Last updated: 07/05/2022
Check out this very complete post to enjoy the best that Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has to offer! Important information, attractions, accommodation tips, restaurants, where to buy and much more!
THE CITY OF ABU DHABI
The United Arab Emirates is a country made up of 7 Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. Abu Dhabi is the largest of all emirates (about 87% of the country's total area) and its capital is the city of Abu Dhabi, which is the second most populous in the country with just over 1.5 million inhabitants. In addition to being the capital of the emirate, the city of Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates.. The city of Abu Dhabi is on the southeastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, adjacent to the Persian Gulf.
Most of the city and the Emirate reside on the mainland connected to the rest of the country. Abu Dhabi houses local and federal government offices and is the seat of the UAE government and the Supreme Petroleum Council. The city is home to the President of the United Arab Emirates who is a member of the Al Nahyan family. The city is the political and industrial center of the country, and an important cultural and commercial center.
A LITTLE OF HISTORY…
The area around Abu Dhabi is full of archaeological evidence of historical civilizations, such as the Umm an-Nar culture, which dates back to 3000 BC The Bani Yas Bedouins were the most important tribe in this region. The oldest family is the Nahyan, which currently rules Abu Dhabi. As for the origin of the city's name, “Abu” means father in Arabic, and “Dhabi” is the Arabic word for gazelle. Abu Dhabi means "Father of the Gazelle". It is believed that this name arose from the large number of gazelles in the area and also from a folktale involving Shakhbut bin Dhiyab al Nahyan, who ruled the Emirate of Abu Dhabi between 1793 and 1816.
Before the discovery of oil reserves, one of Abu Dhabi's biggest businesses was the pearl trade. In the mid-1930s, with the decline of the pearl trade, interest in the region's oil possibilities grew. Abu Dhabi's rapid development and urbanization, along with huge oil and gas reserves and production and a relatively high average income, have turned Abu Dhabi into a large developed metropolis.
WHEN TO GO TO ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate, with blue skies and sunny days most of the time. THE best time to visit Abu Dhabi is between april and may or from september to october. The spring and autumn seasons provide for nicer weather, fewer tourists and reasonably priced hotel rates. O summer is totally inadvisable because the temperatures are really high and the climate is extremely dry. During this period, sandstorms occur intermittently.
As tourists avoid this season, hotel prices tend to drop a lot. O Winter (from December to March) it is more humid and cold, not extreme, with an average temperature around 19ºC. this season is High season for tourism, as the temperatures are milder and the beaches are usually full of tourists. On average, January is the coldest month of the year, while August is the hottest. We were there during the winter, in February, and we had excellent days, with sun and a pleasant temperature, and breeze. At night, we needed to wear a warm blouse to keep warm because of the cold wind.
HOW TO GO FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CENTER
Built in 1982, Abu Dhabi Airport is located just over 30 km east of the city centre. It consists of 3 terminals (Terminal 1 – divided between 1A and 1B; Terminal 2 and Terminal 3). While over 30 airlines offer flights to over 60 different countries, most flights from the airport are from Etihad Airways, the second largest airline in the UAE after Emirates.
The main ways to get from Abu Dhabi Airport to the center are:
- CAR RENTAL: There is no doubt that the best way to get around Abu Dhabi is by car due to the distances between attractions, high temperatures, among other factors. There are several car rental companies at Dubai Airport. To compare the values of the main car rental companies in Dubai and check the best deals, visit the RentCars, our partner, website where we usually make our car reservations when we travel.
- BUS: The Department of Transport offers five bus routes from the airport in Abu Dhabi that run 24 hours a day, including lines A1 and A2, which lead to the city centre. Etihad Airways also offers a shuttle bus service from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Al Ain and Downtown Dubai. It is planned that, in the future, the new airport terminal will be connected to the future Abu Dhabi Metro (still no date for opening).
- TAXI / UBER / CAREEM: In addition to taxi services, the Uber is also available in Abu Dhabi, as is the subsidiary careem, based in Dubai and present in more than 15 countries in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
- TRANSFER: There are several private and group transfer service options available in Abu Dhabi. Check out some of the options below.
HOW TO DRESS AND BEHAVE IN ABU DHABI
The UAE is a Muslim country and, although more “modern”, it still has some important rules of conduct that are often stricter in Abu Dhabi than in Dubai. See some recommendations below:
- In Abu Dhabi, it is recommended to dress more sparingly, but you don't have to wear typical clothes or walk around cloaked. Avoid see-through, very short, tight, low-cut, sleeveless and bare-bellied clothing. Even men should avoid wearing tank tops. Avoid clothing with messages that may be considered offensive by locals. In the month of Ramadan, it is best to dress more conservatively.
- To visit the mosques, women must cover their heads with a scarf (hiding their hair), wear a long skirt or baggy pants that do not mark the body, and cover their arms. Only the face and hands may be visible.
- Tattoos are also not very welcome and locals can look “crooked” if one is too extravagant.
- Consuming alcoholic beverages can be considered a crime if it is done outside bars and hotels that have a license for this purpose. Don't take any chances.
- Avoid speaking loudly or doing anything that could be considered a riot or disturbance of order by local authorities. Pointing with the index finger can also be considered offensive. Avoid making hand signals.
- Photographing locals in traditional dress without permission should also be avoided as it can be considered offensive and even criminal. There are also places where photography is prohibited, including palaces, embassies, government and military buildings. Respect local rules.
- Disrespecting religious beliefs is considered offensive and may result in imprisonment. Avoid making signs, swearing or making a comment that could be considered disrespectful.
ECONOMY TIP: EXPLORER PASS
The Explorer Pass is our savings tip in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This is a pass that gives you up to 35% off when compared to buying separately tickets for several Abu Dhabi attractions, including the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, the top of Burj Khalifa, Aquaventure Waterpark, and more. The pass is instantly received to use on mobile and you can use it in 1 day or you have up to 60 days to use it. If you buy and something unexpected happens, you can cancel the pass up to 24 hours in advance to get a full refund of your purchase. You can buy the pass to enter 3, 4, 5 or 7 attractions of your choice for free and it starts at AED 686.85. To know all the details and buy, click here. Below, check out the list of attractions included:
Tours and Cruises
• Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Tour: 1-Day Ticket • Dubai Desert Safari and BBQ Dinner • Dubai Morning Desert Safari • Abu Dhabi Morning Desert Safari • Dubai Marina Dhow Dinner Cruise • Dinner Cruise Dubai Creek Dhow • Abu Dhabi Yas Island Dhow Dinner Cruise • Dubai Marina Sunset Dinner Cruise • Abu Dhabi Yas Island Dhow Sightseeing Cruise • Dubai Creek Dhow Sightseeing Cruise • Dubai Marina Dhow Sightseeing Cruise • Speedboat Ride • Palm Jumeirah Kayak Tour by SeaYou • 60-minute Explorer Tour • 90-minute Sunset Sensation Tour • Dubai Opera Tour • AIN Dubai – Day Ticket
Theme parks and rides
• Aquaventure Water Park at Atlantis the Palm • Motiongate™ Dubai • Legoland® Dubai • BOLLYWOOD PARKS™ Dubai • Ski Dubai – Snow Classic • IMG Adventure Worlds • Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi • Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi • KidZania Dubai • KidZania Abu Dhabi • Skydiving iFly Dubai Indoor • Ekart Zabeel • Legoland® Water Park
Landmarks and other experiences
• Qasr Al Watan • Arabic Culinary Experience at Al Hallab Restaurant • Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis The Palm • Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo – Explorer Experience • 1001 Desert “4X4 Quad Bike” Adventure Tour • Camel Ride in Abu Dhabi • Stand Up Paddle Class by SeaYou • Dubai Ice Rink • Burj Khalifa
FOOTBALL STADIUMS IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi has become famous in recent years for hosting international football competitions organized by FIFA (see our experience in the post Club World Cup 2021: Our saga to Abu Dhabi). There are several stadiums in the city, but the main ones can be found below:
- Al Nahyan Stadium: Built in 1995, this stadium has the capacity to 15 thousand people and was one of the headquarters of the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup. We were at the stadium in February 2022 watching the match between Palmeiras vs Al-Ahly, from Egypt.
- Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium: This stadium is where the Al Jazeera team send your matches. Its original capacity was 15,000 people, but it has been expanded over the years and currently has 37.5 thousand seats. It hosted the 2019 Asian Cup and most recently the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, including the final between Chelsea vs Palmeiras, which we had the opportunity to see live.
- Zayed Sports City Stadium: Built in 1979 and renovated in 2009, this is the largest stadium in the UAE with 45,000 seats. It is represented on the AED 200 note. The stadium hosted the 1996 and 2019 Asian Cups, and the 2017 and 2018 FIFA Club World Cups, including, in 2017, the final between Real Madrid and Gremio and, in 2018, between Real Madrid x Al-Ain, from the United Arab Emirates.
WHAT TO DO IN ABU DHABI
All attractions, tips and suggestions from this post have been placed on the interactive map below to help you organize your trip in the best possible way. Here you will find tips for restaurants and shops (in red), tips for accommodation (in black), main football stadiums (in navy blue). The attractions are divided into 4 areas with different colors: corniche (in blue), mosque and surroundings (in purple), Saadiyat Island & Al Mina (in orange) and Yas Island (in green). Then, see details of each of the attractions, important information and tips.
