What are the best things to do in Abu Dhabi?
- There’s more to Abu Dhabi than motorsports, yes, but they’re still a pretty big deal. Yas Marina Circuit is lapped by the world’s best Formula 1 drivers every year and the extravaganza, set to the tune of sparkling pyrotechnics and humming engines, always guarantees a raucous crowd. When visiting the circuit outside of championships you can try putting the pedal to the metal or ride passenger-side as a professional takes the wheel. Not quite got the need for speed? You can also walk, cycle and jog around the track.
- Seek out thrills at one of the city’s theme parks. Snap on a pair of goggles and brave the fastest rollercoaster in the world at Ferrari World. Board the Batmobile, get whimsical on a carousel of cartoons and join the Justice League in 5D at Warner Bros World. The adrenaline doesn’t stop there. You can also soar through high-speed waterslides and splash around in the mammoth pools at Yas Waterworld.
- A round of golf is always on the cards in Abu Dhabi. Tee off at Yas Links, boasting an 18-hole championship course, and spend time between swings admiring the Arabian Gulf backed by a city skyline. At Saadiyat Beach Golf Club you might just spot a dolphin cheering you on as you aim for a hole-in-one. For a truly unique experience, challenge yourself at Al Ghazal Golf Club where manicured greens are swapped for smooth sand.
- Visit the Empty Quarter, where towering sand dunes create their own city of splendour. With no skyscrapers in sight, you’ll be surrounded by amber and apricot sands stretching into the horizon under a humungous sun. The sweeping, uninterrupted sand mass – the biggest of its kind – remains largely unexplored. Discover the art of dune bashing, surf on a sand board and stay until after sunset to experience the splendour of a night sky speckled with seemingly innumerous stars.
- Right next to vast desert sands you’ll find lush oases to amble around. The most expansive is Al Ain oasis where, thanks to the 147,000 date palm trees, you’ll never be far from a spot of shade. Wander along brick paths and through grass tall enough to tickle your elbows as the sunlight is scattered by a canopy of palm leaves above.
- The city has no shortage of pristine beaches and promenades. Saunter over elevated boardwalks built to protect hundreds of hawksbill turtles at Saadiyat Beach and step onto a sunlounge-laden stretch of sand almost as white as snow. Revel in sun, sand, sea, and city skylines at the Corniche. Head to Mirfa Beach, which tends to elude the crowds, and feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.
- Learn more about Abu Dhabi through its architecture. Take in the majesty of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, resplendent with crystal chandeliers, hand-carved columns and marble domes. Admire more artistry at presidential palace Qasr Al Watan. Then, for a striking visual reminder of how much Abu Dhabi has grown, stare up at the sleek skyscrapers from the city’s old watchtower at Qasr Al-Hosn fort.
Where are the best places to stay in and around Abu Dhabi?
Yas Island is all about living life in the fast lane. Whether you’re buckling up in the car of your dreams on Yas Marina Circuit, facing G-forces on the fastest ride in existence at Ferrari World or balancing a kayak among the mangroves on the island’s edge, prepare for fun. When you want to slow things down you can saunter over to Yas Beach, the yacht-filled marina or Yas Mall.
The Corniche covers five miles of waterfront on Abu Dhabi’s main island, with sweeping views of the Gulf on one side and pretty parks on the other. Pass dancing fountains and downtown dining spots on your promenade. Lounge on Corniche Beach and take a dip in the warm sea as a high-tech city skyline looks on. Nearby, Marina Mall calls for some retail therapy.
Saadiyat Island, or ‘Island of Happiness’, is quickly becoming a cultural hub thanks to its growing number of galleries. Louvre Abu Dhabi houses a myriad of masterpieces and the building itself is a work of art with its intricate dome. Once you’ve drunk in the cultural scene consider the island’s stunning array of beaches. Spy turtles on Saadiyat Beach or set down your towel between the green shrubs dotted around Kai Beach.
Liwa Oasis, once home to the Bani Yas tribe, sits at the northern edge of the enigmatic Empty Quarter. Swap the cityscape for mountainous sand dunes and flourishing date palms. Explore Arabian history as you walk through century-old forts. Stand in the shadow of the mighty Tel Moreeb, translated to ‘Scary Mountain’, and stare at dunes containing sand that has been there since before the last ice age. Stay here for a sense of serenity and a sky made for stargazing.