A new year (and decade!) is here, which means that we're not just presented with new beginnings, but also new travel destinations. While Bali was undoubtedly one of the most visited destinations of 2o19, we think that the jewel of the Middle East – Abu Dhabi – is all set to top the travel charts in 2020.
If you're looking for an international destination that will appease all the travellers in your family, you couldn't choose a place better than Abu Dhabi. And – bonus – it’s just a four-hour-long flight away, making it the perfect quick escape! The capital city is known for its glittering skyscrapers, majestic mega-structures, as well as historic and cultural monuments. So, get planning, because you don't want to be left behind when it comes to visiting the hottest travel destination of 2020! Here are a few activities and attractions that make Abu Dhabi a standout vacation destination.
1. Ride the world’s fastest roller-coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
This is the world's first Ferrari-branded theme-park, and it will take your breath away from the moment you behold its massive, imposing structure. Home to fantastic rides, experiences, shows, dining and shopping arenas, the whole family is sure to enjoy a great day out at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. An exhilarating ride that you just cannot miss is Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster! Yes, you read that right. It zooms up to a speed of 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds, to a whopping height of 52 metres!
Other top-rated rides include Flying Aces, boasting the world's highest roller-coaster loop, and Turbo Track, where you can enjoy an epic zero-gravity fall! Those who prefer a more relaxed experience will enjoy Bell'Italia, a ride that lets you explore a mini Italy in a Ferrari 250 California, circa 1958. The ride also lets you tour landmarks such as the Amalfi Coast, Monza Racetrack, the Colosseum di Roma, Venezia and Maranello, the home of Ferrari.
11.00 am - 8.00 pm
2. Unleash the water enthusiast in you at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
This adventure-packed water park, known as ‘Water’s Greatest Playground’, is sure to be a highlight of your family trip. Experiences, rides and slides, such as the Amwaj Wave Pool, Sebag, a six-lane racer slide, and Dawwama, the world’s largest six-person tornado water coaster, will give everyone the ultimate adrenaline rush. A fun day spent splashing in the sun will make for wonderful holiday memories.
Sunday - Thursday: 10.00 am - 6.00 pm, Friday - Saturday: 10.00 am - 7.00 pm.
3. Meet your favourite cartoon characters at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Another first-in-the-world jewel in Abu Dhabi's crown, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is an indoor theme park! One step into this wonderland will transport you to your favourite fantastical and fictional worlds. Themed lands such as Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch, Cartoon Junction, Gotham City and Metropolis will unleash the fanboy and fangirl in you, no matter how old you are. Meet your favourite childhood companions, like Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo, along with your favourite superheroes – think Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman. In addition to this, 29 unmissable, state-of-the-art rides await you within the theme park.
Daily 10.00 am - 8.00 pm
4. Visit the iconic Yas Marina Circuit
One of the most epic attractions in Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit is home to the annual Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A night race, the Grand Prix is possibly the biggest event held in Abu Dhabi. Needless to say that your trip to the country is incomplete without a visit to this legendary place. If you’d like a spin around the track, book a car experience and drive iconic race cars like the Caterham Seven, Aston Martin G14, and Ferrari 458 GT. Yas Marina Circuit is heaven for every car enthusiast! If you're really lucky and are visiting during the Grand Prix, you really should purchase tickets to attend the race. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience you won’t forget.
5. Delve into art and culture at Louvre Abu Dhabi
Think you've got to go all the way to Paris to visit the Louvre? You couldn't be more wrong! Did you know that the UAE capital has its very own Louvre Abu Dhabi? Developed by France and Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a new kind of cultural institution that represents the dynamic nature of the contemporary Arab world, while celebrating the region’s vibrant multi-cultural heritage. With a number of interesting exhibitions, galleries, talks and installations on offer, a visit to Louvre Abu Dhabi is just what you need to replenish your soul. A standout aspect here is that it has a separate, interactive museum dedicated to children, featuring a number of activities designed exclusively for them. This makes for a wonderful way to initiate your child into the world of art and culture.
Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 10.00 am - 8.00 pm, Thursday, Friday: 10.00 am - 10.00 pm
6. Be one with nature at Sir Bani Yas Island
Part of the Al Gharbia region of the United Arab Emirates, Sir Bani Yas Island is a pristine escape from the city. Featuring plush hotels, white-sand beaches, tens of thousands of wild, free-roaming animals including giraffes, oryx, hyenas, and cheetahs, and a mangrove lagoon that is home to flamingos and other stunning creatures, this family-friendly space makes for the ideal detox from city life. It’s incredible to see how, on one side, the UAE’s modern capital boasts some of the world’s most impressive skyscrapers and, on the other side, pure and untouched islands.
7. Explore a lush oasis in Al Ain
In the eastern region of Abu Dhabi lies Al Ain Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site occupied by the region's inhabitants for over 4,000 years. This lush oasis sprawls across 3,000 acres, with one of its most fascinating aspects being its falaj, a traditional irrigation system that has been used for centuries and taps into underground wells. Enjoy a walk along stunning oasis pathways shaded by hundreds of thousands of palm trees, explore a miniature oasis, or head to the Eco-Centre, which is home to interactive installations where you can learn more about the oasis, its history and its workings.
8. Marvel at the stunning architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
When we think of Abu Dhabi, the first image that pops into our minds is the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - and rightly so. This is the largest mosque in the country, one of the biggest in the world, and is known for its awe-inspiring white marble structure, incredible colours, and rich textures. The mosque boasts an open-door policy and welcomes worshippers and tourists of all faiths from around the world, celebrating diversity and capturing interactions between Islam and world cultures.
You're sure to be left stunned by the enthralling chandelier and enormous carpet inside the mosque's prayer hall, both of which are the largest in the world! The chandelier weighs 12 tonnes, and the carpet was crafted by over 1,200 weavers. Take your time to marvel at the mosque's 82 unique domes, its intricate calligraphy, and the gorgeous reflective pools in the courtyard. Children are also welcome.
Saturday - Thursday: 9.00am - 10.00pm, Friday: 4.30pm - 10.00pm
9. Head out for an adventurous desert safari
What's a trip to Abu Dhabi without experiencing an epic desert safari? Explore the Empty Quarter or Rub' al Khali – the largest sand desert in the world – by enjoying a dune safari, dune bashing, sandboarding, camel riding, and more. Be mesmerised by stunning sunsets and starry night skies when you stay overnight in a Bedouin-style camp in the middle of nowhere, or check into the luxurious Qasr Al Sarab hotel for an exclusive desert experience. There's no better place than Abu Dhabi to experience the endless desert – one of the planet's most fascinating terrains.
10. Kick back and relax at Abu Dhabi's many beaches
Abu Dhabi’s coastline is known for being home to some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the world! The 8-kilometre-long Corniche Beach is ideal for some time-out and, if you’re feeling active, a cycle on its cycle track. The protected Saadiyat Beach is perfect for relaxing and spotting the resident Hawksbill turtles and dolphins, if you’re lucky. Al Bateen Beach, meanwhile, is renowned for its watersports, including kayaking, paddle boarding and more. Abu Dhabi's coast will stun you with its golden sand beaches, so don’t forget to pack a swimsuit.
It's impressive how every single attraction in Abu Dhabi has been tailored in a way that tourists of all ages and interests can thoroughly enjoy what is on offer. If you're planning a trip abroad, and are in search of a destination that will keep the children happy, introduce you to new travel experiences, and make for a family vacation that you will fondly look back on for years to come, Abu Dhabi is the place to be.
Need more inspiration to travel to Abu Dhabi? Head to the city’s official tourism website here.
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