Abu Dhabi – Father of Gazelle

Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi – Father of Gazelle

Welcome to Abu Dhabi

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi, located on the Persian Gulf shores, and is the second-most populous city after Dubai. It is traditional but modern and is the preferred Emirate for residential purposes but also an attractive tourist destination for international tourists. Abu Dhabi is also considered one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

Considering a vacation to Abu Dhabi, then you’re in for a treat. This Middle Eastern city is home to the world’s most beautiful mosques and souks, as well as luxurious hotels and resorts. From camel rides in the desert to luxury shopping and beautiful walks on the Corniche – Abu Dhabi’s  promenade.

Best Time to Visit

As Abu Dhabi is a desert city and the weather can be pretty extreme, so pack accordingly. The average temperature in Abu Dhabi is 26 degrees Celsius, but it can get much hotter during the day and cooler at night. You’ll also want to bring plenty of sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harsh rays. The cooler months, from October to April, are generally the ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi. The weather is more bearable, and there’s less chance of rain. Be aware the hottest months are between June and August, with temperatures reaching 48 to 50 degrees!!

How To Get There

Etihad Airways is UAE’s national carrier and the airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi. The airport is approximately 30 minutes outside the city centre, and taxis and buses are easily accessible on arrival. Dubai International is another major hub for international travel into the UAE, approximately an hour and a half from Abu Dhabi.

For great airfares, search WayAway or Skyscanner.

Transportation Around Abu Dhabi

Taxis in Abu Dhabi are convenient, reliable and reasonably priced, run by a meter. The minimum charge is 12 Dhms, so even if you go a short distance, that is the minimum you will be charged. For safety and security reasons, most taxis have CCTV inside, and some even have wifi inside them too!

Many hire car companies are available starting from 100 Dhms per day, so this is an excellent option for independent exploring around the city. Be mindful that cars are driven on the left-hand side, and be wary of many speed cameras in UAE. If the road sign says 110 km/h, do not go past this as one kilometre over, you will be fined if caught by their cameras!! Also, be aware of the toll gates and how you will pay for them. Driving on the roads here can be a bit challenging with fast cars, even for experienced drivers, so stay alert to the other drivers, and you will be fine!

What To Wear (for female travellers)

Abu Dhabi has become more ‘liberal’ than most Islamic cities due to the many expats that live here. The dressing is more relaxed with the many restaurants and hotels catering to western living. But be mindful and respectful of their religion, mosques and places of worship and please dress conservatively by covering your body from head to toe.

Places Of Interest

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest tourist attraction in Abu Dhabi. Featuring 82 white-marble domes, more than 1,000 columns, 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet with a capacity for 41,000 worshipers. There is also a prayer room for those who wish to pray.

Access to the Mosque is through an underground shopping centre. It is free to enter, but you must pre-register online to gain a QR code used to get through the security gates. For further visitor information, click here.

Most importantlyyou must dress conservatively to enter the holy place, with your legs, arms, and shoulders covered. For females, you MUST cover your head completely with a hijab (head scarf) or Abaya (a long cloak or a robe covering the woman’s body). There are shops towards the Mosque’s entrance where you can purchase an Abaya for approximately 50 Dhms.

Take your time to wander around the Mosque’s impressive size, design and architecture. If you’re visiting the Mosque in the morning to early afternoon, free tours are running, where a tour guide will walk you around and explain the history of this beautiful Mosque. 

The Grand Mosque at night, Abu Dhabi

Inside the Prayer Hall of the Grand Mosque

Etihad Towers

Etihad Towers is a must-visit if you’re looking for a place to soak up some incredible views of Abu Dhabi. Visit Conrad Towers (Tower A) at the 74th-floor observation deck for jaw-dropping panoramic views from its observation decks. We recommend  booking tickets in advance to the Observation deck.

Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace is also a must-see when in Abu Dhabi. It’s one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, with incredible architecture and attention to detail, and it is free to enter. Overlooking its private natural bay and on a 0.8 mi stretch of private beach, the Palace is a sight to behold, from its gilded ceilings and marble floors to its lush gardens and swimming pools. But beyond its stunning exterior, Emirates Palace is also home to top-notch restaurants, bars, and cafes. They’ve got something for a romantic dinner for two or a chilled-out afternoon with friends. How about trying a mug of ‘Gold Cappuccino’ at Le Cafe in the lobby? The cappuccino is sprinkled with 23-karat (real) gold flakes!! Alternatively, you can try vanilla and chocolate ice cream covered in gold. Make a reservation online to secure a table, as it gets very busy at the Cafe.

Sheikh Zayed Centre

Sheikh Zayed Centre a museum dedicated to the man who shaped the nation of United Arab Emirates – displaying photographs & personal effects of the late Sheikh Zayed, – known as the Father of the Nation and founder of the UAE (1918-2004). A photo gallery of Sheikh Zayed lines the walls of the museum, together with personal memorabilia and his cherished vehicles. Follow map here.

Emirates Heritage Village

Experience a traditional way of life in the desert at the Emirates Heritage Village. The village encapsulates an old souk (market), a mosque and a camp modelled on life in pre-modern UAE.
Located on Marina Mall Island, this traditional oasis village makes it a great place to discover original artefacts and also an opportunity to watch artisans make pottery and blow glass. Here you will also find the Emirates Heritage Club, where you can watch artisans display traditional skills such as pottery, weaving and spinning yarn. Explore the little spice shop, offering a range of dried herbs, handmade soaps and souvenirs. It is free to enter. Follow map here.

Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi

Qasr Al Hosn

Visit the oldest building in Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn, from where it all started. This fort is a historic landmark, and you can do a self-guided tour of the fort, which should take an hour to walk around. Book tickets here.

Qasr Al Watan

The Qasr Al Watan or Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi has a stunning façade embracing a majestic building seen as you approach the palace entrance. Be mesmerised by a 37m diameter dome and a gorgeous chandelier made with 350,000 pieces of crystals. The magnificence and grandiose building of Qasr Al Watan makes it a must-see place in Abu Dhabi. If you have time, at 7 pm, the Palace has a spectacular light show. Book tickets here.

The Corniche

Stretching approximately 8km along the coast is a spectacular promenade, Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, taking you to white sandy beaches for the perfect location for locals and visitors.

Great for a leisurely walk and enjoying amazing sunsets. Some restaurants and cafes offer beautiful views of the beachfront, or enjoy the small gardens and elegantly designed benches overlooking the Arabian Gulf, which is perfect for enjoying the views of the calm sea. You can hire cycles for a 30-minute ride or roller-blade along a scenic promenade. The cycle station is opposite Nation Riviera Beach club, and to hire costs approximately AED 30 per hour. Alternatively, you can swim at the beach and later take amazing photos of Emirates Palace against a beautiful sunset.

The Corniche, Abu Dhabi

The Louvre

Louvre Abu Dhabi is worth visiting on Saadiyat Island, a 10-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi. A museum with lots of interactive exhibits that make it fun for both adults and children. There are sculptures and paintings on display, too. Opened in 2017, the Louvre is a masterpiece and the first to open outside France. From a distance, you will see the building as a cosmic dome, and when you’re inside, you will see that natural light pierces through the latticework to create a beautiful illusion. Admire the collections of civilisations from around the world and be inspired by Monet, da Vinci and Van Gogh pieces. Book tickets here.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi

WTCAD - World Trade Centre, Abu Dhabi

World Trade Centre in Abu Dhabi Nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabi city is an iconic building and landmark encompassing The Mall, Offices, and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Indulge yourself in a world of shops and restaurants at the WTCAD.

Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island is a paradise bringing culture and serenity together. Visit the iconic Louvre Abu DhabiManarat Al Saadiyat, the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Zayed National Museum. 

This is a private island where you can access its beach and have a sunbed for the day for a small fee of 50 AED or lie on the beach for 25 AED. You can also enjoy several watersport activities on the beach, paddleboard, kayaks and jet skis.  

Feel the sand between your toes and recharge on one of Saadiyat Island beaches. Pristine white sand and pockets of greenery make these beaches unique. Follow map here.

The Mangroves

Looking for some adventure? Explore the Eastern Mangroves, a natural mangrove forest home to various marine life. Here you can engage in Paddle-boarding or kayaking. Alternatively, you can go surfing at Saadiyat Beach or try jet skiing at Yas Beach. Follow map here.

The Mangroves Abu Dhabi

Al Wathba Long Salt Lake

The “Long Salt Lake” is located near the Fossil Dunes. There is a long dirt road to get you there, and you can park a few meters away. Once you have parked, you have to go over the sand dune. Swimming is strictly forbidden. Al Wathba Salt Lake is artificial, where the salt is sourced from the salt flats called ‘sabkha’, a by-product of the arid coastal climate of the area. Follow map here.

Al Wathba Salt Lake

Al Wathba Fossil Dunes

The Fossil Dunes at Al Wathba is a protected area comprising more than 1,700 fossil dunes, one of the largest in one location. You can enjoy the natural environment at the reserve by walking the marked trails. Explore the visitor centre, the viewing area, and the gallery corner while taking in the beauty of this unique site. Follow map here.

Fossil Dunes, Abu Dhabi

Desert Safari & Sand Dune Bashing

Desert Safari & Sand Dune Bashing is a great way to see the natural beauty of a desert. The sand dunes are stunning, and it’s a unique experience. Hire a 4wd and take an exhilarating ride for an adventurous, adrenaline-pumping experience of dune bashing while exploring the desert. Driving your car up and down the sand dunes at high speeds is an adrenaline rush.

Later, enjoy the evening on an all-inclusive desert safari. You can ride on camels, ATVs, and 4x4s through the desert and unwind at a traditional Bedouin camp with henna painting, shisha smoking and refreshments. Enjoy a full buffet dinner while the famous “Nashaat Show” (a group of ladies) dance, and “Tanoura Dancers” entertain the crowd and don’t forget to pose with a falcon in traditional Arab dress.

Book a morning or evening safari or even overnight camping in the desert! The evening safari between 3 pm-9 pm allows you to watch the sunset in the desert, dune bashing, sandboarding, ride a camel, hold a falcon and enjoy a BBQ buffet with a belly dancing show at a Bedouin-style camp.

Several desert safaris are available, including overnight stays and half-day tours. It is a unique and exciting experience that everyone should experience once in Abu Dhabi! Book tickets here.

Yas Island

Yas Island is a famous leisure island and a popular tourist attraction in Abu Dhabi. With a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi downtown or a 15min drive from Abu Dhabi International airport. Be astonished by all the theme parks and entertainment options, including the Formula 1 circuit. Yas Island includes some world-class hotels making it a perfect location to relax and head away from the business of the big cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Where To Eat

Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan city with people from many different countries. You will find an abundance of restaurants to reflect this.

From award-winning restaurants to more affordable eateries, there is something for everyone in Abu Dhabi! We found that restaurants specialising in Arabic food are often cheaper than those offering international cuisine.

The national dish of the UAE is Khuzi, also known as Ghuzi, a prevalent dish in Abu Dhabi, typically served during special occasions, but you can also find it in many local restaurants.

Click here for dining inspirations.

Where To Stay

Choosing where to stay will depend on your budget and the purpose of your trip. For first-time visitors, we recommend staying in the Al Bateen and Al Khalidiya, more central or the Corniche, primarily full of hotels and by the beach but not far from most of the attractions. Here too, you will see some amazing sunsets!

Apart from the 5-star hotels, there are more affordable options like Holiday Inn or Ibis. However, nothing is genuine “standard” in Abu Dhabi or generally in the UAE, as they take pride in their service so that you will be comfortable anywhere.

Click here for accommodation options

Day Trips From Abu Dhabi

Recommended Tours in Abu Dhabi

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