Learn of the 10 must do things in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with this guide. With its lovely green parks, many gardens and fantastic architecture reminiscent of a European city, it has something for everyone.
The city’s opulent shopping malls, luxury hotels and skyscrapers beckon visitors from around the world. There’s the amazing Abu Dhabi desert too, not to be forgotten! What’s really unique about Abu Dhabi is that it still holds on to its laidback, old-meets-new aura that’s truly charming. Here are 10 things that you absolutely must do while in Abu Dhabi, but this city’s delights aren’t limited to this list!
Related: UAE at a Glance
1. Sign Up For A Desert Safari!
Number one among the must do things in Abu Dhabi is experiencing the delights of the desert. A morning desert safari is great if you are an adrenaline junkie. You’ll get to enjoy dune bashing, quad biking, sand boarding, and on request, ATV and fat tire bike riding as well. You can ride the undulating dunes on camels and horses, and have a ball. If you sign up for an evening desert safari, there’s a fabulous dinner to enjoy, plus plenty of cultural entertainment, and a chance to enjoy the sunset and explore the red dunes under brilliant stars. There’s an Overnight Desert Safari on offer as well, which includes camping in the desert after the evening’s festivities.
2. Visit Qasr Al Watan
The grand Presidential Palace is now open to the public. Its white granite and limestone façade gives it a rich white look. The Palace is ornately decorated, both inside and outside. It has a huge dome, and an enormous chandelier with 350,000 crystal pieces. The Great Hall opens up to the East and West wings. The East Wing holds historical artefacts along with gifts from dignitaries who’ve visited over time. The Western wing is where diplomatic meetings are conducted with international bodies.
3. Check Out Ferrari World!
Ferrari World is the world’s first Ferrari-branded theme park, built to celebrate the spirit of the legendary Ferrari racing tradition. It’s a huge, indoor climate-controlled environment located on Yas Island. It has the world’s longest and loopiest rollercoaster, the Formula Rossa, which speeds at 150mph. Riding Formula Rossa is one of the top things to do in Abu Dhabi! For the non-adrenaline junkies, there are several family-friendly attractions, live shows, racing simulators, and a museum comprising racing memorabilia. Shopping outlets, authentic Italian restaurants, and all things Italian, keeping in tune with the Ferrari story.
Related: Autoworld Museum Brussels
4. Stroll along the Corniche
The next must do thing in Abu Dhabi is walking the Corniche. The Corniche is 6 kilometer-long beautiful manmade beach, with a long seaside boardwalk, sided with manicured gardens, BBQ areas, picnic areas, and benches overlooking the Arabian Gulf. It’s the place in Abu Dhabi where people go to see other people and to be seen. Gate 1 is good for large groups, while Gate 2 is a quiet zone and Gate 3 is for families with kids. Gate 2 and 3 are shielded from the outside with a privacy fence. The beach includes changing rooms, cabanas, umbrellas and sun loungers, plus a day long lifeguard. On the way, you can feast your eyes on the Emirates Palace, the Etihad Towers Hotel and other architectural delights.
5. Pay a Visit to the Abu Dhabi Louvre
The Abu Dhabi Louvre is sheer celebration of the Arab architecture. It is topped by a huge dome, 180 meters in diameter, geometrically perfect and gleaming in the sunshine. When you look at it, it appears as though the dome is floating. However, it is supported by four permanent piers on the water, hidden within the structures of the museum. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is an amalgamation of 55 individual buildings – it’s literally a museum city, not just a museum. There are 23 galleries containing rare works of art borrowed from 35 international museums. There are exclusive book galleries showcasing rare books, especially Islamic literature. If you are making a list of Abu Dhabi things to do, be sure to include a visit to the Abu Dhabi Louvre!
6. Go On an Abu Dhabi City Tour
There are several Abu Dhabi City Tours on offer – air conditioned bus tours, boat tours and helicopter tours. Bus tours will take you to the Emirates Palace, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, the Marina Mall, the Heritage Village, the Corniche, and a lot more. Boat tours offer a tour of the waterfront. You can watch the enchanting Abu Dhabi skyline from a yacht, dhow or regular boat, while enjoying meals and live entertainment. There are night boat tours on offer as well. Helicopter rides open up the city to you from the sky – feast your eyes on the spectacular red desert dunes, the amazing skyline, green islands and much more.
7. Check Out Yas Island
Yas Island is a cornucopia of delights for both adults and kids. There’s the Waterworld with its tummy-jerking rides, wave machines, slides and deep ravines that cause intense terror in you. Yas Island is also home to the unique Ferrari World, the first F1 theme park this world has seen. Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 race track is here too. You can race on it with a driver beside you, or bike the length of the track. When you’re done with both Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, head to the Yas Beach which has excellent lounge facilities and a DJ Booth to dance the nights away.
8. Get an Eyeful from the Observation Deck at 300
The Etihad Towers Hotel at the Jumeirah offers some of the best views of the entire city of Abu Dhabi, all the way to the sea. It’s located on Level 74, Tower 2, from where Abu Dhabi’s cityscape are laid out neatly in front of you. You can get the price of your entry ticket at the observatory deck’s restaurant, and enjoy high tea against the spectacular backdrop. It’s an amazing view. When you’re done, check out the Avenue at Etihad Towers. It’s a fabulous fashion mall.
9. Visit the Green Paradise of Liwa and Al Ain Oasis
The Liwa Oasis settlement has several desert homes and stone houses where the oasis dwellers live. They make and sell colorful traditional handicrafts that you can buy as souvenirs. Liwa has some of the largest sand dunes in the world. Ride dune buggies, try sand boarding, camel riding, horse riding and dune bashing! The Al Ain oasis is a green paradise, full of palm trees. Taste some of the freshly harvested dates here. A huge variety of dates is grown at Al Ain. Jebel Hafeet peak is close by, and you can hike up to the top, or drive up on a 4×4. Trekking, hiking, paragliding – there’s lots you can do on Jebel Hafeet.
10. Pay Homage to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Final must do in Abu Dhabi is a trip to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is simply ginormous – it can literally seat 40,000 worshippers simultaneously. Tourists of any faith can visit and enjoy its magnificent architecture. Marble columns, inlaid with semiprecious gems; the world’s largest chandelier and carpet; mosaic tiling with Islamic designs in gild; multiple chandeliers with dangling Swarovski crystals. All of this awaits you. This mosque is so grand that it took all of 10 years to build. The carpet alone measures 60,570 sq.ft. and weighs 35 tons. It took many hundreds of weavers from Iran to put in the 2,268,000,000 knots in fine wool!
Related: 10 Budget Friendly Things to Do in Dubai
Wrapping up the 10 must do things in Abu Dhabi, it’s worth mentioning this is just scratching the surface. Abu Dhabi is an enchanting city, with much to see and do. There are several small islands surrounding the city – Yas Island, Saadiyat Island, Dalma, Happiness, Sir Bani Yas, Dolphin Island and so on. Each island has its unique appeal to visitors. From an environmental point of view, all these islands have mangroves, with their special flora and fauna. Do be sure to check out these islands when you visit.
Guest post written by Neha of Dubai Wikia