Abu Dhabi is the second most visited city in the United Arab Emirates. Best known for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it attracts more and more visitors each year for the other activities it offers. You can enjoy a stroll along the seafront, visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi or explore the green spaces. Whether you are traveling with family, friends, couples or on your own, you will enjoy these 10 must-do activities in Abu Dhabi.
1. Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
One of the largest mosques in the world is located in the UAE in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi under the name of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is unique in its architecture with large domes, huge columns, 24-carat gold chandeliers and a hand-woven carpet in the prayer hall.
This mosque was created by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan before his death. The aim was to have a historical impact and to embody the message of peace, tolerance and diversity of Islam. It is a spiritual place open to non-Muslims to visit. It is the ideal place to learn more about the religion of this country. You can enjoy a free guided tour offered by the cultural pole of the mosque.
We suggest you walk around, sit and listen to the call to prayer. It is a place that speaks to believers and non-believers alike. With its large spaces, its architecture, its atmosphere, its pool, you can’t help but feel at peace. We advise you to go there at the end of the day to enjoy the beautiful lights and the transition between day and evening on the mosque.
For those who love photography, you will be in your own little paradise. There are several spots that you will enjoy taking pictures of.
– It is mandatory to respect the religious and cultural codes before visiting the mosque. It is necessary to wear an appropriate dress: no shorts, no short skirt and the shoulders must be covered. As well as the head covered with a veil. You will have all the information at the entrance of the mosque. Dresses for women and men are available for free: abayas (long dresses), veils for women and traditional dresses for men.
– Make sure your behavior is appropriate and in keeping with the place. It is important to respect the culture and religion of the people.
– Admission is open to all and completely free.
– It is allowed to take pictures of yourself and the mosque. – It is not possible to visit the mosque during the Friday prayer. It is necessary to inquire about the schedules. They vary depending on the time of year.
Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street، – 5th St – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours : Every day from 9am to 10pm (for visits).
Telephone: +971 2 419 1919
Website : https://www.szgmc.gov.ae/en/Home
2. Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi
It is one of the most visited places in the city. The Louvre Abu Dhabi was born out of a partnership with a dozen French museums, including the Louvre. Contrary to what one might think, it is not a copycat version of the Parisian museum. This museum has the particularity of being universal by welcoming works from all over the world. It was created with the motivation of embodying the energy and creativity of the contemporary Arab world by combining it with the multicultural heritage of the region.
There are several art galleries. The visit can be done alone or with a guide who will accompany you throughout the visit. It is also possible to download the free application of the museum. It will help you find your way around the museum.
After the visit, you can do some shopping in the museum store. Afterwards, you can have a coffee or a meal in the restaurant area. Don’t forget to take pictures outside the museum at the futuristic dome of the structure, composed of 7,850 stars filtering the sunlight creating a spectacular visual called “the rain of light”.
– There is an entrance fee. We advise you to buy your tickets online and to opt for the cut line option.
– Admission is free for children under 18 years old.
– Some galleries are closed due to new art installations. Please inquire before picking up your tickets.
– The museum is accessible to all. There is access at every place for people with reduced mobility. There are also strollers for children.
Address: Saadiyat – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours : closed on Mondays. Tuesday to Thursday open from 10am to 6pm and Friday to Sunday from 10am to 8:30pm.
The dome, cafes and restaurants are open until midnight. Telephone: +971 600 565566
Website : https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae
3. Stroll on the Corniche, visit of the Heritage Village and shopping in the souk
The cornice runs along a large part of the sea. The walk is pleasant, because the space is very well arranged. You can go for a walk or a bike ride. Indeed, there are bike paths all along the Corniche Beach. It is the ideal spot in Abu Dhabi to enjoy the sun with its fine white sand and turquoise blue water.
There are playgrounds for children, gardens and benches to enjoy the view of the sea, and also cafes and restaurants. It is one of the most beautiful spots to watch the sunset.
