girls having fun at Yas waterworld water park on yas island abu dhabi

Plan an Awe-Inspiring Trip to Abu Dhabi With Teens & Tweens

The best of Abu Dhabi with older kids through to teenagers

Keeping teenagers happy and entertained isn’t always easy. Even the most amicable are prone to uttering ‘I’m bored’ every now and again. The good news is that it’s difficult for even the grumpiest of teenagers not to have a good time in Abu Dhabi.

With world-class theme parks, awesome shopping experiences, incredible dining opportunities, oodles of culture, and unique natural environments, Abu Dhabi really does have it all for an incredible family vacation.

In this article, we highlight what your teens and tweens shouldn’t miss on their trip to Abu Dhabi – plus loads of other ideas for keeping them entertained in the United Arab Emirates!

You may also want to pop over to our guide to the best of Dubai with teens if you’re looking for even more UAE entertainment ideas!

Theme Park & Indoor Fun in Abu Dhabi With Teens

Yas Island Theme Parks

Abu Dhabi is blessed with some of the best theme parks in the world, all located on the fun-filled Yas Island. These are not to be missed by any adrenaline-seeking teen!

  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi’s oldest theme park and home to the fastest roller coaster in the world – Formula Rossa. Perhaps the kids can also persuade you to take them out for a spin on the streets of Abu Dhabi in a real Ferrari (available at extra cost).
  • Yas Waterworld – the region’s leading water park with over 40 different rides and experiences. Teen favourites include the Falcon’s Falaj, where they can whoosh through tubes on an inflatable with their friends and surf the world’s largest sheet wave at Bubble Barrel.
riding waves on the bubble barrel in yas waterworld, yas island abu dhabi
  • Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi – Whether your teens are Batman fans or still like to indulge in Scooby Doo, Warner Brother’s World promises fun for the whole family. It’s the region’s biggest indoor theme park and features 29 exhilarating rides and attractions. The addition of a Harry Potter World has been announced, but no opening date, yet!
  • The newly opened SeaWorld Yas Island is a great place for your nature-loving teens to find out more about life under the sea. In addition to live exhibits, there are various rides and attractions guaranteed to make your day truly memorable. Budding marine biologists might also enjoy a visit to the National Aquarium at Al Qana. Opened in 2021, the Aquarium is home to 46,000 animals.
  • Not a theme park, per se, but another adrenaline-boosting destination also located on Yas Island is CLYMB. This indoor climbing centre also features the largest indoor skydiving chamber in the world.
indoor sky diving at clymb, a fun teen activity on yas island, abu dhabi

Note that height and age restrictions apply to many rides at the theme parks listed above. Always check these out in advance to avoid any disappointment when you arrive.

For a more in-depth article about Yas Island and its amazing theme parks, click here.

Other Abu Dhabi Theme Parks

Whilst Yas Island undoubtedly has the most theme park action in Abu Dhabi, there are a couple of new venues that are also worth mentioning for the tween and teen age group.

Snow Abu Dhabi

In the heat of the desert, it might seem crazy that a whole theme park is dedicated to snow. The whimsical Snow Abu Dhabi, is, however, a great place to escape the sizzling temperatures outside and have a really ‘cool’ time.

There’s surprisingly no ski slope in Snow Abu Dhabi (sister venue to Ski Dubai), but there is a pretty impressive snow park with fun activities like toboggans and bumper tubes.

Under 14’s need an adult with them, but kids 14+ can come with their mates.

Adrenark

Adrenark Adventure is the largest indoor adventure park of its type in the Middle East. It offers climbing walls, LED slides, bungee jumping rope courses, thrilling rides, and numerous other attractions. This is a great place for thrill-seeking kids of all ages, with plenty of more challenging attractions than your average indoor play centre that will appeal to tweens and teens.

