Many people are surprised to learn that it’s Abu Dhabi and not Dubai, that’s the capital city of UAE. For years, Abu Dhabi was behind Dubai when it came to development and tourism. Today, however, this city is a must-visit destination for people all over the world. Did you know that Abu Dhabi is the only other country in the world to own a Louvre Museum franchise? Indeed that is so. There are some other fabulous attractions too – Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – the list goes on!
A Few Tips Before You Travel to Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi is not tolerant of drugs. You can carry prescription drugs, as long as you carry papers relevant to your condition, its diagnosis, and prescription.
- Abu Dhabi is more conservative than Dubai, so be sure to cover your knees. Women need to keep their shoulders and knees covered and avoid showing flesh.
- Avoid visiting Abu Dhabi from June to August, as it burns very hot. Also, its best to avoid visiting this city during the holy month of Ramadan
- Public transport is not well developed in Abu Dhabi. There are no trains or metro. You can, however, use the public buses till 11 P.M. and KiwiTaxi.
Abu Dhabi Attractions
Abu Dhabi has a number of fabulous attractions. Here are a few of the topmost places for you to visit.
- The Louvre Abu Dhabi
Check out amazing artifacts that trace human evolution from the Neolithic to the present day at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Enjoy the huge display of paintings by famous artists such as Picasso and others. Examine the magnificent Egyptian statuary and mind-blowing ancient sculptures. The museum is covered by a huge silver dome, with several graduated galleries underneath it. There are 12 galleries of a permanent art collection with several temporary exhibitions of borrowed art.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The UAE’s biggest mosque, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can hold up to 40,000 worshippers at any time. It is carved entirely out of Macedonian marble. The mosque’s architecture is a fusion of Ottoman, Mameluke, and Fatimid. The walls are intricately carved and studded with semi-precious stones. Thousands upon thousands of precious Swarovski crystals have been used in the décor. You’ll find the world’s biggest chandelier here, apart from huge, uber-expensive hand-woven Persian carpets.
- Safari in the Rub’al-Khali
Rub’al-Khali or the Empty Quarter, spanning from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, borders the Persian Gulf. There are several green oases here, with palm trees and many other plants. Sign up for a desert safari that includes camel riding, quad biking, and sandboarding. The Rub’al-Khali is different from other deserts – the dunes are much higher here. Sign up for an overnight safari and enjoy a fine Emirati dinner, some belly, and Tanura dancing, henna tattooing, and explore the desert on camels with guides in the night.
- The Abu Dhabi Corniche
The Corniche is an extremely enchanting 9 kilometer-long boardwalk that meanders next to a sandy beach. Along the Corniche are some amazing buildings – Etihad Towers, Landmark Tower, Emirates Palace, Corniche Tower, and more. The Corniche is a place for people to see and be seen. There are parks, barbecue areas, playgrounds, and beach access points along the way.
- Marina Eye
Abu Dhabi has a 196-foot tall Ferris Wheel called the Marina Eye, which offers scintillating views of the city skyline, and the desert all way to the Persian Gulf. You’ll get only 5 minutes to observe the view when the Ferris Wheel reaches the top, but that’s five minutes of fabulous bliss. Keep your video cameras on the ready.
- Ferrari World
Ferrari World will stun you with the world’s highest rollercoaster that zooms at 120 km/h called Formula Rossa. That apart, there are over 20 thrilling rides, an exhibition of antique Ferrari cars, an F1 track where you can try being a driver, and tons of F1 memorabilia. For the young and the young-at-heart, Ferrari World is definitely one of the top places to visit Abu Dhabi.
- Yas Waterworld and Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Waterworld is a futuristic waterpark with more than 43 rides and slides. It’s a huge place – over 15 football fields large. There’s a 235 meter-long hydro-magnetic-powered tornado waterslide that can hold six people at a time. Bubble Barrel is the world’s largest surf sheet, throwing up 3 meter high waves. There’s a 550–meter roller coaster that lets you shoot at fake bandits using water and laser effects called the Bandit Bomber, and yes, the annual Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
- Observation Deck at 300
If you want to experience truly amazing views of Abu Dhabi’s skyline, head to the Observation Deck at 300, located at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. You can see as far as the Persian Gulf and the dhows and ships sailing on it. You can feast your eyes on the incredible red-dune Rub’al Khali and the city skyline that begins where the desert ends.
- Island Hopping Tours
Abu Dhabi is surrounded by 200 islands, many of which are manmade. You know about Saadiyat Island, home to The Louvre and a beach golf club. There’s Yas Island where you’ll find the Yas Waterpark, Ferrari World, and Yas Marina. You can enjoy beautiful views of the city’s glittering skyscrapers from out on the water. All the islands are surrounded by thick mangrove forests, which you can explore on a mangrove kayaking tour, one of the top Abu Dhabi attractions.
- Heritage Village
The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is a visual treat. Here you’ll find beautiful Bedouin pottery, baskets, jewelry, clothing, weaponry, and much more. You can also observe pearl divers in action, and watch people making baskets and other artifacts. The Village is an exact copy of Bedouin gatherings of old.
Abu Dhabi is a laidback city where the pace of life is slower. In that, it is very different from Dubai. You’ll feel the city is slightly sleepy but is pulling visitors by the hundreds of thousands. Every day, newer attractions, newer 5-star hotels, and changes to the overall city are happening. Don’t miss a visit to Abu Dhabi this year.