>> DAY 1: CORNICHE + MOSQUE AND SURROUNDINGS
Start your visit to Abu Dhabi by exploring the region of corniche, an 8km beachfront area that includes parks, beaches, bike paths, restaurants, beautiful views and attractions. Another region, a little further from the center, is home to the most famous mosque in the United Arab Emirates, the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
1. CORNICHE ROAD, PARKS & BEACHES
Corniche Road, also known as The Corniche, is an 8km long avenue that includes boardwalks, bike paths, restaurants, cafes, parks, beaches, playgrounds and much more. Considered the heart of Abu Dhabi, there are also several shopping centers in the surroundings and many interesting options for accommodation. Before the 1970s, Corniche was a beach, where dhows (typical wooden boats) and ships used to anchor and transport cargo or people. Between 2002 and 2004, the Corniche area was reinvigorated and expanded and some Abu Dhabi landmarks were demolished in the process. Corniche starts near Al Mina and continues to the region where the Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers are located.
Along the way, it passes through the following locations:
Among the main public parks in the Corniche region, we can mention: Heritage Park, Promotinal Park, Formal Park, The Lake Park, Urban Park, Abu Dhabi City Corniche Park, Family Park 2, Sheikha Fatima Park and other smaller ones. The parks are home to green areas and some include trees, palm trees, flowers, fountains, artwork, a children's playground, among other attractions.
Abu Dhabi Beach and Corniche Beach – Soft white sand beaches with very pleasant turquoise waters, overlooking Al Lulu Island, an island just in front of the Corniche. Access is via seaside boardwalks with walkways, manicured gardens, and benches overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Bear in mind that Abu Dhabi is more conservative than Dubai, so wearing more modest bathing suits is recommended.
The beach area is 2 km long and is divided into three sections: Al Sahil (Gate 4, free entrance to the public beach) is perfect for singles and larger groups; Gate 2 is ideal for families and has its own quiet area; Gate 3 is also great for families and kids. The last two beaches are protected with a fence. Admission is AED 10 for adults and AED 5 for children. Showers, changing rooms and cabanas are available, sun loungers and umbrellas can be rented for a fee of AED 25. A lifeguard is on duty until sunset.
Also, you can have fun renting a bike at Fun Ride Sports (4 places to rent - AED 30 per hour for adults and AED 20 for children) to ride the bike paths, walk the pedestrian mall or enjoy the free sports facilities, including five volleyball courts, two soccer fields and three soccer fields. games. Take the opportunity to go snorkelling or rent a boat to tour the region. There are over 1,100 free parking spaces within 5 minutes of the beach.
Opened in 2018, the “Founder’s Memorial” is a place to learn more about the late leader and first president of the UAE Sheikh Zayed, through nature, art, stories and multimedia experiences in a Visitor Center. The centerpiece of the memorial is a work of art called “The Constellation“, a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed that can be viewed in a variety of ways from various vantage points around the memorial. It was designed so that at night the shapes shine “like stars, evoking the timelessness of Sheikh Zayed’s vision as a guiding light for the people of the UAE”.
There is free tours available in English and Arabic and last around 30 minutes. To schedule, you must send an email to email@example.com or go to the Welcome Centre. There is also free parking available which can be accessed from 18th Street. (Hours: daily from 10 am to midnight | Admission: free).
3. ETIHAD TOWERS & OBSERVATION DECK AT 300
Etihad Towers is a complex of buildings, built between 2006 and 2011, in the district of Al Ras Al Akhdar. Every detail was handpicked and worked to perfection from materials, details and finishes, to spatial planning, lighting and ambience. The residential towers comprise a total of 885 apartments with 1 to 5 bedrooms. The complex also has a selection of luxury stores with fashion items, jewelry, watches and accessories, as well as several restaurants and cafes. The complex houses a convention center and a large ballroom for over 2,200 people. A curiosity is that the towers were used as a filming location for the feature “Fast and Furious 7″ (2015). The Etihad Towers comprise 5 towers:
- TOWER 1: 69 floors | 277 meters high | Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers residences and hotel
- TOWER 2: 80 floors | 305 meters high | residences | 2nd tallest building in Abu Dhabi | there is an observation deck on the 75th floor which is accessible from the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers hotel
- TOWER 3: 60 floors | 260 meters high | offices
- TOWER 4: 66 floors | 234 meters high | residences
- TOWER 5: 61 floors | 218 meters high | residences
At the 74th floor of Tower 2 stays the Observation Deck at 300, a good choice for afternoon tea, drinks (non-alcoholic) and light meals that, in addition, offers a 360º view of the Abu Dhabi skyline. The café is famous for its afternoon tea, offering impressive blends of tea and freshly ground coffee served with sweet and savory treats. Check the menu in this link and make your reservation here.
