Dominating the skyline along the Corniche, the massive Emirates Palace oozes opulence and luxury. Built as a hotel, one of the finest in the world, it is worth seeing, even if the room rates are out of budget. Look out for the Triumphant Arch under which royals pass if staying in the palace and its gardens full of fountains. The palace is famous for its gold-plated lobby, roof frescoes and crystal chandeliers.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi was recently established - in 2017 - and is, with its 24,000 square metres in size, the largest art museum on the Arabian peninsula. The building itself is worth a visit just for its design, with a one-of-a-kind floating dome. The museum boasts a 8,000 square metre gallery which contains a 12-chapter history of humanity, from prehistoric artefacts to modern artwork, and four temporary exhibitions per year.
Adventure lovers should not miss the opportunity to take part in some of the activities offered by Abu Dhabi Desert Safari. Join a dune drive through the desert or a camel ride, attend some belly dancing lessons, try on the traditional costumes and take amazing sunset pictures.
A Bedouin desert camp complete with tents made from goat’s hair, a bustling souq, mud hut village and a fishing harbour are all reconstructions that make fascinating displays in the Emirates Heritage Village. Visitors can sometimes try their hand at traditional crafts like pottery or weaving, which are demonstrated in a series of small workshops within the village.
A fabulous white structure and a landmark in Abu Dhabi, the mosque was built to incorporate architectural influences from around the world. Moroccan, Italian, Chinese and styles from the UAE itself can be detected. There are over 1,000 columns and 80 domes decorated with marble and semi-precious stones, while huge courtyards and lakes can be seen in the grounds. The mosque, named after Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan (president of the UAE for over 30 years), has four minarets on its corners.
Built in 1761 as a royal residence and the city’s oldest building, this beautiful palace can be found next to the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. Its main entrance is decorated in true Islamic style with colourful tiles, while inside mashrabiya screens and carved wooden doors have stood for centuries.
If you want to experience the atmosphere of souqs, the traditional Arabian markets, then head to Al Ain, a city on the border with Oman, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and prepare yourself for a close encounter with lots of camels. Look at how camel merchants trade and enjoy taking hilarious pictures with the amusing animals.
No holiday in Abu Dhabi would be complete without a visit to this fascinating centre. Local female Bedouin artists and artisans, usually wearing a traditional dress, demonstrate age-old crafts, including henna body painting, embroidery and silver thread work in a series of small huts. Visitors should remove their shoes before entering the huts, as is the local custom.
Built to protect the city from invaders around 200 years ago, this fort stands close to the Al Maqtaa Bridge on its approach to Abu Dhabi city. Built in the traditional style of the day in soft sand coloured stone with ornately carved wooden features, and remaining almost intact, it is considered an important historical proof of the city’s past.
Abu Dhabi has long been famous for its expertise in building dhows, the traditional sailing vessels that were the lifeline to importing and exporting goods in days gone by. Visitors can still see a more modern version of the crafts being made at the Al Bateen Shipyard, which can be found on the west side of the island.
Lose yourself in the incredible Asian atmosphere of Cho Gao Marina Walk lounge, noticeable in every single detail, from the decor to the food and even the service. The wide choice of Asian fusion dishes will impress you: try the more common - nevertheless excellent - sushi, the Chinese pecking duck, or the intriguing Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, and complement your meal with a good drink.
An market-style restaurant that has a long held reputation for its great Thai-style lobster, crab and other seafood speciality dishes, each presented with a creative twist. Fishmarket, located right on the beach and is part of the Intercontinental Hotel, opens for lunch and evening dining daily.
In this elegant venue, inspired by the top restaurants in the North of Italy, you will find authentic Italian flavours. The selection of dishes is impressive and the rich menu contains food prepared with the finest ingredients, from pasta with lobster to seafood from Sardinia and olive oil from Liguria. Last but not least, the view over the beach and the blue waters of the Gulf will allow you to have an unforgettable time at Mezzaluna.
Located in the amazing Emirates Palace, Le Vendôme offers an array of simple and quality dishes, for which the talented chefs carefully select the best seasonal ingredients. Sitting outside, on its terrace, you will have the most elegant buffet in the city with a view over the beautiful beach.
Rocco's award-winning pizzeria is said to be one of the best pizza restaurants in Abu Dhabi, and an undisputed favourite for Italian tourists. Not completely satisfied with the most traditional Italian pizzas, the owner created his very own using locally sourced ingredients, to always offer new, unexpected flavours.
Fine dining in a spectacular location, designed with unique, modern embellished wooden furniture and marbled Chinese forms. This upscale Asian restaurant is located inside the Emirates Palace Hotel and serves delicious duck dishes, along with other Cantonese specialities and excellent seafood. Hakkasan wine list is as well impressive, with a selection of Italian, French, South African and Australian labels.
Fine dining in a unique location with a great rooftop terrace. Byblos Sur Mer is an upscale restaurant that enjoys a spotless reputation and serves a variety of dishes, including local specialities and top quality Lebanese cuisine (the latter is considered the best in the city).
Shiny and sleek in looks, Le Café is located inside the Emirates Palace and has a tempting display of pastries and cakes, some covered in chocolate, others oozing fruit and cream, which can be served with an excellent cappuccino. This glamorous cafe is said to be the best afternoon tea spot in Abu Dhabi: it will be difficult to resist.
