If you are planning a trip to Abu Dhabi with kids, make sure you don’t miss these 11 things!
It is exciting to travel with kids, and there is no other place that your little one will enjoy more than Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi is an archipelago comprising over 200 islands. Can you imagine how much there is to see and do in Abu Dhabi with kids? There is nature, historic and heritage monuments, islands, the ocean, then entertainment in the city, delicious local cuisine, and so much more to enjoy! Your kids are definitely in for a treat!
Before booking your flight to Abu Dhabi, check if you need a visa. Don’t worry if you decide to extend your trip, because even if you are here on a tourist visa here, you have tourist visa extension options that you can use to avoid being fined for overstaying.
Once you have a visa, it is time to book your flight to Abu Dhabi International Airport and experience the adventure of a lifetime. If this is your first time traveling to Abu Dhabi with kids, you are in for a wonderful surprise!
Here are 11 activities to enjoy and places to visit in Abu Dhabi with kids
1. Desert Safari
Your trip to Abu Dhabi with kids will be incomplete without participating in the Abu Dhabi desert safari tour. It is a lifetime desert experience for your kids as they tour the Empty Quarter and the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass.
The desert safari can be a day trip or an overnight tour from Abu Dhabi city.
Among the activities which your kids will enjoy during the desert tour are camel rides, go sandboarding, a quad bike, dune bashing across the vast slopes, watching the sunset, enjoying Arabic food in the evening at the traditional Bedouin camp, listening to stories around the campfire and other amazing activities. You can even visit a camel farm. If your kids are courageous, try henna painting and be mesmerized by the belly dancing show.
2. Louvre Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum to be established in the Arab World. It is a premier cultural institution located in Saadiyat Cultural District on Saadiyat Island. You can view art displays of historical, cultural, and sociological significance from ancient times to the contemporary era. The building housing the museum itself is an architectural masterpiece.
It is huge, covering 9,200 square meters of galleries. Your kids will be mesmerized by the 180-meter eight-layer star-latticed 7500-ton dome which looks as though it floats above the museum. This dome is composed of 7850 stars of different sizes in eight different layers. Your kids will be thrilled when they see it cast a Rain of Light when the sun passes over it.
The outdoors is also quite breathtaking, making for a memorable experience.
You can make the visit even more exciting by opting to discover the building in a kayak tour that operates day and night as there is water around the museum. It is a fun way to have your kids enjoy touring this museum.
Entry is free for those below 18 years. Kids between 6 and 12 years old have to be accompanied by their parents or guardians in the building.
3. Qasr Al Hosn
If you would like your kids to learn about UAE history and culture, the best place to take them is Al Hosn. It is a historical site with a lot to learn and explore.
Built in the 1790s, Qasr Al Hosn is where the ruling family once lived. It was converted into a museum in 2018. As you enter, you’ll see the Inner Fort built in 1795 and the Outer Palace built between 1939-45. Above you, you’ll see the watchtower built in 1760, one of the oldest buildings here.
Back in the day, when Abu Dhabi was just a small fishing village, Qasr Al Hosn looked after the coastal trade routes while protecting the island community. As you walk through Al Hosn, you can enjoy the history of the place as you look at artifacts from 6000 years ago.
Your kids will love the adventure of exploring all the nooks and corners of this ancient structure which is a living memorial of a bygone era filled with stories.
But it is not just kids who will love exploring this place—you will love this national archive of Abu Dhabi’s history. Visit the House of Artisans to experience culture and craft, watch local artisans at work and buy beautiful souvenirs to bring back home.
Explore Al-Sadu, a traditional form of weaving by Bedouin women using sheep, camel, and goat wool to create unique designs. Then there is Khoos, where artists weave with date palm leaves to create functional objects.
Talli is a traditional decorative embroidery by Emirati women using cotton or silk threads interwoven with gold and silver threads to create traditional women’s robes.
Take photos, and draw sketches. Kids can also enjoy playing hide and seek around this historical site. Visit the Cultural Foundation near Qasr Al Hosn to explore Abu Dhabi’s fine art community.
4. Heritage Village
Heritage Village is a wonderful family-friendly place in Abu Dhabi located on Marina Mall Island, near the city center. It is a traditional oasis village that you can explore with your kids to learn about Abu Dhabi’s past. Here is where you can learn how the early Emiratis lived.
You can see the traditional fort that was built to protect from sea invaders. There is a souk (market), mosque, and dhows. You can shop, view artifacts and see artisans at work, making pottery, glass objects, and weaving fabrics. There is an amazing traditional palm leaf house where the early Emirates lived. In this village, you will also see the Emirates Heritage Club where one can attend workshops for traditional crafts. Craftsmen demonstrate metalwork, pottery, weaving, and yarn-spinning. You can also have a go at it!
If you like spices, do check out the spice shop where you can buy dried herbs, handmade soaps, and other souvenirs as mementos for your trip to Abu Dhabi with kids.
5. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
At the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, your kids can learn about the Emirati faith’s cultural beliefs. Constructed between 1994 and 2007, it is an architectural marvel and the largest mosque in the country. Everyone is allowed into the mosque and entry is free.
As you explore the marbled halls, you will be dazzled by the beautiful gold-plated Swarovski chandeliers, the mosaic marble artwork, and the reflective pools where you can see the reflection of the columns embedded with precious stones. Outside the mosque, is the beautiful sight of the mosque’s four 106-meter-tall minarets.
