Abu Dhabi Travel Guide | flynas
The ultimate travel guide to Abu Dhabi. Learn all about the best hotels, restaurants and events available in the capital of the UAE.
Although Dubai tends to be more popular, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is actually Abu Dhabi, an incredibly prestigious city within itself.
It’s a very luxurious place. Displays of the city’s wealth and extravagance can be found everywhere you look, with more and more expensive skyscrapers popping up all the time.
Despite its humble origins as a fishing village, Abu Dhabi is now one of the most modern locations in the Middle East. And there’s plenty for you to enjoy.
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Attractions and Things to do in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has a whole host of fun, exciting and interesting activities for you to enjoy.
While the city looks impressive from a modern architectural point of view, its real highlights are a little more low-key.
There are various ways for you to get to know the local culture, or you could even head out of the city and explore the surrounding areas.
Some people are even keen to indulge their adventurous side. Here are five of our favourite things to do whilst in Abu Dhabi:
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the most amazing buildings in the UAE can be found right here in its capital. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has a range of beautiful gardens, over 80 marble domes and 1,000 pillars. It is the eighth largest mosque in the world, and can be visited by non-Muslims.
Opening Times: Saturday-Thursday – 9am-10pm, Friday - 4:30pm-10pm
People in the Middle East love fast, expensive cars. So much so that they built a theme park around the brand of Ferrari. There are multiple, insanely quick rides for you to enjoy – including the Formula Rossa, which accelerates from 0km per hour to 240km per hour in just 4.9 seconds.
Price: Adults - AED 250 ($68, £48), Children - AED 205 ($55, £39)
Opening Times: Sunday-Wednesday - 11am-8pm, Thursday-Saturday – 8am-10pm
Here is where you can really tap into your adventurous side. Take a tour out into the desert, ride in a 4x4 across the sands, enjoy a delicious meal as you watch the sunset, and get treated to a belly dancing performance. You even get to ride a camel!
Price: AED 310 ($85, £60)
Opening Times: Departs – 3:30pm-4:30pm, lasts approximately 5 hours 30 minutes
Abu Dhabi Corniche
Take a stroll along the Abu Dhabi waterfront, along with hundreds of locals and visitors just like yourself. The Corniche stretches out a quite far, and offers great views all along the way. If you’re feeling a little more active, then you can rent a bike from Funride Sports.
Opening Times: Anytime
On this island of sandy beaches, clear waters and a relaxing atmosphere – you can truly begin to enjoy yourself. You can take a boat ride over, and spend a hot afternoon under a shady umbrella, reading a book or just taking it easy. A wonderful experience.
Opening Times: Daylight Hours
There are a number of amazing restaurants in Abu Dhabi, all offering unique, tasty dishes of all varieties.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s always something available nearby. Whether it’s just a light snack, or a full three course meal.
If you’ve never been to the city before, then here are a few restaurants that we would recommend:
Name: Lebanese Flower
This local establishment attracts people from all over the city, who have fallen in love with its delicious Middle Eastern offerings. And for the price, you really do get incredibly generous portions. If you want to enjoy something different without breaking the bank, then check out the Lebanese Flower.
As you would expect with a seafood restaurant, you can enjoy your meal here whilst looking over the Arabian Sea. It’s an incredible view, complemented by great staff and a relaxed atmosphere. And of course, the food is very, very fresh. We recommend you make a reservation to guarantee a table.
Name: Bord Eau
If you’re looking for something a little more European, then the Bord Eau (a play on the name of the French city – Bordeaux) is an excellent choice. Enjoy meals like foie gras, chateaubriand and onion soup while dining in an amazingly elegant space.
The popularity of Japanese food has grown in the Middle East over recent years. Traditional sushi dishes are very well received, which has led to the opening of eateries such as Zuma. Its signature miso-marinated black cod meal is a must-have.
Name: Beach House
Not only does the Beach House offer excellent meals at all times of the day (including breakfast), it’s also known for being a great spot to watch the sunset. Located right by the beach (as the name would suggest), stop in for a delicious home cooked lunch after a stroll by the sea.
You can find each of the restaurants listed here on the map below:
Things to be aware of….
- Restaurants within hotels tend to be the most expensive, you can find cheaper alternatives, like some of those listed above, out in the city.
- Most places are very vegetarian-friendly. If you don’t eat meat, then you won’t be stuck for good food options.
- Restaurants are closed during the day throughout Ramadan.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi
A lot of money has been poured into the city of Abu Dhabi, so that it can cater to the needs of its guests.
This is particularly notable when it comes to hotels. You will find luxurious, five star hotels all over the city.
