one of the most elegant buildings featuring the most sophisticated and stylish luxury brands.

5.       Souk Central Market: best traditional Arabic open-air market and the first souk in Abu Dhabi.

Hotels and places to stay in Abu Dhabi by budget

Budget friendly (£40 – £50)

Novel Hotel City Center

Best location. Simple hotel but will really suit your needs during your short stay. Also, it has a swimming pool, good fitness centre and Spa with Jacuzzi.

Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi

Located in the heart of the city center, this hotel has large rooms with living area and huge bathrooms. The rooms are very light, and of course, a swimming pool with Spa is included.

Mid-range price (around £150)

Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi

This hotel has breath-taking views of the Arabian Gulf Sea. It is also located near the Presidential Palace. There are two swimming pools and absolutely amazing service. We didn’t want to leave the hotel.

Luxury: (£250)

Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

It is a place you would like to stay for at least one night. It is a massive area that combines everything, including special kids’ waterparks and kids’ club areas. Not to mention that you will be served a cup of coffee and an ice-cream in golden cups. These are extremely luxury accommodations with private beaches.

Enjoy the family vacation and kids activities in Abu Dhabi!

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