Inside Adrenark Adventure in Al Qana Abu Dhabi
Adernark Adventure in Al Qana – perfect for a hot day indoors in Abu Dhabi with your tweens and teens

Shopping with Teens in Abu Dhabi

The best shopping mall for teens who love their fashion brands is The Galleria, located on Al Maryah Island. Here, you will find all of your teen’s high-street favourites and international brands that you may not find at home. There’s also a high-end designer area for a bit of style inspiration.

exterior view of the Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island Abu Dhabi
Galleria Mall is very popular with teens for its fashion brands and activities

If your teen is more into ethnic handicrafts than keeping up with the latest fashion trends, the WTC Mall, just behind Abu Dhabi Corniche, has a souk section as well as shops selling more traditional attire.

There are also numerous tailor shops in the downtown area where you can select fabric and have items made to measure at a reasonable cost, giving your teen the chance to create an outfit all of their own.

Outdoor Adventures with Teens & Tweens in Abu Dhabi

Whilst the summer months in Abu Dhabi are not terribly conducive to outdoor activities, there are plenty of winter adventures teens will love.

Hit the beach

With almost 365 days of sunny weather, Abu Dhabi’s beaches are a big draw. There are several public beaches in Abu Dhabi, but for something truly special, your teens will love a day out at a beach club – come and see which ones we think are the best!

saadiyat beach club on saadiyat island

A Desert Safari Experience

No visit to the UAE is complete without a trip to the desert. There are a variety of safaris on offer, although most include camel riding, an Arabic barbecue, and some form of entertainment like belly dancing or a twirling tanoura dance.

Sometimes, there are opportunities to learn more about local arts and crafts and have a greater ecological focus, whilst others are all about the adrenaline activities in the desert, with thrilling dune bashing rides and the option to hire sand boards, dune buggies and fat bikes.

For more information about how desert safaris work in Abu Dhabi, click here.

desert driving in the Abu Dhabi desert vehicles in convoy
Dune bashing in the desert is one of the more thrilling activities you can enjoy near Abu Dhabi city

For a truly unique experience, try a desert glamping experience in Abu Dhabi; from star gazing at the foot of Jebel Hafit to converted campervans on the beach, there are plenty of unique overnight experiences to be enjoyed in Abu Dhabi’s great outdoors.

Hit the track

Even if you’re not visiting during the Grand Prix, there are still plenty of ways you can get the thrill of the race. From taking on the Go Kart track, to a lap on the circuit with an expert driver (some age limits apply), there’s loads to keep your speed demon happy.

Hire a racing car for a lap of the Yas marina circuit Yas island abu dhabi

Anyone can join in on an open night at Yas Marina Circuit. You can cycle, jog, or walk around the Grand Prix track every Monday and Wednesday throughout the year (except GP week). Entry is free for anyone wishing to go around the track on foot. If you want to cycle around the track, there are a limited number of free bikes, but you can also pay to hire a higher-spec bike.

To find out more about events at Yas Marina Circuit, click here.

If you love cycling, there are plenty of other outdoor options. An easy cycling ride is along the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s beachside boulevard. You’ll find bikes for rent, as well as eScooters for a fun way to zip about town.

Alternatively, those with a need for speed should head over to sporting hub Al Hudayriyat Island, where they will find a cycling track, a BMX track in Circuit X and for those up to the challenge, a new mountain biking circuited, Trail X. There are a few places on Hudayriyat island that can help you out with bike hire too.

mountain biking course on al Hudayriyat island in abu Dhabi

Hit the water

Fun in the water might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a city in the desert, but Abu Dhabi is blessed with numerous beaches and mangroves, serving a whole host of unique water-based experiences.

Take in the sights on a cruise

A fantastic way to see the city is to take a cruise along the Corniche. This can be done as part of a bigger group on a traditional dhow or by hiring a private speedboat. The second option gives you more flexibility and the option to stop and have a barbecue on one of the secluded beaches close to the capital, something that many people, teens included, seem to enjoy.

If you’d rather take a tour around Yas Island with its impressive marina, green mangroves and desert islands, we recommend using The Yellowboats, who pride themselves on providing a safe but exciting trip.

Kayak through the mangroves

While cruises get you close to nature, kayaking can get you closer. Our favourite water-based experience is kayaking the eastern mangroves.

Here, you will see a variety of birdlife (including flamingoes) and find sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Eastern Mangroves Kayaking small beach
Take a dip on a kayaking tour through the Mangroves National Park

Kayaking at the Jubail Mangroves is another chance to see a variety of marine species, perhaps even turtles or dolphins, as well as enjoy being out on the water.

Other experiences include kayaking under the magnificent dome of the Louvre; this is the perfect way to actively see the building’s impressive architecture as well as getting the endorphins flowing.

Let your teen be the captain

Sometimes teens just want to be in control and letting them be ‘captain’ for the day is one way of giving them some responsibility. Of course, you will be there to support them if anything gets too tricky!

While there are many places to hire boats in Abu Dhabi, Rhino Rides at Eastern Mangroves provide the most accessible boats for teens. Experienced guides provide a crash course in driving before taking you through the national park in convoy.

Surfing and wakeboarding in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is not well known for its breakers, and surfing in the sea is limited to rough days at Saadiyat Beach. On the other hand, most water sports providers offer wakeboarding. There are, however, closely monitored artificial opportunities to try both.

At Al Forsan International Sports Resort, a variety of water sports are on offer in the resort’s huge man-made lakes. It is the first sports resort in the Middle East to introduce the water cable system. The system pulls participants around the lakes on their chosen board or ski, giving them the opportunity to develop their skills in a safe environment before they take to the open sea.

There are also chances to surf at Yas Waterworld in the Bubbles Barrel, and a brand new surfing centre and wave pool is set to open on Hudayriat Island by the end of 2023. (In early 2024, we still await the final opening date for Surf Abu Dhabi, which will be the largest artificial wave park in the world).

Flow club at Yas Waterworld. Image supplied

Other water sports

At some beaches, you will find banana boats, parasailing, jet skis, and other water sports options. We would exercise caution and check the terms and conditions of your insurance policies before committing to any of these activities.

Be a ninja!

Very active teens will love OCR Park with its grown-up obstacle course. Ducking and diving over walls and under nets will really make them feel like a real ninja! Mum and dad can get in on the action too, as OCR Park also offers an adult obstacle course and fitness classes. To find out more, click here. (Temporarily closed for enhancement work winter 2023-24)

Paintballing and Archery

Over 10s can try their hand at paintballing at Al Forsan International Sports Resort. The outdoor arena mirrors the natural landscape, offering a realistic backdrop. There are a variety of exciting scenarios on offer, from protecting the saloon from bandits to rescuing a hostage from a rival team. Whichever you choose, it’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping!

For teenagers wanting to improve their aim, they can try archery or clay pigeon shooting. For more details on Al Forsan, click here.

Tee off (with) Mum and Dad

Abu Dhabi is rapidly gaining a reputation as a golfing holiday destination, and with almost constant sunshine and no fewer than 5 world-class golf clubs, it’s easy to see why. There are plenty of opportunities for teens to get involved in the golfing fun.

One venue that has been tried and tested is Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, where private lessons are possible in the club’s junior academy. You can also try your hand at some fun games at GoGolf, part of the club’s driving range.

If your teen is not quite ready to take to the course, there are various golf simulators around the city, such as those at Performance Golf in Zayed Sports City. These provide a great opportunity for your teen to develop their skills, especially during the warmer months.

