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Explore this beautiful city of wonderful contrasts
Home to vast empty deserts, stunning white beaches, glittering warm waters and year-round sunshine, Abu Dhabi is becoming increasingly popular as a long-stay destination, rather than simply a stop-over point. The vibrant capital of the United Arab Emirates, it is a city of wonderful contrasts where luxury and style fuse with tradition and culture, captivating you with atmospheric souks, opulent hotels, fine dining and incredible shopping.
Best time to visit Abu Dhabi
The United Arab Emirates experience year-round sunshine and the daytime temperature rarely dips below 24°C. The best time to visit is between November and March when the average maximum temperature is 25°C – an ideal temperature for sightseeing and sunbathing. The scorching summer months fall between May and September, where temperatures often exceed 40°C.
Abu Dhabi holiday highlights
One of the seven sovereign emirates that complete the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is the region’s ‘cultural heart’, capital and centre of government. Effortlessly contrasting modern architecture with Arabic tradition, the ‘Garden City of the Gulf’ is a modern metropolis on an island graced with parks, green boulevards and verdant gardens. Whether you’re headed to Abu Dhabi for a two-week beach break, or a quick stop-over on a long-haul flight to somewhere further afield, there’s plenty here to keep you and the whole family entertained.
Abu Dhabi’s national landmarks include the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest and most inspiring mosques. Yet another ‘world’s biggest’ belongs to the Flagpole that can be found on the Corniche breakwaters, standing at 123 metres tall and located on the Marina Island, adjacent to Marina Mall.
Named after Sheikh Khalifa, the Khalifa Park offers its very own aquarium, museum and train as well as fun play parks and pretty gardens, presenting the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. The best of the beach scene is found on the sweep of wide sands that form the Corniche at the city’s heart. If you’re after a little culture, head to Saadiyat Island which will soon be home to the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, joining the Manarat al Saadiyat.
The emirate is also an up-and-coming cruise port, and thanks to the 2015 opening of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, it's becoming the one of the most popular departure points for Arabia and Indian Ocean cruises. Cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean made Abu Dhabi their home port for at least one of their ships, allowing you to travel in style around the Arabian Sea and beyond.
While Dubai was once the family capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is quickly gaining momentum. Purpose-built for family fun, Yas Island is home to some of the region’s most exhilarating theme and water parks. Petrol heads will love exploring Yas Marina Circuit and the exhilarating rides of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – a vast indoor themepark – while those that love the water will love Yas Waterworld, with a number of exciting rides and attractions that include everything from lazy rivers to a looping free-fall slide and hydro-magnetic raft rides to flowboarding.
Although the city centre is mainly confined to one island, with the constant heat, Abu Dhabi has been built for cars and there are not many crossings, so pedestrian excursions are not practical. It’s easy to hire a car and this is the most convenient mode of travel with the roads well signposted and in a good condition. However, beware of heavy traffic, particularly during rush hour. Metered limousine taxis are common around the hotels but are the most expensive, with standard silver taxis offering better value.
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