Best Things to do in Abu Dhabi - The Viking Abroad
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Best Things to do in Abu Dhabi

26 Feb Best Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is developing at a fast pace, turning into a serious contender to Dubai as the hottest travel destination in the UAE. With the addition of the Abu Dhabi Louvre, the city has suddenly opened up the floodgates to art lovers from all over the world, who arrive in droves to check out the exhibits in the first Louvre out of Paris. It’s an exciting time to visit Abu Dhabi, which has a lot more to offer now than ever. Come with us right now on a grand journey of discovery to Abu Dhabi!

  1. Etihad Modern Art Gallery

Etihad is modern and bohemian and the absolute top spot for art aficionados that offers to change exhibitions throughout the year, except during summer when only UAE artists are featured. If you’re looking for art souvenirs, this would be the best place to visit. Etihad Gallery is the brainchild of Khalid Seddiq Al Mutawa and Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim, who’ve also opened the Etihad Antiques Gallery next door.

  1. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World is for the adventure and adrenalin junkie. Do ride the world’s fastest rollercoaster, the Formula Rossa. The rollercoaster accelerates from 0km/h to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds; it’s as close to an F1 experience as you can get. There’s also the Flying Aces rollercoaster which has the biggest loops and the steepest and fastest incline cable lifts. You can also enjoy driving a Ferrari around the island along with a company-certified driver. There are live shows and an exhibit of antique sports cars that’s to die for.

  1. Miraj – the Museum

Visit Miraj to get to know the Islamic world better through beautiful objects that have been sourced from Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Middle East, and Arabia and beyond. You can enjoy admiring antique Persian carpets, calligraphy, ceramics and textiles. What’s best is that many of the exclusive pieces at this museum-cum-gallery are for sale. The gallery is labyrinthine in nature, and you’ll have fun exploring the lovely exhibits and bargaining for stuff you want.

  1. Masdar City

Located near Abu Dhabi airport, Masdar City is the first eco-friendly city in the world. It runs entirely on renewable energy, is zero-waste and totally carbon-neutral. The architecture of this city is incredible, with solar panels everywhere. There are many science labs here and companies focussed on sustainability. At the car park, hop on a driverless, pod-like Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) vehicle to the main campus. Take a self-guided tour by picking up a map at the information desk upstairs. Enjoy some fresh Arabian coffee and snacks at the cafes and eateries in Masdar City.

  1. Abu Dhabi Corniche

Abu Dhabi’s waterfront Corniche with its generous promenades and white sandy beaches is simply not to be missed. It stretches the entire length of city’s northwest shore, offering magnificent views of the seafront’s high-rise tower blocks and famous landmarks such as the Emirates Palace.  The best way to explore the Corniche is to grab a bike from one of the many rentals and bike the length of it. Be sure to check out the parks and picnic areas on the inland side, plus the shisha cafes that come to life at night and the long stretches of beach on the seaside of the Corniche.

  1. Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a striking sequence of white structures flanking the elaborate, filigree dome that is 180 meters wide. From within, the openings create a rain of light effect as the sun’s rays pass through. The Louvre contains 23 galleries that house a magnificent collection of sculptures, paintings and objects de art from antiquity to the present. 600 of these objects are from the Paris Louvre’s vast repositories. 300 are on loan from other French museums as well.

  1. Al Mina Fish Market

The Al Mina Fish Market is a riot of colour, design and texture. Feast your eyes on arrangements of orange-spotted trevally, prawns, blue-shelled crabs, pink Sultan Ibrahims, red snappers and several other colourful offerings from the sea, laid out on blocks of ice. You can buy your fish fresh from any of the stalls and get the people of the eatery stalls to cook them for you. For less than AED 50, you can have a fine meal that beats the best you’ve ever had. Eating fresh fish at Al Mina is one of the coolest things to do in Abu Dhabi.

  1. Observation Deck at 300

The Observation Deck at 300 is a chic coffee shop on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel’s Tower 2. Enjoy the highest high tea in Abu Dhabi while looking out on sublime views of the city, 300 meters from the ground. You don’t have to pay to access the observation deck if you take high tea at the café, but otherwise, you do.

