Abu Dhabi continues to strive towards being seen at the cultural centre of the Middle East. Opened in November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has quickly moved to the top of many international visitors “must-see” list when stopping in the UAE. Our editor Keri Hedrick has compiled this guide for you to plan your visit to this spectacular new attraction.
In this post we will cover:
- What to expect at the Louvre Abu Dhabi (even for the non-art enthusiast)
- Is the Louvre Abu Dhabi kid-friendly
- Important things to know when planning your visit
- How to get to the Louvre from Abu Dhabi and Dubai
- What else to expect on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi
You can learn more about visiting Abu Dhabi and the UAE, including practical visa information, safety, dress code and much more on our UAE with Kids homepage.
What to expect at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
So is this really a cultural masterpiece not to be missed on your UAE itinerary?
I will put my hand straight up and say I’m not an art fanatic. More a passive interest and an appreciation for history and beautiful things – so please don’t hold me to bear on my critiquing skills!
Based on Saadiyat Island – a low lying island adjacent to the main island of Abu Dhabi city – a new Cultural District is emerging. The Louvre is one of many ambitious projects set to transform this Middle East city. Marked by its giant white domed roof it is distinctly modern, eye-catching and intriguing building.
Arriving mid-morning we had no problem with ticketing and fairly immediate entry (though I’d recommend you do purchase online in advance if you will be visiting during peak UAE visitor times, eg weekends and winter & Easter break).
Describing itself as an art and humanitarian museum, your journey through the Louvre Abu Dhabi begins in the Great Vestibule. From here you are then walked through numbered galleries. Each transports you through different periods of human history, telling its own story that links smoothly to the next. From the first villagers, the great civilisations and empires, the impact of religion then the growth of trade routes, wealth, worldly perspective and modern art.
To my amateur eye – it was a marvellous journey and experience. You can take the galleries at entirely your own pace, following along with the written commentary (each piece is described in English, French and Arabic). Alternatively, headsets with more detailed audio guides are available, or you may want to be part of an organised tour.
I felt it seamlessly covered different cultures, religions and mediums. There are paintings yes, but there are many sculptures, tapestries and artefeacts that help guide you through the journey. The use of light and space was beautiful.
The building itself is as much an artwork as the gallery displays. Light and water interplay under the huge domed roof where your journey through time ends in the magnificent terraces. Whether intentional or not – the metal roof groans and creeks in a haunting beautiful way, only adding to the magic of the experience.
After your journey through the main galleries, there is a special exhibit gallery, a children’s museum, auditorium, bookshop and eatery area. Some parts of the museum look to still be closed, such as the restaurant and rooftop terrace. It also looks like there’s potential to arrive at the museum by boat in future with a stunning harbourfront in the making.
Top tips for visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Due to temperature control needed inside the museum, even in the peak of summer, you will probably want a light jacket or scarf/wrap with you to keep warm.
- You could cover most of the museum in one hour, but including a lunch stop and time to admire the buildings, I would allow 2.5 hours even for the mild enthusiast.
- Check your opening times (more below!) and note closed on a Monday.
- If you are hard of reading, you may want to take up the self-guided audio sets. My elderly parents struggled with signage being down too low and small, this would have immensely helped them.
- There are plenty of seats dotted between the galleries for those that feel they need a rest, but we found toilets seemed to be few and far between.
Sign up to Little City Trips for a great guide on how to visit museums and grown-up attractions with kids in their City Survival Kit
Is the Lourve Abu Dhabi kid-friendly?
I had the pleasure of enjoying my first experience to the Louvre kid-free. And would I return with them? Probably not.
They do have a Children’s Museum separate to the main museum complex that you will come to at the end of your tour of the main museum. Designed for 6 to 12-year-olds, it includes additional interactive displays in English & Arabic.
On a Friday and Saturday 15.30, they run a “My First Visit” tour for families, as well as running a weekend art program.