Afterwards, you can head to the Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi. It is a cultural center that represents traditional Emirati life before the big construction and oil boom. It is the authentic Abu Dhabi 100% through exhibitions, presentations and a number of events held throughout the year. You will be able to see the various traditional artifacts, Bedouin camps or the highlights of the local agriculture. It is a museum that will take you back to the 1970s in the UAE. It is a way to get familiar with and understand some of the customs that are still rooted in the lifestyle of the locals.
After visiting the Heritage Village, you can stroll through the souks. You will find many local products and also souvenirs to offer to your loved ones. The souks are organized according to the products sold such as the Gold Souk, Madinat Zayed, or the Iranian Souk where you can find Persian rugs. In the United Arab Emirates, souks are also a way to get away from it all and lead to travel.
For lunch, we suggest you go to the fish market. In this souk, you have a large choice of fish and seafood. You can buy your fish and eat it on the spot. There is a restaurant that offers to cook your fresh fish.
Zayed Heritage Center
Address: Baynounah Street – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Hours : Open ⋅ Closes at 14:30
Telephone: +971 2 665 9555
Website : https://torath.gov.ae
Madinat Zayed (gold souk)
Address: 438 Muroor Road – Al Danah – Zone 1 – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours : open from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 10pm (except Fridays open from 4pm to 10pm)
4. Visit Yas Island: Yas Marina, Ferrari World and Warner Bros
Yas Island is a must-see place in Abu Dhabi. It is home to the Marina, which is very lively both day and night. You will find many restaurants, cafes and bars with a breathtaking view of the Marina. This is also where the Formula 1 circuits are located. There is the competition like the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for example which takes place in this place.
Yas Marina is a great place to have lunch during the day and party at night. It is also the place for water activities such as boat rides, jetskiing and other more sporty activities. At the end of the day, it is nice to have a drink while enjoying the view of the promenade.
On Yas Island, there are also the two theme parks Ferrari World and Warner Bros. Ferrari World has 19 roller coasters, water rides and other attractions to discover on site. The park has also thought about children. They have the possibility to drive a small Ferrari Spider F430 GT and a small model of Formula 1.
As for Warner Bros World, it is a park with several themes. It has several areas with different attractions. Each zone is decorated and arranged according to a theme such as Caillouville, Gotham, Metropolis, Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. You will be immediately immersed in the Warner Bros. universe. You will also see legendary characters like Superman or Wonder Woman for example. There are restaurants and stores in the park. It is also possible to stay at the WB Abu Dhabi, Curio Collection by Hilton located near the Warner Bros.
Important information for parks:
– For both parks, there are several packages available for sale: single entry, multi-day, single or multi-park and hotel stay.
– It is an open park for children and adults. – For prices and schedules, please check their websites, as during the summer the schedules are often changed.
– Don’t miss the events organized in the park.
Address: Yas Island – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 800 6274627
Website : http://www.yasmarina.ae
Address: Yas Island – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours: open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 8pm and from 11am to 8pm on weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
Telephone: +971 600 511115
Website : https://www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com/
Address: Yas Island – Yas Leisure Dr – Yas Island – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours: Mondays and Tuesdays open from 12:00 to 20:00, Wednesdays from 10:00 to 2:00, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays open from 11:00 to 20:00.
Telephone: +971 600 511115
Website : https://www.wbworldabudhabi.com/
5. Go on safari in the deserts of Abu Dhabi
The desert tour is a must for your stay in the UAE. Abu Dhabi has a large amount of desert. One of the largest is the Rub Al Khali which is located about 2.5 hours from the center of Abu Dhabi city.
Its particularity is its immensity and its incredible dunes which can reach up to 300 meters high. It is in a landscape out of the common that you will spend an unforgettable moment. You have the choice to make the excursion in group or in private with an agency or a local guide. It is also possible to go alone with a rental car for example. The road to Moreeb Dune is completely paved and you can continue the trip on foot.
You can spend half a day or even the night in the desert. Wilderness camping is allowed in the UAE. Remember to bring everything you need for a pleasant night under the stars. For the ultimate experience, make sure to build a campfire and have a barbecue. So if you’re in Abu Dhabi, be sure to take a stroll through one of the world’s largest deserts.
