Last Updated on January 12, 2021 by Darrif William
There is much more to the UAE than just Dubai. The country’s capital, Abu Dhabi is full of incredible attractions and fascinating activities that will impress its visitors. From cultural experiences to the lush shopping malls, the city offers some of the most amazing sights and experiences to the travelers, giving them a chance to understand UAE better and having fun at the same time.
Here are the top 20 things to do on your next trip after you decide to take flights to Abu Dhabi:
1. Visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the most beautiful mosques in UAE and probably in the world, Sheikh Zayed Mosque was conceived by the first president of the country, Sheikh Zayed and marks his final resting place. Open to non-Muslim visitors, it gives them a chance to get a better understanding of Islam as well as experience the majesty of this place. With 80 domes held aloft by 1000 pillars, the mosque is constructed with 100,000 tons of pure white Greek and Macedonian marble. Accommodating 50,000 worshippers, the prayer hall holds the world’s largest loomed carpet flown from Iran. Sheikh Zayed Mosque is truly a masterpiece of Islamic architecture and design.
2. A range of Adventure activities at Ferrari World Theme Park
If you are a fan of F1 racing, this is the place to be! Housing the world’s fastest roller coaster, Ferrari World celebrates speed, torque and all things Ferrari. Accelerating from 0km/h to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds, this is as close to experiencing F1 racing as one can get. Other attractions include Flying Aces rollercoaster, a 4D adventure and a roof walk adventure. You can also check out car exhibitions and live shows. Ferrari World is undoubtedly one of the most amazing places to visit in Abu Dhabi.
3. Watch the sunset at Abu Dhabi Corniche
Stretching over the entire northwest shore of the city, the waterfront Corniche offers spectacular views of the ocean and the iconic high-rise tower blocks along the seafront. With its white sandy beaches and generous promenade, it also offers several recreation opportunities with a dedicated walking and cycle path along with the Corniche’s landscaped gardens. The best way to explore Corniche is by renting a bicycle from the Cycle bike station located in front of the Nation Riviera Beach Club. The place comes alive at night when parks and shisha cafes are visited by the local families who seek the sea breeze in the summer months (May to September) or gather around the mobile heaters during the cool winter nights (December to February).
4. Peek into the Arabian past at the Heritage Village
For those looking to understand the heritage and culture of UAE, Heritage village is the perfect spot. It offers a peek into the past of the region and what life was like before the skyscrapers and Bentleys. The walled complex exhibits all the main elements of the Gulf life, a fort by the sea to repel invaders, a souk to trade goats and a mosque reminding the central part Islam played in the life of Arabs. Nomadic life has largely disappeared from the country but many locals still like to go back to their roots by regularly camping in the goat-hair tents similar to what you see here in the Bedouin section. The heritage village also holds pottery and spinning workshops.
5. Indulge in dining, adventure and much more at Yas Island
If you want to wine and dine in style, Yas Island is the place to be. Whether you want to take someone special on a romantic dinner, go for a soothing beach stroll, or marvel at the exceptional modern architectural designs while taking a helicopter tour, get ready to experience the ultimate comfort at Yas Island. It also has fantastic boat tours, water world, and the best of them, the Ferrari world. Get a glimpse of car racing and even rent a car to drive on the Yas circuit. If you are not into cars, engage in wellness activities like running and cycling. Beat the summer heat at the Yas Waterworld enjoying the exciting rides and dining at the wonderful restaurants. Yas Island truly tends to all your wanderlust desires.
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6. Take a tour of Etihad Modern Art Gallery
This is the place where work on canvas comes alive. The brainchild Emirati Khalid Seddiq Al-Mutawa and German-Syrian Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim, the two partners who turned this Al Bateen villa into the one-stop shopping centre for art aficionados. Etihad Modern Art Gallery was the first privately- owned gallery from the UAE to host a large-scale exhibition in Berlin. It is the perfect place to catch the amazing artworks from different eras. It also showcases the works by the contemporary local and Arabian artists.
7. Enjoy a shopping day at the Galleria, Al Raha, and Marina Mall
Abu Dhabi is known for its boutiques and world-class shopping malls. This capital city is home to all the major luxury brands in the world. If you want to indulge in elegant shopping and dining Abu Dhabi Mall, Yas Marina Mall and Avenue at Etihad are some of the top shopping malls in the city. You will find all the topmost brands and popular restaurants here. Souk Central Market, The Galleria and Carpet Souk are some other elegant shopping places that one can visit on their trip to the city.
Shop for homeware, pillow, pottery and Iranian Bedspread at the Iranian Souk to take back home. If you are looking for handloom products, the city’s souk is the place to be. Find a variety of carpets and rugs exhibiting fine handwork, and intricate patterns at the Carpet Souk located at Al Khaleej al Arabi Street that offers over 4000 types of carpets and rugs, all housed in the 3 floors.
8. Spend moments of solitude at Al Ain Oasis
Al-Ain Oasis has been rightly called an oasis of tranquillity in the midst of the bustling city of Abu Dhabi. It was carefully set up as an escape for the nature lovers who want to get away from the daily city life. Spread over an area of 3,000 acres, this quiet park is known for its date palms, about 150,000 in numbers that still provide the favourite snack supply to the residents of the city. You will also have a chance to witness the ancient irrigation system known as “falaj,” which is still being used to water the trees. Keep your eyes open for the remnants of an old mosque located in the park.
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9. Go on a thrilling drive at the Jebel Hafeet
At 1250 feet, Jebel Hafeet stands as the highest peak in the Emirates and boasts of a neat and well-designed motorway. These mountains have played a significant role in the history of the Emirates. Several fossils and burial sites have been discovered by the archaeologists in the foothills of Jebel Hafeet. But that is not the only reason for travelling here. Jebel Hafeet has been deemed as one of the best roads for driving by the road trip enthusiasts. The peak also offers spectacular views of Al Ain and the neighbouring country Oman.
10. Spend leisure moments with family at Mushrif Central Park
Mushrif Central Park is one of the top things to do in Abu Dhabi if you are travelling with family. Manicured to perfection and full of wonderful design elements, it boasts of a huge botanical garden, animal barns, a petting zoo and an amphitheatre. You almost feel like visiting a 5-star park, it makes for a perfect family outing which justifies its admission fee. The kids also have a separate play zone where they can enjoy with other kids. The park particularly looks ethereal in the evening with all the lighting and aesthetic beauty.
11. A Day out at the Al Jahili Fort
Built-in the late 1800s, Al Jahili is the largest structure in Al Ain constructed from mud bricks in the traditional Arabian style of architecture. The fort has been refurbished for public visitation. It was erected as the headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, a group tasked for protection of the region’s palm groves and the maintenance of peace between the different tribes that once occupied the area. You are free to explore the fort’s battlements and watchtowers that surround the expansive courtyard.
12. Visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
A hospital seems an unlikely place to visit for tourists but Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is one of the most famous places to visit in Abu Dhabi. No one wants to go to a hospital on vacation unless that hospital is this. On your trip to Falcon hospital, you will understand the connection between the Emirati culture and falcons. These birds were used to hunt and scavenge for food by the Bedouins. Now the hunting is restricted in the country but the birds are still deeply revered here. Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital provides the best healthcare for falcons.
13. Experience the Opulence of Emirates Palace
One of Abu Dhabi city’s most recognizable landmarks, Emirates Palace sets the standard for luxury lodging in the city just like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Spread over nearly 250 acres of coastline along the Corniche, the structure of the palace seems like a cross between the Taj Mahal and a fairytale castle. The exterior features more than 100 domes whereas the insides of the palace are decorated with gold, crystals and mother of pearl. Numerous chandeliers and rich handmade carpets add to its opulence. You do not have to be a guest to experience its magnificence. Non-guests are welcome to enjoy a Turkish hammam or a skin treatment at the Anantara Spa or grab a bite at one of nine in-house restaurants.
14. Enjoy the view from Observation Deck at 300
This chic coffee shop on the 74th floor of Tower 2 of Jumeirah at the Etihad Towers offers high tea with a panoramic view of the city of Abu Dhabi. Etihad towers are best known for its depiction as the epic backdrop for the movie Fast and Furious 7. Although you cannot race sports cars in these towers but you have an opportunity to go as high as the 74th floor at 300 meters above ground to the Observation Deck at 300. Get the best possible view of the capital from here and enjoy high tea with delicious snacks and refreshments.
15. A Trip to Emirates Park Zoo
If you are an animal lover then you must head to the Emirates Park Zoo. Founded in 2008, this is the first private zoo in the UAE that can be visited by people of all age groups to see a number of wonderful animals and get in touch with fauna. The zoo also has a separate petting zoo area educating children about the different species of animals. It is home to several species of animals including snakes, big cats, flamingos, giraffes and more. A visit to the Emirates Park Zoo is one of the top things to do in Abu Dhabi if you travel with your family.
16. Explore the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi recently added this epic attraction to its already long and fascinating itinerary, thereby, making the city an even more cultural and artistic. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi recently opened its doors in late 2017. The structure of the Louvre itself is a work of art with its awe-striking architecture. However, it is only a small detail when compared to all the art pieces that the galleries hold. It exhibits a collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities by various world-renowned artists. Louvre Abu Dhabi is a must-visit attraction for all art lovers.
17. A visit to Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr Al Hosn is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Abu Dhabi because it is the symbolic birthplace of Abu Dhabi. Built-in the 1760s, this iconic fort was used as a watchtower to safeguard a precious freshwater well. It was the first permanent structure built in the city out of corals and sea stone. After expansion Qasr Al Hosn also served as the home to the royal Al Nahyan family for generations which also increases its importance in the Emirati history.
18. Excursion to Zaya Nurai Island
A 12-minutes boat ride from the shores of Abu Dhabi takes you to this idyllic paradise. Touted as the Maldives of Arabia, Zaya Nuria Island is indeed a post-card perfect getaway with its calm beaches, sandy shores, and luxurious restaurants. It is an ideal spot to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city and relax at the beach resort. If you are not staying at the luxury resort, simply purchase a day pass. Book Cheap flights to Abu Dhabi, if you are planning a trip to Abu Dhabi and make sure to include all topmost attractions of the city in your itinerary.
19. Indulge in water sports at Mangroves Marina
The United Arab Emirates is best known for its endless sand dunes which are present in most of the cities in the country. However, Abu Dhabi has slightly different geography when compared to the other Emirates cities. In addition to the desert, Abu Dhabi also has mangroves where you can rent kayaks and paddle through the beautiful natural surroundings and get the opportunity to experience something unique. It is truly one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi.
20. Attend a Concert at du Arena
Du Arena is the venue for all the hip and rocking concerts and music events happening in the city of Abu Dhabi. Attending an annual event is one of the most exciting things to do during your visit to this place. The good news is that Abu Dhabi has several music events and festivals happening all year round and du Arena is home to most of them. It has hosted numerous international artists like Coldplay and Katy Perry. Next time you are in the city, remember to check out the schedule and try to book advance tickets.