Abu Dhabi has turned into a bustling, modern city with broad boulevards, gleaming skyscrapers, high-rise apartment buildings and busy shopping malls. This wealthy city still has its fascinating culture and provides fantastic opportunities for residents and tourists alike.

Furthermore, Abu Dhabi is surrounded by several major islands with multi-billion dollar resorts, playgrounds for wealthy locals and holiday makers sampling a bit of the 5-star lifestyle that the Emirates have become famous for..


Al Maqtaa Fort

This 200-year old fort can be viewed while approaching the Al Maqtaa Bridge towards Abu Dhabi Island. It had been used as a watch house, to keep an eye on the invading bandits, who attempted to enter the city. The fort, a valuable attraction representing Abu Dhabi's history, has undergone several renovations to preserve the charm and character of this special landmark. Remain alert when clicking photographs, since it is a sensitive military zone.

Location: near Al Maqtaa Bridge, Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi

Dhow Cruising ( Visit Site )

Dhow cruising in Abu Dhabi is the traditional way of sightseeing the lovely Gulf waters and numerous islands scattered around the city. These wooden sailing vessels were originally used by merchants centuries ago for trade purpose. But the modern dhow offers the latest facilities such as satellite navigation and quality rest rooms. Dhow cruising is popular among tourists for its comfortable and pleasant atmosphere.

Location: Near Mina Port Fish Market
Tel: +971 55 357 00 11


Heritage Village

Located at the Breakwater in the middle of Abu Dhabi, Heritage village is a living museum that offers a glimpse into the emirate's past. Traditional facets of Bedouin lifestyle, as well as those of other cultures employed in agriculture, fishing and trading, are explained here in great detail.

The site features tents, courtyard houses, an ancient irrigation system and workshops where craftsmen demonstrate their skills. Tourists are welcome to learn and try out these skills. In addition, there are souvenir shops where authentic pottery and exotic spices can be bought.

Location: near Marina Mall, Breakwater, Abu Dhabi
Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, and Friday 3.30 pm - 9.00 pm
Tel: +971 2 681 4455


Al Bateen Shipyard

This interesting site on the coast of Abu Dhabi enables visitors to watch how craftsmen build dhow vessels using traditional techniques. These wooden dhows are used for trading purposes and races. The craftsmen are usually very friendly and informative.

Location: Al Bateen Airport, Abu Dhabi


Sheikh Khalifa Park

This is the best place in Abu Dhabi for relaxation, fun and entertainment. Located in Al Matar, behind the old airport of Abu Dhabi, this major landmark is one of the city's larger parks. The design derived from Islamic and Arabic architecture park has lot on offer to all types of visitors. Visually, the park boasts of a beautifully landscaped grand avenue, fountains, lakes and waterfalls. The park offers an exciting range of things to do for children including a time tunnel ride, miniature railway, women & children's garden and Murjan Splash Park. Tours can be carried out via train or by foot, whichever is more convenient.

Location: off the Eastern Ring Road, Al Matar, Abu Dhabi

Murjan Splash Park

Location: Khalifa Park, near Falcon Entrance
Opening Times: Weekdays 3.00 pm - 7.00 pm (Tuesday is Ladies day); Weekends (Friday & Saturday) 10.00 am - 7.00 pm
Tel: +971 50 878 1009


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
( Visit Site )

Also known as, the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest in the world. It is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who was the founder and the first President of the United Arab Emirates. His final resting place is located on the grounds of the mosque. Among the distinctive highlights of the mosque is the world's largest carpet, German chandeliers encrusted with Swarovski crystals and architectural styles influenced by Badshahi Mosque in Lahore and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.

Location: Al Maqtaa, Abu Dhabi
Visiting Times: Saturday to Thursday from 9.00am to 10.00pm
Complimentary Guided Tours: Sunday to Thursday at 10.00 am, 11.00 am and / 5.00 pm,
Friday at 5.00 pm and 7.30 / 8.00 pm and Saturday 10.00 am, 11.00 am, 2.00 pm, 4.30 / 5.00 pm and 7.30 / 8.00 pm
Tel: +971 2 441 6444

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Iiigooo

The Corniche

This picturesque area of the city is well known for its fountains, park-lined coastal boulevard that skirt the city and architecturally modern buildings facing the sea. Watch flower-filled gardens and modern high-rises on foot from east to west or enjoy a ride on a traditional wooden dhow to experience the changing views of the scenic skyline, parks and fountains.

The Corniche Park located on the east side of Abu Dhabi Island is perfect for fishing and bird watching.

Hire a Bicycle at Corniche with FunRideSports

Location: Mushrif Mall, Abu Dhabi
Tel: +971 2 445 5838


The Emirates Palace Hotel
( Wikipedia )

This wonderful, seven star luxury hotel is one of the Abu Dhabi's most popular landmarks and the venue for many of the city's cultural activities. The hotel is equipped with a huge conference centre, opulent rooms furnished in gold and marble, 100 hectares of landscaped gardens, an exclusive beach and well-equipped sports facilities. It also welcomes any non-residents to come and enjoy the hotels surroundings on an afternoon tea. While at the Emirates Palace Hotel, visit the Saadiyat Island Cultural District Exhibition to get a glance into the future of Abu Dhabi.

Saadiyat Island Cultural District Exhibition

Location: Emirates Palace Hotel, West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi
Opening Times: Daily, 10.00 am - 10.00 pm
Tel: +971 2 690 9000

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/GinaD

Jebel Hafeet ( Wikipedia )

Jebel Hafeet is the Abu Dhabi's tallest mountain peak and UAE's second tallest mountain peak. Bordering Oman, the peak carved out of rugged limestone has witnessed evolutions firsthand. The fossil discoveries at the peak area have helped scientists solve the puzzle of Abu Dhabi's archaeological history.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Arjunmangol

Qasr al-Hosn Palace ( Wikipedia )

Also known as, the white or old fort, this palace is the oldest historic building of Abu Dhabi. Built in 1761 by the ruling Al-Nahyan family, it is located on Sheik Zayed First Street, in the centre of Abu Dhabi. This fort remained the royal palace and the seat of government until 1966.

The fort itself is not open to the public but great pictures can be taken from the grounds surrounding it. The area also accommodates the popular Cultural Foundation centre, which hosts a number of art, music and film events each year.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/X@x


Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital ( Visit Site )

Located near Abu Dhabi International Airport, the Abu Dhabi Falcon hospital specializes in falcon care and services. It is one of the largest and advanced falcon hospitals in the world to treat the noble birds in a lap of luxury. The hospital also houses a museum where visitors can learn more about falcons, the history of the noble sport as well as try their hand at the ancient art of falconry.

Location: near the Abu Dhabi International Airport, Sweihan road, Abu Dhabi
Opening Times: Sunday to Thursday from 10.00 am and 2.00 pm
Tel: +971 2 5755155

Attractions in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi's second major city


Al Ain National Museum ( Wikipedia )

The Al Ain National Museum is the best place to explore the mixture of ancestry, heritage and culture of the people in Abu Dhabi. It is divided into two sections namely archaeology and ethnography. In addition, there is a third section where special gift artefacts are on sale.

The artefacts and relics on display at the museum range from Stone Age to the Islamic period that dates back to thousands of years. Some, objects like female jewellery, agricultural techniques or tools, and craft items highlight the peculiarity of the local culture.

Location: next to the Eastern Fort on the outskirts of the Al Ain Oasis, adjacent to Zayed Bin Sultan Street
Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday 8.00 am - 7.00 pm, Friday 3.00 pm - 7.30 pm
Tel: +971 3 76 41595

UAE University Natural History Museum

Al Ain Natural History Museum showcases the abundant flora and fauna that inhabit the emirate's wild and domesticated landscapes. This museum is run by the University of Al Ain.

Location: Al Ain University, Abu Dhabi
Opening Times: Sunday to Thursday 8.00 am - 2.00 pm
Tel: +971 3 7133381


Hili Archeological Gardens

Located 10km from Al Ain on the Dubai road, the Hili Archeological Gardens area includes both an archaeological site and a public garden. Featuring artefacts gathered from Bronze Age settlement, the remnants excavated here are restored and featured at the Al Ain Museum. Though there are archaeological structures, the place is primarily a public garden with plants, fountains and children's play area.

Location: Mohammed Bin Khalifa St, Al Ain
Opening Times: Saturday to Thursday 4.00 pm - 11.00 pm, Friday 10.00 am - 11.00 pm


Al Ain Camel Market ( Visit Site )

The Al Ain Camel Market is a unique souk and the last of its kind in the UAE. It gives visitors a chance to meet the locals and experience their way of trading. Locals take the ownership of their valuable camels very seriously, discussing their qualities and importance in their way of life.

