Whether you’re in Abu Dhabi on a one-day stopover or you have a day to spare, there are loads of cool things you can see and do. Abu Dhabi has the cultural richness that seems to be disappearing from Dubai. People still follow the old ways here, in this history-rich capital city of the UAE. Visit Abu Dhabi and learn how well old traditions can co-exist with modern sensibilities.
GUEST POST BY NEHA
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What’s the best time to visit Abu Dhabi?
The delightful city of Abu Dhabi is flocked by tourists all year round, but the ideal time to visit the capital city of the UAE is between April and May or from September to February.
If you’re arriving in Abu Dhabi from nearby Dubai or Sharjah, just hire a taxi. If you start early, you can spend your entire one day in Abu Dhabi. Taxis are reasonable in the UAE, and you can stop at interesting spots for photographs, as well. You can opt for a bus to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, too.
Culture in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s culture is a combination of international influences and Arabia’s Islamic traditions. Islam governs the way people live here, including what they wear, eat, and drink. There’s a great tolerance of other cultures, and visitors are always hospitably received. Here are a few cultural guidelines to follow while you’re in Abu Dhabi:
– Avoid bare shoulders, bare backs and short skirts.
– Alcohol is allowed, but only in private nightclubs and bars.
– Drinking and driving is a punishable offense, even if you’ve had only a tiny sip.
– Public displays of affection are not allowed.
– Always check before you photograph important buildings.
The culture of Abu Dhabi’s residents
– Muslims have to pray five times a day, every time when the call to prayer goes up.
– Abu Dhabi promotes cultural and sporting events, such as camel racing, falconry, and dhow sailing.
– Men wear the kandura, a full-length robe in white along with a white or red checkered headdress, known as a ghutra.
– Important businessmen and sheikhs wear gold-trimmed robes during important events.
– Women wear long and loose black abayas and cover their heads with a headscarf called sheyla.
One Day in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Abu Dhabi.
The Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a spectacular concoction made of glittering white marble, with dozens of fabulous domes and minarets. There are a million sparkling gold-plated chandeliers as well, reflecting golden light around the mosque. Plus, you get to see the world’s largest carpet. Note that the dress code is strictly enforced here; women are expected to cover their heads and wear the black abaya. Men should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. You can book the tour here!
The Etihad Towers
If you long for some nice panoramic views of Abu Dhabi, get to Etihad Towers, which are located across the street from the Emirates Palace Hotel. Be sure to enjoy “a lunch with a 360-degree view of Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf” at Ray’s Grill, a restaurant on the 63rd floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.
Just off of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and in front of the exquisite Emirates Palace is the magnificent Palace Marina. The marina gives access to deep waters, which is why the rich sheiks berth their super-expensive 100-foot yachts here. Take a yellow boat ride along the Abu Dhabi coast and enjoy the coastline and the amazing yachts lined up in front of you.
The Emirates Palace Hotel
Want a taste of pure luxury, Abu Dhabi style? Head out to the Emirates Palace Hotel and stroll the lobby and the public rooms. Get a look at the fancy super-expensive cars lined out in front – Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royce’s. The Emirates Palace even has an ATM plated with gold inside!
Ferrari World is just the thrill your heart desires, if you’re a Formula 1 fan. Get on the world’s fastest roller-coaster within the Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor amusement park. The park closes by 8 p.m., so get there early to enjoy looking at several Ferraris screaming down the F1 racing lanes.
The Heritage Village
Want to get a feel of what Abu Dhabi was like before the oil boom? Get to the Heritage Village and observe how the tents are laid out. Watch local craftspeople peddle their craft. Observe the old-style buildings, explore the old souqs and discover Islamic traditions afresh.
The Corniche is Abu Dhabi’s signature waterfront boardwalk. It’s fun to walk along, looking at the city’s amazing skyline and famous landmarks. You’ll pass the Emirates Palace, the Manarat Al Saadiyat (arts and culture hub) and several other notable architectural wonders.
If you want to shop for carpets, perfumes, spices or gold, head out to the Iranian Souq. This is a traditional Arab-style market which offers amazing value for money. You can bargain here, but keep an eye out for cheats. The souq is a collection of stalls, hot and humid and filled with the smell of glorious spices.
Qasr Al-Hosn Palace and Fort
Qasr Al-Hosn Palace and Fort was the very first structure built in Abu Dhabi and the home to emirate’s ruling Al Nahyan family in the 1760s. Made of coral and sea stone, the Qasr al Hosn was once a commanding watchtower. The shells used in the walls break the sunlight into a myriad of colors – it’s a lovely sight.
Desert Safari in Abu Dhabi
Don’t forget to sign up for a wonderful safari in Abu Dhabi’s red sands desert! If you time it well, you can visit the desert in the evening, towards sunset. Watching the desert sunset will be the highlight of your trip. Enjoy all the desert sports you can – dune bashing, dune driving, sand boarding, camel riding and more.
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi?
Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi
Al Maryah Island, Al Maryah Island
Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi is located on the Al Maryah Island, right on the water, at one of the most exciting waterfront locations. This 5-star luxury hotel welcomes guests with bright, open spaces and amazing views of the city skyline. It features six creative restaurants and lounges, as well as the radiant Dahlia Spa – the luxurious Spa, with separate fitness and treatment facilities for men and women.
Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
Al Muroor Road , 4th street
Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi is another 5-star luxury hotel, centrally located in Abu Dhabi’s new business and government district. Its prominent glass tower, innovative architectural design and Thai-inspired interiors make it one of the most iconic buildings for your stay in Abu Dhabi. It features an array of exquisite restaurants and facilities and services, including Namm Spa, Fitness Centre, and a rooftop pool that offers an amazing 360 panoramic views of Abu Dhabi’s skyline.
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC)
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is one of the most exclusive 5-star hotels, located in the iconic Capital Gate building – one of the most exciting Abu Dhabi’s icons. It features an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a whirlpool. The Rayana Spa is located on the 19th floor, which makes it the only one in Abu Dhabi overlooking the city.
– If you plan properly, you can take in all of the listed sights in Abu Dhabi in just one day and get back to your hotel or to the airport by nightfall. Abu Dhabi has much more to reveal than we can fit into this article, so be sure to do your homework and research the places you want to visit. Make the best of your visit to Abu Dhabi.
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Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
A postgraduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally.