Abu Dhabi Delights: From Yas Island Thrills to the Cultural Splendor of Qasr Al Watan

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Abu Dhabi is a captivating travel destination. It straddles the biggest sand desert in the world, Rub’ al Khali. In fact, Abu Dhabi is 70% desert. It is also understandably industrial, as Abu Dhabi accounts for approximately 96% of the United Arab Emirates’ oil reserves.

Nonetheless, it is quite the bastion of Emirati culture, with its museums, palaces, historical edifices, heritage sites, and structures epitomising Islamic architecture. It is intentional in conserving, preserving, greening, and terraforming, with its marine protected areas, wildlife reserves, oases (e.g., Al Ain Oasis), zoos, and parks.

Modern wonders also await: record-breaking amusement park rides, iconic skyscrapers, upscale shopping malls, high-tech halls, and state-of-the-art race tracks. For those who want some leisure time to unwind, Abu Dhabi has an abundance of five-star hotels, luxury resorts and pristine beaches.

No wonder Abu Dhabi the city — the Abu Dhabi emirate’s capital and the capital of the UAE — topped The Family Vacation Guide’s 2022 Family Vacation Index. Abu Dhabi’s wonderfully warm and sunny weather and a multitude of attractions and destinations make it an irresistible destination for family vacations.

If you’re planning your Abu Dhabi trip, here’s a handy Abu Dhabi holiday bucket list. Note that five of the six best theme parks listed here are on Yas Island Abu Dhabi, an efficient way of maximising your precious time in Abu Dhabi.

1.    Yas Waterworld

How about a waterpark in the middle of the desert? Visit Yas Waterworld on Yas Island.

Yas Waterworld, spanning approximately 15 hectares, is the largest waterpark in Abu Dhabi. It offers more than 40 rides, slides and unique water experiences.

Try Dawwama, the world’s largest tornado water coaster for six. You and your friends will sit on a large doughnut tube, and the force of the water will propel you down a mountain-high slide and shoot you into a 20-metre-high funnel.

Cinesplash is a popular attraction for families. You’ve probably tried many virtual reality experiences, but this 5D cinema offers an experience like no other. Immerse yourself in the Legend of the Lost Pearl as the seats move, the cinema floods with water and, through incredible special effects, you get lost in water explosions and waterfalls.

The Bubbles Barrel, a flow boarding ride with the largest sheet wave in the world, and AMWAJ, the region’s largest wave pool, are also worth checking out.

2.    Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the world’s first-ever Ferrari-branded theme park. This primarily indoor theme park is located on Yas Island, and its iconic red roof with the world’s largest Ferrari logo is visible from miles around.

If you love roller coasters, Ferrari World is a must-visit. It’s worth the trip just for the chance to try Formula Rossa, officially the world’s fastest roller coaster. This super sleek ride goes from zero to 240 kilometres per hour in less than five seconds. Try it and experience what 4.8Gs feel like, which is well within the range of G-forces Formula One racers experience when braking and cornering.

Aside from Formula Rossa, Flying Aces is another record-breaking ride. This military biplane-themed roller coaster has the world’s highest roller coaster loop and reaches a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour.

3.    Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island is home to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. If you’re a fan of Formula One and automobile racing in general, you must visit Yas Marina Circuit. Better yet, book your stay at the five-star W Abu Dhabi, located right on the Circuit’s doorstep, and time your stay to coincide with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

Even if you can’t make it to the Grand Prix, visiting the Yas Marina Circuit should remain at the top of your list. Get behind the wheel of the all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo, an Aston Martin GT4 or an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and experience what it’s like to drive on a Grand Prix track. If you don’t feel like driving, you can sit shotgun and let a professional race car driver show you how it’s done.

If you want drag racing experience, Yas Marina Circuit has a 4.1-kilometre drag strip for the sport. You can rent a Chevrolet Camaro and put it through its paces.

There’s also drift racing if you prefer drifting to drag and circuit racing. You can drift on the Circuit’s Chevrolet Drift Taxi or ride as the passenger of a seasoned drift car driver.

Yas Marina Circuit also has a 1-kilometre karting racetrack. Just show up, rent a kart, don your safety equipment, and zoom out.

4.    Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, also on Yas Island, is the world’s largest indoor theme park and the first-ever Warner Bros. World theme park. You shouldn’t miss it if you and your family love Warner Bros. World television and movie characters.

At the heart of the theme park is the Plaza, with its perennially blue sky and the feel of old-Hollywood glam. It is your gateway to five thoughtfully designed lands: Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch, Cartoon Junction, Gotham City, and Metropolis.

The park has themed rides. There’s Fast and Furry-ous that will take you on a wild Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner chase; Tom and Jerry: Swiss Cheese Spin; Scooby-Doo: The Museum of Mysteries; The Riddler Revolution, and the Green Lantern Galactic Odyssey. Keep your eyes peeled for your favourite TV characters and superheroes – they are walking around and traipsing about to meet you.

5.    SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is the newest attraction on Yas Island. It is a marine life theme park with eight realms: One Ocean, Abu Dhabi Ocean, Rocky Point, MicroOcean, Tropical Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica, and Endless Ocean.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi has the world’s largest aquarium. It holds 25 million litres of water and is home to more than 68,000 specific types of marine life. One of the aquarium’s highlights is the 20-metre-high, multi-storey glass viewing window, the Endless Vista.

6.    Qasr Al Watan

Even if you have everything you can want and need on Yas Island, you must venture outside at least once to visit Qasr Al Watan in Al Ras Al Akhdar.

Qasr al Watan, or Palace of the Nation, is a presidential working palace that the UAE decided to open to the public in 2019. It is an immense structure, impressive with its white limestone and granite exterior, book-matched marble floors and walls, towering domes, ornate decorations, precious artwork, and prized exhibits.

Inside the palace is the Qasr Al Watan Library, a must-see public library in Abu Dhabi. Make sure to see also the Palace in Motion show with your palace booking.

Embrace the Magic of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is enchanting, fascinating, thrilling, and captivating. Visit and experience its magic.

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