Best things to do in Abu Dhabi
Top 10 travel activities, visits and attractions
The best activities, attractions, visits and excursions in Abu Dhabi
You’re looking for the best things to do in Abu Dhabi ? The best travel activities, visits, tours and attractions ? You’re in the right place! To help you organize your trip and not miss anything, our TOP 10 gathers the best things to do and see : points of interest, tourist attractions, excursions, sightseeing tours, monuments, museums, etc.
To save time and money, we advise your to book in advance your hotel rooms, activities and touristic services (insurance, transport…). In order to help you, we’ve selected the best offers available on the internet. You will find all links in this article, together with a listing of our favorite travel websites. Have a nice trip . – By Flo, Caro & The Team
In this article, you will find :
- The TOP 10 things to do in Abu Dhabi
- Other tours and activities you may like (for those who want to try and see everything !)
- Travel tips and good deals to organize tour trip (hotel rooms, car rental, travel insurance…)
- Other articles that may interest you (Attractions Dubai, Attractions Emirates, Attractions Los Angeles…)
What to do and see in Abu Dhabi - TOP 10 activities and visits
1. Visit the Cheick Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is a more cultural city than its neighbor Dubai and is home of the most beautiful monuments of the Emirates. The most famous one is the Cheick Zayed Mosque, undoubtedly one of the largest and prettiest mosques in the world! Composed of huge domes, arches and columns painted in a bright white, it presents an architecture of exception. The entry is free, even for non-Muslims.
Be careful, to visit the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi, you will need to behave and dress appropriately: shoulders uncovered, no shorts or skirts, veil or scarf for women. Adapted outfits can be loaned free of charge on site upon presentation of an identity card (abaya and veil for women, traditional dress for men).
2. Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi
- Admission fee ($)
The Louvre opened in 2017 and quickly became one of the city’s main attractions. Born from a partnership with various French museums (including the Louvre of course), this museum is not a copy of the Parisian one, but defines itself as an independent and universal museum. The collections are presented in an original way, in a refined and elegant style. It contains works from all over the world, a mixture of different eras and civilizations. On top of that, the architecture of the place is amazing and deserves the visit on its own!
- Free : walks, souks, mall
- Admission fee : Heritage Village, personal spendings ($)
If you like to walk, you shouldn’t miss out on this beautiful walk by the water! ! The Corniche is a pedestrian and cycling path that runs along the Persian Gulf for nearly 8 km. Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views and short breaks at the beach. At the south-western end, we recommend you to join the Marina to visit the Marina Mall and the Heritage Village (a reproduction of a traditional Emirati village). At the northeast end, you can stroll to Port Zayed to discover the charming Mina Fish Market, the Carpet Souk, the Fruit and Vegetable Souk or the Dhows Port.
4. Visit Yas Islands: Yas Marina, Ferrari World, Warner Bros, the Mall…
- Free : beach & mall
- Admission fee : Formula 1 circuit ($), amusement parks ($$)
There are so many things to see on Yas Island! You can visit Yas Marina, a famous Formula 1 circuit, where you can even try driving your own kart or enjoy a tour with a professional pilot. Yas Island is also home of 3 amazing amusement parks: Ferrari World (with the fastest roller coaster in the world), Warner Bros (dedicated to cinema) and Waterworld (a huge waterpark). Finally, you can relax at Yas Beach or shop at the Yas Mall, one of the biggest shopping centers in Abu Dhabi.
- Admission fee: transportation or guided excursions ($$)
One of the other unmissable activities in Abu Dhabi is definitely the desert safari! There are different options to explore the desert: 4×4, quad or camel tours, or by enjoying a meal in a traditional Bedouin camp! This is a really fun activity we highly recommend! If you have your own car, you can also ride to the Liwa desert, a wild space located at 2h30 from Abu Dhabi which offers beautiful sand dunes.
6. Visit Abu Dhabi’s palaces: Emirates Palace, Presidential Palace…
- Free : observation from the outside
- Admission fee : visiting the palaces ($ or $$)
It’s impossible to visit Abu Dhabi without going to see at least one of its many palaces! The most extravagant is the Emirates Palace, a huge luxury hotel that you can visit by stopping for a tea time. Nearby, you will find the Presidential Palace, the seat of Emirati power. Only a part of the palace is open to visitors: the Qasr Al Watan. This visit is worth the detour to admire the architecture while learning about the political organization of the Emirates. Finally, you can visit the Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest palace (and even building) of the city, built in 1761!
- Admission fee: Etihad Tower ($) or seaplane ($$$)
With its huge palaces, pleasant seafront and beautiful skyscrapers, Abu Dhabi’s architecture is definitely worth the detour! To discover it in its entirety, there is nothing better than to admire it from the sky! To do so, we advise you to visit the observation deck of the Etihad Tower, which offers an unobstructed view of the entire Corniche and the sumptuous palaces. If you have a larger budget, you can also choose to go on a seaplane flight for an experience that will blow your mind!
