The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, attracts less attention than its neighbour, the glitzy and booming city, Dubai . However, Abu Dhabi is actually wealthier than Dubai and has watched its growth carefully, with an emphasis on the arts and the preservation of the city’s heritage. The latter has a street layout similar to Manhattan, with wide avenues and lots of leafy green spaces. Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi has its share of beaches, gold souks and international restaurants. Abu Dhabi is a great place to soak up the sun in winter. With its golden beaches, water parks and desert trips, the emirate is now well established as a tourist destination.
Here are the must-see places to visit in Abu Dhabi :
- 1. Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi
- 2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- 3. Qasr Al-Hosn (@palais/fort)
- 4. The Corniche
- 5. Heritage Village
- 6. The panoramic view of the whole city at the Etihad Towers Hotel
- 7. Women’s Handicraft Center
- 8. Falcon Hospital
- 9. Activities on Yas Island
- 10. The souks of Abu Dhabi
- 11. Visit the city of the future, Masdar
- 12. Liwa Oasis
- How to get to Abu Dhabi and where to stay?
- Where to sleep in Abu Dhabi?
1. Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Inaugurated on November 8, 2017 and open to the public on November 11, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel and aims to create a “bridge” between the West and the East, to create a dialogue between cultures and civilizations. Visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi and its extensive exhibition of artworks and artefacts has become a must-visit destination!
2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Clad in Macedonian marble, the magnificent and absolutely gigantic Sheikh Zayed Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s iconic building. The mosque fuses Mamluk, Ottoman and Fatimid style elements to create a harmonious and distinctly modern mosque that celebrates Muslim architecture. International engineers and craftsmen worked on its construction thanks in particular to mosaics, worked glass and spectacular intricate carvings both inside and outside. It was inaugurated in 2007 after 12 years of construction.
Capable of holding 40,000 worshippers , it is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, and it is dedicated to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Non-Muslims are allowed in all areas of the mosque (including the huge library), and there are guided tours available. The mosque is open (free) every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. except Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
3. Qasr Al-Hosn (@palais/fort)
Al-Hosn Palace, also known as Old Fort or White Fort, is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi . The palace was built in 1793 as the residence of the ruling family and the seat of government. The interior of Al Hosn Palace has been renovated and modernized, and is now used by the Cultural Foundation to house the Center for Documentation and Research, which has a collection of documents on the heritage and history of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region. The courtyard and the magnificent mosaic work on the main north door are a must see. In the palace is a museumtraditional objects and historical photographs. The exhibition includes a natural history section with desert wildlife, and a historical section with exhibits on the history of Abu Dhabi.
4. The Corniche
The Corniche is an epic 6.5km walk with plenty of places to stop and enjoy a picnic. You can walk the entire length in an afternoon, but why not speed things up by hiring a bike instead? Two things stand out. The emirate’s flag , as tall as a bus, atop a 110m mast, and the remarkable Gate Capital building , with an 18-degree tilt (the leaning tower of Pisa is just four degrees) . For those who want it, The Avenue at Etihad Towers is a mall dedicated to high-end fashion. Along the Corniche, the beach is just waiting for your towel. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Qasr Al-Hosn(see above) or be spoiled for choice with restaurants and cooking styles from around the world.
5. Heritage Village
Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village is an authentic replica of a typical Bedouin encampment that gives a sense of Emirati life before the oil boom. It is located on a pretty beach in the city, near the Marina Mall. There are exhibits featuring traditional everyday items, as well as showcasing local agriculture and the pearl hunting trade, once major economies. Unfortunately, information through the museum is rather sparse.
6. The panoramic view of the whole city at the Etihad Towers Hotel
Abu Dhabi’s answer to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower is its “Observation Deck at 300” offering skyline views from the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel , the city’s highest point. There is an entrance ticket of 75 AED (16€) for non-hotel guests, but 50 AED (10.50€) are reimbursed in vouchers for eating or drinking at the restaurant on the terrace of the hotel. ‘observation. Take a “Grand Cru” tea or a mocktail (non-alcoholic cocktail) on the 74th floor of this luxurious hotel, with the city stretching out just below: an exceptional experience during your stay in Abu Dhabi!
7. Women’s Handicraft Center
The Women’s Craft Center is a great place for you to learn about traditional local women’s techniques like weaving, embroidery and basketry. It’s a great place to buy authentic and original souvenirs that support the work of the center. You will find shawls, slippers, bags, rugs and textiles, trays and baskets… You can have a henna pattern painted on your hand, which will last about two weeks.
8. Falcon Hospital
The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a veterinary hospital working to cure sick and injured falcons, but it also provides guided tours for interested visitors. Tours allow you to see these raptors up close and if you’re up for the challenge, you may also have the chance to hold one of these impressive birds.
9. Activities on Yas Island
Yas Island is one of the best sports and luxury destinations 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, with beaches perfect for spending the day sunbathing. This island also hosts the Yas Marina Circuit , where the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix is held every year. There is also the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi amusement park, a water park, several golf courses, polo fields, an equestrian center and high-end hotels.
10. The souks of Abu Dhabi
Whether you’re a shopper or not, don’t miss a visit to a local souk, like the Madinat Zayed Gold Souk for gold and jewelry, or for renowned Persian rugs at the Iranian Souk . For fruits and vegetables go to the Al Mina souk . The atmosphere at the Al Ain Souk is excellent. The experience is made interesting if you haggle, as tradition dictates.
Other souks are worth seeing, such as the open-air ones at Al Bawadi and Al Qaws , or the Souk Al Zafarana and the Fish Souk .
11. Visit the city of the future, Masdar
Masdar , near the airport, is worth a visit. Cars are banned in this pioneering “zero-carbon” city which is still the size of a village, but projects are on the way. The eco-city is powered entirely by the sun, and the hot, strong winds that blow off the desert. Students and researchers are working on this project with the aim of seeing cities like these flourish all over the planet in the near future.
12. Liwa Oasis
South of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the beautiful oasis of Liwa , 150 km from the city, is a great escape from the urban bustle. The oasis is known for its production of dates and for being close to some of the largest sand dunes in the world. If you’re staying in Abu Dhabi long enough, it’s a must-see attraction especially for buggy riding, sand boarding or camel riding.
You can also escape to the oasis of Al Ain, which has the peak of Jebel Hafeet as its backdrop.