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Abu Dhabi’s as sleek as a sports car and growing at lightning pace. In a mere four decades, this dusty town of palm-wood houses transformed into a jungle of skyscrapers. Saddle up for mega-malls, eco-cities and adrenaline-pumping hyper-coasters, because this desert oasis is all about extremes.
If these walls could talk! The Qasr al-Hosn fortress is a view into the city’s distant past, or at least when your grandpa was in short trousers. In the 70s it was the city’s only major building. Today its 250-year-old bricks stand out against the glinting skyscrapers around it. Visit the annual Qasr al-Hosn Festival for innovative cultural shows and traditional markets.Accommodations near Qasr al-Hosn
Once upon an Arabian night you may have explored Abu Dhabi’s traditional souk markets. Today, those cluttered grottos have given way to a veritable “Cave of Wonders”. The Arabian-style Wahda Mall has one of the city centre’s grandest façades. Before you can say “Open Sesame!” you’ll be flitting between stores and bagging bargains faster than a flying carpet!Accommodations near Al Wahda Mall
Dive into Abu Dhabi’s own seafront shopping centre. If you don’t want to waste valuable tanning hours searching for souvenirs, a 5-minute trot will get you from beach to boutique. From fashion to perfumes, antiques to local crafts – you can zip round Marina Mall and be back relaxing on your towel in no time. After getting yourself a nice big ice cream as a reward, of course!Accommodations near Marina Mall
Even when temperatures soar, Abu Dhabians still manage to exude cool. Fancy joining the in-crowd? Grab a flashy ride and cruise down the Corniche’s seafront strip. The more easy-going locals head to the promenade cafés for sunset views over the Gulf. Parks are scattered along this stretch with playgrounds, go-cart tracks and even stages for open-air shows.Accommodations near The Corniche
The Grand Mosque’s scale is awe-inspiring. Its great white domes billow up into a vast and endless sky. Saying that, the beauty here is in the detail. Any corner of this palatial sanctuary can become a tiny cosmos. Chandeliers glitter like stars, pools shimmer like oceans and intricate carpets roll out like lush landscapes. Take the sunset tour for something truly otherworldly.Accommodations near Sheikh Zayed Mosque
And you thought the desert was dry! This waterpark is Abu Dhabi’s worst-kept secret for anyone looking to escape the city heat. Hang ten on the surf simulator, fly into watery battle on the Bandit Bomber roller coaster, or plunge into the belly of the beast on The Rattler. For more sliding and less queueing, avoid the Emirati weekend (Friday and Saturday) or get a VIP pass.Accommodations near Yas Waterworld
Buckle up, people, this is quite a ride! Hop into F1 racing simulators, whizz through 4D experiences, and put pedal to the metal on Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest roller coaster. Take a tour around a miniature Italy and stop off for an authentic Neapolitan pizza afterwards. For anyone who’s ever said a car is “just a car”, Ferrari World will make you think again.Accommodations near Ferrari World
Furniture shopping one second and skiing the next? Yas Island’s “super mall” is about so much more than retail therapy. Practise your twirl at Snow City’s ice rink or swing by the Fun Works adventure zone with the kids. Even if you’re not so keen on rides, could you really say “no” to dinner delivered on mini roller coasters at Rogo’s Restaurant?Accommodations near Yas Mall
This place has the winning formula for F1 lovers. The world-famous track snakes around majestic event venues and the sparkling marina. Those short on time can get their adrenaline kick in the karting zone. For the more adventurous – get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin GT4 or an F1 racing car, or slide into the passenger seat and let a professional show you how it’s done.Accommodations near Yas Marina Circuit
Out in the desert, you’ll find a pyramid. This one’s not in honour of a great ruler – but great automobiles. Motor-mad Sheikh Hamad created the site for his own collection of classics, giving car lovers a place of worship. Swap the Great Sphynx for giant replica 4x4s, cash in the pharaoh’s riches for hot rods and Merc’s, then fall to your knees before the world’s largest truck.Accommodations near Emirates National Auto Museum
Welcome to the jungle. While the city grows and changes around it, Abu Dhabi’s untamed heart mixes international style with an extravagant Emirati flourish. Explore the Capital Garden, hunt for bargains at WTC Mall, climb up to the canopy at the Crowne Plaza’s Level Lounge, then revive your senses at the Beach Rotana’s poolside watering hole.Accommodations in Downtown Abu Dhabi
Yas has a need, a need for speed. Discover the turbo-charged Ferrari World theme park, fun-filled Yas Waterworld and the famous Yas Marina racing circuit. Yas Mall dominates its centre, an ultra-modern shopping centre with its own ski slope and adventure park. If you want to squeeze the most out of your day, then Yas Island has you covered.Accommodations in Yas Island
Al Maryah is cutting edge – from the jutting steel skyscrapers right down to the sharp-suited bankers on the street. Principally the city’s business district, you’ll also find the chic Galleria shopping centre with its own Emporio Armani Caffè. After a busy day, adjourn to the Rosewood hotel’s rooftop lounge bar Glo for some well-earned R&R.Accommodations in Al Maryah Island
This once-forgotten island was crafted by nature but redesigned by man. Some come for Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, others for camel burgers at Fanr Restaurant. Whatever brings you here, there’s more in store for this corner of the city. Soon to be added are a wetland nature reserve and a cultural district with Abu Dhabi’s own Guggenheim and Louvre.Accommodations in Saadiyat Island
Olga just can’t get enough sea and sun, and has recently become fixated on paddleboarding.
Mangroves conceal Saadiyat Public Beach’s fine white sands and clear blue waters, adding a touch of seclusion and peacefulness. If you’re lucky, you might spot a dolphin popping by or baby turtles making their way to the sea.Accommodations nearby
Samer aims to leave his footprints all over the world as he explores new cultures and cuisines.
