When it comes to traveling to the beautiful UAE, people immediately pick Dubai as their destination, Dubai & things to do in Dubai being the main focus of their visit. There’s no shame in it as Dubai constantly makes headlines worldwide as one of the best tourist destinations in the world. However, only an hour and a half away lays an outstanding city called Abu Dhabi with some of the most epic touristic attractions in the country (and in some cases, evens a better choice for tourists coming to the UAE).
While Dubai is known as one of the best cities for shopping malls and exotic lifestyles, Abu Dhabi has successfully made a bid to become the Emirates’ cultural hub and a major tourist destination in the Middle East in some ways no other Middle Eastern city has ever achieved.
Although not as fancy as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE is a hidden jewel on the world map. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a wonderful traveling experience it would be to visit this city. Having year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, unparalleled hospitality, and activities galore are just a few reasons to visit Abu Dhabi. Between its natural islands and luxury resorts, shifting sand dunes, and cool oases, this city holds something for every traveler. Abu Dhabi is officially called the safest city in the world 2021 by Numbeo‘s Safe City Index, being safer than the neighboring city Doha in Qatar and Taipei in Taiwan.
While Abu Dhabi is identified as a luxury gateway and extravagant sightseeing, there is much reason to visit Abu Dhabi, that doesn’t require any worries about breaking the bank. So, if you’re a traveler on a budget, and still willing to get a taste of luxurious Abu Dhabi, pack your backpack right now as the budget traveling to Abu Dhabi has never been easier!
Captivating culture, untouched desert, magnificent beaches – Abu Dhabi is very much the Arabia of your fairy tale imagination. Combining glitz and glamour with a distinctive Arabian ambiance, this intriguing city will inspire, entertain, and make your jaw drop all at once!
If you are confused or unable to decide where you want to go on your next holiday or weekend getaway, worry not as Abu Dhabi is calling! In this post, we’ll tell you the top 10 reasons why you should visit Abu Dhabi.
1- Beach and Year-round Sunshine
Are you a beach lover? Then Abu Dhabi is your new beach Mecca. With its countless gorgeous beaches, crystal blue waters of the Persian Gulf, and silver-white sand stretches, visiting Abu Dhabi will make your beach craving tooth more than satisfied.
Low rainfall and warm sunshine throughout the year Abu Dhabi is a great winter-sun destination city in the Middle East, and the world.
This kind of climate guarantees you fabulous sunshine, any time of the year. There’s is nothing easier than planning for a holiday and knowing that weather is not a concern at all, as Abu Dhabi is one of the driest cities on the planet!
Below are some of the best public and private beaches to visit in Abu Dhabi:
Saadiyat Public Beach
Saadiyat beach is so surprisingly good that can easily compete against the best private beach clubs in Abu Dhabi. Its entrance is just east of the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas.
The fee to visit Saadiyat beach is AED 25 (~ USD 6.80) which is more expensive than on other public beaches in Abu Dhabi, but beachgoers happily pay the fee as its wide strip of soft, white sand, and facilities are totally worth the cost.
Amenities in this beach are all kept in splendid condition, with lots of sun-loungers and shades to rent, acceptable changing areas, a lifeguard on duty until dusk, and an on-site café offering drinks and meals.
However, if you’re a traveler on a budget, you’re allowed to bring food and drinks from outside which is a bonus and an option to have a picnic in Saadiyat public beach for a whole day.
Visit Saadiat Beach address here
Would you like to know how Arabian luxury beach time looks like? Try Nurai beach on Nurai Island, the most luxurious hotel and beach resort in Abu Dhabi which reminds you of the Caribbean.
The Nurai beach is an eye-catching long curve of clean white sand, accompanied by crystal clear, light turquoise waters that can trick your mind with enjoying a beach in the Maldives.
Kayak, stand-up paddleboarding, and snorkeling are just a few water activities to enjoy at this beach. However, most people choose Nurai beach to enjoy the VIP amenities at Nurai Island Resort.
Day pass to Nurai Island costs AED 480 (USD 130) which seems like a hefty price, but AED 420 of the fee is redeemable as payment at the resort restaurants, the seafront spa, or when using other extra activities such as water sports. Plus the day pass includes a commute to the island and returning via boat, and use of the resort’s swimming pool, as well as the beach.