- Admission fee: transportation or guided excursion ($)
Although Abu Dhabi is definitely worth the travel on its own, it would be a shame not to discover the other Emirates during your trip! We of course suggest that you visit Dubai, a must-see, or the charming oasis of Al Ain, located in Abu Dhabi Emirate, at only 2h north.
- Admission fee: kayak, zoo, falcons ($)
Although the city is located in the desert, Abu Dhabi is full of unexpected natural riches. You can for example enjoy a pleasant kayak tour in the Manrgoves National Park located right next to the city. You’ll discover a lush forest where many fish, flamingos, turtles and even dolphins and dugongs live! You can also see the animals of the region by visiting sites such as the Falcon Hospital or the Emirates Park Zoo.
- Admission fee ($$)
Most of Abu Dhabi’s main monuments are located on the waterfront. To discover them from a different point of view, we invite you to hop on a boat or on a jet-ski! Tours by zodiac, dhow (traditional boats) or jet-ski are offered on the Persian Gulf. These tours offer superb views of Abu Dhabi and allow you to take a refreshing break from the heat and bustle of the city!
Other things to do and see in Abu Dhabi (activities, excursions, attractions, visits...)
In addition to the activities listed in our TOP 10, you’re looking for other things to do in Abu Dhabi? Here is a selection of other sightseeing tours, attractions and travel activities which you could be interested in:
- Capital Gate: 525 feet high, this skyscraper is quite simply the most leaning tower in the world, in front of the Tower of Pisa! Placed on the seaside, it offers the opportunity to take a nice picture.
- Saadiyat Public Beach: along with the Corniche Beach, Saadiyat Beach is probably the most popular beach in Abu Dhabi. Don’t hesitate to go there for some relaxing and refreshing time.
- Masdar: this city under construction is located right next to Abu Dhabi. It aims to become the first “eco-city” with zero carbon and zero waste. Many technologies are being implemented to use only renewable energy and make Masdar a model of urban development. However, the development of the city has lagged behind and the whole is now rather empty. Nevertheless, the project remains praiseworthy and worthy of interest!
- Women’s Handicraft Center: this small museum allows local women artisans to present their works and creations (embroidery, oils, outfits…). It’s a nice place to bring back nice souvenirs.
- Other Souks in Abu Dhabi: in addition to the souks already mentioned (fish market, carpet souk and fruit and vegetable souk), you can visit the Gold Souk if you are looking for jewellery. If you reach the city of Al Ain in the north of the emirate, you are also encouraged not to miss the Old Souk of Al Ain and the Souk of Al Zafarana, two places with a very authentic atmosphere.
- Other malls in Abu Dhabi: In addition to the malls we mentioned above (Marina Mall and Yas Mall), there are other smaller but well-organised shopping malls in Abu Dhabi. You may particularly like the Abu Dhabi Mall and Al Wahda Mall.
- Sir Bani Yas Island: located 2.5 hours west of Abu Dhabi, this island is home to the Arabian Wildlife Park, a huge protected area where thousands of free-living animals (oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas, cheetahs, etc.) live. To visit it, you need to take a ferry, and it is then possible to make safaris there in 4×4 or to spend a night in one of the hotels of the island.
Travel tips to visit Abu Dhabi and organize your trip (hotels, sightseeing tours...)
Book accomodation in Abu Dhabi : you’ll find the greatest choice on Booking (for hotel rooms) or Airbnb ( for appartments).
Book travel activities in Abu Dhabi : you can book all the best activities online on Viator (american website – many offers and sightseeing tours), Get Your guide (european website – our favorite choice with lots of good offers), Tiqets (european website – great one to book tickets for museums or attractions) or Ceetiz (european website with a large offer of activities worldwide and many promotions)
Book tickets for Hop on Hop off Buses : with Big Bus Tours, you can enjoy live and audio guides and stop right next to the greatest tourist attractions.
Book a flight to Abu Dhabi : you will generally find best prices on Skyscanner.
Book and airport transfer in XXX : save time by using the usefull Airport Shuttle
Rent a car in Abu Dhabi : it is important to make a booking before departure, as prices on site are much higher than those displayed online. We advise you to use Rentalcars.
Book an organized trip or tailor-made travel to visit Abu Dhabi : if you don’t want to organize everything on your own, we recommend the website Evaneos. It puts you in direct contact with a top selection of the local agencies (high quality of the service).You’ll then be able to choose among the different customized programs following the recommendations of the agency. Feel free to ask for a quote, it’s free!
Book a travel insurance (can be important)
Check our other "TOP 10 activities" wordwide - Best Things to do
As an American, Florent is in charge of the English website. He’s been travelling for years and already lived in 5 different countries. Francois and Caro are the ones you will see the most on the pictures. Indeed, we are an international team composed of travellers from different cultures and countries. We think it’s the best way to find and highlight the best activities each destination can offer!