Is there an ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi? With long, hot summers and mild, inviting winters, November to April is the preferred time for most visitors to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
This guide looks at what to expect in the different seasons and annual events you may want to plan your visit around.
What to Expect in Winter in Abu Dhabi
In the winter, Abu Dhabi is a fun, exciting, and culturally enriching place to visit. There are seasonal outdoor events aplenty and lots of sunshine hours to enjoy with pleasant weather.
At the coolest point of the year, you can expect daily maximums to usually reach around a pleasant 23°C (73°F), and overnight lows dip to around 18°C (64°F). It’s cool enough you will probably want a cardigan or pullover in the evenings – you can see our full list of suggested items to pack for Abu Dhabi here.
Sea temperatures can be a little cooler than you may expect, dipping to an average between 20°C to 25°C in winter (70°F to 75°F), a little too chilly for some to take a dip! But rest assured, if you are visiting Abu Dhabi for a resort stay, the pool will most likely be heated.
You know winter has truly hit Abu Dhabi when the Park Market returns to Umm Al Emarat Park, followed by flag day, then the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix leading into National Day in early December. This is followed by a busy winter festivities period and spectacular New Year’s celebrations. Most large public events and al fresco dining happen in the winter through until April.
What to Expect During Summer in Abu Dhabi
Whilst summer might not be the ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi, there are still plenty of great reasons to take an Abu Dhabi summer holiday.
Life in Abu Dhabi moves indoors from around the end of May through until mid-October. Having an arid climate in the desert, peak summer daytime temperatures in Abu Dhabi can be as high as 50°C (122°F), though you’ll find the average daytime high is in the low 40s. Overnight, the air temperature in summer doesn’t dip below 30°C.
Visitors to Abu Dhabi in summer should be mindful not only of air temperatures but also sea temperatures, which can rise to 31-35°C mid-summer – not exactly a refreshing ocean dip! You’ll want to check that your accommodation has a temperature-controlled pool.
The great thing about summer in Abu Dhabi, though, is you can take advantage of many great offers on luxury hotels at a fraction of the normal price you’d pay in peak season.
Although there is extreme heat to contend with, it can be managed with careful itinerary planning and a focus on indoor activities in Abu Dhabi – such as exploring the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Watan or the Theme parks of Yas Island.
We would suggest excluding daytime outdoor activities from your agenda and be careful of considering a desert safari from roughly the end of May to early October; even the evenings can be sticky, hot and unpleasant.
By October, the temperatures start to recede, and humidity drops. By November, you are back to the mild and pleasant winter conditions – possibly even occasional rain showers.
Is There a Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi doesn’t have seasons as such, moving from mild to hot, to very hot to OMG, can it be that hot! Unlike most of the northern hemisphere, Abu Dhabi really only has a short, mild winter, and then summer – spring and autumn are fairly non-existent!
You are better off gauging the best time to visit Abu Dhabi and the UAE on how much heat you can tolerate.
The shoulder seasons of February to April and October to November are best for beach weather.
These are the mean maximum and minimum temperatures you should expect, along with the extreme maximums and minums experienced over the past 17 years.
If you don’t tolerate the heat well, the best month to visit Abu Dhabi is January.
You do run the risk of some rainfall in winter, but its so infrequent, we wouldn’t let it dampen your plans.
To help you out, we have prepared month-by-month guides to get you through the subtle weather differences and pick the season that may work best for you. We’ve also included handy guides on what’s on that month and the top activities we recommend based on the weather.
- January in Abu Dhabi
- February in Abu Dhabi
- March in Abu Dhabi
- April in Abu Dhabi
- May in Abu Dhabi
- June in Abu Dhabi
- July in Abu Dhabi
- August in Abu Dhabi
- September in Abu Dhabi
- October in Abu Dhabi
- November in Abu Dhabi
- December in Abu Dhabi
There are an increasing number of sporting and cultural events that occur in Abu Dhabi that you may also want to consider in planning the timing of your trip to the Middle East.
Common questions about Abu Dhabi’s weather
Does Abu Dhabi get rain?