Visit Nurai Beach address here
Many experts agree that out of all beaches in Abu Dhabi, Yas beach is the best. Located at the southern end of Yas Island’s western shore, this stretch royal white sand and turquoise water is the best beach for families and visitors who are interested in a fascinating beach day.
If you like to have all the tools to enjoy your beach time, you’re choosing the perfect beach. Having beautiful sun lounges, cabanas framed by blousy curtains, a swimming pool for adults and a separate one for the kids, cafés and food kiosks for a delicious brunch or even lunch, and great water sports offices where you can rent kayaks and Jet Skis, you can’t go wrong with Yas Beach.
If you’re not residing in a Yas Island hotel, entrance to the beach is AED 50 (USD 13.50) for adults and AED 25 (USD 6.80) for children of 8-16 years during the weekdays, but on the weekends AED 100 (USD 27) for adults and AED 50 (USD 13.50), and children under 8 enter free any day. The good news for ladies is that Saturdays are half price for them.
Visit Yas Beach address here
2- The Second-Most Expensive Hotel Built in the Middle East
Are you a fan of luxury and extravagance? If you would like a glimpse into true opulence, visiting the Emirates Palace is a given! The hotel is known as one of the most expensive hotels in the world to ever be built, costing approximately $3 billion to construct. The 114-dome Emirates Palace spans over half a mile within its wings and amazes visitors with its opulence.
Both a five-star hotel and a buzzing Abu Dhabi institution, Emirates Palace looks like a castle from the Thousand and One Nights. This palace is definitely the most luxurious hotel in the entire UAE, as well as one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. During the day, the hotel’s golden-sandy color gives an eye-catching contrast with its lush green gardens. By night, the hotel’s lighting changes, featuring a rainbow effect over the central dome. Inside the main palace building, gold, pearl, and opal designs abound, and more than 1,000 chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There are two handmade wall display carpets portraying the palace and each weighing a ton that get everyone’s attention.
Beyond the buildings, fountain courtyards and stately gardens, pools, and groves, add to the enchanting sight. Situated by its own private beach and marina, this palace includes a concert venue and ballroom, spas, restaurants, cafes, and conference facilities.
Emirate Palace is the best spot in Abu Dhabi to sip on a delicious cappuccino with flakes of real gold at Le Cafe! And the good news is that no need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy this grand complex!
3- Become a Race Car Driver in Ferrari World
Being the first of its kind, Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World indoor theme park houses an array of Ferarri racing rides and interactive theatres. For the ultimate adrenalin rush on the world’s fastest roller coaster ride – the Formula Rossa! This unique roller coaster makes you feel the wind in your hair as you accelerate 240 Kilometer/hour into a height of 52m above ground in less than 5 seconds.
Attention: This ride isn’t recommended for the fainthearted.
This theme park still has several other fun attractions, Ferrari expositions, and even a simulator that gives you the feeling of driving a Ferrari.
If you’re a fan of Formula 1, combine a stay in the city with one of the most important events on its calendar – the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Be at the heart of the action at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit, one of the world’s most advanced Formula 1® circuits, where the F1 is held every year in December. However, you don’t need to be a petrol head to enjoy what it brings to the city. For three days the city is transformed into a speed freak zone, and for the F1 fans, you can jump in a Virtual Reality car to experience the track in the fan zone. On the other hand; celebrities, parties, and major events are hosted at the same time to celebrate the race coming to the city. At that time, each year, Abu Dhabi completely transforms into a festival-like atmosphere which is something you should definitely add to your Middle Eastern travel bucket list.
Even if you are in Dubai, you can take a tour from Dubai to the Ferrari world. Travtur has an amazing half-day tour that would pick you up from your hotel in Dubai, take you to Abu Dhabi, show you the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Heritage Village. Then, get ample time at Ferrari World, the planet’s biggest indoor theme park, to enjoy all that it has to offer. The tour cost covers entrance fees, transportation, and hotel transfers so that you can just sit back and enjoy your day.
4- Fascinating Abu Dhabi Mangrove National Park
Just outside Abu Dhabi city center, the sprawling Mangrove National Park is a jewel in the UAE capital’s crown.
But, what are Mangroves? Mangroves are groups of trees and shrubs that grow in the water, creating a habitat for biodiversity – and protecting against tidal surges, purifying surrounding water, and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Most often found growing in the sea waters of tropical and sub-tropical coastal areas, the mangrove’s indigenous trees act as natural windbreakers, protecting the region against tidal surges and purifying surrounding water.
The Mangrove National Park is a hub for tourists who prefer activities that bring them closer to nature. You can see a vast forest of lush, green trees with intricate roots and a water channel snaking through the middle. Plus, it is home to around 60 species of birds, the national park is also a thriving habitat for turtles, marine mammals, and a myriad of shellfish, fish, and crabs. For a unique view, head to a high floor of one of the nearby hotels to see the true scale of the forest.
An ideal place for families, bird watchers, and photographers looking to escape the hustle of the city for a few hours, this beautiful and surprising park continues to be one of the emirate’s most important ecological assets, protected by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD).
Keep in mind; the EAD only accepts visitors who book tours through accredited tour operators. This is all in a bid to protect the mangrove’s sensitive habitat.
5- Entertaining Yas Island
Having a land area of 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi), Yas Island is the most ambitious tourism project in Abu Dhabi. This eye-catching island is home to an F1™ race track, several theme parks, an incredible golf course, a beautiful beach, stunning hotels, and a very impressive shopping mall. Once in Yas Island, simply the fun would never stop unless you want to take a break at one of the beautiful hotels on the island.
Below is a list of some of the best things that Yas Island has to offer.
Ferrari World: Remember the iconic Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world? That’s only one of the fun attractions of the Ferrari world. If you’re a race car freak, Ferrari World theme park would be your new favorite go-to place.
Yas Waterworld: Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is a waterpark with Emirati heritage at its heart, with ‘The Lost Pearl’ being its theme. Spanning 15 football pitches, this waterpark will satisfy you with its wonderful water activities, including the world-first, largest hydromagnetic-powered tornado waterslide.
Besides the water fun, you’ll also find various restaurants on-site, as well as a souk (market) and pearl-diving exhibits.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi: Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi is the world’s first-ever Warner Bros. branded indoor theme park! As you enter this fabulous park, your world will be transported to the lands of your favorite characters for a one-of-a-kind immersive experience.
As walking around the park, you’ll meet some of the world’s most iconic characters, including Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And your childhood memories come to life as you meet Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, Tom and Jerry, and your favorite modern stone-age family, The Flintstones.
Yas Island Hotels: Regardless of all the entertainment on the island, the hotels located on Yas Island are some of the best hotels to stay in Abu Dhabi.
- W Abu Dhabi is an excellent choice if you like to book a luxurious hotel in Abu Dhabi at a bargain price, year-round. With its unique design inside and out, plus many of the accommodations featuring spectacular views of the nearby marina, you can’t go wrong with this fabulous hotel in Yas Island.
- If you’re traveling on a budget or would like to spend your money on entertainment and still stay at a decent place, try Yas Island Rotana. Well-known for its family-friendly environment and proximity to great restaurants and attractions, Yas Island Rotana makes it easy to enjoy the best of Abu Dhabi. The hotel’s location is conveniently close to all the fun that Yas Island has to offer which is a bonus!
6- Various Hotel options in Abu Dhabi
Are you planning to head over to the UAE this summer? Plan your visit to Abu Dhabi today as this city is the best city to visit in the Emirates!
Some of the world’s most professional architects, designers, and chefs have gathered in one place to create sublime places throughout Abu Dhabi. No matter what type of accommodation you’re looking for, there is a stunning hotel waiting for you.
The best thing about staying at a hotel in Abu Dhabi is that even though the city has hundreds of fabulous hotels, they aren’t extortionately priced in comparison to the high standard and their location.
If you are traveling to Abu Dhabi with family, the St. Regis hotel is the best hotel to stay with family in Abu Dhabi. Each of their rooms has exceptional waterfront views of the Persian Gulf and a great experience provided by the Butlers at St. Regis.
