Family Fun in Abu Dhabi

A family on camels is led through the desert


Few places in the world can impress kids of all ages like Abu Dhabi, making it a winning choice for a family vacation. Along its northern coast, the Arabian Gulf’s warm waters lap miles of beaches, while in the country’s interior, ancient forts and desert landscapes look like real-life versions of a picture book. Add some of the world’s newest theme parks—with thrilling rides and state-of-the-art sensory experiences—plus resorts that are experts at catering to young travelers with high standards, and the emirate has all the ingredients for unforgettable family fun.

The emirate is ready to welcome everyone from tots to teens, and this itinerary will lead you to many of Abu Dhabi’s best family experiences.



Falconry Show

On an excursion into the desert of Abu Dhabi, a show at Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara featuring falcons and saluki (an Arabian hunting dog) offers a chance to learn how the Bedouin have hunted for centuries.
Abu Dhabi


Visit Abu Dhabi

Visit Abu Dhabi supports the evolution of the emirate into a world-class destination, while conserving and promoting Abu Dhabi’s heritage, culture, and tourism assets. The organization invests in a diverse array of leisure, entertainment, and cultural attractions, and organizes a comprehensive program of events. Visit Abu Dhabi also works closely with tourism partners to ensure they exceed global standards of excellence.
A family eats at a table


DAY 1Arrive in Abu Dhabi

After you land in Abu Dhabi, head to your base for the next week. Abu Dhabi boasts an array of hotels and resorts that cater to families, with features like child-friendly pools, restaurants, and kids’ clubs. The Ritz-Carlton, for example, is located right on the beach and offers programming and amenities designed with younger travelers in mind. And the Anantara resort on Sir Bani Yas Island has luxury villas perfect for families looking for some room to spread out in an unforgettable setting. Whatever kind of room you’d like—whether it’s just feet from the sea or in a gorgeous desert oasis—you can check out all your options on Abu Dhabi’s Stay page.

Once you’re settled, get the lay of the land by heading to the Observation Deck at 300. You’ll ascend to the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, where you can admire the views of the city’s dazzling skyline with its towering skyscrapers, the seaside Corniche, and the Arabian Gulf beyond. Pick up a snack and tea at the café; then, having seen the Corniche from above, stroll along the promenade or rent a bike and explore it on a leisurely ride.

In the evening, head to Mezlai at the incredible Emirates Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, for a meal of typical Emirati dishes. Mezzeh appetizers, traditional rgag bread, and sweets with honey and dates will please even fussy eaters. More adventurous older kids may want to try the camel tongue. It’s all served in a magical setting that’s evocative of a tent in a desert oasis.
A man shows a camel to a family.


DAY 2Al Ain

This morning, head out to Al Ain, roughly an hour and half from the city of Abu Dhabi. This UNESCO World Heritage site is an almost magical oasis, with historic forts and thousands of date palms that will entrance the entire family.

Start at the camel market, just outside town. It’s one of the rare remaining camel markets in the world and offers a chance to see these ships of the desert up close. Your kids may want to take some photos for their Instagram feeds before watching the animals compete in impromptu races. Next, visit the Al Ain Heritage and Culture Village; enjoy lunch at the café and learn about traditional crafts from artisans in the village’s marketplace.

In the afternoon, explore the fairytale Al Jahili Fort, first built in the 1890s and opened to the public in 2008. After wandering the ramparts, stop by the museum dedicated to the legendary explorer Wilfred Thesiger.

Other family favorites in Al Ain include the Al Ain Zoo, the largest in the region. A visit includes chances to see Arabian oryx, Barbary sheep, and other species indigenous to the region and from around the world. Highlights include giraffe feedings and the walk-through exhibit featuring a variety of lemurs. At Wadi Adventure, kids—and parents—can fly above the desert on a zipline, conquer the climbing walls, or enjoy the park’s whitewater rafting courses. With rapids ranging from Class I to Class III, there are stretches for kayakers of every ability. Even first-timers are welcome; instructors will soon have them paddling like pros.
The Joker smiles


DAY 3Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi or a Wildlife Adventure

Abu Dhabi’s appeal for families includes impressive new attractions like Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi Theme Park—covering almost 38 acres, it’s among the world’s largest indoor theme parks. Kids will flip over the 29 rides and six different themed areas, from the Flintstones’ home in Bedrock to Batman’s haunt in Gotham.

Or, instead of spending the day with Daffy Duck and Wily E. Coyote, go see some real-life animals at the Arabian Wildlife Park, which sits just off the coast on Sir Bani Yas Island. Some 10,000 animals can be found roaming freely in the park, which takes up half of the entire island. Rare Arabian oryx, as well as giraffes, gazelles, cheetahs, and other animals can be spotted on a Jeep tour. It’s roughly a two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi to the island ferry, so you may want to spend the night at one of the luxury resorts on Sir Bani Yas.
A man throws a falcon in front of a man and his child.


DAY 4A Desert Safari

Many travelers may think of Abu Dhabi as glittering museums, shopping centers, theme parks, and hotels, but the vast Al Dhafra region covers almost two-thirds of the emirate—and it’s a wonderland for children. If you’re traveling with kids who would enjoy exploring ancient fortifications, oases surrounded by desert sands, and the fascinating world of shifting dunes, an excursion to Al Dhafra should be on your itinerary.

Liwa is an oasis town that sits on the edge of the famous Rub Al Khali (the Empty Quarter), the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass. A popular way to explore the desert here is in an off-road vehicle on a dune-bashing trip. You can also choose a more old-school alternative, riding atop a camel.

If you want to spend the night here rather than traveling to and from the city of Abu Dhabi in one day (about a 2.5-hour trip each way), the family-friendly Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara is modeled after an ancient citadel rising above the desert sands. The resort offers not only beautifully designed villas in a stunning setting, but also activities including desert walks and drives, camel treks, and falcon and saluki demonstrations that kids will love.
A man and his child ride a a rollercoaster


DAY 5Al Forsan International Sports Resort & Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Spend today chasing an adrenaline high. In the morning, head to the Al Forsan International Sports Resort, an enormous park with an impressive choice of activities. Take some laps in a motorized kart on the 1.2-kilometer track (kids ages 8 to 11 can drive one of the specially designed cadet vehicles), wakeboard or water ski in one of the two lakes, or take aim on the paintball field, where coaches will help novices become sharp shooters. The resort even includes equestrian facilities offering a range of classes for all abilities.

In the afternoon, head to Yas Island to visit Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s first and only Ferrari-themed park (its enormous roof in Ferrari’s signature red is unmissable). Ride the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, which reaches heart-pumping speeds of 150 miles per hour. Then check out Tyre Change Experience and the Scuderia Challenge for the chance to experience different aspects of the F1 racing world. Car aficionados can learn how Ferraris are produced at the Made in Maranello experience, and younger kids will enjoy Khalil’s Car Wash and Nello’s Adventureland. This being Ferrari World, restaurants serve Italian favorites—perfect for kids or parents who are longing for pizza or a plate of pasta.
Children run down a boardwalk


DAY 6Depart

Take one last swim in the Arabian Gulf, enjoy a final traditional sweet and coffee, and then head to the airport. Five days won’t have been enough to see all that the emirate offers, so you’ll likely leave Abu Dhabi not only with many memories, but also a list of reasons to start planning your return trip.
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