If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi with the whole family in tow, then read on for some of our top recommendations.
From cool spots where you can get back up close and personal with a variety of animals to theme parks and water parks for those families looking for a real adrenaline rush, Abu Dhabi has some incredible places to visit that the whole gang will love.
There are also loads of cool places to visit if you’ve got younger children and toddlers because Abu Dhabi has some amazing soft play areas where little ones can run free and burn some energy leaving mums and dads to enjoy a chat over a cup of coffee.
So gather the family and visit these top places in Abu Dhabi.
Best for nature lovers
This is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for exotic animals in the UAE. Many of the creatures have been rescued from private homes in the country and animals at the facility include tigers, lions, cheetahs and monkeys. While it is not a zoo, 90-minute private tours can be arranged and the management team work to educate about the importance of correct animal welfare
Dhs70 (adults). Open Sun-Thu, 9am-5pm. Mafraq, Abu Dhabi, www.facebook.com/ADWCwildlife (056 491 2628).
This 52-year-old spacious animal park is the granddaddy of all animal attractions in the UAE. More than 4,300 animals call it home, including leopards, wolves, monkeys, lions, tigers, hippos, crocodiles, rhinos, gorillas and giraffes. Education and conservation programmes are central to the facility’s core beliefs and a high standard of care is apparent with animals having large spaces to themselves. As well as roaming around on foot, you can also head out on a safari drive (at the world’s largest man-made safari park), sit down for a talk (the new expansion includes the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre) and enjoy bespoke experiences such as giraffe feeding and birds of prey demonstrations.
From Dhs30 (per adult), Dhs10 (per child aged three to 12). Open Sat-Tue 8am-9pm, Wed 8am-9pm (3pm is ladies only), Thu-Fri 9am-10pm. Nahyan The First St, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, www.alainzoo.ae (800 966).
This protected area in Abu Dhabi is home to migratory birds (more than 200 species), as well as over 230 species of invertebrates, 11 types of mammals and ten kinds of reptiles. Think red foxes, desert monitors, greater spotted eagles and even the Ethiopian hedgehog. Plus it boasts a top breeding area for greater flamingos. You can spot all this from the provided bird-hides and the walking trail, as well as at the viewing platform. There’s also a visitor’s centre, where future guided walks, special events and school programmes can be planned, and you can review charts of the local inhabitants’ active hours. Just make sure you stick to the sign-posted code of conduct to keep this area as well-preserved as possible.
Free. Open Thu and Sat 8am-2pm. Three kilometres from Mussafah, Abu Dhabi, www.ead.ae.
The word “zoo” can quite often get a true animal lovers hackles up, but this Abu Dhabi zoo is all about conservation. As well as helping to prevent endangered animals go extinct, the biolgists and experts at Emirates Park Zoo have been able to provide critical information, such as fertility and survival rates for various mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians to the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The zoo also offers a number of educational programmes for little ones where they can learn all about the furry, scaly and slimy residents and the importance of ensuring they have a future.
Free (under two), Dhs30 (kids three-16), Dhs35 (over 16). Sun-Wed, 9am-8pm; Thu-Sat, 9am-9pm. Al Bahia, Abu Dhabi, www.emiratesparkzooandresort.com (02 563 3100).
Best for thrill seekers
This massive Abu Dhabi attraction is a fantastic white-knuckle ride all-round. The theme park boasts more than 20 rides and activities, but the one you will want to strap yourself into is the record-smashing Formula Rossa. It’s not for the fainthearted, however.
There are heaps of less terrifying rides suitable for mini thrill-seekers such as the car carousel, driving school and an awesome super car museum – we can but dream as we gaze on the gorgeous motors.
From Dhs230 (kids), Dhs295 (adults). Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com (02 496 8000).
This indoor (which is why the middle of summer is a great time to go) mega-park brings superheroes, villains, cartoons and favourite characters from your childhood to life on Yas Island. Split into six distinct and vibrant zones – Bedrock, Warner Bros. Plaza, Metropolis, Gotham City, Cartoon Junction and Dynamite Gulch – there is plenty to keep even the smallest of adrenalin junkies entertained for hours, while the real thrill seekers risk the faster, white-knuckle rides.
