A destination brimming with diversity, Abu Dhabi is fast becoming one of the Middle East’s most exciting holiday destinations. From desert adventure to a sparkling coast of beaches and islands, not only will you find contrast in the terrain but also in the people, traditions and heritage.
As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, modern day Abu Dhabi takes influence from its humble beginnings and as such has cultivated a truly fascinating culture in a place that has been a crossroads for millennia. Whether you’re an adventure addict or luxury lover, you’re going to be spoilt for choice in Abu Dhabi.
Top 10 things to do in Abu Dhabi
The capital of the United Arab Emirates is having a moment. From stopover city to popular holiday destination in its own right, Abu Dhabi has been transformed into a city full of cultural, culinary and architectural wonders. Whether stopping for a few nights or lingering a little longer, here are some of the best ways to experience Abu Dhabi:
1. View masterpieces at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
Opened in late 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a billion dollar cultural collaboration with the Louvre in Paris and is considered a must-visit for art lovers. Featuring painting, sculpture, ceramics and furniture from the Louvre’s earliest collections, this museum gives visitors a chance to enjoy a slice of France while in the Middle East.
2. Enjoy a beachfront BBQ at Emirates Palace
A landmark hotel that is hard to miss, the opulent Emirates Palace is well worth a visit to admire the sprawling landscaped gardens that surround the property. Home to many top-rated restaurants, a beachfront dinner at BBQ Al Qasr is an unforgettable experience.
3. Go for a sunset beach stroll
Strolling along the Corniche Beach waterfront as the sun sets is a relaxing way to wind down in the early evening when temperatures are more pleasant.
4. Try a cooking class
Take home the rich culinary traditions of the region with a cooking class at Spice Spoons. Starting in a local market, the cooking class moves to the kitchen where an expert chef shares the secrets to making authentic Arabian-style dishes.
5. Stock up on contemporary art
Buying unique works of art made by local artists ensures you’ll come home with a one-of-a-kind souvenir. As an emerging destination for contemporary art, the Abu Dhabi Art Hub and Warehouse421 are great places to learn more or start your collection.
6. Step back in time on a Pearl Journey
Set sail on a traditional dhow to learn about pearling from local hosts. An important industry in these parts for hundreds of years, taking a Pearl Journey tour includes learning about how pearls are found, spotting seabirds in mangrove systems and enjoying Arabian snacks.
7. Take in panoramic views at the Observation Deck at 300
Found at the top of the Jumeirah Hotel, this observation deck is a top spot to see Abu Dhabi from a different perspective. Order a mocktail or pot of tea at the onsite boutique café to go with the incredible views.
8. Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Costing an astounding 2 billion dirhams to construct, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an unmissable architectural feat. Wear long pants and pack a scarf or shawl to join the popular Sunset Tour led by a local guide. Featuring white marble domes, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers, the world’s largest hand knotted carpet and reflective pools of immense beauty, this mosque will delight visitors with an appreciation for superior craftsmanship.
9. Visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
There’s no better place to learn about falconry than at the award-winning Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Part-museum, part-rehabilitation centre, a pre-booked tour of this facility will reveal free-flying falcons and fascinating insight into the place falcons hold within Emirati culture and society.
10. Melt away stress with a luxe spa treatment
Flying creates tension, so relax weary muscles with a treatment at the Anantara Spa. The signature hammam experience combines sauna and steam sessions with massage and exfoliation, borrowing elements from Turkish spa culture to create the ultimate indulgence for tired travellers.