The capital city of the United Arab Emirates or UAE, Abu Dhabi is overshadowed by its neighboring city of Dubai. While Dubai is glamorous, Abu Dhabi has a grace and charm that you would not find in any other Emirate city. Moreover, unlike what most people believe, Abu Dhabi holds a lot of interesting things to view as well as experience. So, if you are in the UAE for a holiday, you must take some time to visit the Emirate city of Abu Dhabi. Here we offer 12 best things to do in Abu Dhabi:
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1) Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Dedicated to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the Grand Mosque is true to its name. A fine example of modern Islamic architecture, you would be able to see the design elements of Ottoman, Mameluke and Fatimid architecture. Open to people of all faiths, this mosque is the largest in the UAE and can hold around 40,000 worshippers at a time. However, the size of the mosque is not its only highlight. Made entirely with white marble, beautiful carving, glass work, mosaic and white and gold façade, it also has 82 domes and 1000 columns. The mosque is also home to the largest handmade carpet as well as one of the largest crystal chandeliers in the world. If you want to learn more about the architecture and design of the Grand Mosque, you can join one of the free tours that happen throughout the day.
2) Heritage Village
Before you visit the new attractions of the city, it would be a good idea to know about the past of the city by visiting the Heritage Village. Here, the past lifestyle and Bedouin culture of the Emiratis are preserved beautifully. You would be able to visit a fishing village complete with Bedouin tents, wooden huts, etc. You would be able to see several workshops on metal work and weaving at the Heritage Village. Do not forget to visit the Heritage Village Beach to check out an amazing view of the Corniche and the skyscrapers (the view of the new world). The place also has shops where you can buy some unique gifts and souvenirs like silver jewellery, handmade soap, handmade pots, traditional clothing, etc. You can also get your hands painted with henna at one of the stalls.
3) The Corniche
The Abu Dhabi Corniche is a 5 miles stretch along the Arabian Gulf and one of the best hangout spots for both locals and tourists. The Corniche is lined with some of the best hotels and residential buildings, and it is also a great place to walk or jog. The best way to explore the place is on a bicycle which you can rent. The place also has some excellent beaches (one of which is a free one) where you can relax as well as indulge in water sports and other activities. Apart from this, there are cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops, etc. along the Corniche, where you can sip a drink or grab a bite. If you are lucky, you would also get to be a part of a free concert. The Corniche is a great place to visit if you want to spend some quality time with your friends or family. Surely, the best thing is that you can visit the place any time during the day or night.
4) Ferrari World
One of the biggest attractions of Abu Dhabi is the Ferrari World. Located on Yas Island, this Ferrari themed amusement park has everything for those looking forward to an adventurous time. The star attraction of the place is the Formula Rossa, which is the world’s fastest roller coaster, as it runs at the speed of 240 km/hour. Some other rides include Fiorano GT Challenge, Turbo Track, Mission Ferrari, Flying Aces, etc. There are also family rides and children’s rides which include Junior GT, Junior GP, Tyre Twist, Made in Maranello, etc. To top it, there is also a store outside the park where you can buy Ferrari related souvenirs and gifts to take back home.
5) Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Falcons are an important part of the Emirati culture, after all, they were used for hunting for food by the Bedouins. Even though this does not happen now, the Falcons are still revered by the Emiratis. This can be proved by the fact that the UAE has its own special falcon hospital that treats around 8500 falcons every year. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital offers tours where you would able to visit the falconry museum, the examination rooms (and maybe even watch a doctor performing an operation or procedure) as well as the aviary where the falcons fly around freely. If you are lucky, you may also get the chance to take pictures of you holding a falcon. This is one of the most unique Abu Dhabi attractions and you should not miss it.
6) Louvre Museum
You no longer have to wait to go to France to visit the Louvre Museum. In fact, Abu Dhabi is home to its own Louvre Museum. Opened in November 2017, this museum is the first universal museum of the Middle East, which aims to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art. While you would be able to see the works of local and international artists, the museum is also home to famous art works loaned from famous museums of France including Musee du Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musee d’Orsay, etc. With the museum stretching at 24,000 square meters, with 8000 square meters of galleries, there is surely a lot of interesting artworks to see at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
7) Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi
Another attraction on the Yas Island is the Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Known to be the first Warner Bros. park in the Middle East, this park has six zones where you can see and interact with your favourite Warner Bros. characters including Batman, Superman, Scooby-Doo, Bugs Bunny, Flinstone, etc. You would be able to have a fun time enjoying the 29 amazing rides, interactive attractions, live entertainment and shopping outlets. Each zone also has restaurants that match the theme of that particular area. While it seems to be a great place to take young kids, Warner Bros. is something that people of all ages would enjoy.
8) Emirates Park Zoo
If you have little kids, you would know that there is nothing more fascinating for them than to see the animals and birds in their books, in real. If this is true in your case, you must head to the Emirates Park Zoo in Abu Dhabi. Home to a pair of white tigers, a Siberian bear, cheetahs, lions, zebras, elephants and tigers, the zoo is a place that would engage and entertain the little ones. You would also be able to see monkeys, visit a flamingo park and check out the sea lion enclosure. As the Emirates Park Zoo is a petting zoo, you would also be able to touch the animals. If you want to spend more time at the zoo, you can book a room at the resort where you have rooms with balconies that overlook the garden, zoo or cave.
9) Liwa Oasis Desert Safari
The Liwa Oasis is popular for possessing one of the largest sand dunes in the world and is also home to the famous Empty Quarter. The Liwa Oasis desert safari would give you the chance to go on a dune bashing session on the large dunes, view the wildlife of the desert and enjoy some interesting activities like camel riding, sandboarding, etc. You would be able to check out the historical desert fort and know about Bedouin lifestyle. Some desert safaris also include visiting a Bedouin camp, watching a belly dance performance and having a delicious BBQ dinner at the desert.
10) Emirates Palace
Although it looks like a royal palace, the Emirates Palace is, in fact, a hotel. Sprawling across 250 hectares of land, the Emirates Palace is truly fit for kings. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can enjoy the interiors of this palatial hotel by booking a massage at the spa or by having lunch, dinner or tea at one of its nine restaurants. Whatever might be the purpose of your visit, you would definitely be awed by its 1000 chandeliers, handmade carpets, 100 domes, beautiful lawns and gardens, and its motifs made of gold, crystals, and pearl. The Emirates Palace Hotel is one-of-a-kind and surely should be part of your itinerary.
11) Al-Hosn Fort
Another place that would give you a glimpse of Abu Dhabi’s past is the Al-Hosn Fort. Also known as the White Fort or the Old Fort, it is the oldest building of the city. Earlier, it was used as the residence of the ruling family. However, today, it has been renovated and used as a museum that gives you information about the culture, religion and history of Abu Dhabi. While the architecture of the museum is wonderful, the historical photographs and displays would surely catch your attention. If you love to know about the history of the place you visit, the Al-Hosn Fort in Abu Dhabi is a place you must check out.
12) Observation Deck at 300
If you want to watch the entire city from one place, there is no better place than the Observation Deck at 300. Perched on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel, this place gives you the highest vantage point in the entire city including the tall buildings, the Corniche and the Arabian Gulf. If you are a guest at the hotel, you can visit the observation deck for free. However, if you are not a guest, you would have to pay an entrance fee which can be redeemed to buy snacks and drinks. One of the best experiences of the Observation Deck at 300 is its afternoon or high tea where you would be served with delicious tea, coffee, and sweet and savory snacks.
As you now know about the 12 best things to do in Abu Dhabi, it is time to book your tickets and plan your itinerary. Abu Dhabi is also an amazing place to visit if you want to take a break from the crowd that you usually see in the city of Dubai.
This is a guest post by Neha Singh. She is an expert when it comes to the UAE. You can check out her amazing website here.
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