There are also more affordable options, if that is what you would prefer. Here are our personal recommendations on where to stay during your visit:
Price: AED 187 – AED 395 ($51-$107, £36-£76) per night
Located right in the centre of the business district, this hotel is suitable for those visiting the city for commercial reasons. You’ll also be provided with a free shuttle to the local shopping centres, or you can enjoy the excellent facilities within the hotel itself.
Price: AED 223 – AED 390 ($61-$106, £43-£75) per night
The Ramada Downtown Abu Dhabi is based right by the Persian Gulf, offering incredible views of both the sea and the city. Staying here also allows you access to the 24 hour shuttle that operates between the hotel and the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Price: AED 728 – AED 993 ($198-$270, £140-£191) per night
If you’re looking for a more luxurious offering, then they Staybridge Suites on Yas Island is the perfect option. Not only are you well-accommodated with comfortable rooms, and all the amenities you could possibly want – but the Yas Links Golf Course is just next door.
Price: AED 244 – AED 587 ($66-$160, £47-£113) per night
A five star establishment, for a five star guest. The Crowne Plaza is the height of extravagance, with beautiful décor complemented by warm, welcoming staff. A number of amazing restaurants are based right on site, and all the business facilities you need are available here too.
Price: AED 494 – AED 884 ($135-$240, £95-£170) per night
Also based on Yas Island, Yas Viceroy is one of the most exceptional hotels you’re ever likely to see. The standard of comfort, service and amenities is impeccable – and the prices are better than you might think. Book today for a truly unique experience.
The Weather in Abu Dhabi
It is incredibly hot in Abu Dhabi, throughout most of the year.
The most extreme temperatures are typically in the months from June to September, where it can reach upwards of 26 degrees Celsius.
It is significantly cooler in December, January and February – when temperatures are in the high-teens/low-20s.
Events in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is home to a number of exciting festivals and events, here are five to look out for:
Name: Abu Dhabi Dance Festival
Artists from all over the country come to Abu Dhabi in order to take part in the annual Dance Festival, showcasing their abilities in a variety of different dances. There are also instructors on hand to teach beginners some of the basics. An enjoyable few days.
Name: Abu Dhabi Golf Championships
Every year since 2006, the European Tour has included a golf tournament in Abu Dhabi. The best golfers in the world are here to prove their skills at the award-winning, 27-hole facility at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Name: Abu Dhabi Festival
An arts and culture event that is popular throughout the UAE. People, many of them artists, visit from all over the country, to perform various acts, dance, sing and generally celebrate the city of Abu Dhabi. If you visit during this time, then the festival is a must-see.
Name: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi has been running since 2009, and has been a rousing success with both locals and visitors. It is one of the newest, and therefore one of the most advanced, race tracks in the world – and has been the site for many great moments in Formula 1.
Name: Abu Dhabi Science Festival
Millions of people have attended the annual Science Festival held in Abu Dhabi, where they’ve experienced exhibits, discussions and demonstrations of the latest innovative technologies. The event is sponsored by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which signals its importance to the city.
The most common form of transport in Abu Dhabi, if you don’t have a car, is taxi.
Prices start at just AED 3.50, which is relatively cheap. If you prefer to take the bus, then this will cost you AED 2 for a single journey.
It is possible to walk around the city, but for those who are not used to the excessive heats of Middle Eastern countries, this is not really advised.
Abu Dhabi is a very religious place. The Islamic religion is obviously highly prominent, and influential in many of the laws that are in place.
As a guest, you are expected to be respectful of the faith. While the UAE isn’t as conservative as other states, such as Saudi Arabia, you will still be penalised for things such as being extremely drunk in public.
Alcohol is served in certain establishments, such as restaurants. But shouldn’t be consumed anywhere that doesn’t explicitly sell these types of drinks.
An updated list of the local prayer times can be found here.
The UAE Dirham (AED) is used in Abu Dhabi. AED 1 is approximately equal to $0.27 and £0.19.
This source states that the cost of living is around 38.74 per cent lower than in New York City, and 34.05 per cent lower than it is in London.
As mentioned, the heat can be quite extreme, depending on the time of year you’re visiting.
If this isn’t something you’re used to, then it can be unbearable. Try to spend as much time indoors as you can – air conditioning is used in practically every building.
Because of the conservative nature of the city, “summer clothes” such as shorts and t-shirts are not allowed. Which can make the heat even worse.
It’s also advisable to avoid the bus tours around Abu Dhabi. Sitting on a bus, in that heat, can be a real challenge – and you can see everything you want to see without the tour.
For more information on various surrounding locations, check out our other area guides.