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10 Best Things to See and Do When Visiting Abu Dhabi


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Abu Dhabi is the capital of 7 city-states that form the United Arab Emirates. Globally, the city is perhaps most famous for hosting the grand Formula One races. Historically, Abu Dhabi was once a quaint, waterside fishing village. It was when oil was discovered, that like the rest of the Gulf, the region was transformed into the modern, bustling and industrious area that it is known of today.

For a holiday break that includes luxurious beaches, glorious food and captivating city life, Abu Dhabi will not disappoint. The city is brimming with places to explore, things to do, beaches to relax on and delicious international cuisines to enjoy. As the world continues to recover from the global pandemic, people are in need of rest and respite and the UAE will undoubtedly be a top destination for this. Read on for 10 of the Best Things to See and Do in Abu Dhabi.

1. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This beautiful white palace is glorious to behold and one of the most popular tourist sites in the UAE. For architecture geeks, it is a splendid lesson in history. It is undoubtedly a celebration of Fatimid, Ottoman and Mamluk architecture, whilst at the same time being a completely modern structure too. The great thing about this mosque is that it is open to all visitors and the guided tours are free.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Photo © Roman Slavik | Dreamstime.com

2. Take the Kids to Warner Bros World

The UAE is known for its plethora of family-friendly activities. Gorgeous parks, luxury indoor play areas and fantastic gardens are sprawled all around the country. Abu Dhabi is no different and Warner Bros World on Yas Island makes a wonderful day out for all the family. The theme park is dedicated to Warner Bros’ heroes and villains from all its movies and cartoons. It makes for a wonderful and fun-filled adventure for kids and adults alike.

The UAE can sometimes reach scorching temperatures, so the theme park is built indoors and is air-conditioned. When you want a break from soaking up some sun, it will make for a perfect way to spend the day. From toddlers to teenagers and adults, the theme park has dedicated rides for all age groups too.

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3. Kayak at Sunset in the Eastern Mangroves

Abu Dhabi is a bustling modern city, however, it still has multiple other biodiversities to enjoy. The mangrove forests that circle the city shore are a great way to do this. Kayaking activities are available for all experience levels and you can enjoy the city shoreline in this unique way.

It is worth mentioning that the UAE is setting itself up as a pioneering country when it comes to eco-living, with entire cities built to reduce carbon emissions in urban dwellings. In a similar spirit, the Eco Tour is dedicated to the mangroves and is arranged to help visitors understand the important ecology of the mangroves and to appreciate the natural world.

4. Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is arguably one of the grandest museums in the whole of the Middle East. It has a spectacular collection of artefacts that celebrates the history of human art. The displays are as diverse as they are expensive. From original Piccaso pieces and Ancient Egyptian statues to modern art, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is filled with wonder to delight the eyes and is absolutely worth a visit.

Depending on what time of year you go, this grand museum also hosts several exhibitions a year. If you’re an art enthusiast, it is worth looking into what exhibitions are coming up before you plan your trip.

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Louvre Abu Dhabi
Photo © Saletomic | Dreamstime.com

5. A beach day on Saadiyat Island

If you’re looking forward to soaking up some sun on an idyllic white beach, then Saadiyat Island is your place. Saadiyat beach is an exquisite white sand beach with top-class facilities such as loungers, parasols, lifeguards, a cafe and much more.

If you like more than relaxing, then you can also hire kayaks and windsurfing equipment. For a high-end luxury beach experience, there is also the private Saadiyat Beach Club. Here you can access restaurants and pool spaces too.

Saadiyat Island Beach
Photo © Slava296 | Dreamstime.com
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6. Thrilling Adventures at Ferrari World

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi offers a unique adventure experience for all members of the family. It is open every day of the year and is located in a comfortable climate-controlled environment that promises thrilling adventure.

There is a Junior GT track for smaller children to enjoy learning driving skills, while older children and adults can enjoy the speed at the Flying Aces roller coaster which can go up to 120km an hour or the Formula Rossa which goes an incredible 240km/h.

The location is a celebration of the Ferrari – a timeless car known for speed and beauty. There is a collection on display with Ferraris showcasing some of the models that helped define the brand. In addition, a Ferrari factory tour is there for the true lovers of these cars.

7. Shopping and Food on Yas Island

Yas Mall offers an incredible and out of this world shopping and dining experience. If you want a break from sunbathing and adventurous activities then this is the perfect day out for a luxury shopping experience. Here all your favourite brands and international cuisines are under one roof. The mall is open from 10 am to 10 pm and is easily accessible by all modes of transport. It is also only 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi City Centre.

8. Boat Tour and Cruise for City Views

Boat cruises along Abu Dhabi’s shoreline are a popular way to spend the evenings. The views of the city and coast are spectacular from here. You can book to have dinner or refreshments on the cruise and enjoy a romantic time with your partner or a relaxing evening with all the family. The aquatic environment, sounds of water, and slow bobbing of the boats can be wonderful to unwind after a day of activities.

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9. Heritage Island

If you’re looking for some historical and cultural tourism then Heritage Village will be a delight to visit. It is a reconstruction of a traditional Bedouin village, designed to replicate life in Abu Dhabi before the oil boom which changed the landscape forever.

The heritage museum provides an excellent environment to learn about the country’s maritime past, and you will also be able to see craftsmen working on traditional art such as weaving, pottery or glasswork. If you’re looking to take back traditional gifts then you can buy local clothes, spices and herbs, as well as jewels here.

For those interested in the ecosystem, there is a replica oasis built in the village to explain to visitors how the traditional irrigation worked. The village also affords an excellent view of the city skyline.

Heritage Island in Abu Dhabi
Photo © Lisastrachan | Dreamstime.com

10. Ride the sand dunes in a Desert Safari

Desert safaris are popular with both locals and tourists alike. If you’re after a thrilling outdoor rollercoaster experience then a ride across the sand dunes will be a fantastic experience. Desert safaris can be undertaken in luxurious vehicles, and the combination packages can include camel treks, sandboarding and overnight stays where you can appreciate the starlight away from the city’s light pollution.

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Desert Safari in Abu Dhabi
Photo © Kairi Aun | Dreamstime.com

Tours and Activities

Summary

Abu Dhabi is absolutely your one-stop destination for every kind of holiday. From historical and cultural visits to luxurious boat cruises and desert life experiences, you can fill your days with activities of every kind. For foodies, Abu Dhabi’s malls and restaurants are filled with gastronomical delights from international cuisines all around the world. If you need a restful break, then sun-soaking on the city’s numerous white sand beaches will also be an excellent opportunity to recharge.


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Written by

Faz Bux

Faz is mother and writer who loves travelling and has spent time in several countries across the globe. She is an enthusiast for all things cultural and linguistic and also works as a translator.[Read full bio]

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