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Discover why we think Abu Dhabi deserves a visit

Pirates, we’ve teamed up with our partners at LoveHolidays to introduce you to Abu Dhabi and all it has to offer!

Located on the Arabian Gulf coast, Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE. As the largest emirate, it is split into three main regions – the city of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain (Eastern Region) and Al Dhafra (Western Region). Each of these regions has geographically diverse scenery, making it a truly unique holiday destination. From stunning desert sunsets to UNESCO World Heritage sites, we're here to tell you why we think the emirate is more than just a stop-over on your way to another destination.

Whether you’re looking to spend all your time on the pristine beaches, take in the ancient cultural sites, marvel at the modern architecture or go on safari, Abu Dhabi has more than meets the eye. Our handy guide covers the basics from how to get there and when to go, as well as fun activities and not-to-be-missed sights!

Read on to learn everything you need to know for your next holiday to Abu Dhabi.

How to get to Abu Dhabi

With Etihad Airways, Emirates and British Airways you can fly directly to Abu Dhabi from many major airports around the UK, including London, Manchester and Birmingham, within seven hours. You can expect to pay around £500 to £600 return from London if you book a few months in advance, though some dates can reach up to £800+.

Those staying in hotels downtown and on the islands will be just a short transfer ride away from the airport.

Getting around

With public transport, taxis or organised tours you can visit almost all the must-see sights in the region. But if you prefer to be independent, booking a rental car is no problem and, in comparison to the UK, very affordable. You can hire a rental car from as little as £27 per day, and a litre of petrol costs about 90 pence! Please note, however, that some providers require you to present an international driving licence.

Entry Requirements

To enter the United Arab Emirates, you’ll need a biometric passport that is valid for at least six months. British citizens get a visa on arrival for stays of less than 90 days.

Currently, travellers to the UAE do not need to take a COVID-19 PCR test before they travel if they are fully vaccinated or:

  • They hold a COVID-19 recovery certificate with a QR code dated within 30 days of departure

  • They are under 16 years of age when arriving in Abu Dhabi

  • They have severe disabilities

For visitors who are not fully-vaccinated (and do not hold a COVID-19 recovery certificate), a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken no more than 48 hours before departure, is required.

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The climate in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi boasts a subtropical to tropical desert climate with maximum temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius and a humidity of almost 100% in midsummer. In almost all public facilities, air conditioning systems ensure that the temperatures are comfortable.

In winter, on the other hand, the temperatures are a pleasant 24 to 28 degrees, which is why Abu Dhabi is an ideal destination to escape the UK winter. We recommend travelling during November to April, when it is wet and cold in the UK.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Due to the heat in the summer months, holiday providers tend to offer extremely cheap deals. If you don't mind the hot temperatures, you can get excellent bargains during this travel period.

Regions in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is divided into three regions, the capital city, Al Ain and Al Dhafra. The Emirate also consists of several lush islands, including:

  • UAE Capital: The capital city is located on an island connected to the mainland. It is known for its modern skyline and boasts world-class shopping, renowned golf courses, and stunning cultural sites.

  • Al Ain: Located just a 90-minute drive from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain is the emirate's garden city and one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements. Here, you will find historical forts, archaeological parks, ancient palaces, and vibrant souks (markets) selling authentic Emirati crafts, spices, carpets, perfumes and more.

  • Al Dhafra: Boasting some of the country’s most dramatic scenery – including some impressively large sand dunes – Al Dhafra is the place to be if you're seeking a bit of adventure. Beaches, islands and desserts make up the landscape in this region.

  • Islands: Abu Dhabi has over 200 islands, many of which you can visit. Our favourites include Al Mayrah Island, Sir Bani Yas Island, Dalma Island, Reem Island, Yas Island and Saadiyat Island.

Popular places to stay in Abu Dhabi

The hotels in the United Arab Emirates are known for their excellent value for money. There are only a few countries where you can get such luxurious hotel rooms at affordable prices.

This also applies to international chain hotels. For example, the Radisson Blu Corniche (formerly Hilton), which is located directly on the beach and has its own beach club, is particularly popular.

Other popular hotels include the 5-star Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi located downtown and the 4-star Holiday Inn Downtown Abu Dhabi hotel.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: you can also get free access to the Beach Club on Yas Island if you book a package tour to one the hotels located there.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: In addition to the luxurious hotel complexes, some of which are housed in high-rise buildings, you can rent spacious apartments on a daily or weekly basis.

Find a cheap hotel or apartment stay in Abu Dhabi


Top highlights in Abu Dhabi

We've come up with a few must-see sights while you're in Abu Dhabi, depending on the type of traveller you are. Take your pick!

Adrenaline junkies

You can get your pulse racing on Yas Island. At the top of the list of tourist highlights is Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, where you can try out the world's fastest roller coaster, among other things. We recommend buying your tickets online, so you avoid having to stand in line. A single day adult ticket will cost AED 310 (around £68).