Learn more about all golf courses in Abu Dhabi here.

yas Links golf on yas island next to the Gulf waters surrounding Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has several stunning golf courses in amazing locations for a family round

The Tourist Highlights for Tweens & Teens in Abu Dhabi

The highlights of your tween or teens’ trip will really depend on their interests. It would, however, be sacrilege not to visit what we would call the ‘Big 4’ tourist attractions of Abu Dhabi:

  • Qasr al Watan – the country’s stunning Presidential Palace is a must for anyone interested in art and architecture.
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi – the museum is not huge but contains some very important artefacts. On the whole, it feels like a manageable sampler collection of Earth’s history and culture and is great for teenagers eager to learn more.
  • Qasr Al Hosn – often thought of as the birthplace of the UAE, this coral stone fort and cultural centre is well worth a visit. As well as an interactive museum, there’s the opportunity to get hands-on with some local crafts, take part in a coffee-drinking ceremony at the adjacent House of the Artisans, and see mesmerising traditional performances.
live shows at qasr al hosn
A warm welcome for tourists at Qasr al Hosn, a great place to learn more about the city’s history

Hot/Rainy Day Retreats in Abu Dhabi For Teens

There are some classic indoor retreats in Abu Dhabi. While most teens have no doubt outgrown the typical soft plays, there’s an abundance of indoor arcades and action areas that will keep your older kids busy.

Escape Rooms

A growing trend in the UAE and indeed, around the world is trying to find your way out of an escape room. There are a number of Escape rooms in Abu Dhabi. Some are much scarier than others!

Prison Island is the most family-friendly in Abu Dhabi Mall, whereas Dark Room and Haunted Activity may be a bit too scary for most teenagers and a fair few mums and dads! Note that age restrictions do apply.

Cinemas

Who doesn’t love catching the latest movie with oodles of popcorn and lashings of soda? In Abu Dhabi, you can take the cinema experience to the max.

There are cinemas in every shopping Mall, but the likes of Yas Mall and the Galleria Mall contain plush multiplexes with some truly unique cinema experiences.

Vox cinema’s ‘Theatre’ offers fully reclining seats in private booths and the opportunity to enjoy a three-course a la carte meal whilst you watch the film. For more information about Theatre, click here.

Arcades & VR

Gone are the days when your sproglett wants to jump around in ball pits, but most teenagers are still partial to a few arcade games. Many ‘play centres’ around Abu Dhabi contain soft play for younger children and a gaming zone for tweens and teens.

The newly opened Pixoul Gaming in Al Qana offers a unique new experience for esports lovers, whilst there are often eSport tournaments at various venues around the city.

Orange Hub is another popular indoor choice for teenagers, found in Al Wadha Mall. They have a variety of VR and arcade games.

Zero Latency VR is another to get on your shortlist. Open to over 12’s , this is one of the biggest and best VR experiences in Abu Dhabi, found in Galleria Mall, Al Maryah Island.

Gaming Cafes

For a more cerebral approach to gaming, head to one of Abu Dhabi’s board game cafes, where you can find a huge selection of board and card games. Play as a family, or perhaps find some new board-game crazy friends to play with.

One of the best game cafes is Table Top Tavern, located near Sheikha Fatima Park. As well as board games, you’ll find lots of tasty treats, including a whole host of cakes and shakes.

Get into a good book

Abu Dhabi Children’s Library is designed for children up to the age of 14. While many areas are aimed at younger children, there is an awesome studio space where teens can record their own podcasts, do some coding, or make their own movies.

The library houses thousands of books in English, Arabic, and other languages and hosts a variety of arts and crafts workshops. To learn more, click here.

Unique Dining Experiences For Teens in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is full of unique dining experiences, and there is plenty for your cuisine-loving teen to enjoy. Here are just a few ways to satisfy your teen foody.

Experience gold-plated luxury at the Emirates Palace

Head to Le Cafe at the Emirates Palace for an ice cream or cake topped with real gold leaf. There are lots of delicious treats to choose from in the Parisian-style patisserie.

There’s also a full breakfast and lunch menu to choose from. If you stop by around lunchtime, maybe your teen can be tempted by their gourmet camel burger… For reservations, click here.

Take Afternoon Tea

Inspired by the traditional British ‘high tea’, afternoon tea is big in Abu Dhabi. Who wouldn’t be tempted by the chance to spend the afternoon away with lots of delicate little sandwiches and finely crafted pastries?

There’s no shortage of afternoon tea venues to choose from, but one that has the wow factor takes place at The Observation Deck in the Conrad Hotel. Located on the 74th floor of the iconic Etihad Towers, the Observation Deck offers 360° views of the city and Arabian Gulf.

To learn more about the best afternoon tea venues in Abu Dhabi, click here.

Brunch the Abu Dhabi Way

When we talk about brunch in Abu Dhabi, we don’t mean a late-morning combination of breakfast and lunch. Oh, no, Brunch in Abu Dhabi is so much more than that.

From 1 to 4 p.m. on a Saturday, restaurants across the city are transformed into lavish banqueting zones. Here, you can enjoy an unlimited buffet with a whole host of international delicacies.

There are stunning starters, tasty main courses and delectable desserts. Some brunches are famed for their amazing cheese rooms, whilst others are favoured for their live cooking stations or entertainment.

For a round-up of the best family-friendly brunches in Abu Dhabi, take a look at this article, however, we think that teens would love the following, more grownup brunches:

  • Garage at The W Hotel, Yas Island. A cool yet fancy brunch with views over the race track. A booking on race days really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
  • Saadiyat Beach Club, Saadiyat Island. Promising an array of delicious dishes in a chilled-out environment, Saadiyat Beach Club is the perfect place for a leisurely Saturday.
  • Amerigos – Low on cost but high on fun, the Amerigos brunch is great for teens with a love of Mexican food.
  • Central – Arguably the best teen food in town! This brunch isn’t all-you-can-eat, but it does include unlimited soft drinks and game credit for the venue’s many arcade games. It also includes live entertainment and the chance to do a spot of bowling!

We hope you and your teens will enjoy yourselves in Abu Dhabi, but note that the legal drinking age in the UAE is 21. There are strict laws regarding alcohol consumption and inappropriate behaviour. Make sure you and your teens know the rules before you travel.

You can find out more here about UAE’s alcohol laws.

We have a complete guide to family-friendly dining in Abu Dhabi here.

More for Your Teens to Know Visiting Abu Dhabi

If you are new to Abu Dhabi and the Middle East region, here are a few things for your teens to keep in mind:

Modesty is required in your wardrobe choices. Whilst the city is becoming a lot more liberal with Western-style clothing, there are some dress code pointers for teens in Abu Dhabi to be aware of:

  • A full head covering is not required for non-Muslim girls unless you are entering religious buildings and certain government buildings.
  • Bathers and bikinis are permitted in the right setting but don’t forget to be sun-smart too.
  • Away from the beach/resort setting, avoid short-shorts, transparent clothing and anything that leaves little to the imagination. Shoulders and knees covered is a very loose rule for when you’re out and about sightseeing, but teens should feel free to dress to the weather.
  • Don’t forget hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and a good dose of deodorant!

You can find a complete packing list for your trip to Abu Dhabi here.

Also, just a reminder for your teens to keep their behaviour in check too; no profanities, rude gestures, or offensive sloganed t-shirts. Petty crime is almost unheard of, but do take sensible precautions and keep an eye on everyone’s belongings.

Unfortunately, some men do tend to stare at girls/women in the UAE – usually harmless, but another reason to remind your teen girls of sensible clothing choices for the region.

It will pay to brush up on all the do’s and don’ts in Abu Dhbai before your visit, just to make sure you’re all keeping on the right side of the law


And That’s a Wrap!

There really is no shortage of activities and experiences to keep your teen happy in Abu Dhabi. This list isn’t exhaustive, and you may find many other varied and exciting places to have fun.

Do let us know if you find something that your tween or teen thinks we should really have on our list!

You can find our choice of the best family-friendly hotels you can say at in Abu Dhabi over here.

Compiled with the assistance of our writing team’s own tweens and teens who have grown up in the UAE capital, all hand-picked, tried, tested and teen-approved!


Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi

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Feature image supplied from Yas Waterworld.

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