Highly recommended for its healthy breakfast buffet, Cafe 302 is a quiet spot with a modern interior located at the Al Maha Arjaan Hotel. It offers a wide assortment of food and beverages. Have a seat on the terrace if the weather allows, and enjoy a good coffee with some pastries in a nice, relaxed atmosphere.
Established in Dubai in 2001, Shakespeare and Co rapidly expanded throughout the UAE and offers excellent coffees and appetising pastries in elegant yet familiar environment. The cafe located in the Central Market has a Victorian-inspired design, which creates a lovely ambience, and it's a perfect spot to spend some time with friends, colleagues or family. The eggs Benedict (poached eggs with grilled smoked turkey ham on brioche bread) are highly recommended for breakfast.
Established in 1996 in Australia as an unconventional grocery, cafe and cheese store, Jones the Grocer expanded internationally and arrived in the UAE where, today, it's very popular. The cafe located in the Al Mamoura building, in Abu Dhabi, offers cakes and other pastries, along with great brunch food and coffees.
Living up to its name, this bright and light cafe in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel serves frothy cappuccino in huge cups every day. Other coffees and teas are available too, of course, and there’s a delicious array of cakes, pastries and finger sandwiches to choose from.
Virgin Megastore is the music-lovers' paradise: all sorts of records, including vinyl, are on sale here, along with video games, electronic gadgets and all sorts of related accessories. Other Virgin Megastores in Abu Dhabi: - Al Wahda Mall: Hazza Bin Zayed Street, Abu Dhabi / +971 2 445 3327 - YAS Mall: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi / +971 2 565 1319
Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Member states, along with nationals of most EU countries along with the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Brunei are eligible to receive an entry visa upon arrival the Abu Dhabi Airport (free of charge, onward journey tickets may be requested). Nationals of other countries will require an entry visa, which can be pre-arranged by the visitor’s travel agency, hosting hotel, or Etihad Airways (if one happens to be flying in with the airline). If none of those are viable options, a visa can also be applied for via a local UAE embassy. Always make sure you have an up-to-date passport. If you need any further information, and in order to avoid migration complications, it is recommended to contact the embassy or consulate in your country or the one closest to you.
Flights arrive into Abu Dhabi International Airport from around the world. The airport, the second largest in the United Arab Emirates, lies over just 30 kilometres from the city centre, and has a full range of facilities for travellers and three main roads which will make it very easy to find: 2nd Street (Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Street), 8th Street (Salam Street) and 30th Street (Khaleej Al Arabi Street). An efficient bus service is provided: A1 buses connect the airport and the city, while the 490 buses connect the airport with Al Ain. They both run at 40 minute intervals and the journeys take approximately 45 minutes. Bus stops are indicated with blue and white signs. A shuttle service connecting the airport terminals is also available. Abu Dhabi Airport taxis are available for journeys to and from the airport, just outside of it. For more information about fares and the limousine service, check out this page: www.abudhabiairport.ae/english/to-and-from-the-airport/services/taxis.aspx. If you're interested in renting a car, there are several possibilities to do it. Every car rental company is located in Skypark Plaza, very close to terminals 1 and 3. You will find their contacts here: www.abudhabiairport.ae/english/to-and-from-the-airport/information/car-rental.aspx.
Winter is the best period to come to Abu Dhabi in terms of weather: temperatures are not too hot and not too humid, which makes this the peak season. It is advisable to avoid the extremely hot summer months, although hotel rates are at their lowest then and not many tourists will be visiting the city. Abu Dhabi can be doable in spring, between April and May, or fall, from September to October, both periods marked by pleasant weather, with prices starting to decrease in springtime, but on the rise in the fall season, as winter approaches. Also, many sporting and cultural events are held between April and May.
The public bus system is quite well-developed in Abu Dhabi. Blue and white coloured buses run through the city regularly and tickets are available in the form of re-loadable "Halifat" Smartcards, that may be purchased from ticket vending machines located at multiple locations throughout the city (bus stations and stops, DOT Customer Service Centers). Hold your card next to a card reader installed inside the bus for validation upon entry and exit. A ferry service is provided by DOT: on many ferries you will be asked to show a valid ID and, in general, it is recommended to arrive 30 minutes before the ferries' departure. Another good way to travel around the city and avoid the congestion is by using the Abu Dhabi Metro, which serves a big proportion of passengers and connects the city with its suburbs.
Getting around Abu Dhabi is straightforward, with most visitors opting to travel in the inexpensive taxis that constantly dart around the city. It’s a simple process of flagging a taxi down, telling the driver your destination and paying the small amount required for the ride. Taxis can be booked through several companies and have regular parking slots outside hotels and shopping malls too. Tawasul Transport +971 2 673 4444 / [email protected] www.tawasul.ae/english/index.php www.facebook.com/TawasulTransport Al Ghazal Transport +971 2 635 6060 / [email protected] (taxis) +971 2 634 2200 / [email protected] (cars) +971 2 550 2160 / [email protected] (buses) +971 2 552 8400 / [email protected] (limousines) www.alghazaltransport.ae National Taxi +971 2 554 2231 (operations) / [email protected] www.nationaltaxi.ae/auh
Abu Dhabi has many pharmacies that open from 8:30 to 22:30, some even 24 hours. For medical emergencies call 998. Al Manara is a chain of pharmacies located all around Abu Dhabi. You will find one here: Al Manara Pharmacy Marina Mall +971 2 681 7977 [email protected] To see the other Abu Dhabi locations, check out this link: www.almanarapharmacy.com/abu-dhabi.htm.