Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, only an hour away from Dubai by car. So, if you’re staying in Abu Dhabi this should help you and if you’re in Dubai, Abu Dhabi is definitely worth a day trip at least.
One of the most renowned sights in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This mosque is spectacular to see and like a lot of things in the UAE, very glam. During the day, it is a gleaming white colour and at night it is lit up with blue lights. The interior boasts some amazing chandeliers too! It is free entry and kanduras (for males) and abayas (for the girls) will be provided. I’ve been multiple times and they have recently started to ask for ID (passports/Emirates ID) so make sure you bring some with you. If you’re there, remember that it is still a place of worship and don’t take selfies with it until you’re covered up!
Second on the list of attractions is Emirates Palace. This is definitely a treat. The Palace is a hotel but you can go in a have a look around and see the gold vending machine or get a drink or food. In the cafe on the ground floor, you can order a coffee/hot chocolate sprinkled with real 24karat gold. €16 for the drink, which is quite affluent for a coffee but when else are you going to drink real gold! When in Rome, eh? The dress code here is a respectable dress code, even for men. Men can’t wear shorts or sandals -no open shoes. The security at the gate will turn you away, so pack a spare trousers so you can put this on to get in.
Across from Emirates Palace are the Etihad Towers. Here, in Tower 2, you can go up to the 74th Floor to the observation deck and see Abu Dhabi from up high. The cost is 85 AED a ticket but you get 50 AED back to spend on food – not a bad deal. Afternoon Tea is also an option here but you may need to book in advance.
Yas Island also has a lot to offer. It has Yas Waterworld waterpark and Ferrari World theme park, which has some of the best rollercoasters in the world. If those are not enough of an adrenaline rush for you, you can drive a real ferrari around the Yas Marina Circuit track, where the F1 takes place each year. You can choose between a number of different cars and you get to take it for a high-speed drive. It is expensive but it is an amazing experience, especially if you love cars. Have a look at the different options here. Oh and pay for the add on insurance they offer you! It is worth the money because those cars are expensive!
If you’re looking for an active holiday, you can go to the Corniche and cycle there, aim to be there for sunset or you can go to the Eastern Mangroves and kayak there. Very relaxing and if you’re looking to escape the city, this is the perfect activity.
If nightlife is what you’re looking for then a brunch needs to be on your list. Nope, not breakfast slash lunch, here a brunch is 3 or 4 hours of all you can eat and drink. Alcohol is included. Most hotels do brunches and offer different deals. Bubbalicious is the Westin is one of the best brunches, expensive at around €100 but the food is great and the cocktails too. Here is a list of brunches in Abu Dhabi.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has recently open, and for 60 AED it it worth visiting for an hour or so. (UAE Teachers get a ticket for 30 AED if you show your school ID) It was a lot bigger than I had expected it to be and some of the artworks were really cool. Even if you’re not artsy like me, it’s definitely something different to do and nice to see something different. The architecture alone will amaze you.
Like most things in the UAE, accommodation is expensive. We stayed in the Shangri-la and it was the best hotel I have ever stayed in. The basic room was amazing and the service was second to none, someone even asked if they could clean my sunglasses for me while I was at the pool! The view from the infinity pool is the Grand Mosque which is really cool to see.
Food at the Shangri-la is reasonable and drink is standard UAE prices, but, if they’re not what you’re looking for you can walk or get an abra to the nearby souq, Souq Qaryat Al Beri, where there are loads of places to eat. The Shangri-la also gave us a members card when we checked in and this gave us 20% off at all the restaurants so make sure to ask for this.
- Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi adds tax onto their bills at around 16% so just be aware of that when you’re ordering food and drink.
- Check out www.cobone.com and www.groupon.ae for deals before and during your trip. An Abu Dhabi version of The Entertainer app can be bought and 2 for 1 vouchers. If you know someone there, maybe ask can you have some vouchers or else you can download it yourself. You definitely make your money back.
- If you’re travelling from Dubai, you can get a bus, but if there is a group of you, you can rent a taxi for the day for a set price. It’s worth a shot if you can get a deal.
- Check out my Dubai Food post and Things to do post, if you’re visiting both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
- Have a look at my YouTube channel for a video of the trip!
Top Tip Traveller 🙂