If you’re considering a winter break and long for something a bit more exciting than the usual options of snow or much-visited beaches, Abu Dhabi might just be your golden ticket. And with Etihad flying there direct, you can be basking in glorious sunshine in less than seven hours.
The UAE’s capital city has a huge amount of history to explore and is one of the most important cultural and political hotspots in the Middle East.
Take a look at what’s on offer…
New high-end hotels are popping up all the time as Abu Dhabi increases in popularity as a holiday destination. Guests are offered a full package of pampering and relaxation. One of the most renowned is the Emirates Palace, which boasts its own private beaches, a lazy river for children and, as an antidote to the stress of the year, an adult-only retreat. It’s the most luxurious hotel in the UAE and broke world records as the most expensive ever built. You can even indulge in a ‘golden cappuccino’ — your usual morning pick-me-up, dusted with real flakes of gold!
Abu Dhabi has a spectacular offering of restaurants, with cuisines ranging from around the world. The city’s gastronomic choices compete on a global level, easily rivalling any food capital for quality and innovation.
Feel like sampling traditional Middle Eastern delicacies? Choose an Emirati restaurant. The traditional style of UAE cooking is a fusion of South Asian and Persian tastes with meat such as chicken, or seafood, accompanied by rice. Aromatic spices like saffron and cumin add a sprinkle of Middle Eastern magic to each dish.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the most ornate mosque in the UAE and a must-see when visiting Abu Dhabi. With beautiful, floral marble walls and gold and Swarovski crystal chandeliers, you’ll need to remove your shoes to walk on the world’s largest handwoven carpet underfoot. Visitors of all faiths are welcome but are required to dress and behave respectfully. Wear long sleeves and trousers, or borrow local dress to cover up during your visit.
Abu Dhabi has become a cultural hub in the Middle East, making a name for itself among contemporary art enthusiasts with a vast range of public and privately owned spaces to choose from. But there’s no doubt that the capital of the UAE has truly made its mark on the global art landscape with the recent opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Located on the coast of the beautiful Saadiyat Island, the impressive roof of Louvre Abu Dhabi shimmers in the sunlight, offering a hint of the treasures that lie beneath. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, this new cultural neighbourhood showcases artworks of historical and cultural significance from different times and civilisations. Thoughtfully curated exhibitions brim with antiquities and a somewhat anthropological outlook, representing a journey through humanity. There’s also a Children’s Museum, full of interactive exhibits and space to play.
Abu Dhabi isn’t just a city — there is also so much natural beauty to be discovered. Just off the coast, an archipelago of natural islands is waiting to be visited. Sir Bani Yas Island, about 100 miles from Abu Dhabi, is a paradise of unspoilt beaches and crystal-clear waters. It is also a haven for nature lovers, teeming with wildlife above and below the shoreline. The island is full of impressive plants and animals, including cheetahs and hyenas.
In short, Abu Dhabi offers limitless possibilities for all kinds of vacation, with the opportunity to simply relax peppered with the potential for activities to entertain even the shortest attention spans. If you are looking for something that breaks the mould (and makes for more interesting anecdotes), consider Abu Dhabi.