Abu Dhabi Holidays & City Breaks

Abu Dhabi holidays combine old meets new with flashy skyscrapers and timeless fortresses. It’s the second biggest city in the United Arab Emirates after Dubai, so expect plenty of world-first experiences. From the roar of an F1 car at Yas Marina Circuit to the 82 white domes of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest across the globe. And when you really want to feel on top of the world, the observation deck at 300 is definitely one for the bucket-list and your camera! 

Joined to the mainland by three bridges and extending into the Persian Gulf, this Middle Eastern hotspot is so much more than just cityscapes. Here, the beaches are flawless with fancy Blue Flag awards. We’re talking toe-sinking, sugar white sand spots with action-packed inflatable water parks decorating the ocean. Backed by street food eateries and laid-back cocktail bars, The Corniche coast is where locals flock to watch the sunset turn the sky orange over the water. 

Things to do

If thrills and spills are more your cup of tea, no Abu Dhabi holiday is complete without visiting the home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, Ferrari World. Daredevils can soar 150 miles per hour, taking on drops of 170 feet on Formula Rossa. And if you prefer your adrenaline-fix in the water, then Yas Waterworld is a must-visit. Families can plummet down 40 slides, lounge lazy rivers and jump artificial waves. 

Abu Dhabi city breaks are steeped in luxury, and the Emirates Palace is no exception. It’s known as the hotel for presidents and kings, but don’t let that stop you from enduring a night of opulence. You can simply overindulge in its fine dining restaurant, or revel in its beauty by walking its 1,000 hectares of landscaped grounds.

More City Breaks

We also have travel guides available for City Breaks destinations, including: Athens | Hong Kong | Marrakech | Nice | Qatar

 

Map of Abu Dhabi

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18°C - 42°C

Abu Dhabi boasts a desert climate, which means little to no rainfall. The highest temperatures are usually recorded in August, when days can reach 40°C or higher. For those wanting to experience an Abu Dhabi city break without the intense heat, we suggest heading here during winter when temperatures are more bearable, around the 20°C mark. But still hot enough for sunbathing stints.

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7 hours
Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the main airport serving Abu Dhabi and is the second largest in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi is best for...

Sightseers: When you come to Abu Dhabi, you have to tick off the top sights. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an architectural marvel, whether you come to admire its 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers or walk on the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. Other highlights include the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which showcases the finest masterpieces from Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Gauguin and Pollock. And when you need a change of pace, Ferrari World should be your go-to, with its super speedy rides inspired by Formula One racing. 

Big-spenders: Much like its neighbour Dubai, Abu Dhabi doesn’t scrimp on luxury. The hotels  here are easy on the eye, as are its malls. The man-made Yas Island is where you’ll find the city’s most high-end hotels, usually fronted by a blanket of white sand.

Formula One fans: Home to Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, you don’t even have to attend the main event to experience the buzz. Just being here during race weekend is exciting with celebrations right across the city.

Fast facts for Abu Dhabi

Language: Arabic is the official language of Abu Dhabi, though, most people understand English. Due to the increased amount of expats, you’ll hear plenty of other languages spoken, from Urdu and Arabic to Tamil and Bengali. 

Currency: The currency in Abu Dhabi is the UAE Dirham.

Local time: Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of the UK (GMT+4). 

Fly to: Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the key airport, which is 19 miles from the city centre. There are plenty of public buses and taxis waiting to take you to the centre, which will take around 25 minutes. 

Flight time from UK: 7 hours

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at Abu Dhabi’s tourism website.

Visa / Health: Before you travel, check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Holiday destinations related to Abu Dhabi:

Dubai
 

Getting around Abu Dhabi

Taxi: As one of the fastest and most convenient ways to get around Abu Dhabi, taxis can be found outside most hotels, malls and major attractions. Simply look for either a silver car with a yellow roof sign or a white and gold car with a green roof sign. Government-monitored taxis are metered and fairly cheap. You’ll also find a ladies only and family taxi service. 

Bus: With 14 routes operating around-the-clock via the Abu Dhabi City Bus, it’s easy to reach your desired destination. Most fares are Dhs2 per ride within the city and you won’t go longer than 20 minutes waiting for a bus. Yas Island has its own shuttle option linking you to all its major attractions free of charge! 

Bike: If you want to soak up the views on two wheels, then a bicycle ride is a great way to travel. Especially through the Corniche or Yas Island, which have their own dedicated cycle tracks. Find bike hire stations dotted around Abu Dhabi. But, you need to dock the bike every hour to ensure you don’t incur any extra fees. Or, avid riders can hire a one to three day pass.

Events in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Festival: As one of the longest celebrations in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Festival is one for the calendar. Plan your trip through the months of November to April and you’ll witness firework displays, unique art exhibitions, concerts and light shows all celebrating the nation’s founding father.

Middle East Film & Comic Con: Movie buffs, this one's for you! Held throughout the month of March, expect a star-studded guest list of Hollywood A-listers, a custom-made Marvel booth and the chance to meet your favorite super heroes. 

 

Abu Dhabi safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to Adu Dhabi, please visit the FCDO website.

Abu Dhabi weather

If you’re a sun lover, you’ll be in your element in Abu Dhabi. Where blue skies, dry days and high temperatures are year-round. Enjoy up to 13 hours of glorious sunshine in May and June, and a daily average of 10 hours in December.

As it rarely rains in this subtropical desert country, you’d be unlucky to catch any showers in the summer months. It might rain briefly, around three days a month in the winter, but chances are you won’t need an umbrella. The ‘rainy season’, if you can call it that, is between January and March. The highest amount of rain likely to fall in a year is only 8cm.

The mercury in the thermometer climbs to 36°C in July and August and can even top 40°C. Make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen, wear a hat, keep hydrated and stay out of the sun between the hottest hours 11am and 3pm.

If you’d rather stay cooler, visit Abu Dhabi in January, when the temperature can drop as low as 12°C but averages around a balmy 18°C. It can be as warm as 24°C with nine hours of sunshine, so you can still make your friends jealous by topping up your tan while you’re out there. There’s also more of a pleasant breeze in the winter.

You might find the weather in Abu Dhabi just right during the transitional spring and autumn months of March, April and November, when temperatures average around 26°C. Perfect for relaxing on the beach. Speaking of beaches, the sea temperature is a toasty 33°C in August and only drops to a very pleasant 22°C in January.

What should I pack?

Even though you’ll mostly be in lightweight, loose t-shirts and shorts because of the heat, you should take a few more layers and conservative clothes for trips to mosques and public areas. Here, you will need to cover your shoulders and knees by preferably wearing long-sleeved tops, trousers or long skirts. Another layer can also be handy indoors to take the chill off powerful air conditioning and cooler winter evenings.

Best hotels in Abu Dhabi