Dhs295 (adults), Dhs230 (kids up to 1.1m), free (kids under three). Open daily 10am-9pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.wbworldabudhabi.com (600 511 115).
The park, uniquely based on the Emirati “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”, theme is divided into four thrill levels: Adrenaline Rush, Exciting Adventure, Moving and Grooving and, finally, Young Fun. Each zone caters to different age groups and with 40 exhilarating rides and slides there really is something for the whole crew to enjoy. The Tot’s Playground is a popular spot for parents with tiny ones who are just looking to splash about.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.yaswaterworld.com (600 511 115).
Best for culture vultures
Not only is it one of the most architecturally magnificent buildings in the world, but it is also an active house of worship accommodating up to 41,000 people This majestic architectural marvel attracts thousands of worshippers and visitors each and every week.
Voted the second favourite landmark in the world in 2017 (ranking ahead of iconic sights such as the Taj Mahal and Sydney Opera House), it is a must-see for families on any trip to the capital.
Plans for the jewel in the capital’s crown were first dreamt up by the man whose name it would take on, the late HH Sheikh Zayed, back in the 1980s. The bold vision was slowly turned into reality when construction got underway in 1996, taking a staggering 11 years to complete. The epic project features 82 domes, the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and a chandelier embedded with one million crystals.
Free guided tours are held, with staff on hand to answer any burning questions –most kids have plenty of those – and enlighten your little ones on all elements of Islamic culture as well as the building itself.
While certain areas are out of bounds, there are plenty of spots around the courtyard and in the grounds where kids can have a bit more freedom to run around. Young children don’t need to be covered, but children from adolescence onwards should be covered in the same way as adults – full arms and legs, and also head for women.
Free. Sat-Thu 9am-10pm, Fri 4.30pm-10pm. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Abu Dhabi (02 419 1919).
From super cool exhibitions to awesome holiday camps, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a hot pot of learning and fun for inquisitive little minds. With its own museum dedicated to the youngest members of the family, there is always plenty going on to keep even the smallest of visitors entertained.
The Children’s Museum hosts family-friendly experiences and workshops in both Arabic and English throughout the year, and the latest one to take residency is “A Costume Adventure” that is running until July 2020 – so catch it before it’s gone.
From Dhs30. Open Sat, Sun, Tue, Wed 10am-8pm; Thu-Fri 10am-10pm. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.louvreabudhabi.ae (600 565 566).
Little bookworms will love the library at Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation. The state-of-the-art-facility features a range of cool attractions and cosy spaces to help children develop their love of reading and learning.
Spread over three floors, the 5,250 square metre facility is divided into separate age-appropriate, immersive social spaces and play spaces inspired by the UAE’s natural landscape. In addition, a year-round STREAM programme (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and mathematics) includes a series of workshops and exhibitions for kids.
A new amphitheatre has also opened at the Cultural Foundation to bring a programme of dance, music and theatrical performances to the schedule throughout the year.
The 900-seater venue and performing arts space aims to be a community hub that brings together a diverse community of artistic talent from across the country.
Free. Sat-Thu 10am-8pm, Fri 12pm-1pm. Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum St, Abu Dhabi, www.culturalfoundation.ae (02 657 6348).
Best for adrenaline junkies
OK, so this one is indoor, but that just means there’s no reason for kids to be on their iPads even in the summer. CLYMB offers a range of climbing experiences to cater to thrill-seekers of all ages and abilities, including SUMMYT, a 43 metre climbing wall that is the tallest indoor climbing wall in the world.
From 95. Sun-Thu, noon-9pm; Fri-Sat noon-11pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.clymbabudhabi.com.
