Abu Dhabi: a gem between a desert and a sea
Quick facts about Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, a city, an Emirate and the capital of the United Arab Emirates is situated on the island, just off the coast in the Arabian Gulf. It started as a small village of fishermen and pearl divers and now it is one of the most developed and modern cities in the world. Together with Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a hub of trade, commerce and banking in this part of the world and main crossroad to airline traffic connecting east and west.
It is a mixture of traditional and modern on every step – you can visit magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the morning and go for a Ferrari World Theme park in the afternoon and being transported into a future in an instant.
Tourism industry is very well developed in Abu Dhabi and average visitors can find great deals from variety of hotels, ranging from budget and middle range, and all the way to Emirates Palace, a luxury resort.
For old fashion souvenir and gifts purchases in bazaars and souks, Abu Dhabi provides Carpet and Iranian souks and World Trade Center Souk and for modern shopping experience there are two megamalls, such as Abu Dhabi and Marina Mall. They offer great discounts almost throughout the year.
Main attractions in Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center. Largest mosque in Emirates, and of the largest in the world. Featuring 82 white domes and space for 41,000 worshipers. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Ferrari themed entertainment complex located in Abu Dhabi. Many rides, including world fastest roller coaster. Emirates Palace. Luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, operated by Kempinski, featuring private marina, 14 restaurants and bars, a spa and scenic views.
Yas Island. Small island, interconnected with Abu Dhabi coastline famous for Grand Prix car-racing circuit, amusements parks, a beach and a golf course. Louvre Abu Dhabi. Built as a collaboration with original Louvre in Paris, this universal art and culture museum was opened in 2017. Marina Mall. Massive mall on the waterfront in Abu Dhabi. Featuring many designer stores, a bowling alley and an ice rink.
Saadiyat Island. A 27 square kilometers island, being transformed as a leisure, residential, business and cultural hub. Including also visitor center. Corniche Road. An 8 km stretch on the seaside in Abu Dhabi, with bike and pedestrian paths, children playgrounds, beaches, cafes and restaurants. Yas Waterworld. Large, Emirates themed waterpark located on Yas Island. Featuring over 40 different rides.
Emirates Heritage Club Heritage Village. Reconstructed, pre-modern Abu Dhabi presentation, with souk, mosque and village to present way of life in past times. Featuring workshops and events. Yas Marina Circuit. Official Formula 1 track with races ad events, located on the Yas Island, off the coast from Abu Dhabi.
Qasr Al Hosn. A 18th century palace and a fort, origin of Abu Dhabi as a city. Featuring annual heritage festival. Formula Rossa. Located in Ferrari World Abu Dhabi entertainment complex, this roller coaster is world’s fastest – speed reaching up to 150 mph. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Themed amusement park, featuring many characters from Warner Bros. franchise, such as Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera.
Capital Gate. Iconic skyscraper built in 2011 with unique, leaning structure. Aptly named ‘Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi’. Hosting a hotel and offices. Manarat Al Saadiyat. Cultural and art center, featuring exhibitions, workshops, performances and drop-in art studio spaces. Hosting local and international exhibitions and theater plays. Observation Deck at 300. Observation deck and highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi. Located on the level 74 of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers and popular with afternoon tea parties.
Umm Al Emarat Park. One of the oldest and largest parks in Abu Dhabi, located in the city center and featuring a shade house, botanic garden and an amphitheater. Aldar headquarters building. A disc shaped building, the first one of this type in the world, built in 2010. Mangrove National Park. With about 75 percent of the total mangrove forest area in the UAE, this biodiversity park just next to Abu Dhabi includes mangrove forests, salt marshes, mudflats, 60 bird species and algal communities.
From other attractions we recommend: Emirates Park Zoo, Khalifa Park and Al Maryah Island.
Top things to do in Abu Dhabi
There are so many activities to do in and around Abu Dhabi. Apart from attractions listed above, we also recommend: St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Madinat Zayed, dinner or lunch cruise, desert safari, a day trip to Al Ain. Since Dubai is only 65 miles away, you can go for a day trip to complete Emirates experience.
You can also enjoy a night tour of Abu Dhabi, where you can enjoy amazing architecture under the city lights, together with dinner experience of traditional Abu Dhabi cuisine.
Festivals and events in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (January), Camel Racing (during winter), The Emirates Photography Competition, Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (December), Abu Dhabi Science Festival (May), Abu Dhabi Film Festival (October), Abu Dhabi Festival (March), Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (April), Abu Dhabi International Dance Festival (April).
Interesting facts about Abu Dhabi
Best time to fly to Abu Dhabi
The peak season for flights to Abu Dhabi is January, March and December. The low season for purchasing tickets is June, July and September.
Abu Dhabi is served by Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). Direct flights to Abu Dhabi are offered by 25 airlines.
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