Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and only 150 km away from Dubai. Thus, Abu Dhabi is an excellent day trip destination from Dubai, as it is only 1 ½ hours by car.
But since there is a lot to discover in the capital, you can easily spend 1-2 nights here to take in all the sights at your leisure. Now you can find out which sights Abu Dhabi has to offer.
#1 Sheikh Zayid Mosque
The Sheikh Zayid Mosque tops the list of highlights because this incredibly beautiful mosque should not be missed by anyone visiting Abu Dhabi.
It impresses not only with its size, but also with its magnificent design. Thus, it shines in dazzling white and is decorated with 24-karat gold. Inside the mosque you can see some of the most beautiful and largest chandeliers in the world, made of Murano glass and gold.
And just when you think it can’t get any more beautiful, the mosque is illuminated blue in the evening hours. I have actually rarely seen anything more impressive. Thus, as an ideal time to visit, I would recommend early evening to be on site during sunset.
To visit the mosque, one should observe the conservative dress code. Women must be covered from head to ankle in loose clothing, while for men, long pants and a T-shirt will be fine. If the clothing does not meet the requirements, you will be provided with an abaya free of charge. The men should also note that no tattoos are visible, otherwise they will also have to be covered with a traditional robe.
Absolutely recommended are the free tours that take place several times a day. A lot of interesting information about the mosque is shared, you get into areas that you would not be allowed to enter without a guide, and on top of that, the guides are extremely entertaining.
No advance registration is required for the tour, which is conducted in English. All you have to do is be at the designated meeting place at the specified time, which is just to the right of the entrance gate to the mosque. You can find the schedule for the tours here.
Good to know: If you don’t want to get cold feet, make sure to take (thicker) socks with you. Indeed, the shoes must be removed before entering the mosque. Therefore, in the evening, as soon as the marble floor cools down, it can become uncomfortable.
#2 Emirates Palace
The pompous Emirates Palace Hotel is considered the landmark of Abu Dhabi and clearly stands out from other hotels with its Arabian-inspired architecture. The well-kept gardens are green and blooming in full splendor, while inside all that glitters is actually gold.
If you want, you can taste a little of the gold and treat yourself to a Palace Cappuccino for a good $18, which is enhanced with 24-karat gold.
Even more exclusive is the traditional Afternoon Tea, which is served daily from 2 – 6 p.m. and is available from $50 per person.
At the Emirates Palace Hotel, however, there is not only gold to eat, but also gold to take home. The world’s first gold vending machine was placed here. Gold to go is available from about $45. Now the word gold has come up several times… that just describes the hotel quite well.
The huge hotel complex is open to visitors daily from 10am, which is truly the best time to visit if you want to take beautiful photos in peace without crowds. Again, please note the dress code: shorts and flip-flops are not allowed. However, having reasonably decent clothing is quite enough.
top ratings ★
#3 Observation Deck at 300
Just a short walk from Emirates Palace is the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. These five gleaming towers are hard to miss in Abu Dhabi.
They made a glamorous appearance in Fast and the Furious 7, when Dominic Toretto aka Vin Diesel raced his car from one tower to the next. A truly legendary scene.
Tower 2 is home to the Observation Deck at 300 on the 74th floor, which is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. From here, you have an outstanding view of the Abu Dhabi skyline and a particularly beautiful view of the Emirates Palace Hotel.
The entrance fee is $25 per person and includes a voucher of $15, which can be redeemed on site for drinks and food. That’s just enough for a drink and a snack.
Afternoon tea is also served in the tower’s opulent lobby lounge. Yes, these afternoon teas are extremely common in the Emirates. The regular price here is $53 per person. However, I found a great deal on Groupon that offers the whole thing for half the price. You can find the deal here while it’s still going on.
#4 Yas Marina Circuit Venue Tour
The Yas Marina Circuit Venue Tour on Yas Island is highly recommended to all motorsport enthusiasts. On this tour, you get a behind-the-scenes peek at a Formula 1 race. Among other things, you can enter the race control center, climb onto the winners’ podium, see the drivers’ accommodations and walk down the pit lane. Numerous experiences, then, that get a fan’s blood pumping.
The two-hour tour, conducted in English, is available for $29 per person and operates twice daily from Tuesday to Saturday. You can find more information and the booking link here.
#5 Ferrari World
Thematically fitting, the Ferrari World theme park is also located on Yas Island. The park, completely dedicated to the car brand, offers a variety of exhibits as well as a cool Formula 1 simulator and Formula Rossa – the fastest roller coaster in the world. In it, you accelerate to 240 km/h in an incredible 4.9 seconds. It does hurt your face a bit, but action junkies shouldn’t miss out on this thrill ride.
If you book 15 days or more in advance, tickets are available from $84 per person.
#6 Yas Viceroy
We stay on Yas Island and it continues with a hotel that should look familiar to any Formula 1 fan. No, I’m not a huge Formula 1 fan, even if you might get the impression in the course of the article. However, I stay up to date in this regard by the way.
The Yas Viceroy is a hotel integrated into the racetrack and thus offers a fantastic view of it. Even if there is no race taking place at the moment, the motorsport atmosphere is great. We ourselves spent one night in the hotel and were delighted with the facilities and location.
It makes a great base for Yas Island attractions, especially since a free shuttle serves various points on the island. But even if you don’t want to spend a night there, I would definitely recommend the Skylite Rooftop Lounge on the hotel’s rooftop terrace.
There you can sit in a cool atmosphere under the illuminated, net-like roofing, enjoy delicious cocktails and snacks and smoke shisha on the side. An absolutely relaxing end to the day.
#7 Yas Waterworld
Yas Waterworld is – as the name suggests – also located on Yas Island. The water park not only has countless slides of various shapes and sizes to offer, but even a roller coaster and an artificial wave where you can put your surfing skills to the test. The full dose of water fun is available for $71 per person.
With this highlight list, nothing should stand in the way of an unforgettable trip to Abu Dhabi.
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