  1. Umm Al Emarat Park

This is a fabulous part that’s manicured to perfection, and rife with many wonderful attractions. It’s a smoke-free, eco-friendly park that creates a vibrant green space in Abu Dhabi. Check out the poignant memorial that’s been constructed to immortalize the words of Sheikh Zayed. Don’t miss the amazing greenhouse that offers fabulous views from its roof. The animal barn which is also a petting zoo has camels, goats, donkeys, llamas and the like; a botanical garden. There’s also an outdoor performing-arts venue where the community enjoys regular performances.

  1. Qasr Al Hosn

A picture of the beautiful Qasr Al Hosn is featured on the back of the Dhs1000 note. Built in 1760 primarily to function as a watchtower, the Qasr Al Hosn guarded a precious freshwater well. The fort served as the ancestral home of the Al Nahyan family till 1966. Today Qasr Al Hosn is a museum that puts up yearly-changing exhibits of archaeological finds, photographs and dioramas of Abu Dhabi’s past and its historic way of life.

  1. Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace Hotel is Abu Dhabi’s pride and joy, with beautifully-domed gatehouses, 114 domes and a private beach that stretches for more than a kilometre. The cost of building this beautiful monument was AED11 billion. People who stay at this hotel rave about the 392 luxury rooms and suites that are studded with 1002 crystal chandeliers. The hotel also hosts renowned orchestras and opera performances during the Abu Dhabi Classics concert season, making the Emirates Palace the cultural hub of the city.

  1. Galleria at Maryah Island

The Galleria is located in the business district of the Al Maryah Island. It is a lovely building with dramatic cathedral-high ceilings and beautifully sculptured roof. The Galleria stocks every top-of-the line fashion brand that will appeal to lovers of couture. What’s more, there are two food courts whose terraces overlook a pond of views.

  1. Yas Mall

Yas Mall is one of Abu Dhabi’s latest triumph. It’s a mega shopping mall, adorned with two attention-grabbing 12m-high tree-themed sculptures that were designed by famous South African artist Marco Cianfanelli. The leaves on these trees were inspired by Arabic calligraphy.

  1. Vox Cinemas

Vox Cinemas has a 24.5meter long screen where regular screenings of 4D movies are held. Once you watch a movie at Vox, you simply won’t be able to watch it elsewhere. Tyres scream and bullets explode right next to you – it’s that intense. What’s more, the seats are eminently luxurious as well. It’s a fabulous experience that you’ll want to repeat time and again.

  1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheer poetry in white Macedonian marble, the mammoth Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s iconic landmark. Non-Muslims are allowed inside to sightsee. The design of the mosque is a combination of Mameluke, Ottoman, and Fatimid elements. Each of its mammoth pillars is inlaid with semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, amethysts and citrine. The intricately carved and tiled interiors can hold up to 40,000 worshippers at a time. Don’t miss checking out the biggest mosque in all of the UAE.


Abu Dhabi is that little underappreciated gem that’s only now coming into its own. People can no longer ignore Abu Dhabi’s tourist potential or the attractions it has. There’s much more to Abu Dhabi than we can cover in this post. Get there and you’ll understand!

  • Sarah Kim
    Posted at 16:01h, 01 March Reply

    Masdar City sounds so cool! I’m all about renewable energy and had no idea that this entire city is zero-waste. So cool!

  • Anda Galffy
    Posted at 20:03h, 01 March Reply

    Abu Dhabi is right up my alley, Vibeke! It’s an interesting melange of traditional Islamic architecture and sky scrapers. The promenade on the waterfront Corniche reminds me somewhat of the Promenade des L’Anglais in Nice.

  • Stella Jane
    Posted at 20:23h, 02 March Reply

    The first thing I think of when I think of Abu Dhabi is that the cartoon cat Garfield was always threatening to send his enemy Nermal here. But your post made me want to go visit Abu Dhabi on purpose! The Corniche is so beautiful and I had no idea there was a Louvre in Abu Dhabi! I hope I can get to go there soon.

  • LaiAriel Samangka
    Posted at 20:26h, 02 March Reply

    Wow, I didn’t know that there’s really a lot to see and experience in Abu Dhabi. The only thing that seemed familiar to me is the Observation Deck at 300 as I have seen this one in one of the magazines I’ve read. Anyway, will surely use this post as my guide on what to see and check if I visit Abu Dhabi. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  • jay kumar
    Posted at 01:29h, 20 December Reply

    great post, for experience the best desert safari in Dubai, the Arabian Expedition will help you. Best desert safari, dune buggy rides, dune bashing, quad bike ride providers in Dubai.

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