Things to do in Abu Dhabi / Top Attractions in Abu Dhabi

By Rutuja Bhagwat - March 05, 2019

sheikh Zayed grand mosque abu Dhabi dome interiors

People who come to Dubai usually have a one-day trip planned to the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. The city is a fine cocktail of blue waters, historically-important sites, world-famous buildings and even sand dunes. Do you know, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Taj Mahal are built using the same marble? You read it right. The materials used in building the Sheikh Zayed Mosque were imported from countries like India, Morocco, China, Pakistan, and a few more. Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in the country having about 200 islands and a 700 km long coastline! Another interesting fact would be the population of  residing Indians. UAE consists of about 40% Indian expats–which is the largest ethnic group in the country–and most of them live in Abu Dhabi. People often assume that the capital city only comprises of residential areas and offices, however, there are a variety of things to do in Abu Dhabi.

HOW TO REACH ABU DHABI FROM DUBAI / HOW TO TRAVEL IN ABU DHABI

The best way to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai is through tour agents, especially if you only have a day in your itinerary and a tight budget. Reaching Abu Dhabi from Dubai takes about an hour and a half, and though there are buses that take you there, travelling inside Abu Dhabi can be a little tedious and pricey. There are city buses and private taxis that take you around (check hop-on-hop-off bus tours). However, the most convenient way is to book an Abu Dhabi tour starting from Dubai itself. There are several spots that they take you to, where a few are mere photo stops, a few actual stops, and a few noteworthy places that lie on your way. The actual stops include Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Heritage Village, Hamadan Gallery, dates and chocolate market, and the Marina Mall; the photo stops include Emirates Palace, Etihad Towers, Ferrari World, and corniche beach. In conclusion, a one-day Abu Dhabi tour is sufficient to get a taste of the city. 

However, if you have enough time to explore Abu Dhabi then here's a list of things to do in Abu Dhabi or simply put, top attractions in Abu Dhabi. 



THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI / TOP ATTRACTIONS IN ABU DHABI

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE – THE ABU DHABI GRAND MOSQUE

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the new Abu Dhabi attractions and surely the most popular one. The best thing about it is the seamless amalgamation of Islam with the rest of the world. The mosque is open to all, irrespective of religion and gender. If you're going with tour agents, they are most likely to provide the women with a burqa and hijab. However, if you're going independently, then ladies, please cover your head, hair, full arms, and full legs.


things to do in Abu Dhabi

EMIRATES PALACE HOTEL

The Emirates Palace Hotel was once a real palace, which later was converted into a five-star hotel. Can you enter inside the Emirates Palace Hotel? Well, they only let you inside if you have a reservation booked in one of their restaurants or are staying there. Worry not if a five-star hotel is out of your budget as you can still go near its arched entry gate and click pictures with its flowers and fountains. The Emirates Palace Hotel is usually a photo stop on the organised Abu Dhabi tour. Right opposite to the hotel is the Etihad Towers famous as Fast and Furious 7 shooting location.

SIR BANI YAS ISLAND

As mentioned earlier, there are about 200 islands in Abu Dhabi. The most attractive one of them is Sir Bani Yas Island, which is famous for its luxurious stay options like Anantara and blue waters. You have a range of activities to try from horse riding to archery. Apart from that, there is a wildlife safari through the Arabian Wildlife Park, which I'm sure you can't miss! 



camels abu dhabi

ABU DHABI HERITAGE VILLAGE

The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is quite interesting especially for those absolutely alien to the Emirati culture. The area is divided into small segments displaying the various aspects of early life in Abu Dhabi. From traditional water well to tents made out of goat's hair and from the campfire with pots to workshops demonstrating skills like pottery, it's truly a rich place for knowledge seekers. There is even a corniche attached to it however people just dip their legs and click photographs with a traditional Abu Dhabi fishing boat. 


giraffe feeding in zoo abu Dhabi

EMIRATES PARK ZOO

For those interested in animals and wildlife in general, there's yet another place to meet all the animals and birds. The Emirates Park Zoo, founded in 2008, is one of the new Abu Dhabi attractions. You can have breakfast with parrots and giraffes here while feeding someone as deadly as a crocodile! You also get to see other birds and animals like flamingos, leopards, white tigers, hippos, lions, zebras, elephants, and several reptiles in the park. It's surely going to be loved by the children and I say, is one of the things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids.


spice market abu Dhabi

SOUK CENTRAL MARKET

Shopping for souvenirs is a must-do activity no matter in which country or which place you are. One of the best places to shop souvenirs in Abu Dhabi is the Souk Central Market. The market resembles a traditional Arabian Market with walls and ceiling made from wood. You can shop almost everything here ranging from textiles to spices. The Souk Central Market is definitely one of the things to do in Abu Dhabi for its local handicrafts.


