This website uses cookies

We use cookies to ensure you have an easy, quick and reliable experience whilst using the Virgin Holidays website. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more details, see our cookie policy.

Skip to main content Virgin holidays logo
  • Mon to Fri 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Saturday 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Sunday 10:00am - 6:00pm

A (long) weekend in… Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi boasts a host of attractions, catering for adults and children alike, which can help to create a fun experience whether you’re visiting for work, pleasure, or a bit of both.

Ideal for relaxing retreats in a hot, sunny climate, the capital is becoming increasingly popular for those looking for a luxurious mini-break. If you’re travelling with the family, as a couple, or with friends for a special event, our (long) weekend guide will help to ensure that you make the most of what this eclectic city has to offer.

 

Day One: City exploration

Much like nearby Dubai, Abu Dhabi has enjoyed intense restoration over the past few years, which has created plenty of modern amenities for guests of all ages. This modernity is coupled with historical landmarks and other places of significance, creating a diverse and memorable city experience.

 

9am-11am: Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This imposing building is set in stunningly maintained grounds, making it a truly impressive sight. The sheer size of this mosque allows it to accommodate 41,000 worshippers, and it is open to non-Muslims looking to learn more about Abu Dhabi’s heritage.

Tours of the building are not available during prayer times, which change daily, so be sure to investigate this before your visit, and opening times are limited to the early evening on Fridays.

 

11am-1pm: Explore Qasr Al Hosn

This fort, which you may recognise from the back of the AED 1000 note, was originally created as a watchtower in 1761 to protect the freshwater well. It eventually became the home of the Al Nahyan family in 1793, and maintained its royal residence status until the mid-1960s. Abu Dhabi beach is close by, so you could take a dip in the cooling sea waters after visiting the fort.

 

1pm-5pm: Flash your cash at Abu Dhabi Mall

Avoid the heat of the desert sun and experience a shopping experience like no other. Alongside its 200 shops, the mall has a number of cinema screens and children’s activities to keep the little ones happy while you shop. This is an excellent destination to buy gifts for loved ones at home, as well as perfume, sweet treats and men’s and women’s clothing to suit any price range.

 

8pm-11pm: Indulge in local cuisine

Once you’ve rested, showered and dropped off your shopping bags, it’s time to take on the Abu Dhabi nightlife. Near Qasr Al Hosn is a range of snack and pastry stands that attract locals looking for a quick bite, whilst the Lebanese Flower restaurant is famed for its reasonably priced and delicious food. Afterwards, head to the Belgian Beer Café to enjoy a range of draughts and bottles overlooking the stunning marina.

 

Day two: Delve into the desert

A trip to Abu Dhabi’s surrounding desert is a full-day affair, and shouldn’t be rushed. Despite the remote and peaceful location, there are lots of activities to be enjoyed by those who take advantage of the best excursions that the city has to offer.

Many trips include activities such as camel rides, sand dune surfing, a safari in an air-conditioned car, and even meals under the open night sky. Traditional entertainment, such as belly dancing, can also be enjoyed as part of the day.

Given the remote and often harsh nature of the desert, it is highly recommended visitors travel with a professional service. That way, all you have to worry about is having fun. Ensure that you take plenty of bottled water… and don’t forget your sunscreen!

 

Day three: Aquatic adventures

After a day spent in the heat of the desert sun, it’s time to enjoy some water-based adventures. Whether you want to make a splash, enjoy the view or sample fine fishy cuisine, Abu Dhabi is a great location for aquatic activities… even if it is in a desert!

 

10am-1pm: Make a splash at Yas Waterworld

Ideal for families with children of all ages, Yas Waterworld is renowned for its range of exciting slides. Thrill seekers will love adrenaline-fuelled experiences like the Dawwama and the free-falling Liwa Loop. Meanwhile, those who prefer to take it a little easier will enjoy the park’s lazy rivers, or test your surfing and bodyboarding skills on the Bubbles’ Barrel and Rush Rider.

 

1pm-4pm: Enjoy a late lunch at Al Mina Fish Market

Open early until late, the Al Mina Fish Market is an unforgettable experience. With a vast range of seafood on offer, you have the opportunity not only to enjoy the bustling market atmosphere, but to choose a fish, and have it gutted, filleted, spiced and cooked exactly to your liking. An absolute must-visit for those who enjoy sea cuisine and want to taste something completely new.

 

4pm-8pm: Take a stroll on Abu Dhabi Corniche

Stretching the massive length of the north-west coastline, the Abu Dhabi Corniche is a real treat, offering fantastic waterfront views framed by huge sky scrapers. A centre of activity, there is plenty to see and experience. Wander through the beautiful gardens that provide a natural reprieve from city life, and enjoy a relaxing drink on the beach as you watch the sun set over the ocean.

