9 Best things to do in Abu Dhabi

Looking for things to do in Abu Dhabi ? Read on...

About Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is also the country's center of government and a major cultural and commercial hub. One of the largest cities in the UAE, Abu Dhabi is actually an archipelago made up of over 200 islands, and surrounded by desert and ocean.

The city was founded in 1761 by Sheikh Dhabi bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was the ruler of what was then a small tribal state. Since then, Abu Dhabi has grown into a modern metropolis with a skyline that rivals that of any other city in the world. The city is home to some of the most iconic buildings and landmarks in the UAE, including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Abu Dhabi Formula One Circuit, and the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel.

Abu Dhabi is a major tourist destination, with millions of visitors coming to experience its luxury hotels, shopping malls, and attractions each year. The city is also home to a growing number of expatriates, who have made it their home for its tax-free status.

Abu Dhabi City Tour

On our final morning in Abu Dhabi, we set off on a city tour with Arabian Adventures. Unfortunately for us, it was a very foggy morning, typical of winter in the Emirate. However, the fog lifted gradually during the day and by midday, most of it had cleared up. The fog may have spoilt our photos but we still got to see Abu Dhabi's main attractions and landmarks.

Yassine from Arabian Adventures picked us up in a comfortable coach from the Royal Rose Hotel and we set off on the tour. Our co-passengers were from Canada and Germany. Yassine was originally from Tunisia, and he was quite an entertaining and informative guide. En route to our first stop, he told us about the history of the Emirates and its rulers.

Here are the things to do in Abu Dhabi on a city tour

1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The breath-taking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world and can accommodate 40,000 worshippers. It is also Abu Dhabi’s most visited attraction and one of the most Instagrammable places in Abu Dhabi. A magnificent sight in pristine white marble, the mosque has 82 domes, over 1000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and giant floral marble inlays across the expansive courtyard. It also boasts the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and one of the largest chandeliers in the world. Yassine gave us an in-depth tour of the mosque, pointing out its main features, beautiful artwork and other interesting details.

Tip: Ensure that you are covered in loose, modest clothing or you will not be allowed in.

2. Abu Dhabi Heritage Village

Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Heritage Village

The Heritage Village is a replica of an Emirati village. It showcases the Bedouin lifestyle and heritage. Here you will see exhibits like Bedouin tents, clothing and arms, and traditional artisan workshops like carpet weaving and glass blowing. My daughter was given a chance to try her hand at carpet weaving and she enjoyed it. The village is built by the seaside and across the waters you can see the contrasting, modern Abu Dhabi skyline.

Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Carpet Maker at work

3. Date Market

Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Date Market

We made a quick stop at the date market where we were given different varieties of delicious dates to sample. Natural dates, dates covered in chocolate, dates filled with pistachio, date syrup and much more. Needless to say, we walked away with a few shopping bags.

4. Fish Market

Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Fish Market

The fish market was fascinating. We walked through the huge market where we saw all kinds of fish and crustaceans, including many varieties which we had not seen before. Here fresh fish is caught, cleaned, sold and purchased daily. There are fish cleaners on the side who will clean the fish you’ve purchased and there is a restaurant in the market that will cook and serve your fresh fish for you. One of the cleaners was an old gentleman who had been working there from before Sheikh Zayed became the ruler of the UAE (in 1971)!

The tour lasted for 5 hours. We drove through the city and along the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Yassine pointed out landmarks like the opulent Emirates Palace, the lavish Royal Palaces, the Capital Gate – the world’s most leaning building, and the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi. He told us interesting anecdotes along the way and gave us a better insight into Abu Dhabi.

More things to do in Abu Dhabi

5. Visit The Louvre Abu DhabiLouvre Abu Dhabi

We also visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi which officially opened in November 2017 after 10 years in the making. The museum is dominated by a stunning dome and contains original works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin and many other legendary artists. A group of musicians performed a traditional folk song  when we got there. I visited the Louvre in Paris many years ago. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is quite different.

6. Ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World

Ferrari World

Ferrari World

All adrenalin junkies and thrill seekers should have the world's fastest roller coaster on their bucket list. Ferrari World is home to this speed exciting speed machine.

7. Go on a desert safari

Abu Dhabi desert

Safari vehicles lined up

When in the United Arab Emirates, a desert safari is something that must be experienced. It typically combines dune-bashing in the desert, with desert activities like sand-boarding and quad-biking, followed by a Bedouin-style dinner in a desert camp with live entertainment. It certainly was one of the highlights of our trip.

8. Visit the Garden City of Al Ain

Things to do in Al Ain

Al Ain is a fascinating city, and so different from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is much more traditional and authentic. It is the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and one of its oldest cities. It was once an important oasis for travellers on the caravan route between the UAE and Oman. It is also the birthplace of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family.

9. Have lunch at the Shangri La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

The Shangri La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri is an ultra-luxurious hotel located on a private beach. It boasts some of the best Arabian buffets in Abu Dhabi.

Arabian Adventures is part of The Emirates Group. They offer tours all over the UAE. Visit their website to find the perfect tour for you.

UAE Visa

Find out how to apply for a UAE Visa online here

Where to stay in Abu Dhabi

Hyatt Capital Gate

Royal Rose Hotel

Crowne Plaza Yas Island

Or book here.

Download the app guide here.

What are your favourite things to do in Abu Dhabi ?

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Things to do in Abu Dhabi

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21 comments on “9 Best things to do in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Exploring Abu Dhabi is a captivating journey! 😍 The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi sound like must-visit gems. 💎

  2. Visited Abu Dhabi back in 2017. But could only make it to the Grand Mosque. Loved it. Saving this for future travels.

  3. Ooo, I would absolutely love to observe the traditional carpet weavers and glass blowers. How fun that your daughter was able to try her hand at the weaving table. I'd also love the gardens and learning more about Bedouin life there.

  4. Man, I want to go to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque! It looks unreal. The date market would be fun too! These are great ideas!

    1. Haha, the ritz and glitz is in Abu Dhabi too 🙂 . The UAE is so different from Europe and the Americas. Thank you Harmony.

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