- Address: Corniche W St, Etihad Towers – Tower 2 – Floor 74, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: daily from 12pm to 8pm | happy hour Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 7pm
- Entrance: AED 95 (voucher with credit of AED 55 to consume on site) | Afternoon tea is AED 250 per person
Emirates Palace is a luxury 5 star hotel construction began in 2001 and the hotel opened in 2005. The hotel's design is a blend of arabesque style islamic architectural elements such as balance, geometry, proportion, rhythm and hierarchical emphasis, along with modern design and construction methods. The hotel's main building spans over a kilometer from wing to wing, with gardens spread over 100 hectares. The central dome, located 72.6 meters above the ground, features elaborate geometric patterns and 114 smaller domes are scattered throughout the building. The building's color was inspired by different shades of sand found in the Arabian desert.
Emirates Palace consists of 394 residences, including 92 suites and 22 residential suites and most are decorated with gold, mother-of-pearl and crystals. The main building houses a wide marble floor and a large dome decorated in gold. The building also has 1,002 chandeliers, the largest weighing 2.5 tons. The property is home to 2 spas, a 1.3 km long private beach, landscaped pools, a marina, 2 helipads, a ballroom that accommodates up to 2500 people, more than 40 meeting rooms, several luxury shops and international restaurants. . Since 2020, the hotel is managed by the Mandarin Oriental group.
- Address: W Corniche Rd, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- How to visit: The best way to get to know the hotel is staying there or using the hotel spa. But, the rates are not usually cheap, which can make this mission a little difficult. If you are not a guest, it is possible to visit only the free common areas, such as the main hall. However, it is also possible to appreciate the architectural wonder of the Emirates Palace with a private guided tour. The tour explores the hotel's palatial suites, beautiful ballrooms and more. Tickets cost 150 AED. Contact here to inform your email and number of people so that they can organize the tour.
Built between 2010 and 2017 to house dignitaries and leaders, the presidential palace boasts more than 1 million square meters of intricate stonework, as well as numerous decorative elements in the style of the Mughal era. Prior to its opening in 2019, Qasr Al Watan was used only for official purposes, mainly hosting foreign state leaders, and for meetings of the country's supreme council and federal cabinet. Even after being opened to the public, the palace continues to be used for these purposes. Visitors can explore a number of facilities and attractions during their visit, including extensive gardens, grand hall, visitor center, courtyard and more. In the evening, a sound and light show brings the building's exterior to life and celebrates the culture and heritage of the UAE.
- Address: Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: vary according to the period of the year – check in this link
- Entrance: AED60 adults | AED30 (4 to 17 years old)
Emirates Heritage Club is a reconstruction of a traditional desert village that features a range of events and exhibitions. This is a perfect spot to learn more about traditional aspects of the desert lifestyle and delve into a time capsule that features an old-world souk, mosque and campground of pre-modern UAE. A traditional oasis village that offers a glimpse into the emirate's past, where you can shop, discover artifacts and watch artisans making pottery, blowing glass and weaving fabric on a loom. Managed by the Emirates Heritage Club, this village is also home to public workshops where artisans demonstrate traditional skills such as locksmithing, pottery, weaving and yarn spinning. Also check out the village's small spice shop which offers a variety of dried herbs, handmade soaps and lots of souvenirs.
- Address: Abu Dhabi Theater Rd, Corniche, Near Marina Mall, Breakwater Rd, Al Marina, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: daily from 9 am to 3 pm
- Entrance: free
7. MUSEUMS, GALLERIES AND ART CENTERS
Built in 1761, the Qasr Alhosn (or Qasr al-Hosn) is the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi city. Known as the “White Fort” or “Old Fort”, it was erected as a watchtower to defend the only freshwater well in Abu Dhabi. The tower was later expanded into a small fort in 1793 by the then ruler, Shakhbut bin Dhiyab Al Nahyan, and became the permanent residence of the ruling Sheikh. The tower took its present form after a major extension in the late 1930s. It is currently part of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation and is partially open to the public. The fort houses a museum that displays artifacts and images representing the country's history, as well as a variety of weapons, used throughout the region's history. Annually, the Qasr Alhosn Festival takes place, an 11-day cultural event held on the grounds of the fort, which is open to the public during the festival, including some of the restricted areas and featuring live music and dance performances that showcase the Emirati's cultural heritage. United Arabs.
- Address: Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum St(2nd St), Al Hisn W3, Abu Dhabi
- Schedules: Saturday to Thursday from 10 am to 11 pm; Friday from 17:00 to 23:00
- Entrance: vary depending on the event - check here
Gallery with exhibitions and academic and contemporary classes in painting, sculpture and drawings. Black walls and exposed plumbing lend an industrial vibe, and the austere setting makes the vibrant art stand out. The space of a room has enough wall space for about a dozen works. Most of the works on display are by European artists.