Ferrari world entrance Abu Dhabi

FERRARI WORLD

Abu Dhabi Ferrari World is a popular theme park comprising the world's fastest rollercoaster! It is one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids as there's something to offer for everyone. So whether it is the official merchandise store or entertaining kid's rides, the Ferrari World is unmissable. It has several thrilling rides but the most sought after ride is the Formula Rossa, which accelerates up to 240 km/hr in only five seconds, and is the fastest rollercoaster in the world. 



ABU DHABI CORNICHE

Abu Dhabi Corniche is truly unmissable. You might not see bikini-clad women on the public beach, however, the water is as blue and the shore is as clean as Dubai's. The entire 8 km Corniche Road for that matter is drive-worthy with fancy restaurants and stalls. The Corniche beach has three parts: family, single and public beaches, which means, everyone's needs are taken care of. You can try water sports activities like Jet Skiing and more. 


YAS MALL

Yas is an Abu Dhabi Mall which is located on Yas Island. The mall consists of 2.5 million sq ft of retail area. With fancy restaurants, a cinema hall, and branded stores, Yas Mall is a perfect place to hang out. Yet another aspect is its connectivity to the Ferrari World; it enables people to grab a meal post an excursion to the park.


jebel hafeet al ain abu Dhabi roads view

JEBEL HAFEET, AL AIN

The reason why Abu Dhabi is loved by many is because of the variety of places and activities it has to offer. Abu Dhabi has something for all types of people. If you love road trips and camping, then Jebel Hafeet should be it. Being the highest point in the city–and located in Al Ain–one can enjoy serpentine roads and mountain views while breathing fresh air. This is one of the best weekend getaways in Abu Dhabi for sure.


YAS MARINA CIRCUIT

For all the F1 fans, the Yas Marina Circuit is a must visit! The circuit is Abu Dhabi's Grand Prix venue and is cherished by people from all over the world! One can get an insight into the racing cars and can hire a car to drive! How amazing is that? Car lovers definitely need to visit it. Located at the Yas Island Abu Dhabi, you can even indulge in activities like running and cycling. 


cocktails on blue water island


ZAYA NURAI ISLAND


No need to think of going to the Maldives or any other picturesque island when you're in Abu Dhabi as its Zaya Nurai Island is no less of a wonder. Adorned with blue beaches with white sand, this private island has its own luxury resort. It's at a quick boat ride away from Abu Dhabi, where one can book a hotel room or purchase a day pass. The place is perfect to relax and you can book a room ranging from beach villas to enjoying a private dinner session.

YAS WATERWORLD

Another park on Yas Island is the Yas Waterworld park. The summers can get too jaunting and a quick splash in the pools here and sliding down the rides will be fun in its own. The Yas Waterworld has 40 rides for all ages along with restaurants and stalls to fuel the visitors. There are stores selling souvenirs, sweets, and local wares to add in the excitement.



kayaking in mangroves watchtower

MANGROVES MARINA

UAE is known for its deserts...those bumpy sand dunes that are spread across the country. What's fascinating about Abu Dhabi is that along with deserts, it is home to mangroves too. Visitors can try kayaking here while enjoying the stunning waters and the beautiful outline of flora along. This is definitely a unique activity to do in the capital city–or in the country, for that matter–as you experience natural emerald waters. 


OBSERVATION DECK AT 300, ETIHAD TOWERS

Any city touring is incomplete without paying a visit to its observation decks as you get to see everything from the top, including the landmarks and the city roads. Abu Dhabi has its own Observation Deck at 300 in one of the Etihad Towers. This popular place is not just famous for its Fast and Furious 7 scenes but also to view the stunning panorama. You can go up to its 74th floor, and along with the view, get to enjoy a delicious snacks and other refreshments.



DU ARENA

Abu Dhabi has many events happening all around the year. The du Arena in Abu Dhabi is a music venue that has seen international heartthrobs such as Coldplay and Katy Perry! Du Arena also happens to be the biggest music venue in the country and you should try to book your flight tickets and plan Abu Dhabi trip during one of such concerts or events. Located on Yas Island, its ambience will drive you crazy!


LOUVRE ABU DHABI

Any art lovers here? The Louvre Abu Dhabi art museum was recently opened in 2017 and surely is one of the new Abu Dhabi attractions that you can't miss, especially if art interests you. With its mindblowing architecture, you'll be in awe just seeing the museum building itself. However, the art pieces that it holds are equally stunning!


al jahili fort abu Dhabi entrance side view

AL JAHILI FORT

UAE is home to several forts and the Al Jahili Fort is one of them. It was built using sun-dried mud bricks and its history dates back to 1891 when the Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa the First ordered to start its construction. The construction was completed in 1898 to control the Al Ain tribes and providing a summer residence for the king. You can pay a visit here and enjoy its 19th-century history. 

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