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

How can we help?

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

Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

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.

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.

For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 31 August 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel in the next 14 days. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel in the next 14 days. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you still need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking, and you are due to travel in the next 14 days, please log in to Manage my booking to call or message us.  You are our immediate priority.

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. 

You can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. 

If you’re struggling to pay, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're good to go


Currently, your holiday will be going ahead as planned.

Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected by travel restrictions or cancellations.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


We’re sorry to say that it’s taking much longer than usual to process your refund. It’s taking longer than we’d like as well. This is due to the number of requests being sent to us and our teams working from home.

We’re doing our best to help every customer, but we’re not able to always meet the 15, 45 or 90-day timeframes we originally stated for every customer. As always, we’re grateful for everyone’s patience and understanding. It means the world to us.

We'll be in touch soon


We’re keen to help you rearrange your holiday plans and our team are currently working through requests in order of departure. We’re helping those customers in June at the moment so please bear with us, someone will call you back.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

Need help?

Talk to an expert

Call us directly

Feel free to call us directly on
01234 567784
Our travel experts are on hand to help you book your next holiday.

Send us an email

Feel free to email us directly on
XXXX@virginholidays.com
We will try to respond to your email within 24 hours.