- Address: Al Ain Tower, Khalidiya entrance through Costa Coffee, Abu Dhabi
- Schedules: Monday to Friday from 1pm to 7pm
- Entrance: free
Exclusive gallery featuring modern art by local and international artists, plus a Café and gift shop. It is a dynamic multifunctional art space that encourages the creation of art with local references, showcasing works by established, new Emirati and international artists.
- Address: Behind Al Bateen Mall, Al Bateen Area, Villa 15 Al Huwelat St, Abu Dhabi
- Schedules: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 11 am to 6 pm
- Entrance: free
Opened in late 2013 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, the UAE Currency Museum occupies a section of the ground floor of the Central Bank's headquarters in the city of Abu Dhabi. Containing a wide range of exhibits dating back to long before the country's union in 1971, the museum holds an assortment of paper banknotes, gold and silver coins that include historic Indian rupees as well as Saudi Arabian and Qatari Riyals.
- Address: King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St, Al Bateen W34, Abu Dhabi
- Schedules: Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm – pre-booking is required
- Entrance: free
This location is perfect for anyone looking to learn a little more about the life of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the United Arab Emirates affectionately known as the Father of the Nation. The museum is housed in a village that recalls the country's past, full of camels. A photo gallery of Sheikh Zayed and many visiting royals and regional and international dignitaries line the walls of the museum, which is also filled with personal memorabilia such as his hunting rifles. Taking center stage are the late president's beloved vehicles, gifts he has received from around the world, including stuffed lions.
- Address: Baynounah Street, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi
- Schedules: Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 2 pm | Friday from 8 am to 12 pm | closed on Saturdays and Sundays
- Entrance: free
>>> MOSQUE AND SURROUNDINGS
Built between 1996 and 2007, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is named after the late President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Its floral-designed courtyard measures approximately 17,000 m² and is considered the largest example of marble mosaic in the world. The mosque is formed by 4 minarets of 107 meters in height and 2 minarets of 89 meters in height and has a capacity for up to 41 thousand worshipers. Its decoration uses, in addition to the obvious white marble, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.
- Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street – 5th St, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Regular hours: Saturday to Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm | Friday from 9 am to 12 pm and from 3 pm to 10 pm
- Hours during Ramadan: Saturday to Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm and from 9 pm to 11:30 pm | Friday from 14:00 to 18:00 and from 21:00 to 23:30
- Entrance: free, but you need to book the time on the official website
9. MUSEUMS, GALLERIES AND ART CENTERS
Close to the mosque is a war memorial with three structures and a lake that opened in 2016. Its meaning is “Oasis of Dignity” and it is known for providing beautiful views of the Great Mosque. The memorial is the first war memorial in the UAE and documents the names of all those who were killed in the line of military duty. It is divided into 3 parts: the monument with its Leaning Pillars, a visitor center with exhibitions and a pavilion of honor.
O Visitor Center it is very informative, presenting seven virtues, which are specially honored by the memorial and the exhibition. From the visitor center, you first pass a smaller fountain and then head to the monument square, where some military parades are also held. The central part of the outdoor visit is, of course, the monument, which consists of 31 pillars. The Emirati troops' oath of allegiance is engraved on some of the tiles. From the monument, you go down to the Hall of Remembrance, where martyrs are honored with engravings.
- Address: 3rd St Khor, Khor Al Maqta'a, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Schedules: daily from 9 am to 10:45 pm
- Entrance: free
Islamic art center that has an extensive collection of exhibitions featuring unique pieces of Islamic art from across the Muslim world, including places like Egypt, Syria, Iran, India, Iraq, Kashmir and Russia. Among the items are: handmade rugs, silk fabrics and royal robes, jewelry, ceremonial objects, weapons, marble pieces, vases engraved with Arabic calligraphy and miniature paintings. It has a rooftop Café with panoramic views of the Emirates Palace hotel and the beautiful waters of the Arabian Gulf.
- Address: CFC4+9PF, Al Rawdah W68, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: daily from 10 am to 6 pm
- Entrance: free
⇒ ABU DHABI HISTORY MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM
Located within the beautiful Khalifa Park, not far from the Grand Mosque, is this museum and aquarium that offers fun for adults and children alike. This museum presents the story in diorama-style exhibits (three-dimensional artistic presentation) that depict pivotal moments in the city's development, from traditional desert life to pearl diving and the discovery of natural resources.
- Address: CFFC+6QH Zone 1, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: daily from 15:00 to 23:00
- Entrance: AED 7
>> DAY 2: SAADIYAT ISLAND & AL MINE + YAS ISLAND
On the second day, take the opportunity to visit places further from the center: Saadiyat Island, Al Mina and Yas Island. Saadiyat Island is a natural island that is becoming a cultural and tourist hub of Abu Dhabi, with many commercial, residential and leisure options. The island is estimated to be home to 8 museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2017. Home to Port Zayed, Al Mina is a housing and office community that is primarily known for its commercial maritime activities that include cargo transport, maintenance and other marina services. Part of Al Mina is connected to the main island of Abu Dhabi, giving the impression that it is an island. Yas Island is an island famous for its diverse entertainment options, including Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World, Yas Waterworld and the Yas Marina Circut, where the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix takes place.