Home to around 60 bird species, such as the western reef heron, greater flamingos and the odd spotted eagle, Mangrove National Park, located along the Eastern Ring Road, boasts 19 square kilometres of forest. It’s home to fish, shells, sponges, shrimps, echinoderms (another type of marine animal) and crabs. The mangroves are also interesting, with the ability to thrive in up to nine percent salinity – that’s double the concentration of sea-water. Here, you can enjoy bird-watching, sunset tours on abras, kayaking and paddle-boarding – just ensure you abide by the rules in order to maintain the habitat.
Near Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, Eastern Ring Road, www.ead.ae.
Best for tiny tots
Super cute and colourful venue, Caboodle is a multi-purpose spot where the environment is both educational and stimulating. Kids can learn through play and exploration, and if mums wants to indulge in a spot of retail therapy while they do that, little ones can be left to play in the supervised play area (from Dhs55 per 30 minutes, kids three and above).
In addition, Caboodle features a kids’ salon, healthy café, crafts and role play areas. Plus, it also hosts musical themed mum-and-tot classes filled with activities, crafts, games, stories and sing-alongs.
From Dhs45 (first hour), from Dhs20 (every additional hour), Dhs190 (day pass). Open Sat-Wed 9am-10pm, Thu & Fri 10am-midnight. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, caboodle.ae (02 679 8019).
There’s just something fun about pretending to be a doctor, a fireman, a chef or a builder. KidZania has over 40 role playing activities for the little ones to enjoy where they can immerse themselves into a variety of careers.
Inquisitive little minds – aged between four and 16 years – can choose to be a fireman, chef or hotelier, or they can take up career as a doctor, car racing champion or hair stylist. And once they’ve done each job, they earn their very own salary in KidZania money, which they can then spend on their way out in the on-site shop.
Whatever jobs they pursue in the vibrant child-sized city, they will be developing decision-making, creativity and social skills in a safe, friendly indoor environment.
Kids, there’s so much to explore out there so make your way to KidZania for a practise go.
From Dhs166.5. Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu & Fri 10am-11pm. Yas Mall, ground floor, Abu Dhabi, kidzania.ae.
Education meets fun at this centre that is all about experiential, play-based activities for kids. Playing, creating, designing, building and role-playing, kids aged zero to three come in with a caregiver, while kids aged four and above are checked in for some supervised fun. And with an impressive nine zones all offering something different. From role play and soft play to an enchanted tree house, there’s even an outdoors play area little ones won’t get bored, there’s something for everyone. Best of all, they will be enjoying themselves so much, they won’t even realise they are learning anything. Mums and dads can get a caffeine injection at the on-site café too – win, win.
Dhs99.75 (kids aged two and above, per hour), Dhs63 (kids under two, per hour). Open Sat-Wed 10am-9pm, Thu & Fri 10am-midnight. Nation Galleria, 1st Street, Abu Dhabi, littleworlduae.com (02 681 8824).
Little adventurers between the ages of six months to eight years have free rein to run, jump and explore the mega soft play destination where they can burn off energy in a safe environment.
Billed as a learning destination, they will be garnering new skills, without even realising. Little princes and princesses can book themselves in for a quick trim – or something more drastic if they are feeling daring - in the on-site hair salon, or get that all-important Abu Dhabi mani-pedi in the spa where a rainbow of nail varnish colours are at their fingertips. Pampered expat kids, much?
And for mums and dads who fancy indulging in a spot of retail therapy the ‘drop n shop’ option (priced at Dh80 per hour) is a win for the whole family. Parents who want to keep an eye on their mini mes can stick around and kick back in the café where the great coffee tastes even better before 3pm because it’s free.
Plus, plenty of regular offers such as kids eat free, Wednesday super saver deals and Tuesday Play Date discounts mean regular visits won’t break the bank. Their future is bright, their future is Orange Wheels.
Dhs65 (first hour), Dhs40 (additional hours), Dhs200 (day pass). Open 10am-9pm Sun-Wed, Thu-Sat 10am-10pm. Al Raha Mall, Abu Dhabi, orangewheels.com (02 556 2229).