Abu Dhabi is a part of the United Arab Emirates and has been increasing in popularity as a holiday destination in recent years. Abu Dhabi features stunning architecture, diverse culture, and amazing historical and religious sites. Ancient and ultra-modern blend seamlessly in this city of a thousand wonders. Mosques dating back thousands of years sit metres away from sparkling high-rise buildings and elite hotels. This city has a lot to offer to tourists with its bustling shopping areas, sightseeing, and unique outlook on life.
Top Things to do and see in Abu Dhabi
A visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a must. Religion, culture and education all meet in this fabulous building. However, you should note that both men and women should have shoulders and knees covered during the tour, and women must wear an abaya - a loose, robe-like dress -, which is provided. The Emirates Palace Hotel is free to wander through, even if you are not a guest. Afterwards, stroll outside the hotel entrance to the Corniche, a long stretch running alongside the ocean with greenery, trails, and snack vendors.
The pristine sweeps of white sand lead into the aqua waters, where sunbathers and wake boarders refresh themselves and stay cool. Shopping, dancing and sightseeing are available throughout the city. Take in stunning modern architecture so breathtaking that it is almost as if you are in a futuristic science fiction film! There are also the beautiful mosques to savour, offering a different type of architectural beauty.
There is simply no shopping area in the world that can match Abu Dhabi. The Old Souk, the oldest part of the city, has vendors hawking their wares in a bazaar setting straight out of a movie. Haggling has been raised to an art form here, so do not buy at the price offered. Carpets, gold and fabrics are particularly good purchases in Abu Dhabi, so do not leave without finding something new to bring home.
Arts and Entertainment
Abu Dhabi is home to many annual events, and if you are visiting during one of the many festivals that are held at different times of the year in the city, you will want to check it out. Performing arts lovers will be sure to enjoy the Abu Dhabi Salsa and Jazz Festival, which lasts for two days and offers a mix of Latin music and dance as well as great food, while the WOMAD music festival takes place in April on the Cornice and features live music that ranges from reggae to punk, and everything in between.
The annual Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship has become very popular despite the fact that it has only been held since 2006. For individuals who are interested in a different kind of sport, the city offers something quite unique: camel racing. This can be quite fun to either take part in or watch, and is something that is ideal for the whole family, attracting thousands of tourists to the area each year. The races usually occur in the winter on Thursday or Friday mornings. You will be able to get a real sense of the city's traditional culture by watching one of these camel races, and interacting with the locals who attend them.
Fine dining is very popular in Abu Dhabi, and the city features a huge assortment of fine dining Michelin star restaurants, many of which are located in the luxury five-star hotels which can be found throughout the city. One of the most popular is the chic sushi restaurant that is located at the Yas Marina & Yacht Club, while the Hilton Abu Dhabi Hotel features Bice, a multiple award winning Italian restaurant.
There are also a large number of restaurants and cafes available for those who are on a tighter budget. The city offers outlets with a wide range of cuisines to try out, so fussy eaters need not worry; there is something for everyone to enjoy. Restaurants featuring Latin American, European, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, and African cuisines are available in virtually every price range throughout the city.
Buffets are also very popular in Abu Dhabi, and many establishments specializing in buffet-style dining can be found on Corniche Road, Sheikh Zayed Street, and a number of other areas in the city, so if you are after an 'all you can eat' experience, one of these will certainly have what you are looking for. Seafood restaurants can also be found throughout the city.
Abu Dhabi has a much more active and bustling nightlife than is usually found in most other cities in the Middle East. There are a wide variety of clubs, pubs, and bars to visit which will help anyone find what they are looking for from a night out. Left Bank is one of the most stylish and luxurious bars in the city, and if you are looking to splash out one evening, this is the place to do it. The venue usually features a variety of music including D&B, R&B, hip hop, techno, and house as well as the top DJs in the city, and has a huge balcony providing spectacular views. Fairways is another popular bar and restaurant in the Khalifa City area offering a wide range of cocktails and live entertainment, as well as a DJ playing all the latest chart hits. Comedy lovers can attend a show at one of the many comedy clubs in the city, and there is also a selection of karaoke bars, clubs offering live music and dancing, and even pubs offering quiz nights to have fun at.
Kids and Families
There are many activities and venues in Abu Dhabi that are suitable for families with children. Whiz Kidz provides lots of artsy style pursuits for young people to engage in such as painting, drawing and calligraphy, as well as etiquette and public speaking lessons. Offering an educational experience, it is also be a great place for kids to meet and make new friends while visiting the city. Fun City is a popular theme park in Marina Mall which is free to enter; adults and children are charged per ride. Fun Zone, Sparky's, and Wanasa Land are also fun places for families to visit.
Kids over 14 years old can take kickboxing lessons at the Abu Dhabi Combat Club, while younger kids can take judo lessons. The Abu Dhabi Football Academy is fun for children aged four years and older. There are all sorts of other activities on offer in the city which will appeal to young and old alike such as bowling, dance, golf, music, sailing, paintballing, and horse riding.
Parks and the Great Outdoors
Abu Dhabi has many parks and zoos which allow visitors to enjoy the great outdoors and get away from the busy city centre at the same time. Al Ain Paradise Garden/Park is one of the most popular parks in the city, and features a vibrant, brightly coloured flower display roughly the size of four football pitches. The park also has a 12 metre high replica of the Eiffel Tower, which is a very popular spot at which to take touristy-style photos.
Animal lovers will enjoy the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre, home to a large number of exotic creatures, including cheetahs. The Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort is another popular option with more than 4,000 animals on the premises. Kids Park Zoo allows children to touch the animals, and have a more up close and personal, hands-on experience with some of the more friendly species. The Capital Gardens, located in the city centre, provides a break from the surrounding high-rises and features many walking and biking paths, fountains, and play areas.
Abu Dhabi Hotels and Accommodation
Mainly known for its amazing assortment of luxurious five-star hotels, Abu Dhabi accommodation offers elegance and comfort to both business travellers and holidaymakers. Abu Dhabi has some of the most beautiful, luxury and exotic hotels in the world, but accommodation in Abu Dhabi can include much more affordable priced accommodation. Cheap hotels in Abu Dhabi can be found quickly, choosing two or three-star categories. Hotels in the heart of Abu Dhabi and along the Corniche will bring all the excitement and sights of Abu Dhabi to your doorstep.
Another option to consider is one of the several Abu Dhabi serviced apartments - ideal for the longer stay visitor or the family expat visit.
Many of the more affordable hotels in the city are part of well-known and respected international chains, which provides added peace of mind to travellers. Hotels in all price ranges do get booked up quite quickly at certain times of year, especially during events and conferences, so be sure to book well in advance if you can in order to secure the type of accommodation you are looking for.