>>> SAADIYAT ISLAND & AL MINE
10. MUSEUMS, GALLERIES AND ART CENTERS
Opened in 2017, this art museum located on Saadiyat Island is the result of a partnership between the governments of France and the United Arab Emirates. The museum combines spectacular architecture, the wealth of the permanent collection (thanks to loans from the Louvre Museum in Paris and other French museums) and the quality of the temporary exhibitions.
Works from all over the world are on display and it is already considered the most visited museum in the Arab world. The museum's permanent collection comprises around 700 works and groups of works from all eras and civilizations, from prehistoric times to the present day. Another 300 works are on loan from partner museums, with the Louvre lending 100 different masterpieces every year.
- Address: Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6:30 pm | closed on mondays
- Entrance: AED 63 – buy online in this link
Opened in 2009 as the area's first art and culture hub, Manarat Al Saadiyat is home to the annual Abu Dhabi art fair as well as a host of activities. It has a terrace for outdoor events, a café and restaurant, three galleries for temporary exhibitions, a photography studio, an art studio, a 250-seat auditorium and a gift shop. It also serves as a venue for comedy nights, drama workshops, sky watching, yoga classes, conferences, exhibitions, productions, lectures and film screenings throughout the year.
- Address: Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hwy, Al Saadiyat Island, Cultural District, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Address: daily from 10 am to 8 pm
This art gallery is located within the New York University Abu Dhabi facility. It is the first and only university gallery in the Gulf with a program of academic and experimental museum exhibitions. A second space, Project Space, located in The Arts Center, is a vital part of the Gallery's identity, serving as an exhibition laboratory for the university community and emerging artists and curators.
- Address:The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: Tuesday to Sunday from 12:00 to 20:00 (from 14:00 to 22:00 in Ramadan) | closed on mondays
- Entrance: free
11. SAADIYAT BEACH
Considered one of the best beaches in the region, Saadiyat Beach is a beach with a wide strip of white sand and turquoise waters with an excellent infrastructure with sun loungers, umbrellas, showers and toilets. On the beach there is a little bit of everything, from yoga classes, to activities involving water sports, including windsurfing, sailing. Access to the beach is possible via a wooden boardwalk and as a result the area is rich in native wildlife, including the endangered sea turtles that use the beach as a nesting site, protected by strict environmental measures and patrolled by specialized personnel who monitor the number of turtles.
12. DHOW HARBOUR
Adjacent to the Abu Dhabi Fish Market in the Al Mina region and across the street from the Corniche, Dhow Harbor is one of the oldest parts of Abu Dhabi and continues the fish trade tradition of earlier times. The site was developed as a free port for oil rig supply ships, buoy tugs as well as traditional Arab dhows (wooden boats) to stimulate active trade between Abu Dhabi and the Gulf countries, the Indian subcontinent, Africa Eastern and most of the Middle East. Currently, this is the starting point for many local cruises and sea tours of Abu Dhabi, as well as home to small restaurants which offer a variety of seafood specialties. The entire skyline of Abu Dhabi can be seen behind the boats behind the wooden dhows (typical boats) that recall times past.
Next to Dhow Harbor is the Warehouse 421 (Address: Zayed Port, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00), a modern cultural center for art and design with works by creative artists arranged in a chic industrial-style space. The center seeks to stimulate creative production across the region, working in collaboration with local, regional and international bodies.
>>> YAS ISLAND
13. AMUSEMENT PARKS
Three amusement parks are located on Yas Island: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.
Considered one of the largest indoor parks in the world, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the first theme park to be themed around Ferrari, the famous red luxury sports car company. shelters the Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world, with a speed of 240 km/h! This roller coaster was inspired by the legendary Italian Monza racetrack and accelerates to that speed in just 4.9 seconds using a hydraulic launch system. The park is divided into 5 areas: Welcome Plaza, Family Zone, F1 Zone, Italian Zone, Adventure Zone.
- Address: Yas Leisure Dr, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Access is from inside the Yas Mall, close to The Fountains)
- Schedules: vary throughout the year, generally from Wednesday to Saturday from 12:00 to 20:00 | confirm in this link
- Entrance: AED 295 adult | AED 230 child | free for children under 3 years old
Founded in 2018 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi is the first indoor theme park under the Warner Bros. The park features 29 state-of-the-art fun rides, interactive attractions for the whole family and unique live entertainment. The Warner Bros. World includes characters from important franchises from Warner Bros. studios, such as: Looney Tunes, DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera, among others. The Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is divided into 6 themed areas: Warner Bros. Plaza, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch, Cartoon Junction, Gotham City and Metropolis.
