Our family (2 adults and 2 children aged almost 3 and 16 months) recently spent 3 nights in Abu Dhabi during a stopover on our way to Europe. Abu Dhabi is located in the United Arab Emirates and although I had flown through before I had never spent any time there. I had been to neighbouring Dubai 10 years ago, with my husband pre children, and I loved it so couldn’t wait to see what Abu Dhabi had to offer.
What I learnt during our trip was that Abu Dhabi is a destination in its own right and not just a stopover. It was all glitz and glam from the moment we stepped off the plane after our direct 14 hour flight from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi. We were met in the airport arrivals lounge by a hotel representative and were driven to the Yas Viceroy.
On arrival at the hotel we were greeted by the politest people you can imagine and the hotel was spotlessly shiny. We were blessed to be given a room upgrade to their 110m2 Yas Grand Suite featuring a master bedroom, separate living area, kitchen, state of the art home theatre and floor to ceiling glass windows. Yas Island is home to one of the Formula One racetracks, the hotel sits on top of the course whilst at the same time taking in views of Yas Marina. Some of its standout features include their buffet breakfast, kids playroom (which is better than any daycare i have seen,) rooftop pool and huge gym/wellness center.
Our days in Abu Dhabi were jam-packed with activities as we wanted to make the most of our time there. The heat in June is 40 degrees plus so we had to be mindful of where we planned to be during the middle. On our first day b we opted to laze by the hotel pool and order room service for lunch, then in the afternoon we headed to the Yas Mall which was jammed with luxury designer labels (none of which i bought!)
The following morning we headed straight to Yas Waterworld which was the UAE’s first mega water park. It features 43 rides, slides and lots of fun family experiences. It was perfect for our kids at their ages, and would have been even better for older littles who could go on even more rides. There were numerous splash areas and slides that even Chloe our 16 month old had a blast on. If you have children I definitely wouldn’t visit Abu Dhabi without heading to Yas Waterworld.
That night we caught a taxi from our hotel to Yas Marina where we hired bikes and rode along the F1 race course. This is my favourite memory of our time in Abu Dhabi because our whole family were full of giggles pretending to be cars driving around the track. It was a free activity other than paying a small fee for the hire bikes, trailer and baby seat. This experience only happens once a week so look into it before flying out.
On our second and final day in Abu Dhabi we went dune bashing, which was an absolute treat! I was really nervous about taking the kids racing through the sand but it was completely fine, Chloe fell asleep and Ari spent the whole time giggling. I wasn’t overly pleased with the company we used so I won’t promote them but I will promote the experience and say that it was a must do! We did our tour in the morning time which made it too hot for camel rides or sand boarding, so I would recommend doing an afternoon/evening adventure where you get to have dinner out under the stars. There are plenty of companies who offer this kind of service so just google them. After the dune bashing we were dropped at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is known to be the most loved landmark of the Emirates. Trumped as one of the worlds largest mosques it features 82 domes, 24 carat chandeliers and can hold 41,000 worshippers. It is truly a site to be seen and I highly recommend going there.
Another thing I would suggest is a trip to the Louvre Abu Dhabi which was opened last November. It’s a must see for both adults and children as they have their own kiddies museum, however we missed it not knowing that they were closed on Mondays!
A note on Ramadan – We visited the UAE during Ramadan which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, where Muslims fast to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. This means that locals do not eat or drink anything including water until after their evening prayer. Holidaying during this time does make eating out slightly more challenging, as not all restaurants are open, and you also need to remember to be respectful when eating in pubic. Ryan and I opted to not eat in public places other than restaurants that were serving, and we also asked if it was ok with taxi drivers to drink water in their cars. Of course we allowed the children to eat and drink as needed. The people were lovely and never had an issue with us eating or drinking, and it was explained to me that the fasting is something that is inside of them to show dedication to the faith, and that they do not push it or look down upon travelers.
Without a doubt I would highly recommend people travel to Abu Dhabi for a vacation. Our family had a wonderful experience and we will definitely head back to explore more.
TOP FIVE THINGS I LOVE MOST ABOUT TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN:
You see the world through new eyes.
It strengthens the bond of siblings.
Like with adults, holidays are a reset button and I always find they are better behaved when the get home!
You get to spend real quality time as a family with no distractions.
You get to jump airport and hotel queues!
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