Book a holiday to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates, is mainly a land of desert. It offers travellers a rare combination of tradition and modernity, adventure and relaxation.

Abu Dhabi Introduction

Far from only being an exceptional shopping, beach and luxury destination, Abu Dhabi will soon be home to two of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums, due to open in 2011. Another exciting development is the eco-tourism project of Desert Islands, on a natural island located off Al Gharbia.

Getting there

Flying from the UK takes less than seven hours with national carrier Etihad Airways, Emirates, Gulf Air, British Airways and Qatar Airways which all offer a regular service from London Heathrow aiport. Travellers on a twin-centre holiday can fly to Dubai International Airport and reach Abu Dhabi in less than three hours. It's also possible to enter the emirate from border crossings with Oman via freeways.

Getting around

A bus service operated by the Abu Dhabi Municipality runs throughout the emirate. Gold and white taxis are widely available from the streets and all the major hotels will have metered taxis in front of their entrance. Car hire is a good solution for travellers owning a valid international driving license. Plans to build a metro are currently under discussion.

Don't miss

A trip to Abu Dhabi wouldn't be complete without a dune-bashing ride across the desert in four-wheel-drives, a visit to a camel market or a dhow cruise.

Shopping

Opportunities to spree are many with a varied choice ranging from the Abu Dhabi Duty Free at the airport to one of the city's 18 shopping malls including the upmarket Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall and Al Wahda Mall. For a more traditional experience, the Old Souk, Madinat Zayed Gold Souk, and Al Meena Souk display many temptations such as spices, jewellery, precious metals and Persian rugs. The Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival is held every March.

Eating and drinking

Some of the best restaurants are located in hotels such as the Emirates Palace's Sayad, the Hilton Abu Dhabi's Bice and Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi's rooftop revolving Al Fanar. Souks offer the opportunity to sample local food from the market stalls. Alcohol consumption is strictly limited to hotel restaurants and bars in their close vicinity.

Sightseeing

The Heritage Village displays remnants of life in the emirate prior to the oil discovery; the al-Hosn Palace, the Grand Mosque and the Manhal Palace are architectural gems whereas the Bateen Shipyard shows traditional shipbuilding.

Type of holiday destination

Great for sports (F1, golf, sailing), shopping, culture, beach and spa breaks for couples and singles.

Climate

Abu Dhabi’s climate is subtropical, with year-round sunshine and infrequent rainfall with temperatures ranging from 20° C in December to 35° C in August.

When to go

Abu Dhabi is a year-round destination with the mild winter months popular for desert safaris and the hot summer for sunbathing and enjoying indoors activities in fully air conditioned facilities.

Places to stay

The Emirates Palace has gained the reputation of being one of the most extravagant hotels in the world. Other luxury hotels include the new Fairmont's Creek and Marina City, The Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Abu Dhabi, and Anantara Desert Island Resort and Spa on Sini Bani Yas Island. Also recommended for leisure travellers without children are the Al Ain Rotana, the Hotel Intercontinental Al Ain and the Sheraton Abu Dhabi.