– If you are going to the desert without a tour company, remember to take the necessary items such as a kit, enough water, food, sunscreen, a hat or scarf to cover your head in hot weather, a light loose-fitting outfit for the day and a fleece for the evening, and also sunglasses.
– Send your GPS data to a loved one.
6. Visit the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi
The Emirates Palace with its 7 stars is one of the most luxurious places in the world. It is open to visitors who wish to discover the architectural and decorative wonders of this place. With its oriental architecture, you will quickly be transported into the magic of 1001 nights. It was built in the early 21st century.
Inside, you will discover crystal pieces, balustrades, chandeliers, large carpets, etc. Outside, there are several exotic gardens, fountains and a grand staircase to the Palace.
After the visit, don’t miss the opportunity to have a Tea time or lunch in one of the luxurious restaurants of the Emirates Palace. This is an experience that you should have at least once in your trip to Abu Dhabi. A beautiful memory that you will take with you.
The Emirates Palace is located at the end of the corniche. After the visit and a lunch in the palace, you can take a walk or a bike ride along the corniche. To end your day in beauty, don’t miss the sunset.
Address: West Corniche Road – Al Ras Al Akhdar – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Schedules: we invite you to inquire directly on the website (link below) or to call them.
Telephone: +971 2 690 9000
7. Watching Abu Dhabi from the sky
The UAE is also known for its tall buildings. In Abu Dhabi, it’s the Etihad Towers that give you the opportunity to take in the sights. The towers are occupied by residents, businesses, restaurants and stores. They are open to visitors.
If you are in Abu Dhabi, be sure to observe Abu Dhabi from a height of about 280 meters. The 300 East Observation Deck is the place to see the city of Abu Dhabi from a different angle. On the 74th floor of tower number 2, you will be able to enjoy the city’s most breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf.
After the visit, you can go shopping in The Avenue at the Etihad Towers. You’ll find luxury brand boutiques. Afterwards, finish with lunch or a coffee break at one of the tower’s restaurants.
Address: Tower 2, Level 74, Etihad Towers – Corniche W St – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Telephone: +971 2 811 5666
Website : http://www.etihadtowers.ae
8. Boat ride or jet-ski on the waters of the Persian Gulf
In Abu Dhabi, the best thing to do is to take a walk along the corniche. You can also take a ride on a Dhowa traditional boat in the shape of a sailboat. In addition to being enjoyable, the ride on this boat will offer you a breathtaking view of the city of Abu Dhabi and its skyline.
For a more fun and sporty moment, you can opt for a Jet Ski ride. This activity is suitable for those who love thrills. There are several places where you can take a Jet Ski ride for about 30 minutes. There are two options. You can do the trip alone or in a group. During the ride, in addition to the Skyline, you may have the chance to see dolphins.
9. Discover Abu Dhabi’s nature spots
It is a unique park. It is the natural side of Abu Dhabi city. If you like nature and photography, you will enjoy this place very much. During the visit, you can see turtles, gazelles and other wild animals. This place is exotic, rejuvenating and the greenest place in the city.
The Jubail Mangrove Park’s main purpose is to educate visitors about ecology and to encourage them to understand the importance of respecting the city’s mangrove habitats.
It is possible to book several activities like kayaking for example. You will find all the information on the website.
Address: Al Jubail Island – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates
Opening hours : open every day from 07h to 21h
Telephone: +971 2 546 8341
10. Take a day trip to Sir Bani Yas Island
Sir Bani Yas is an island in the Persian Gulf. It is attached to the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is known to be home to many animals such as hyenas, gazelles, deer, sheep, cheetahs and many other animals. There are also fossils of animals that date back 6 to 8 million years. The preservation of the island is important to them, so several devices are in place to carry out their vocation.
On the island, there are many hotels, so it is possible to stay there for a weekend for example. The number one activity to do is obviously the safari. This activity can be done by car or on foot with a guide. You will be able to go through the island and observe several animals in nature.
There are also other activities to do such as snorkeling, mountain biking, diving, etc. If you want to schedule a cultural visit, the ruins of the Christian monastery are a must.
Address: Sir Bani Yas, Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates