Everything in Abu Dhabi seems to be bigger and better than the last thing you saw. Yas Island is home to the fastest rollercoaster in the world, the glistening white marble mosque has space for over 40,000 worshippers and at Emirates Palace you’ll find an ATM that dispenses solid gold bars. This magnificent city, capital of the United Arab Emirates, is also home to stylish designer boutiques, swathes of sugar white sands and lavish hotels with five star dining and immaculate service. Abu Dhabi is contemporary, cutting edge and vibrant, yet beyond the awe-inspiring glass skyscrapers and post-modern architecture it’s also full of intoxicating Middle Eastern flavour.
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Abu Dhabi boasts over 200 natural islands, including the stunning unspoiled sands and turquoise waters of Saadiyat Island, given the seal of approval by the hawksbill turtles that nest here every year and the dolphins that play in the crystal clear waters offshore. Yas Island is increasingly becoming Abu Dhabi’s entertainment centre, with Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and the Yas Marina Circuit, host of the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, all based on the island, and a new mall, Abu Dhabi’s biggest, complete with cinema complex coming for 2015.
Explore further afield with a visit to the world-class Falcon Hospital, where falcons from all over the globe are nursed back to health, or head out into the breathtaking Liwa Desert, where the burning sun chases an endless vista of shimmering dunes. Back in the city, take a pleasant stroll along the picturesque waterfront Corniche or a tour around the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Reflecting every taste and culture under the sun, dining in Abu Dhabi is a veritable feast of the world’s finest cuisines. The restaurants in our featured resorts are all superb, but we particularly recommend the award-winning Chinese dishes of Michelin-starred Hakkasan at Emirates Palace and Silk & Spice at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche for deliciously fragrant Thai specialities. Emirati cuisine is somewhat unsung but growing in popularity on the restaurant scene, with dishes typically meat or fish based and infused with the aromatic flavours of cinnamon, saffron and turmeric; try al madrooba, a tasty dish comprised of salted fish in a thick, spicy sauce.
Stroll the Corniche
Starting from the old town, near the Hilton Hotel, the Corniche is a 5 mile stretch of manicured seafront which includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés, restaurants and the Corniche beach, and is perfect for an evening stroll.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Opened in 2007, this is a truly spectacular sight. A fusion of Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture, it is the eighth largest mosque in the world and has the capacity to hold over 40,000 worshippers. Public tours take place three times a day Saturday - Thursday and also on Friday afternoons. We recommend taking the sunset tour, as it’s the perfect time to take photos, and it’s cooler.
Abu Dhabi doesn’t do things by halves, and Ferrari World, the star attraction on Yas Island, is the largest indoor amusement park in the world. Strap yourself in for a white knuckle ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa, designed to replicate the G-force experienced by F1 drivers. It’s a must-visit for petrolheads and adrenaline junkies.
Drinks at the Emirates Palace
Visit the luxurious and iconic Emirates Palace and we’re sure you’ll be impressed by its grandeur, with gold, pearls and crystals dominating the interior. You can’t just stroll in, so we suggest going for a glass of bubbly at Caviar Bar, before dinner at Hakkasan - reservations are essential.
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Flying time from the UK is approximately 7 hours direct.
British Airways Departures from Heathrow daily.
Etihad Airways Departures from Heathrow daily.
Note: All our inclusive holiday prices are based on British Airways World Traveller flights. Prices with Etihad Airways are available on request.
Arabic is the official language of the Emirates, but English is widely spoken.
4 hours ahead of GMT.
UAE dirham. Major credit cards are also accepted at all hotels.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond your return travel date.
Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha are important religious festivals in the Muslim world, the exact dates of which are determined by the lunar calendar and change each year. For 2015/2016 they are expected to take place as follows:
Holy Prophet'sBirthday: 22 - 23 December 2015 inclusive Isra Al Miraj: 4 - 5 May 2016 inclusive Ramadan: 6 June - 6 July 2016 inclusive Eid Al Fitr: 5 – 8 July 2016 inclusive Eid Al Adha: 11 – 14 September 2016 inclusive
During these times, some restaurant and bars may close and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking in public. Please contact us for the latest information on how this may affect your holiday.