If you are two love birds, looking for your honeymoon destination or a getaway to strengthen your bond with your partner, Royal Rose Hotel is the place to stay at. The fragrance of roses as you enter the lobby of this beautifully designed hotel is the start of a romantic stay you’ll always remember. The staff at this hotel is so friendly that it makes you feel like finding your home away from home. Adding the spas, rooftop pool, and gorgeous terraces are some of the extra tools to enjoy your romantic vacation to Abu Dhabi with your love of life.
If you like to experience Abu Dhabi at its finest with all the bells and whistles of the Arabian luxurious lifestyle, the Zaya Nurai resort on the private island of Nurai is waiting for you. Nurai Island is located in the Persian Gulf and is only 12 minutes away from Abu Dhabi by boat. The hotel is made up of 32 villas with floor-to-ceiling ocean views and a private pool in each one. Zaya Nurai resort is so elegant that you’ll carry its good memories for years to come.
Are you a backpacking traveler, thinking UAE is too expensive for traveling on a budget? You’re in luck as this city has enough accommodations to suit your budget. The 3-star Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate Hotel has an ideal location of being at the end of the creek between Abu Dhabi Gate City and Bain Al Jessrain in the Al Maqta area. Because of its location, this hotel is amazing for both the backpackers visiting Abu Dhabi and businessmen in Abu Dhabi who don’t want to spend a fortune.
7- Awaken Your Inner Party Animal
Are you a night bird, or a party animal? Abu Dhabi got you covered. Having lots of hotels, bars, and nightclubs, you can live your Vegas life, right in the heart of the Middle East.
Hysteria in Hilton Capital hotel is one of the best nightclubs in Abu Dhabi if you like to experience authentic Arabian nightlife. They are always playing the hit Arabian and international music.
The Legends nightclub in Sheraton Hotel is another great option for party animals to enjoy the night out. Besides the great DJs and amazing music, this nightclub is famous for its delicious snacks that would brighten your night.
8- The New Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi is a new cultural beacon in the Middle East, bringing different cultures together to shine fresh light over the shared stories of humanity. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, its layout resembles an Arab medina, and the dome casts an enchanting ‘rain of light’ inspired by the shadows of overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases. Spanning from ancient times to the present day, the collection will celebrate cultural exchange and diversity. The museum symbolically shows an exchange of culture and diversity, representing the dynamic nature of the contemporary Arab world while celebrating the region’s vibrant multicultural heritage.
The Abu Dhabi museum constantly goes back and forth between Egyptian and Mesopotamian antiquity, and featuring some of Le Louvre’s famous collection. More than a simple offshoot of the Paris institution, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is a work of art in its own right.
The world’s first universal museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a place to be experienced! What does it mean to be universal thou? For Louvre Abu Dhabi it means focusing on what unites people: The stories of human creativity.
9- Visit Futuristic Masdar City
Stroll through one of the world’s most innovative cities, or take a tour in a driverless vehicle. Masdar City combines state-of-the-art technologies with the planning principles of traditional Arab settlements to create a desert community that aims to be carbon neutral and zero waste. In 2008, Masdar City embarked on a journey to develop one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The City is home to a rapidly growing clean-tech cluster, business free zone and residential neighborhood with restaurants, shops, and public green spaces. The city is still being built, with new businesses and facilities being added every day, making this an exciting time to visit and gaze into the future.
Don’t forget to take a PRT ride with the small carbon-free futuristic machines. The absence of motor vehicles coupled with Masdar’s perimeter wall, designed to keep out the hot desert winds, allows for narrow and shaded streets that help funnel cooler breezes across the city.
10- Not as Crowded as Dubai
When it comes to the peak season in Dubai, anyone could testify that the city is packed! Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, people from all over the globe fly to Dubai during the months of October-March in order to escape the winter in their home country for a few days and have some fun. Airports are jam-packed, hotels are super expensive and even buying a ticket to go up the Burj Khalifa is impossible as it needs to be done months in advance. Abu Dhabi has attractions that are just as fun and exciting as Dubai, with much less hassle, making it the better destination during the peak season of the UAE.
However, if you’re visiting Abu Dhabi and still would like to get a glimpse of what Dubai has to offer, you can. Dubai is just 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Abu Dhabi and there are convenient and cheap transport links between them.