Abu Dhabi is a destination that doesn’t come naturally to most travelers. Located in the Middle East and often overlooked in favor of Dubai, the city of Abu Dhabi is an evolving city. Follow these tips to have the best experience in Abu Dhabi, whether it’s your first visit or one of many.
Explore the City Life
Photo via Flickr by Petr Kadlec
Downtown Abu Dhabi is filled with luxurious hotels, such as the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, as well as hundreds of shops and lively nightlife. Shop for traditional jewelry at the Madinat Zayed Gold Center. Walk along the beachfront, and make sure to pass Emirates Palace along the way. Stroll through the fountains and park areas on Corniche Road. If you’re a thrill-seeker, ride the Formula Rossa roller coaster at the Ferrari World theme park.
Take a Tour of the Desert
Even if you’ve been to a desert before, make sure to take a ride into the Arabian Desert. Rent a Jeep to ride up and down the sand dunes. Sign up for a tour if you’d prefer to meet others and have a set itinerary, which usually includes camel rides, barbecue dinners, and belly dancing shows. Even though the desert highway may be off road, you can still see a selection of ghost towns, such as Masdar City. The desert is also one of the best places to find a henna tattoo artist and snag a deal.
Get Wet at the Waterparks
Abu Dhabi experiences a subtropical climate year round, although temperatures can get very high in the summer months. When it gets too hot, head to Yas Island. Families can enjoy tube rides, waterslides, and even an interactive water rollercoaster. Adults can sign up for flowboard training, while children can take classes at the Cool Schools. If you want smaller crowds, Murjan Splash Park offers seven main attractions along with a lazy river.
Learn the Historical Side to Abu Dhabi
Whether or not you’re a history buff, learning about Abu Dhabi’s past is a great way to do something different during your trip. Don’t miss a visit to one of the city’s top complimentary attractions, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. You can also view daily exhibits at the museum at Heritage Village. Sign up for workshops with locals to learn traditional skills such as pottery or weaving. Explore the seven forts and castles for sightseeing and learning about historic battles. If you have an interest in archaeological sites, head to the top of Al Hili Watchtowers.
Taste Your Way Through the City
In Abu Dhabi, food lovers will find extensive culinary options from all over the world. Enjoy sitting on plush rugs as you taste local Arabian foods such as samosas and kofta. Dine at Moroccan and Lebanese restaurants to enjoy a cultural feast within luxurious settings in high-end hotels along the water. Ask to try the baklava and Arabian coffee after dinner. Order fresh fish from Mina Fish Market or book a dinner cruise and enjoy the sites of Abu Dhabi from the Arabian Gulf.
Abu Dhabi has much more for travelers beyond these five tips. If you visit Abu Dhabi, be sure to stay several days and explore outside your resort.
*This post is proudly written in collaboration with IHG.