You might not picture Abu Dhabi when you think of a romantic holiday. But the city’s breathtaking natural landscapes, diverse wellness experiences and sophisticated luxury resorts make it a dazzling destination for couples and honeymooners.
Are you the kind of couple who likes to museum-hop or dine in award-winning city restaurants? Do you love to relax in the solitude of pristine places or prefer to bond over thrilling adventure experiences? Whatever your particular love language, Abu Dhabi does not disappoint.
Between Abu Dhabi’s 200 islands and 644km-long coastline, there are plenty of sun-drenched beaches. The private Nurai Island, a mere 15-minute boat ride away from the city, is ideal to escape the crowds.
This luxurious resort Nurai Island Resort is home to Nurai Beach Club. Here visitors can spend a day relaxing on the picturesque white sand beach. Swim in turquoise waters – and don’t miss those instagrammable ocean swings! A day pass includes access to the private beach, pool and spa, and speedboat transfers.
When you get hungry, choose from fresh seafood, pizza, Asian cuisine and more at five restaurants. Afterwards, unwind to the sound of waves while enjoying a couples’ massage at Nurai Spa.
And the best part? Every villa at the resort comes with a private temperature-controlled pool set on an outdoor terrace overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Whether you’re looking to celebrate a special occasion or to splurge on a luxurious stay with your significant other, the Emirates Palace offers a romantic setting that’s straight out of an Arabian fairytale.
First, there’s the location—scenic, yet close enough to the city’s main attractions. Set among lush manicured gardens, the property has a 1.3km private beach, two swimming pools and a marina.
Then, there’s the opulent design. The hotel’s central dome (one of 114) is made of gold, crystals and mother-of-pearl, and over a thousand chandeliers adorn the interior.
A stay here is certainly fit for royalty. Contemporary comforts and top-notch amenities meet Arabesque design in the spacious rooms and suites. A butler is available 24/7 to ensure every need is attended to.
Eight restaurants serve a variety of cuisines. Don’t miss the award-winning Chinese restaurant Hakkasan, beachfront BBQ Al Qasr and fine-dining Indian restaurant Martabaan by acclaimed chef Hemant Oberoi.
The luxurious Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort is built like a desert fortress. It stands among the golden dunes of Rub’ Al Khali or the Empty Quarter, the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world.
Bedouin design touches are seen in the carved wooden furniture, antiques and traditional carpets. But rooms and suites are not lacking in modern amenities. Private terraces offer sublime views of the surrounding desert. Pool villas come with private, temperature-controlled pools.
The resort can arrange desert drives, guided night walks, fat bike tours and sand skiing. The resort pool, tucked away among palms, is a great spot to cool off after a day of activities.
To appreciate the tranquillity of the desert and spend some alone time, book a private dune dinner on your Abu Dhabi holiday. Most operators include visits to a camel farm and dune bashing in a private 4x4 as an exciting introduction to the desert landscape.
Other optional activities might include a camel ride in the desert and a photo shoot (including Bedouin-style robes and headgear!).
Watch the sunset, then find yourself at a private majlis-style candlelit dinner for two, complete with floor cushions and rugs. Surrounded by tiki torches, enjoy a barbecued feast and smoke shisha under the starlit desert sky.
Abu Dhabi offers shoppers everything from vast shopping malls stocked with renowned international and regional luxury brands to souks (markets) selling one-of-a-kind handicrafts and traditional clothing. The opportunities are endless for those looking to loosen their purse strings.
At Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping mall, there are over 370 stores, nearly 60 restaurants and a multiplex cinema. For high-end purchases and private VIP room shopping experiences, visit Avenue at Etihad Towers. Here, brands such as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Versace showcase exclusive collections.
For a more cultural shopping experience, make your way to Al Ain to wander in Souk Al Zafarana. Browse beautifully embroidered robes, spices, incense or traditional coffee pots. At Souk Al Qattara, shop for locally-made handicrafts.
If your idea of the perfect date involves an element of adventure, make your way to the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. The venue for the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the circuit offers plenty of action-packed motorsport experiences.
Fulfil your racecar driver fantasies while driving a 3.0-litre V6 Formula Yas 3000 around the circuit and reach top speeds of 275km/h. Or enjoy a bit of healthy competition while on a karting session at Yas Kartzone. The 1km-long track boasts three configurations and challenging technical turns.
On Sir Bani Yas Island, just 8km off the western coast of Abu Dhabi, the Arabian Wildlife Park is a protected reserve. Conservation programs are at work to save endangered and extinct species.
Over 17,000 animals, including Arabian oryx, sand gazelles, spotted deer and giraffes roam freely on the island. Conservation efforts on the island extend to the indigenous flora and mangroves.
Hotels on the island can organize nature and wildlife drives by 4x4. You’ll tour the island’s landscape of wadis, savannah and grasslands, accompanied by well-informed safari guides.
Go horse riding on the beach, try mountain biking or go on guided walks. Watersports such as kayaking, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, diving and snorkelling are also available for thrill-seeking love birds.
A good night’s sleep is guaranteed in one of three luxurious resorts around Sir Bani Yas Island.
At the Desert Islands Resort and Spa, modern rooms and suites offer sea views, and villas come with private pools overlooking the beach. The beachfront villas at Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort nod to the country’s fishing heritage.
For a romantic experience par excellence, stay at Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort. Peacocks stop for a drink from your private pool and gazelles wander by your outdoor terrace in the safari-style villas located in the Arabian Wildlife Park.
Book a sunset golf session at the remarkably scenic ocean course at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Located on Saadiyat Island, the 18-hole Par 72 course is set against a stunning backdrop of saltwater lakes, dunes, white sand beaches and the Arabian Sea.
It’s suitable for players of all levels, with lessons available for those who want to improve their game.
Looking for a side-order of relaxation with your romance? Hotels in Abu Dhabi offer lavish spa treatments in luxurious ensuite couples’ treatment rooms. Often, they weave in a strong sense of place through the use of products made with desert sand, dates, coffee and rose oil.
At Emirates Palace Spa, the Royal Couples Hammam involves two hours of rigorous cleansing, exfoliating and hydrating in a private hammam, as well as time in the ice cave and Jacuzzi.
At Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort’s Anantara Spa, couples’ treatments involve foot rituals, body scrubs, massages, body wraps and a candle-lit, rose petal-strewn milk bath.
With its blissful blend of paradise beaches, date-worthy activities and the chance for one-of-a-kind romantic dinners beneath the desert sky, Abu Dhabi is a surprisingly perfect place for lovers.
Discover more about this beautiful city in our Rough Guides guidebooks. You might also want to see our list of where to stay in Abu Dhabi, or the best things to do with families in Abu Dhabi. Go on the trip of your dreams with our customisable tailor-made trip itineraries to the United Arab Emirates.
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