Families have long known about the delights of Dubai, but we think Abu Dhabi now gives its erstwhile neighbour a run for it's UAE dirham. Why is Abu Dhabi so perfect for family holidays? Well, there's sun, sandy beaches, short(ish) haul flights, sea swimming, safari, sand dunes, souqs, sail boats and seriously family friendly hotels, for starters. Even some things not beginning with 'S'.

The action for families centres around the various islands - all natural - dotted along the coastline, with Yas Island particularly alluring for children. For any parents with budding Top Gear presenters for children, the Formula One Grand Prix circuit and Ferrari World theme park on the island will keep them busy, while Yas Waterworld is a 40 acre water park with 43 slides and rides that waterbabies will adore.

Further from the capital city itself is Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara where families can go on safari to see rare Arabian Oryx and even hyenas, giraffes and cheetahs in a huge wildlife reserve, all without the hassle of malaria prevention that makes an African safari that bit more difficult with children.

Finally, the icing on the cake is the Empty Quarter with its magnificent sea of sand dunes and excellent family resorts. Here your children (and most dads, if we're honest) can indulge their inner Beau Geste on camel rides and dune bashing trips in 4x4s, and see expert falconers in action with their beautiful birds of prey.

All pretty perfect for adventurous children, and the hotels we recommend all have excellent kids' clubs, facilities for younger children, and also plenty to keep the grown-ups happy too.

Perfect for families

Family activity

Original Travel has teamed up with the much loved children’s party people Sharky & George to inject some (much needed) creativity and fun into the family holiday process.

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Original Thinking

They may not be everyone's cup of mint tea, but children will love Ferrari World and Waterworld on Yas Island.

Eleanor, Original Traveller

Where to stay

Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace

Abu Dhabi wanted to make a big statement when it arrived onto the international tourist destination stage, and what better statement than the Emirates Palace?

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort By Anantara

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort By Anantara

Playing to Abu Dhabi's natural strengths, the Qasr al Sarab is situated deep in the dunes of the fabled Empty Quarter, the largest sand sea in the world.

Yas Viceroy

Yas Viceroy

If Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island is the 'cultural island', home to museums and exhibition centres, then Yas Island is the noisy neighbour next door with attitude and (if we're honest) a bit more pazazz.

St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

Saadiyat Island is arguably the centrepiece of Abu Dhabi's rulers' vision for the Emirate, and the St Regis is the place to stay on the island.

Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

The Shangri-la is blessed with possibly the best view in Abu Dhabi, looking across the water to the imposing Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

Park Hyatt

Park Hyatt

Located on a five mile long stretch of beach on Saadiyat Island, the Park Hyatt is in a fantastic position and pretty much has it all.

Original Travel's dossier (restaurants, sights, useful tips) arrived through our letterbox before we left, and we sacked off TripAdvisor for the entire trip.

Lucy

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Eleanor is our 'Family Abu Dhabi ' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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