One thing I like about Abu Dhabi is that it’s not overcrowded with tourists the same way Dubai is. Obviously, Dubai has all the cool things like indoor skiing, the largest building and largest shopping mall in the world. But I believe this is exactly where Abu Dhabi has an advantage.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and much quieter than Dubai. Where Dubai has great nightlife and is more “flashy”, you’ll find lots of culture and historical sights in Abu Dhabi.
I’ve gathered a list of the top things to see and do in Abu Dhabi. Enjoy!
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The Grand Mosque
This is an absolute must-visit in Abu Dhabi. The Grand Mosque, also called the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, is one of the largest mosques in the world! And it’s definitely the most beautiful one I have ever visited.
Construction began in 2004 and continued for three years until its opening in 2007. The spirit of the building is inspired to ‘unite the world’ having found artisans, craftsmen and materials from all over the world including Morocco, Turkey, India, Germany, China, New Zealand, Greece and Italy.
The mosque is free to enter, but to be sure you get to see everything and learn about the history behind it, half day tours are offered from 53 USD per person.
It’s possible to enter the Emirates Palace, get a cup of coffee and buy gold from the gold vending machine in the lobby. They call it “Gold to Go”. It’s a fun experience to try out the machine to see how it works (even if you don’t plan on buying anything).
The hotel itself is closed for outside visitors. This is done to give the guests privacy and a quiet space to rest without being interrupted by tourists who haven’t booked a room.
Ferrari World has been on my bucket list since I was in high school. It’s an adventure to visit this amusement park, and you can even try the fastest rollercoaster in the world! The park itself call it the most thrilling theme park – and I couldn’t agree more.
All rides have found their inspiration from Formula 1, which makes it even more exciting as all the rides are about speed. And if you want to drive Formula 1 yourself, they have a simulator where you can try it out and experience how fast the cars drive!
The price for a general admission ticket is 80 USD. They are open every day from 11 AM to 8 PM and located on Yas Island. They offer a free shuttle bus from various places such as Dubai Mall and Saadiyat. The timetable can be found on their website.
Yas Island Waterworld
Another fun place to spend your time. According to this park, they believe they are the Water’s Greatest Playground.
All the attractions are related to water. Some of them are fun for kids, others for the entire family and some rides are more thrilling. But what they all have in common is that they are super fun and a perfect place to go during hot summer days.
The tickets are 68 USD, and they are open every day from 10 AM to 7 PM. Some days, they are offering Ladies Night, where the park closes at 5 PM and re-opens one hour later just for the ladies. On those days the park closes at 11 PM.
Kayaking the Mangroves
This is a super cool activity, which one of my friends recommended me last time I was in Abu Dhabi. You can choose to have a guide with you. He will show you the best route through the mangroves.
One of the options is to go on a night tour through the Eastern mangroves of Abu Dhabi. The guide will prepare all the gear for the tour and brief the participants of how to paddle and safety precautions. After this you can choose whether you would like a single or double kayak.
Once you have started the tour, the guide will provide you with lights for better visibility. This tour is considered the most exotic experience in Abu Dhabi.
Sea Hawk offers tours with a single kayak for 30 USD or double kayak for 44 USD.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
This is where you truly get to learn about Abu Dhabi’s culture and heritage. Their focus is seeing humanity in a new light.
Louvre in Abu Dhabi origins from 2007, where France and the United Arab Emirates got together to develop a new kind of cultural institution. This resulted in this museum, which roots in universal human values. Today, they host four temporary exhibitions per year which all are centered around the human being.
If you would like to visit the Louvre of Abu Dhabi, I highly recommend the ticket where you’re able to skip the line. This type of ticket can be found for 21 USD per person. The museum is open from 10 AM to 8 PM. On Mondays, they are closed.
Going on a dessert safari is another fun and exciting adventure to try out in Abu Dhabi. Various tour operators offer trips to the dessert where you get to experience the dessert life and maybe even get the chance to go sandboarding.
For 69 USD, you can book a tour which includes all of the above and a camel ride, unlimited water and soft drinks, view of the sunset, falcon photos, henna painting, belly dancing and star gazing. The duration of the trip is 6-7 hours. You will be picked up directly at your hotel.
Warner Brothers Studio
If you’re looking for real action, the Warner Brothers Studio in Abu Dhabi is where you should go. Just like most of the other theme parks in Abu Dhabi, Warner Brothers Studio is also located on Yas Island.
The rides are inspired by all their cartoons such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Tom & Jerry, Tweety, and Scooby Doo! If you need real thrill, then the Justice League and Batman rides are going fast and fun. It is not only for the wild adventurers, but also for kids and families.
They are open from 10 AM to 8 PM every day. A ticket including transfer can be found for 142 USD.
Falcon & Saluki Show
This show is one of the impressive ones. For thousands of years, the locals in the United Arab Emirates have practices falconry and hunting with salukis. The Arabian salukis are known for their incredible speed and intelligence. During this show, you will be able to interact with the locals and learn about the traditional hunting techniques.
The price per person is 87 USD, and you can read more about it on Visit Abu Dhabi’s website.
When I’m on a holiday in Dubai, I love to go to Abu Dhabi for a few days to really relax and enjoy more cultural sights instead of just staying in Dubai. At times, Dubai can be quite overwhelming with all the great things they offer. But Abu Dhabi seems to be much more real, and it’s much easier to meet locals here.
Have you been to Abu Dhabi? What do you think?