I had a great few hours yesterday at Travel Counsellors HQ getting up to date on the latest developments happening in the largest of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is home to one of the best airlines in the world, Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, who offer direct flights twice daily from Manchester and three times daily from Heathrow – with a brand-new space age airport opening in 2018. The flight time from the UK is around 7 hours.
Abu Dhabi offers a diverse range of attractions for visitors, depending on whether you want luxury, family fun, relaxation, or adrenaline fuelled action. What makes it different from its neighbour Dubai is that it has lots more culture and heritage and a much longer coastline with miles and miles of stunning beaches within easy reach.
Within Abu Dhabi city there are four main areas that you can chose to base yourself (but all are very close to each other and all are very close to the airport so no long transfers). Each area has amazing hotels packed with luxury facilities and lots great for families.
1. The Corniche - which has 8km of beach lined with waterfront hotels, including the Emirates Palace, one of the most expensive hotels ever built, which everyone should visit while there, even if it's just for afternoon tea!
2. The Grand Canal - home to luxury 4/5* hotels all with a view over the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is a must see and free to visit, with free guided tours every hour. The mosque has been voted Trip Advisor’s 2nd top landmark in the world (just behind Angkor Wat in Cambodia which would be hard to beat!)
3. Saadiyat Island - "Happiness Island" with its stunning long white sandy beaches, golf courses, and is soon to open an extension to the Paris Louvre, which will be housed in a giant dome surrounded by the sea (in November 2017)
4. Yas Island - the 'theme park' island and home to the famous Yas Marina F1 Circuit where you can book on driving experiences, Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World Theme Park where you can go on the fastest roller coaster in the world, and from June 2018 Warner Bros Studios will be ready to open too. With 3/4* hotels and a free shuttle bus around the whole island, this is the perfect location for family fun.
In 2017 the most glamourous Grand Prix in the world takes place on 24-26 November, so there’s still time to book for this year. The event always ends in a huge free concert with performances from the biggest international music stars, which this year include DJ Calvin Harris and pop superstar Pink, with other major headliners still to be announced.
The Yas Viceroy is the only 5* hotel on the Yas Island and the only hotel in the world to be located on a F1 race track! From your balcony you can watch all the action – it’s noisy though as rooms directly overlook the track, so maybe not for you if you want peace and quiet! The Yas Viceroy is a state of the art hotel, covered in thousands of LED lights which change colour throughout the night. It has 11 restaurants and lots of family activities, including a fabulous kids club and ‘Camp Viceroy’ where the hotel can set up tents in your room for your children to sleep in (yes, the rooms are that big!).
In addition to the four main central areas, for cruise lovers Abu Dhabi has also recently opened a brand-new cruise port which Celebrity and MSC cruises so far are using as their home port, giving cruise passengers a chance to visit the destination, fall in love with it and then return for a longer holiday.
Away from the city area Abu Dhabi is also covered in vast desert and sand dunes, which makes it perfect for a twin centre holiday too. You can stay in one of the desert hotels or camps, where you can see the stars perfectly at night away from any light pollution.
If you want to know more about this fabulous destination, either for a short stopover for a longer holiday, or the ultimate F1 bucket list trip to experience the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix please get in touch.