The name of this visitor centre literally means “the place of enlightenment.” Interactive exhibits and art galleries immerse you in the island’s rich history and bright future. Saadiyat Experience tells a narrative using multimedia features that present the island’s new developments.Accommodations nearby
Throughout his 30 years in Abu Dhabi, Hussam has picked up jet skiing, salsa music and the latest tech.
The Breakwater is the perfect spot for a romantic excursion or a peaceful stroll. Head up to the flagpole (one of the world’s largest) just before the rocky beach and marvel at sweeping views of the Abu Dhabi skyline. The winding walkways also offer respite from the bustling city.Accommodations nearby
Ahmed is a skilled driver who is fanatical about muscle cars and loves the rush of drag racing.
The Yellow Boats offers an exciting and informative way to tour the city. Hop aboard one of the yellow boats at Emirates Palace Marina and let the knowledgeable tour guides lead you through the city’s exciting new developments. You’ll cruise by majestic buildings, Corniche and Lulu Island.Accommodations nearby
Travel-loving Antonios enjoys singing, playing the ukulele and spending time with his cat, Elmo.
The Abu Dhabi Classics brings together prestigious performers and upcoming talents of the classical music world. Held in the Emirates Palace auditorium and other venues around Abu Dhabi, this musical event includes orchestras, operas and singers from both Western and Arabic traditions.Accommodations nearby
Loma loves the outdoors and spends her free time close to nature in parks, farms or on the beach.
Also known as Kids Park Zoo, this small zoo is worth seeing for its Siberian white tigers alone. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the monkeys, camels and giraffes – you can even buy leaves, carrots and dates to feed them. Supplies often run out early so consider bringing your own.Accommodations nearby
Muscle car devotee Ibrahim is a keen gamer who’s always up to date on the latest tech.
The Eastern Mangroves National Park is right in the heart of Abu Dhabi but it doesn’t feel like it! To really get away from it all, a guided kayaking tour lets you paddle through its peaceful waters on a 90-minute adventure.Accommodations nearby
Sandeep is a vegan foodie who spends his weekends dining out and watching the latest blockbusters.
Yas Marina’s Classic Movie Night is a chance to see timeless English, Arabic and international films beneath the stars. This free event is held every Tuesday – just show up and pick your spot on the lawn. Even better, the surrounding restaurants often offer promotions on takeaway meals.Accommodations nearby
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you enjoy the sights in Abu Dhabi while avoiding the crowds?
Crowds? That is one of the things we liked; no crowds, no pushing and shoving through cramped streets. "Big Bus" is a great way to start.See all 8 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you get the most authentic cultural experience in Abu Dhabi?
A visit to the Grand Mosque a must ... Not even watching it on megastructures compares to it's magnificence....See all 11 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What was the most entertaining thing you saw in Abu Dhabi?
Fish market, Dow Cruise,Rock Concert, Corniche, Shopping Malls, It`s all there.See all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Tell us about your most relaxing moments in Abu Dhabi.
visiting the Grand Mosque and walking throuch Abu Dhabi MallSee all 18 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Is there more to shopping in Abu Dhabi than just brand-name stores?
United Arab Emirates
Beautiful buildings and entertainment and friendly people!See all 9 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Describe what other people like you would like about shopping in Abu Dhabi.
plenty of bargains in the right places.See all 27 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes Abu Dhabi one of those classic city-trip experiences?
United Arab Emirates
YOU HAVE TO FOUND THIS, IT'S UP TO YOUSee all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...The beach means different things to different people. What did the beach in Abu Dhabi mean to you?
United Arab Emirates
SAND, SUN, SEA, RELAXSee all 19 answers
Abu Dhabi International Airport is the city’s main airport. The fastest and most convenient way to reach the city centre is by taxi. The 6-seater black Mercedes Vitos line up at the lower curbs of Terminals 1 and 3. A taxi to the city centre will take about 30 minutes and cost around AED 75. Fares must be paid in cash. Alternatively, green and white A1 buses line up outside the terminals and take about 45 minutes to the centre. Fare is AED 4 and can be paid on board.
Abu Dhabi’s public bus system is well connected and has stops marked by signs in English and Arabic. The blue and white buses run 24/7 and arrive every 10-20 minutes depending on the route, with less frequency after midnight. One-way fare within the city is AED 2, which must be paid in coins on board. Regional routes cost AED 4. Chewing gum is prohibited on board and women and families have priority seating in the first 3 rows.
Driving in Abu Dhabi is relatively easy, and rental cars are readily available at the airport. To rent a car, foreign travellers must present an International Driving Permit and a copy of their passport and visa. Delays are possible during rush hour, which is generally from 7:00–10:00 and 17:00–20:00. Parking is difficult, but hotels and malls generally have availability. Parking meters cost between AED 2 and AED 3 per hour, depending on the place.
Taxis are a convenient and relatively cheap mode of transport in Abu Dhabi. The silver cabs can be easily hailed throughout the city, or reserved in advance by downloading the Abu Dhabi Taxi app. Alternatively, reservations can be made by phone. Cabs are always metered, and price increases incrementally based on distance travelled and time spent waiting. Tipping for good service is customary but not compulsory. Fare must be paid in cash unless otherwise noted.
The Yas Express is a hop-on, hop-off shuttle connecting all the major attractions of Yas Island, including most hotels, the beach and marina, Ferrari World and Waterworld. The Blue Route runs from 09:00–21:00 daily, while the interlinking Red Route runs from 09:00–02:00. The Saadiyat Route connects Yas with the neighbouring Saadiyat Island from 10:00–19:00. The Yas Express is free to use – just look for the designated bus stops around the island.
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