Yes! It might take you by surprise, but rain is possible over the cooler winter months (or it could stay completely dry!). Over the last ten years, it has rained on average five days of the year.
No need to pack an umbrella just in case. If it does rain, it’s best just to stay put if you can until it passes. It’s unlikely to go on for hours; but note that the roads can flash flood during rain and thunderstorms, and driving becomes chaotic.
Does Abu Dhabi get sandstorms?
Yes! Dust or sand storms are a common occurrence in the UAE. Maybe not the extreme that you see in the movies (looking at you, Mission Impossible!) But nonetheless, there can be a lot of dust in the air.
The problem in most of the UAE is the fine layer of dust that develops pretty much year-round. A hazard of being in the middle of the desert, you will discover pretty quickly why most people don’t hang their washing outside!
Those with severe asthma and other respiratory conditions should keep abreast of the AQI if it’s dusty out.
Does Abu Dhabi get fog?
Yes! The most common atmospheric condition you will encounter after dust is fog. This can cause havoc, particularly in the winter months with the major airports. There’s no way of predicting it in advance, but it’s one of those things you might need to factor into your travel plans if it occurs during your visit.
Normally it burns off by late morning, but it can make overnight and early morning driving hazardous (more so than usual!) and delay planes.
Religion & Religious Holidays in Abu Dhabi
As a Muslim country, as well as following the Gregorian calendar, the Hijri Calendar is observed for religious holidays.
Note: The weekend in Abu Dhabi is now 2.5 days, running from Friday afternoon and through Saturday and Sunday for Government entities, schools and many private businesses. These days are much busier than during the week Monday through Thursday.
Public Holidays in Abu Dhabi
The main Religious observances are:
- The holy month of Ramadan
- Eid al-Fitr
- Arafat Day & Eid al-Adha
- Hijri New Year
- Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif – the Prophet’s birthday
These dates move forward roughly ten days each year compared to the Gregorian calendar. Actual dates are not confirmed until the moon is sighted, and the Government may move the actual dates that the public holiday is observed. These are the predicted dates for the coming year:
The UAE also celebrates/observes:
- New Year’s Day on 1 January
- Commemoration Day on 1 December
- National Day on 2-3 December
Ramadan in Abu Dhabi
It’s important to observe each year when the Holy Month of Ramadan – the 9th month on the Hijri calendar will occur (the start date changes by approximately ten days on the Gregorian calendar each year). This period of deep religious reflection for Muslims is strictly observed.
Ramadan in 2024 will start approximately 11 March and end 9 April.
The most important thing to observe is fasting, with no eating in public allowed and no public displays of affection, ensuring the modest dress code is strictly followed. It can be a little confusing for visitors to know exactly what to expect.
You may also observe that many businesses and attractions are closed during the day and only open in the evening. If you are only in Abu Dhabi for a short stopover, you need to be conscious of this. However, daytime dining rules and opening hour restrictions have changed in recent years.
If you’ve visited the Middle East before during Ramadan, please be aware that things in the UAE are now VERY different than even five years ago; as a tourist, Ramadan will have minimal impact on your plans in Abu Dhabi.
School Holidays in Abu Dhabi
Visitors should be mindful when local school holidays occur in Abu Dhabi. Most Abu Dhabi schools work on a three-term school year from September to December, January to March, and April to June (some Asian curriculum schools run a different calendar year).
School holidays in Abu Dhabi generally occur:
- Late March to early April
- Most of July & August
- Mid-December to early January
Some schools also have mid-term breaks in late October, mid-February and late May.
If you visit at any of the peak school holiday times, expect hotel accommodation to cost more and attractions to be busier, although you will not notice the same extreme crowds in Abu Dhabi as you do in Dubai during peak times. School holidays usually mean more family-friendly activities around town- particularly during winter break.
Seeing attractions earlier in the day, you will always encounter fewer crowds than in the evening; it is very much a stay-up-late and evening culture in Abu Dhabi, even for families.
Have any more questions about the weather and the best time to go to Abu Dhabi? Let us know in the comments; we’d love to help you.
Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page; it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner