When you are travelling with kids to the UAE money can disappear very quickly, especially if you are there in the hot summer when playing in a park outside in the middle of the day is not really a viable option. But don’t let the thought of being broke within the first week stop you from visiting because there are quite a few low budget and even free options to keep the kids from going crazy. Here are our favourite 9 inexpensive things to do with kids in Abu Dhabi.
1. Splash about on the Corniche
The Splash Park, which is essentially part of the family Park, is a great place for kids to play and get wet. There are plenty of fountains and squirting water structures to keep your kids cool and amused. If you have little ones, be prepared to get wet helping them around the park and watch out as the surface can get slippery.
2. Get up close and personal with fresh fish
The Fish Market is a fun place to take your kids to see the fishing boats as well as the catch of the day. It’s full of people and there is plenty of fish to marvel at! Let your kids choose their own fish, watch it get cleaned and enjoy eating it once cooked at one of the local restaurants who do it for you. You can feed a family of four for less than Dhs120.
Cost: Free to look
3. Play in the cool at the Galleria Mall
At the far end of the Galleria Mall along the promenade is an intimate play area kitted out perfectly for little kids and the best thing is, it’s free. There is a small play area, a mini jumping castle, a few rides (believe it or not, they provide the coins to operate) a face painting and craft area as well as a bean bag zone to watch movies.
4. Spoil your kids with a sweet treat that will amaze
The Docle Café at the Ritz-Carlton hotel is a great place to take your kids for a sweet treat. The fit out is very kid friendly with a good selection of ice-creams and cakes, a fairy floss and a popcorn machine as well as space for them to play without annoying other diners. The kids desserts, such as the vanilla spaghetti ice-cream, are impressive and are guaranteed to get the kids tick of approval.
Cost: 35AED for kid’s dessert (big enough to feed two)
5. Let your kids run wild indoors
There are plenty of indoor play centres to head to as the weather warms up, but be warned some can cost over $AU30 per hour. There are though, several that are cheaper and cater for all ages. Fun City at City Mall Madinat Zayed and Sparky’s Fun World at Khalidiyah Mall is reasonable at Dhs40 for all day access. Supervised play at Wanasa Land in Al Wahda Mall is priced between Dhs25-35.
6. A family outing at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Spend a few hours with the family exploring the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and you won’t be disappointed. This would have to be one of the most amazing buildings we have been to and will impress both the young ones and the adults. Free tours are on offer, but it is just as nice to slowly walk around the inside and outside of the building.
7. Enjoy a day at the Ladies Club
Sorry dads you will have to sit out on this one. Rainbow Island at the Abu Dhabi Ladies Club has a variety of classes for kids under seven from cooking to painting, baby play and a huge playground.
Cost: Entrance during the week for non-members is Dhs25 and Dhs35 for weekends.
8. Sometimes you just need a break
When you feel the need to take time out and laze by a pool or have lunch in peace, sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra. The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canals offers a range of experiences and activities for your kids in the Ritz Kids Club. Cost per hour for non-residents is a little steep at Dhs50, but well worth it for your own sanity.
9. Spend the day at the beach
There are some pretty lovely beaches in Abu Dhabi where you can cool off in the late afternoon on a hot summer’s day. Although the water feels like a big bath, the beaches are clean and you are usually outnumbered by lifeguards. Some beaches charge entry and others are free. We enjoyed the beach on the Corniche as well as the Al Bateen beach, which is usually filled with locals rather than Westerners and there is also a small playground for when the beach is closed.
Cost: Corniche beach Dhs1, Alberdeen Beach free.
Abu Dhabi is a very family friendly city and there are endless things for kids to keep entertained and active, although some come with a high price tag. Travelling on a budget, we of course like to make the most of the free options and the cheap ones come in handy particularly if you need to be indoors. If you have any other cheap ideas for kids in Abu Dhabi, we would love for you to add them in the comments below!