- Address: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: vary throughout the year, usually daily from 12pm to 8pm | confirm in this link
- Entrance: AED 295 adult | AED 230 child | free for children under 3 years old
Yas WaterWorld Abu Dhabi is a water park founded in 2013 that has 45 attractions, including rides and water slides, and a wide range of events and shows. The Yas Waterworld theme is based on an original story developed exclusively for the water park: The Legend of The Lost Pearl. Inspired by the culture and history of the Emirates, it follows the adventures of Dana, a young woman searching for a legendary pearl that, in the past, brought prosperity to her village. The pearl can be seen outside the park. All characters, attractions, shops and restaurants are also based on the story. This water park was developed reflecting traditional Arab architecture, resembling an Arab castle on the outside and a village on the inside.
- Address: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
- Schedules: vary throughout the year, usually daily from 12pm to 7pm | confirm on official site
- Entrance: AED 270 adult | AED 220 child | free for children under 3 years old
14. YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
Built between 2007 and 2009, with a seating capacity of up to 60,000 spectators, the Yas Marina Circuit has hosted the official Formula 1 races in Abu Dhabi since 2009. The circuit is located next to the Yas Island marina, possible to see the sea during the tests. It is considered one of the most modern circuits in the world, including a lighting system that allows for tests at night.
For speed lovers who are interested in getting to know the circuit up close, there are several tours and experiences available. Among the main ones are:
- One of the most sought after activities for having a lower cost is the Yas Marina Circuit Kartzone, which consists of a 15-minute go-kart experience. See all the details in this link.
- drive a Caterham Seven, a super light sports car produced by the British company Caterham Cars since 1973. See more information here.
- take the tour Yas Drift Taxi Chevrolet Passenger Experience, an experience in which you, as a passenger, are driven by professional drivers around the circuit. Make your reservation in this link.
- Drive a car Yas 3000 Formula, an experience in which the visitor receives all the racing equipment and technical tips from a professional to drive a Renault car. Check out all about the tour here.
- drive a Ferrari 458 GT, an experience for Ferrari lovers, where it is possible to drive up to 320 km/hour in a luxury car from the brand. see details here.
- drive a Polar Drift Sprint, consists of driving an off-road style vehicle that has a continuous variable transmission that is very easy to maneuver. see more details in this link.
- drive a Aston Martin GT4 it's an interesting experience to drive a luxury Aston Martin car around the circuit for about 20 minutes. Check more information here.
15. ON THE SEA: YAS BAY WATERFRONT & YAS BEACH
Yas Bay Waterfront is a beachfront destination located south of Yas Island that opened in December 2021. The site comprises a pier, two luxury hotels (Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island opened) and more than 20 restaurants, a cinema, a floating beach club, a creative business area, the Etihad Arena, a multipurpose arena for 18,000 people and residential areas (with schools, parks, skatepark and mosques). Take the opportunity to get to know the Cafe del Mare (a mix of restaurant and beach club) and the Pier 71, with many dining options.
Yas Beach (Yas Beach) is a wide stretch of white sand perfect for a rest by the sea. With an elegant infinity pool, private chalets and several bars and restaurants. Entrance to Yas Beach is free for hotel guests, but non-guests must pay a fee of AED 50 on weekdays (AED 25 for children) and AED 100 on weekends (AED 50 for children). Admission is free for children under 8 years old. Payment entitles you to the entrance ticket and a towel. To enter free of charge (and get a complimentary sun lounger), Yas Plaza hotel guests must collect a voucher at the hotel front desk and present it upon arrival at Yas Beach. The beach is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
TOURS IN ABU DHABI AND SURROUNDINGS
There are several tours and excursions to visit the main points of interest in Abu Dhabi. In addition to the famous hop-on hop-off bus, there are some tours that consist of day trips from Dubai and you can check out some options below:
- From Dubai: Abu Dhabi City Tour
- From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Private Tour with Qasr al Watan
- From Dubai: Guided Tour to Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Abu Dhabi
- From Dubai: 1Day Premium Sightseeing Tour to Abu Dhabi
- From Dubai: 1-Day Abu Dhabi Tour with Louvre and Mosque
- From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Tour with Ferrari World Ticket
- From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Tour with Royal Palace and Etihad Towers
There are also options for Abu Dhabi desert safari to have more typical experiences to know a little more about the local culture. Check out some of the options below:
WHERE TO EAT IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi has several options for all budgets and tastes. There are typical food restaurants, but also many western food places. Check out some options below:
- Cafe 302 – our experience here!
