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An Abu Dhabi Family Holiday

By Sally Bendall – 21st August 2021
abu dhabi family holiday

4 Things To Do On An Abu Dhabi Family Holiday


Mack was literally bouncing up and down with excitement as he was accepted as tall enough to ride ‘Formula Rossa’ the fastest rollercoaster in the world.  He was so excited I was surprised that he could keep still long enough to get the eye-protection goggles on properly. Our Abu Dhabi family holiday had been full of these moments of wonder and excitement, we had the most amazing time.


There is so much to see and the people there are so friendly and accommodating. With the UAE on the amber list for travel (at the time of going to press) and Abu-Dhabi removing the quarantine requirement for vaccinated travellers, there has never been a better time to think about an Abu-Dhabi family holiday.


Visitors to the UAE who have experienced the fabulous, fast-paced, ostentatious, hustle and bustle of Dubai might be surprised to find that the neighbouring Emirate has an altogether different feel.  Abu Dhabi is more relaxed, and full of sophisticated luxury.  With a reputation as one of the safest cities in the world, it is a superb setting for a family holiday.

Abu-Dhabi Family Holiday | Warner Brothers World | YAS Island

This theme park is situated on Abu-Dhabi’s leisure destination, YAS island. You’d assume that it is aimed at children, but I was in my element!  All the Warner Bros classics are here, The Flintstones, Roadrunner & Wile. E. Coyote, as well as more modern heroes, Batman can be found in Gotham City and Superman at The Daily Planet in Metropolis.

Despite being entirely indoors (and air-conditioned) there is a surprising feeling of space inside, and you have the benefit of rides operating as usual despite any outdoor weather conditions.  Throughout the park there are characters wandering in their different zones, posing for photos and goofing around, giving the place a really fun family atmosphere.

There are plenty of rides to suit all ages.  Loads for those 1m and under, and more for the taller thrill seekers. Batman:Knight Flight and Scarecrow Scare Raid are the best for those seeking an adrenaline rush.


Kids will love – Meeting and greeting – The ratio of characters to visitors here is high, lots of opportunity to have a photograph with your favourites!

Refreshment – There are plenty of refreshment stops inside Warner Brothers, all themed in kitschy retro styles, matching their location. The kids went crazy for the milkshakes at Celebrity Scoop.

Must see – Step into Clark Kent’s telephone box, right outside The Daily Planet!

Name drop – We met Scooby Doo and the whole gang!

How long – This is a ‘day out’ visit, allow at least 3 hours if you want to try every ride, add to that if you enjoy meeting characters and want to sample the restaurants while you are there. You can really make the most of the ticket price.


Abu-Dhabi Family Holiday | Ferrari World | YAS Island

I wouldn’t say I was particularly into cars, no one would ever describe me as a petrol head, but when found myself in Ferrari World with the family I absolutely loved it.

From the enchanting Ferrari drive around a scaled down version of the Italian village Maranello, to the point where I found myself putting on goggles to ride Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest rollercoaster (eek!), Ferrari World was an absolute blast!

This theme park is a testament to the world renowned F1 car brand, of course it is, but more than that, it’s a state-of-the-art thrill-ride theme park. Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest, Turbo-Track is the world’s first back-to-back rollercoaster, and it has a zero-gravity fall, Flying Aces runs at 120km/h and is the world’s highest rollercoaster loop.  It is an adrenaline junkies paradise!

When you’re not feeling the rush of the rails, then you can discover the history of Ferrari, presented beautifully with all the flair and panache you’d expect, and there is plenty to entertain the younger members of the family.  There’s a fab soft-play area and lots of interactive games, even a version of the spinning teacups ride where you’re inside a giant tyre.


Kids will love – Junior Grand Prix, an F1 driving school for those 110cm to 140cm.  For the smaller members of the party there is Formula Rossa Junior, a scaled down version of the world’s fastest rollercoaster.

Refreshment – As with all theme parks, there are plenty of refreshment stations. For something a little different why not try Il Podio, modelled on the real staff canteen at the Ferarri factory in Maranello!

Must see – The Hypercars exhibition, in collaboration with the Museo Ferrari, Maranello, Italy. Here Ferrari showcase the Hypercar models: 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo, LaFerrari and F12 tdf

Name drop – Enzo Ferrari. Ferrari is the only name here, and that’s exactly how it should be.

How long – If you want to try all the rides, allow all day.  Get in early if you want to book any of the timed attractions, like the Karting Academy.

Abu-Dhabi Family Holiday | YAS Waterworld | YAS Island

My kids love a water park, it’s always something we look out for on holiday, so YAS Waterworld was a top choice for us and it does not disappoint.

The park is divided into sections, with plenty for thrill seekers who want to race down fast flowing tubes, a fabulous lazy river and wave pool, plus a separate section catering for families with younger children.

If you have a budding surfer in your midst, in the Dolphin Zone they can try out body boarding, or for the more experienced surfer, Bubble Barrel is the worlds largest sheet wave machine! If you’re looking for something a bit different, visitors over 8 can dive for pearls in a huge glass tank and have them made into jewellery for a unique souvenir.


Kids will love – The family raft ride in Falcon Zone, or for the very little ones, the fortress play area in the Marah Zone is perfect.

Refreshment – The park is so well supplied with restaurants and snack bars. If you fancy trying something new, head to Gahwat Nasser and try some camel-milk chocolates!

Must see – A movie at the 5D cinema. Yep, 5D. Enjoy a movie where you join the characters in the story behind the park’s design – an underwater escapade!

Name drop – Tom Wright led the design of the park. It tells the story of Dana, a young girl rediscovering a legendary giant pearl that had always brought prosperity to her village. The ‘pearl’ is visible high above the park and as a landmark on YAS island.

How long – I would absolutely allow the whole day. If you and the family get worn out by the water activity, there are plenty of beaches and loungers to rest and relax, you can even hire a cabana and make the most of it!


Abu-Dhabi Family Holiday | Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

I’m completely in awe of fine architecture, so this incredibly beautiful mosque was a must-see. It took more than 10 years to build and it can host 40,000 worshippers. It is a truly incredible place.

Even when visiting as tourists, this is very much a place of worship, visitors are given suitable cover-up clothing to wear and the atmosphere is very reverential. I probably didn’t spend as long as I would have liked here, but there is only so long I can expect the boys to stay quiet and walk, not run!

It is very hard to explain the sheer size and beauty of this building, the main prayer hall has seven HUGE chandeliers made from millions of Swarovski crystals, and the world’s largest handmade carpet (it weighs 35 tons!)  My 16 year old daughter wasn’t particularly happy about having to cover up from top to toe, but even she was blown away by the magnitude of the place.


Kids will love – In truth, there is nothing particularly aimed at children at the Grand Mosque. When I asked my youngest what he liked best about it he replied, ‘I liked it because you liked it so much’. So there’s that.

Refreshment – The visitor centre has a small mall with refreshment opportunities. No food, drink or eating is allowed in the mosque.

Must see – Over 1,000 breathtakingly beautiful marble columns, all embedded with amethyst and jasper.

Name drop – Sheikh Zayed is buried right there in the courtyard – the boys were fascinated by that!

How long – Allow a couple of hours from entrance to exit if you plan to walk the visitor route, more if you want to stop and take it all in in more detail.

With deals available for holidays at around the same price as the Canary Islands, and a manageable 7 and a half hours flying time, I hope I’ve sown the seed of Abu Dhabi as the perfect destination for a family holiday.  If you have very young children, you might be interested to read the experiences of Jenny Schippers, our Girl About Cheshire, on her Abu Dhabi family holiday with her young daughters.

Thanks for reading!

Sally  x

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