When is it best to visit Abu Dhabi? Your 2021 Guide

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner

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. In this guide, we look at what to expect in the different seasons and annual events you may want to plan your visit around.

Please note at the time of writing there is still a mandatory 14 day quarantine period for any international visitors to Abu Dhabi. You can read more here.

Winter in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi in the winter is a fun, exciting and culturally enriching place to visit. There are seasonal outdoor events aplenty and lots of sunshine hours to enjoy.

January is the coolest point of the year and temperatures slowly rise over February. 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 when the Ripe Market returns to Umm Al Emarat followed by flag day, then the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix leading into National Day in early December then a busy winter festivities period. Most large public events and al fresco dining happen in the winter through until April.

Sunset over the beautiful Al Bateen Marina

Summer in Abu Dhabi

Life in Abu Dhabi really moves indoors from May through until mid-October. Peak summer temperatures can be as high as 50°C (122°F), though average in the low 40’s. Be aware that August and September particularly also suffer from humidity, which can make the “feels like” temperature much higher.

Be mindful not only of air temperatures but 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.

By October the temperatures start to recede and humidity drops, then by November you are back to the mild and pleasant winter conditions – possibly even occasional rain showers.

Is there a best season 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 of gauging the best time to visit 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.

Information sourced from the UAE National Centre of Meteorology Climate Report for Abu Dhabi Corniche

To help you out, we have prepared month by month guides to get you through the subtle weather differences and picking the season that may work best for you. We’ve also included handy guides as to what’s on that month and the top activities we recommend based on the weather.

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 10 years it has rained on average 5 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. Its unlikely to go on for hours and during peak rains the roads can flash flood 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 none the less 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 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.

Note: The weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday making these days much busier than during the week Sunday through Thursday.

Public Holidays

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 Prophets birthday

These dates move forward roughly 10 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:

  • New Year’s Day on 1 January
  • Commemoration Day on 1 December
  • National Day on 2-3 December

You can find our complete guide to public & religious holidays in Abu Dhabi here

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 10 days on the Gregorian calendar each year).  This is a period of deep religious reflection for Muslims and is strictly observed.

Ramadan in 2021 will start approximately 12 April and end 11 May. 

The most important thing to observe is fasting with no eating in public allowed, but also no public displays of affection and ensure the modest dress code is strictly followed. It can be a little confusing for visitors to know exactly what to expect. We wouldn’t entirely advise against visiting at this time but you will have quite a different experience, joining in with iftar (the evening breaking of the fast) and overnight festivities.

The other thing you may observe is 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 or you may find yourself stranded in the heat with little to do!

You can read our complete guide to visiting during Ramadan here.

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.

School holidays occur:

  • Late March to early April
  • Most of June & July
  • 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 are happening around town – winter break particularly.

Seeing attractions earlier in the day you will always encounter fewer crowds than the evening, it is very much a stay up late and evening culture in Abu Dhabi, even for families.

Have any more questions about Abu Dhabi weather and the best time to visit? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to help you.

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