- Le Café (Coffee, international food, vegetarian options)
- Azura Panoramic Lounge (Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan options)
- The Third Place Cafe (Coffee, international food, vegetarian options)
- Coco Asia Restaurant (Asian food)
- Golden Spoon Vegetarian Restaurant (Indian, Asian, vegetarian)
- The Raw Place (juice store)
- Leen's WTC Mall (Mexican, Japanese, international food)
- Indian By Nature Restaurant (Indian food)
- Wild & The Moon – Wow experience here!
- Indian By Nature Restaurant (Indian food)
- Pizza Di Rocco (pizza, Italian food)
- Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant (Indian, Asian, vegetarian)
- Stratos Revolving Lounge & Bar (Revolving restaurant and bar with European dishes, cocktails and views of Abu Dhabi)
- Market Kitchen (international food, cocktails)
- PJ O'Reilly's Irish Pub (bar, Irish pub, sandwiches, snacks)
MOSQUE AND SURROUNDINGS
- Bord Eau (French food)
- Sweet Greens Restaurant (healthy food, Italian, American)
- The Sportsman's Arms (bar, british, gastropub)
SAADIYAT ISLAND & AL MINE
- The Cheesecake Factory (traditional American network)
- Mekong Restaurant at Anantara Eastern Mangroves (Thai food)
- Nolu's Cafe (Afghan food, vegetarian and vegan options)
- aqua (international food)
- COYA Abu Dhabi (Peruvian food)
- LPM Restaurant & Bar (French food)
- PizzaExpress (traditional British network)
- Buddha-Bar Beach (bar, sushi, asian food)
- Sontaya South East Asian Restaurant (Thai food)
- Raclette Brasserie & Cafe (French, Swiss)
- Akiba Dori – Yas Bay (Japanese food)
- Dandana Gourmet Restaurant (Arabic, Lebanese, Mediterranean food)
- Nolu's Restaurant – Al Bandar (Afghan food, vegetarian and vegan options)
- boroughs (bar, cafe, pub)
- Cipriani (Italian food)
WHERE TO BUY IN ABU DHABI
The UAE is known for its large shopping centers and Abu Dhabi is full of them. There are from super modern shopping centers to more traditional places, called “souk” (or “souq”), traditional Arab markets.
MOSQUE AND SURROUNDINGS
- The Souk Qaryat Al Beri (shopping center with traditional Arabic style design)
- AlSeef Village Mall
- Mushrif Mall
SAADIYAT ISLAND & AL MINE
- The Galleria Al Maryah Island
- Shams Boutique
- Carpet Souk (carpet market)
- Yas Mall (Abu Dhabi's largest shopping mall)
WHERE TO STAY IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi has many accommodation options and they are mainly concentrated in the Corniche region. There are also some good options on Yas Island, for those who want to enjoy the parks and the motorsport circuit. In the Saadiyat Island region, there are several luxury resorts, which are good options for those who want to enjoy the beach.
- Le Méridien Abu Dhabi
- Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi
- Beach Rotana
- Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
- Royal Rose Hotel
- Corniche Hotel Abu Dhabi
- Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi
- Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche
- Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
- Bab AlQasr Hotel
- Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Residences Emirates Pearl
- Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
- Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana
- InterContinental Abu Dhabi
- The St. Regis Abu Dhabi
- Majlis Grand Mercure Residence Abu Dhabi – our experience here!
- Courtyard by Marriott World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi – our experience here!
- Ramada Abu Dhabi Corniche
- Hala Arjaan by Rotana, Deluxe Hotel Apartments
- Hawthorn Suites By Wyndham Abu Dhabi City Center
- Ramada by Wyndham Abu Dhabi Downtown
- Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi Downtown
- Crystal Hotel Abu Dhabi
MOSQUE AND SURROUNDINGS
SAADIYAT ISLAND & AL MARYAH ISLAND
- The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi
- Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas
- Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island – all inclusive
- Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel And Villas
- Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort
- Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island
- Rosewood Abu Dhabi
- The WB Abu Dhabi, Curio Collection By Hilton – Warner Bros Hotel
- W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island
- DoubleTree by Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island Residences
- Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island
- Yas Island Rotana Abu Dhabi
- Crowne Plaza Yas Island, an IHG Hotel
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island
- Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi – Yas Island
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Read more about the United Arab Emirates:
SCRIPT AND TIPS
- United Arab Emirates: What to do in Abu Dhabi – 2-Day Itinerary
- Yas Island: The incredible island of entertainment in Abu Dhabi
- Qasr Al Watan: The Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi
- The Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi
- Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: World's Largest Indoor Theme Park
- United Arab Emirates: Warner Bros. Theme Park. World Abu Dhabi
- United Arab Emirates: Accommodation at Grand Mercure Abu Dhabi
- Courtyard Hotel by Marriott World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi
SCRIPT AND TIPS
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