My 8-year-old daughter has attended as part of a school excursion and even as a junior arts and crafts fan, she sadly did not rave at all about her experience. Perhaps their tour on that day was not appropriately pitched for the age group – or let’s be honest – a journey through humanity is a fairly deep topic and they are simply not ready for this yet at 8 years old. The vast majority of Abu Dhabi parents we have spoken with about this agree.
In my honest opinion, it’s not the best place for children. The main museum will not hold their attention for long and only older, more curious children are likely to be engaged for any period of time with the Children’s Museum. There are no child-minding options, so I would suggest this is part of your visit to Abu Dhabi you will need to plan around in balancing family needs.
Important information to know planning your visit to the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Opening hours for the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Tue/Wed & Sat/Sun 10am to 8pm (last entry 7.30pm)
Thu/Fri 10am to 10pm (last entry 9.30pm)
Admission pricing for the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Standard Admission Ticket 63AED ($17USD)
Concessions 31.5 AED ($8.50USD)
This includes UAE teachers, young adults 13-22 years, UAE military
Complimentary tickets for children under 13, Journalists, disabled, Louvre Art Club Members
Information correct at time of writing October 2018
Meals at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
At present, there are two dining options. You can use the “Grab and Go” cafe if you’d prefer to sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the waterfront views, or there is a full table service meal Cafe.
The Art Lounge rooftop should reopen soon for the winter season and a restaurant is due to open within the main museum complex.
Reading companions for your visit
How to get to the Louvre from Abu Dhabi
The Louvre sits on Saadiyat Island which is only a stone’s through away from the main Abu Dhabi island – in fact, you may not even notice as you cross around the city how many waterways and bridges there are!
- There is free covered parking on site as well as a paid valet service.
- Taxi’s are plentiful to and from the venue. If you are seeking a taxi between the Louvre and the cities other main cultural attraction, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque you can expect this to cost about 50AED.
- Public Bus Route 94 can be taken from the central bus station.
- The Louvre is included on the Big Bus Hop-on-hop-off Abu Dhabi Green Route.
You can easily reach Saadiyat Island from all other parts of the city, though the closest places to stay are the luxury resorts actually on Saadiyat Island – The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas, and Saadiyat Rotana Resort& Villas.
Note none of these are within walking distance, you will be relying on cars and other transport, at present the Louvre remains a standalone building.
Following the E12 highway along the city’s outer islands, you are only 15 minutes from Yas Island with its multiple theme parks and entertainment as well as hotel plaza. The airport is about 25 minutes away – it is possible to squeeze a visit in during an airport layover.
How to get to the Louvre Abu Dhabi from Dubai
Visitors staying in Dubai can look to visit the Louvre in Abu Dhabi as a day trip.
If you are self-driving take the E11/E10 for approximately 1 hour from Downtown Dubai, then take the E12/Yas Island exit. Follow the signs from the E12.
If you would prefer not to drive, here are some tour companies that offer Dubai to Abu Dhabi day trips including the Louvre:
What else is to come on Saadiyat Island?
The Saadiyat Island Cultural District is an ambitious project. The original master plan included a Guggenheim Museum and the Zayed National Museum, as well as a Maritime Museum and Arts Centre with opera house. Various setbacks saw the Louvre opening pushed back by several years and other projects remain on pause.
Manarat Al Saadiyat was the first cultural offering to open on the island and included a display of the master project of what was to come and many temporary exhibits. It is still a culture and arts centre and holds many workshops, performances and film viewings. There is a good family-friendly eatery here, FANR Restaurant.
What you will find on Saadiyat Island is a string of luxury beachside resorts along some of the most beautiful soft white sands of the Arabian Gulf, as well as home to hawksbill turtles that can be seen during the breeding season.
Save this for later
Have you visited the Louvre in Abu Dhabi? What were your highlights or top tips for families?
Researched and written by our editor Keri Hedrick, an avid traveller, writer and mum of 3 based in the UAE. You can see more of Keri’s regional and overseas adventures with kids on Instagram. This article is not sponsored or endorsed by any of the businesses mentioned but does contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission.