Today we are very excited to talk about an amazing place. If when you think in luxury and superlatives Dubai comes up to your mind (and you can check the Top 15 Wonders of Dubai here), stop, take a deep breath and think again. Today, we are going to talk about Abu Dhabi, the Capital of United Arab Emirates.
A Short Introduction
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi (Arabic: إمارة أبو ظبي) is one of the seven Emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the largest emirate by area, also has the largest population of the seven emirates.
It is believed that parts of Abu Dhabi were settled as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and its early history fits the nomadic herding and fishing pattern, typical of the broader region.
Nowadays the combination of international influences and a strong commitment to local heritage has created an intriguing mix of new and old, which makes Abu Dhabi a perfect place for tourism.
There is a lot to say about the rich culture, the many places, and things to do you can find now in Abu Dhabi, not to mention the great projects upcoming in the future. But this time we will make our list short, we will keep more to the next top list for Abu Dhabi.
For booking options check here: Hotels in Abu Dhabi
Top 13 Places and Attractions in the Capital of United Arab Emirates
1 – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – The World’s Most Expensive Mosque
One of the largest mosques in the world and the most expensive mosque made, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an architectural work of art. With capacity for 40,000 worshipers, it features 82 domes, over a thousand columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers, and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet. Read more.
2 – The Corniche
Ideal for leisure activities, we can separate the Abu Dhabi Corniche in two main points:
- The Waterfront Road
The Corniche Road spreads across eight kilometers (around 5 miles) and includes children play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach.
- The Corniche Beach
The Corniche beach extends along Corniche Road from near the Hilton Hotel to beyond Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, where you’ll find its main entrance. During the week you can usually find a beach umbrella, but during the weekend they may all go quickly. You can’t swim out very far; floating fences keep you within 40 meters of the beach, and there are plenty of lifeguards around.
3 – Aldar HQ
Completed in 2010, the Aldar HQ building certainly deserves a visit. You won’t see many buildings around it, and surrounded by the sea, this unique circular-shaped piece of engineering can be noted by a far distance, especially if you are driving to the airport or the Yas Island.
It is not necessarily a tourist-oriented attraction, but it adds a lot to Abu Dhabi’s landscape.
4 – Yas Marina Circuit
The stunning Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the second Formula One track in the Middle East. Believed to be the most expensive F1 track ever built, it boasts 21 twists and turns that pass around the Yas Marina and through the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, which sits atop the circuit.
For Yas Marina Viceroy booking click here
5 – Capital Gate
The world’s furthest leaning man-made tower definitely worths a visit. It’s easily noticeable not only by its height but by its impressive lean of 18 degrees and by its funnel shape. The Capital Gate also boasts a 5-star hotel and every room is different from the other due to the building’s unique design. There is also an unusual swimming pool that deserves a mention, mostly because it delivers a great panoramic view from the 19th floor where it is located.
6 – Yas Waterworld
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s first mega waterpark. Spreading across more than 11 hectares, the park offers 43 rides and slides with speeds found only at one of the wildest adventure parks in the world. Five of the park’s attractions have never been seen before in waterparks, such as the world’s longest, fastest tornado waterslide, the world’s first interactive water and laser roller coaster, also described as the longest suspended roller coaster in the Middle East, the world’s largest surfable sheet wave and the first rattling water slide in the world.
The little ones will also find plenty of fun at Yas Waterworld, splash slashing in the Marah Fortress or cruising down the slopes of Yas’ tiny Yehal. The park theme pays tribute to the Emirati pearl-diving culture and visitors interact on a hunting game to find a legendary pearl.
Opening Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Ticket info here
For places to stay you can check here: Hotels in Yas Waterworld
7 – Observation Deck at 300
The Observation Deck at 300 is on the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and offers a stunning 360 degrees view of Abu Dhabi and, at 300 meters above the ground, you will have a great experience when drinking the delicious High Tea whilst have an unbeatable view of the Capital’s cityscape and the surrounding islands.
Address: Etihad Towers – Tower 2, Level 74
Opening hours: Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
Admittance fee: AED75 (USD20.50) per person with AED50 (USD13.60) redeemable voucher for food or beverage at the venue.
8 – Emirates Palace
Despite being a hotel, the magnificent Emirates Palace is a national landmark and one of the most expensive hotels ever built. It also has the distinction of being one of the few 7-star hotels in the world. To get an idea of just how extravagant the Emirates Palace is, the hotel has even a unique ATM that dispenses solid gold bars and you can read more here
9 – Saadiyat Public Beach
The Saadiyat Public Beach is a long and very clean beach. Its blue waters and soft sands are very welcoming. But not only this, you will have good and well rated services offered by the company that maintains there, making this a must go place in Abu Dhabi and perfect for the family.
Opening hours: Open daily from 8am to 8pm.
10 – Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Considered a major tourist attraction in the Abu Dhabi Emirate, it is the world’s largest and advanced falcon hospital where around 9 thousand birds receive treatment every year. It provides guided tours that allow you to get up close and personal with these birds. The sport of falconry is so popular in Abu Dhabi that falcons are even issued passports and the prized animals can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In order to increase the wild falcon population, the Abu Dhabi Falcon hospital is also working to release certain types of falcons back into their natural wild habitat. So far more than 1,600 falcons have been released back into their original habitats in Pakistan, Iran, and Kazakhstan.
All tours have to be booked in advance. More information here
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 2pm.
11 – Women’s Handicraft Center
The Women’s Handicraft Center is an interesting attraction in Abu Dhabi. There you will see local women making various types of handicrafts, traditional food, and henna. The money gathered from the products and services are normally used for charity.
Remember to remove your shoes before entering each hut, and ask for photography permission.
Address: Women’s Association Complex, Karama St, Al Mushrif (near the Immigration Office and the Royal Stables)
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday from 7am to 3pm. More info here
12 – Desert Safaris and Camping on the Desert
It is not exactly a place since it varies from company to company which provides this service, but must safaris will take you to the dunes of Al Khaznah or explore the desert outside the Liwa oasis in the Western Region. Among the activities offered are dune bashing, sand skiing, and quad biking as well as the traditional meal under the stars for a romantic and special experience.
13 – Mushrif Central
The Mushrif Central is a great and well maintained park. It has very well rated attractions such as the Animal Barn, a very good place for children to have a healthy interaction with animals, and the Botanic Garden & Shade House with its beautiful natural pond and indigenous plants.
Address: 15th Street between Airport Road and Karamah Street
Opening hours: Open daily from 8am to 10pm.
Admittance fee: General admission is AED5 (USD1.40), children below 3 years old do not pay.
You Also Need to Know
Abu Dhabi and UAE’s culture is firmly rooted in Arabia’s Islamic traditions and:
- Foreigners are free to practice their own religion;
- Dress code is liberal;
- Women are able to drive and walk around unescorted.
- While normal tourist photography is acceptable, it is polite to ask permission before taking photos of people, particularly women;
- Photographs of government buildings, military installations and ports and airports should not be taken;
- Cameras may be banned in public areas designated for women and children only.
For booking options check here: Hotels in Abu Dhabi