With year-round sunshine, white sand beaches and a vibrant array of sophisticated places to shop and dine, Abu Dhabi has come a long way over the past few decades, blossoming from a humble fishing community into the glittering metropolis it is today. If a stylish, sunshine break sounds like an appealing prospect, perhaps Abu Dhabi’s the one for you.
An easier question might be: what isn’t there to do in Abu Dhabi? Those keen to absorb the city’s exotic culture should plan a trip to the impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a lesson in opulence with its sparkling white domes, beautiful fountains and ornate chandeliers. Remember, this is a house of prayer, so appropriate dress must be observed.
Fans of F1 might enjoy a visit to the Yas Marina Circuit where it’s possible to enjoy a Go-Karting experience or a spin in an actual car. If the track feels like a limitation you could do without, head off on a desert adventure into the dunes where you can try your hand at dune-bashing, camel-riding and a variety of alternative off-road tours.
For a stunning view of the city in all its glory, head to the Observation Deck at 300 where you can indulge in spectacular 360-degree views of Abu Dhabi’s skyline, as well as a tasty lunch or afternoon tea. Once fully refuelled, prepare to shop to your heart’s content at premiere shopping centres like the Abu Dhabi Mall and The Galleria. For a more traditional experience, try Souk Central Market, an authentic mix of antiques, perfumes and handicrafts, or browse the wares at Carpet Souk to purchase the ultimate Middle Eastern souvenir.
Abu Dhabi’s shopping malls also offer plenty of entertainment for children with cinemas, bowling alleys and a mind-boggling array of places to eat. In fact, the city is perfectly suited to families: take an educational tour of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds and learn about the part they play in Emirati culture; splash out and enjoy 43 thrilling rides, slides and attractions at the unforgettable Yas Waterworld; or hit one of the city’s Blue Flag beaches where pristine sands, aquamarine waters and a variety of water-sports will keep everyone in the family entertained.
Although Abu Dhabi can be considered a year-round destination, this very much depends on what you intend to do there and how much you can cope with the heat. The ideal time to visit is from November to May when the temperature tends to stick to the 20s and you can enjoy the glorious sunshine to the full. However, the rest of the year can see temperatures peak in the 40-degree zone – which is fine if you intend to schedule your trip around the delightfully air-conditioned hotels, restaurants and shopping malls the city serves up by the dozen.
Abu Dhabi is a warm and welcoming city, but it is important to remember that the culture is of a conservative nature. Therefore, local laws and etiquette must be given due attention in order to avoid making any mistakes.
The consumption of alcohol is not permitted in public areas outside of hotels, so a beer on the beach or bottle of wine in the park is a no-go. Avoid kissing and cuddling in public areas or using insulting language or hand gestures, even in jest. It is also important to dress modestly, though swimwear is perfectly acceptable at the beach.
Abu Dhabi makes for a Middle Eastern adventure you won’t soon forget, but don’t forget to purchase the right travel insurance to cover you and your loved ones on your trip. Medical Travel Compared can help make this task less arduous with a useful online comparison tool that provides access to a wide range of insurers. Get your travel insurance quote today.