6. Wadi Adventure
Wadi Adventure is located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and is a 90-minute drive. It is the first man-made white-water rafting channel in the region. There is kayaking, a surfing wall, and a swimming pool where you can play as a family. You can also go wakeboarding, and water skiing, and enjoy the splash pool and aerial adventure course.
There is also a 200-meter zipline and a four-meter-high giant swing to explore. It is an ideal place to travel with kids, and it is fully packed with a lot of sports activities. Go kayaking down the longest artificial whitewater channels in the world!
What kid won’t enjoy trampolines? Bounce is an indoor trampoline park at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi that the whole family can enjoy and have fun. There are various kids’ activities and an arena that guarantees fun for kids no matter their age. Bounce has more than 100 interconnected trampolines in a huge space that guarantees fun!
Other activities for the family and kids at Bounce are playing basketball at Slam Dunk, wage warfare at Dodgeball, wall run at The Wall, zip-lining, navigating obstacles at X-Park, and speed sliding, among others.
8. Al Ain Zoo
At the Al Ain Zoo, there are over 4,000 animals, and your kids will be amazed to see animals they have never seen before. It is a spacious and beautifully maintained zoo and the largest in the region. Here your kids can enjoy seeing exotic and indigenous animals and birds including the Arabian oryx, the big-horned Barbary sheep, rhinos, hippos, tigers, lions, and many more in transparent enclosures.
Other exciting experiences you can enjoy with your kids here are penguin feeding, giraffe feeding, camel/horse/pony riding, the Elezba petting zoo, a walk inside the lemur exhibit, watching the parrot show, watching reptiles, birds-of-prey show, and much more. There is also a train tour of the wildlife area.
You can also enjoy the unique Al Ain Safari covering 217 hectares of land along the Jebel Hafit Mountain range where you get to see African lions, white rhinos, ostrich, zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, kudu, scimitar oryx, addax, and many more.
Enjoy a picnic at Al Ain Zoo, and let your kids play on the playgrounds. Take a break at the cafes and restaurants on-site.
You can also visit the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre to learn about the measures undertaken by the UAE in preserving the natural environment and rare fauna from extinction.
For a wonderful end to your day, treat your kids to a delicious dinner with the Lions, on the edge of the park’s lion territory.
9. Jubail Mangrove Park
Jubail Mangrove Park is educational as well as entertaining; it interacts with the nature and leisure parks in Abu Dhabi. The park is well known as a mangrove sanctuary and for its ultimate avian and marine life.
At the Jubail Mangrove Park, as you enjoy a scenic walk, your kids will learn about biodiversity, appreciation, and the importance of mangrove habitats.
The kids will enjoy seeing flamingos, herons, fish, and other birds. Why not play I Spy at the park with your kids?
10. Sir Bani Yas Island
Sir Bani Yas Island is among the eight islands which constitute the desert islands of Al Dhafra. There’s everything for you and your kids to enjoy as a family.
Among the family-friendly activities at Sir Bani Yas Island are water sports, sailing at the Desert Islands Watersports Centre, snorkeling, diving, kayaking in the pristine waters of the wildlife reserve, relaxing with a sunset cruise, and more.
While on the island, your kids will also have the opportunity to learn about marine life and habitats. In addition to all activities at these islands, don’t miss visiting the Arabian Wildlife Park or taking the 4×4 safari.
The Arabian Wildlife Park occupies more than half of the island and is one of the largest wildlife reserves in the region. It has more than 17000 animals in its natural habitat including Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas, and cheetahs.
Enjoy the 4×4 nature and wildlife safaris in special vehicles with expert guides. There is a variety of equestrian activities and learning for the whole family.
On this island, you will also find UAE’s only Christian monastery established around 600 AD.
11. Traditional Arabic food
Imagine a trip to Abu Dhabi with kids, without tasting traditional Arabic food! There is a huge variety for you and the kids to try out.
Abu Dhabi has a multitude of restaurants, streetside cafes, heritage desert camps, and traditional dhows (wooden boats). Fresh produce is always available as it is a coastal city.
Traditional meals and fish are usually served on a platter with meats, rice, and fresh seasonal vegetables. You’ll also have a selection of fresh salads and appetizers. Do not miss the dessert – Baklava, and Arabic coffee.
True to their heritage, the Emiratis love to infuse their food with spices such as saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, nuts, limes, and dried fruit.
Try the traditional hummus and pita bread, falafel (deep-fried meat-free), manakish, a Lebanese snack (round bread sprinkled with cheese, ground meat, or herbs), and fattoush (a crispy salad of lettuce, toasted pita squares, tomato, cucumbers, and onion).
Also explore other traditional UAE dishes such as ma Khoboz Wagafi (traditional Emirati bread), Deyay Nashef (chicken with rice or fluffy flatbread), Robyan Mashwi (spiced, grilled jumbo shrimp), Saloona Deya ma Khudar (spiced vegetable and meat stew), Aysh Biryani (light rice) and Luqaimat (deep-fried dough balls slathered in date syrup), Khuzi, or Ghuzi, the national dish of the UAE, usually served on special occasions but restaurants also serve this.
Another traditional UAE dish is Al Harees, a porridge served during weddings and especially during the month of Ramadan.
As you can see, a trip to Abu Dhabi with kids will be one of your most memorable experiences.
About The Author
Robeena Brown is a travel blogger & destination expert living in the UAE and works for local tourism companies like Arabiers. If you have been looking forward to touring Dubai, getting a visa, extending your stay, and exploring the city, you can follow her on social media.