 

8pm-11pm: Indulge in luxury cuisine

Once you’ve visited the fish market, you’ll want to sample Abu Dhabi’s signature seafood cuisine. Finz is a highly rated restaurant, offering seafood prepared in a vast number of ways. Meanwhile, Sayad is an exclusive and indulgent choice for a special occasion, with the kitchen preparing original and exciting dishes for those lucky enough to get a seat – be sure to book in advance!

 

You’re never short of things to do in Abu Dhabi. This diverse and exciting city provides plenty of entertainment to be enjoyed by people of all tastes and interests, with its location between the coast and the desert meaning you’re never short of new things to experience. 

 

Abu Dhabi holidays »

Tagged in:

  • Middle East
  • Travel tips
  • Abu Dhabi
  • City and shopping breaks
  • Off the beaten track
05 Jul 2016 | Virgin Holidays

Whatsapp

There has been an error

Please try again

Text Message

There has been an error

Please try again

Telephone

Thanks, we'll be in touch soon

I'm currently on holiday

Some text goes here...

I'm due to travel to a country that may have travel restrictions!

If you are booked to travel to one of the countries below today and tomorrow, please do not go to the airport - we will contact you.

Any customers travelling to one of these destinations in the next 15 days will be contacted at least 24 hours before departure to discuss options.


Destinations with current travel restrictions

  • All of USA and Canada
  • Jamaica
  • St Lucia
  • Dubai
  • Tel Aviv
  • South Africa
This applies to me, but I'm not departing in the next 15 days

My holiday destination doesn't have travel restrictions


Travelling before 30th April

If your holiday destination isn’t currently affected, but you would like to discuss your options, please complete our call back form and we will contact you within 7–10 days.

Request a callback


Travelling after 30th April

We ask that you don’t contact us at this time due to the dynamic situation and so we can support customers travelling in the imminent future. Continue to monitor our Covid-19 (Coronavius) travel updates page, our social media and the Foreign and Commonwealth travel advice page for latest advice.

Should your holiday destination become subject to travel restrictions, we will contact you at least 24 hours before departure to discuss your options.

Travelling to a destination with travel restrictions, but not in the next 15 days

If you're travelling to a destination with travel restrictions, but not in the next 15 days, please get in touch with us via WhatsApp or SMS.

Where would you like to go?

TESting of Com#4 ticket: COM#4 Request call back journey

Design is here

Where would you like to go?

TESting of Com#4 ticket: COM#4 Request call back journey

Design is here

How can we help?

Let’s get started. Please choose an option below.

Your holiday may be affected by the government’s travel restrictions

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected.

You’ll be away before you know it

Your next holiday is only a click away - Our website has thousands of hand-picked options ready to book. But if you need more help, just let us know.

Your holiday will not be going ahead as planned

Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK have advised against all but essential travel before 16 April 2020.

We’re flexible with your holiday plans

If you were due to travel before the end of May 2020, you can postpone your holiday to a later date or even choose a different destination instead.

You’re good to go


In line with the advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK, all trips booked from June onwards are unaffected.

Rebook your holiday


We’ve sent you a voucher that is valid for the full value of your cancelled holiday. When you rebook, we’d like to gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles too. 

But there’s no rush. To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call any time before 31 July 2020 and quote your old booking reference.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

We’re here when you need us


If you’d like to travel with us sometime in the future, just give us a call and we’ll find a great holiday for you (and gift you with 4,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles as a thank you). 

If you'd prefer to simply cancel completely, we understand, and we will refund you in full. You'll just need to give us a call. Refunds will be successfully returned in approximately 45 days.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


No need to contact us. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

Change it up


You can postpone your holiday to travel any time before 31 December 2021, and even choose a different destination. We won’t charge you to make these changes and our Service Team are there to help – just give us a call.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Your holiday is in safe hands


Your holiday is scheduled to depart as booked. Continue to pay off your holiday balance with the assurance that your money is fully protected through ATOL. Be assured, that if the situation changes, we will contact you as soon as this happens with the options available to you.

The choice is yours


No problem! To amend your holiday dates, just give us a call. Any amendments to your booking can be made for £50pp, and our Service Team can help you decide on dates, or even a different destination.

Please bear in mind our wait times are currently longer than usual due to high demand.

Register yourself as away from home


If you’re abroad and your flight home has been cancelled please let us know, as relief flights will end soon.

Register as away from home

Alternatively, call our UK Duty Office on +44 0344 472 9646 (option 3) to discuss your options for getting home.

Book online


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

Or dive right in to our 2021 holiday offers

Help is at hand


Looking for inspiration? Explore our destinations and holiday types online and save your faves to your very own Wishlist

If you’re ready to book but can’t find the information you need on our website, just call our travel experts who will be happy to help.

To redeem your holiday voucher on a new booking with us, just give us a call and quote your old booking reference.