While many people visit Dubai's attractions, its neighbour Abu Dhabi actually has a lot of great activities and things to see!
30 June 2015| Last updated on 5 November 2019
When you think of the UAE, most people are often attracted to the glitz and glam of Dubai. But in fact, it's neighbour and the Capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is home to plenty of fantastic activities and things to see... That are just perfect for tourists! With our ExpatWoman guide, make sure you keep those visitors of yours mesmerised by the wonders of the place we love and know as Abu Dhabi.
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Capital’s premier tourist attraction, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must see for anyone visiting the U.A.E. Taking more than a decade to construct the Mosque fuses numerous design elements celebrating Islamic architecture with the initial design hailing from Morocco.
Able to accommodate 40,000 worshippers the Grand Mosque is finished with an elegant and breathtaking combination of white marble, mosaic tiling and coloured glass. Non-Muslims are able to visit all areas of the Mosque and there are guided tours throughout the day.
- 09:00-22:00 Saturday- Thursday
- 16:30 -2200 Friday
2. Kayaking in the Mangroves
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by going for a paddle in the Mangrove forests of Abu Dhabi, with two major launching points, this is an activity that can be as exciting and adventurous or as calming and relaxing as you wish to make it! Explore all the channels and coves that the Mangroves have to offer and meet all kinds of wildlife whilst breathing in the clean fresh air.
Suitable for complete beginners through to experienced kayakers this is a great morning/afternoon activity (which takes around two hours) that the whole family can enjoy.
3. Yas Waterworld
With 43 rides, slides and attractions a day out at Yas Waterworld will be fun filled for the whole family! As if the waterslides weren’t enough the park even has a rollercoaster with on-board laser and water effects.
As an homage to the history of Abu Dhabi the water park is centered around the theme of ‘The Lost Pearl’. Whereby visitors can follow the story of a young Emirati girl who is on her own personal quest to find ‘The Lost Pearl’.
The park is open from 10:00 to 18:00 in the winter and 10:00 until 20:00 in the summer.
4. Heritage Village
This reconstruction of a Bedouin Oasis Village not only offers a glimpse in to U.A.E. life before the oil boom but also stunning views of the Abu Dhabi Skyline. Within the village there are many attractions and exhibits to keep you entertained including pottery and metal workshops, carpet weaving displays, a campfire, a falaj irrigation system and even a spice shop.
The Heritage Village provides a great place for the whole family to learn about the traditional way of life in the desert, including local agricultural and pearl diving techniques.
5. Al-Hosn Palace
Also known as the White Fort, Al-Hosn Palace is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. Having been built in 1793 it was the residence of the Al Nahyan family who ruled from the Palace until 1966.
The Palace is now a center for research and documentation on the history and heritage of the U.A.E. and the surrounding region.
6. Emirates Palace Hotel
At just over $3Billion to build, the Emirates Palace Hotel is one of the most expensive hotels to have ever been constructed. Not content with just being a world-class hotel the Emirates Palace strives to provide its guests with the experience of staying at an actual Palace.
Whilst the rooms and restaurants can waver on the expensive side, Emirates Palace is well worth a trip for Afternoon Tea where you are treated to an afternoon of palatial elegance whilst taking in your extravagant surroundings. Don’t forget to order the 24-carat gold cappuccino, atop which the Palace dust shavings of 24-carat gold! (Don’t worry it is edible!)
7. Yas Marina Circuit
Home to the Abu Dhabi leg of the Formula 1 Championship the Yas Marina Circuit the facility has become a hub for sporting and entertainment experiences. But do not despair if your visit does not coincide with race day as there is a host of activities and events going on at Yas Marina Circuit throughout the year.
Whether you want to jog around the track, take a selfie on the home straight, get active with your kids on bikes, go go-karting with your friends or even spend the day driving around the circuit in a luxury car, it can all be done at Yas.
8. Abu Dhabi Corniche
Set against the skyline of Abu Dhabi the Corniche provides a place for a fun and affordable family day out. Spanning an eight kilometer distance the waterfront boasts numerous play areas for children, cycle and jogging lanes, cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, well-manicured gardens and the Corniche Beach- a public beach which has lifeguard stations.
Despite being located next to one of the busiest roads in Abu Dhabi the Corniche can provide a fun and safe place for a family day, or why not take a romantic stroll through the gardens one evening. The Corniche also provides the ‘place to be’ on public celebrations and holidays with mesmerizing fireworks displays and large crowds of celebrators. (Definitely worth a visit on National Day!)
9. Emirates National Auto Museum
Set in a Pyramid warehouse in the desert sits an extraordinary collection of cars and automotive vehicles. Owned by H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan the collection boasts over 200 vehicles ranging from Minis, Military Jeeps, and rainbow coloured Mercedes to the largest Caravan in the world!
Whilst the museum is a little drive out of Abu Dhabi it is well worth the journey, not only are there some really cool and unique items but it also gives the visitors an insight into the passion that the U.A.E. and its citizens have for automobiles.
The Museum is open from 08:00-18:00 every day and entry costs AED50.
10. Al Forsan International Sports Resort
Whether you want to get on the track, on a horse or in the water Al Forsan is the place for you! This world class sports facility can cater to your every need, with a go-kart track, paintball arena, off-road race track, shooting range, equestrian centre, wakeboarding Cable Park as well as numerous dining options there really is no reason to leave!
The facility is open throughout that day from 09:00-22:00 but timings vary dependent on your chosen activity so be sure to check with the resort!