Next door there is also Yas Waterworld and the Yas Marina Formula 1 track. Entrance for the day to Yas Waterworld costs AED 270 (about £60).

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: You can receive 25% off single day entry tickets with the Family & Friends offer when you purchase 4 or more tickets online. You'll only pay AED 232.50 (£51) per person. Plus, there is free admission for kids 3 years old and below. A similar offer is also available at Yas Waterworld.

Safari seekers

Safari in the Emirates? Very few expect this, but it is possible at the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island (not to be confused with Yas Island!), a good two hours west of Abu Dhabi. Here, you'll find animals such as ostriches, gazelles, antelopes, giraffes, emus, and even cheetahs. We highly recommend a visit for families and couples, alike. Safari tours are offered with modern, air-conditioned off-road vehicles, which you should book in advance. Best try to get a front row seat for the ideal view and the best picture opportunities.

Another must-experience is the Al Ain Safari, which is about 1.5 hours away from the city, located in the desert, with Abu Dhabi's Jebel Hafit as a backdrop. The park, which sits on an impressive 217-hectares, is home to a variety of African animals and plants. The park is an affordable £6 entrance fee for adults and £2 for children, making it a great activity for families, couples or solo travellers looking to save!


Abu Dhabi also has its fair share of white sand beaches. If a beach holiday is what you’re after, we can recommend Saadiyat Public Beach, Corniche Beach and the beach on Al Maya Island.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Families should head to Corniche Beach, located in downtown Abu Dhabi, as it is manned by lifeguards. The beach is eight kilometres long and includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants.

Active holidaymakers

While you have the option of lounging on the beach all day, Abu Dhabi also has an array of sports to try, including golf, horseback riding and various water sports such as water-skiing and scuba diving.

Golfers should head to Yas Island and play a round at the Yas Links Abu Dhabi, an award-winning golf course designed by Kyle Phillips.

Nature lovers

Everyone knows the Sahara, but hardly anyone knows the name of the largest uninterrupted sandy desert in the world, let alone where it is. The Rub Al-Khali (which translates to "Empty Quarter") is mostly in Saudi Arabia, but also in Abu Dhabi.

A two-and-a-half-hour drive south from the capital brings you to the Liwa Oasis, where you'll be surrounded by sand dunes over a hundred metres high. We were particularly impressed by the sunrises and sunsets. It is also home to one of the country's most exclusive accommodations, the 5-star Qasr Al Sarab Hotel.

Culture enthusiasts

The garden city of Al Ain is east of the city of Abu Dhabi, just before the border with Oman. This is where many of Abu Dhabi's residents used to go during the hot summer months. The water-rich oasis city is on the World Heritage List and is great for a visit for those wishing to get some glimpses of traditional life in the Emirates. This includes a stroll through the old souk, an open-air market where you probably won't meet too many other tourists.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: It is busiest here in the mornings and evenings. It is also recommended to drive up the serpentine road to the 1,240-metre-high Jebel Hafit. From there you have a great view over the entire city and the rocky landscape around it.

Discover activities and tours in Abu Dhabi


The top Instagrammable places in Abu Dhabi

For many of us, a trip no longer has to be just relaxing or eventful, but also visually appealing. That's why we've selected these three special places for you that are sure to look good on your social media account.

1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Alongside the skyline of skyscrapers and modern buildings, the huge, gleaming white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of Abu Dhabi's most-popular tourist attractions.

As one of the largest mosques in the world, you’ll also be surprised to find the largest carpet and the heaviest crystal chandelier in the world. While this house of worship breaks a lot of records, it also has a lot to offer visually.

There are beautiful photo motifs around every corner, including magnificent golden ornaments, long symmetrical colonnades and a large central square. Possibly the best part, admission is free! You can book a guided tour through the arcade-lined building ensemble free of charge. But you can only get in if you follow the dress code.

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi was a billion-dollar project designed by star architect Jean Nouvel, which opened at the end of 2017 on Saadiyat Island. Not only will the inside of the museum ​​impress you, with works by the likes of Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Monet, but we think you'll also fall in love with the architecture too. A highlight here is the 7,500-ton 'Floating Dome', where dappled sunlight seeps through, much like the palm-thatched roofs of traditional market streets in the region.

Tickets can be purchased online for AED 60 (around £13.50). Children under 18 are free.

3. Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace hotel is a 5-star luxury hotel. Even if you are not a guest, you can still walk in and get an impression of the concentrated opulence in the public areas: gold, marble and velvet everywhere you look. For example, the royal seating, which you can find on every corner, is suitable for taking souvenir photos. Afterwards, treat yourself to a decadent 23-carat gold ice cream or a gold-flecked cappuccino at the hotel's Le Café.