Location: Al Niyadat, Al Ain


Al Ain Zoo & Aquarium ( Visit Site )

One of the world's most popular zoos, Al Ain Zoo & Aquarium is renowned for its great preservation of exotic wildlife. Here you are likely to spot local indigenous species such as the Arabian Oryx and gazelles. A good way of exploring the zoo is to take the train tour whereby you can witness amazing sights of the largest zoo in the Gulf region.

Location: near the base of Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain
Opening Times: From October 1 to May 31, 9.00 am - 8.00 pm.
During Holidays, 10.00 am - 10.00 pm
Tel: +971 3 782 8188

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Balaji

Exceptional Islands off the coast of Abu Dhabi City

Al Reem Island ( Wikipedia )

Al Reem Island is situated about 600 meters off the coast of the Island of Abu Dhabi. This multi-billion dollar business project has gained interest from foreign investors as it is one of the first free zones in Abu Dhabi where properties can be bought as leasehold.

Furthermore, it plans to become one of the most impressive tourist attractions, with developments growing in the entertainment sector; such as amusement parks, museums and an aquarium.

Futaisi Island ( Wikipedia )

Located just 5000 meters from Abu Dhabi, Futaisi Island is privately owned by Sheik Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. It has become one of most famous historical islands with evidence dating back hundreds of years. Before the discovery of oil, Futaisi Island was speculated to have supplied sweet water to the inhabitants of Abu Dhabi and stones to build houses and forts. The island also features an authentic Arabian Fort which is built out of traditional mud bricks. Alongside its historical attractions, majority of Futaisi Island island is virgin and boasts of free roaming gazelles. Although the shallow water around the island makes it difficult to access by boat, it has ensured the security of the marine life. One of the top attractions of Abu Dhabi, the island is accessible as a day trip.

Lulu Island ( Wikipedia )

Lulu Island is located just opposite the Corniche and is easily accessible by boat. Since the island officially opened in 2007, it had been a popular attraction for tourists and residents who want to escape from the busy life of Abu Dhabi. However, from 2009 onwards, the island was closed to the public and is now accessible only by private boat. There are plans to redesign the island to include a new permanent bridge connecting the island to the mainland as well as a 400 meters Lulu tower.

Saadiyat Island ( Wikipedia )

Saadiyat, meaning the 'Island of Happiness', is being developed by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), with an aim to offer the ultimate in residential, recreational and business facilities. Located just 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the multibillion-dollar project is currently undergoing significant transformation, in order to become Abu Dhabi's prominent international destination. The island is set to feature the largest Guggenheim Museum, the famous French Louvre museum (expected to complete in 2017), a maritime museum as well as an affiliate campus of the New York University for those who want to study abroad. Other attractions include a Gary Player designed golf course, arts and concert centre by Zaha Hadid, waterfront residences & hotels, international business hub and beachfront entertainment centres & attractions.

Sir Bani Yas Island ( Wikipedia )

Sir Bani Yas Island is a natural island located 250 kilometers off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Originally a wildlife reserve, the property was developed by Aldar properties to include luxurious hotels, leisure facilities and shopping malls. The island is home to Yas Island Circuit, a cutting-edge F1 motor cross racetrack that hosts the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each year. Apart from modern attractions such as Warner Bros. Movie World, a movie theme park by Warner Bros, Ferrari World, Yas Marina Hotel, and Yas Mall, the island is also well known for its area set aside for reservation of wildlife. Boasting of three Bedouin style palaces this is definitely a must see island for those visiting Abu Dhabi.


Ferrari World Abu Dhabi ( Visit Site )

Located on Yas Island, Ferrari World is the world's first and the largest Ferrari theme park with many exhilarating attractions for the whole family. Featuring an iconic roof to suit the likes of Ferrari fans, the indoor theme park has more than 20 rides and attractions including the Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster. Motor racing fans will be caught in spiral of interactive shopping and a range of authentic Italian dining experiences.

Location: Sir Bani Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 am - 8.00 pm
Tel: +971 2 496 8001

Photo Credit: Creative Commons/ManXiii

Arabian Wildlife Park

The Arabian Wildlife Park on Yas Island places emphasis on animal conservation and welfare by protecting more than 10,000 free roaming animals under the park's premises. Visitors can enjoy watching these animals through a specially built platform made from recycled materials. To get up close and personal, guests have access to the exclusive boutique Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara hotel situated within the park. The park provides watchable wildlife tours with 4x4 Nature & Wildlife Drives and three hour tours.

Location: Sir Bani Yas Island, Jebel Dhanna
Tel: +971 2 801 5400

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons/Ismail.alghussein

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