Abu Dhabi is an exciting Middle Eastern hotspot. It’s the capital and the second biggest city of the United Arab Emirates after Dubai, with a population of more than 1.5 million people.
Joined to the mainland by three bridges, Abu Dhabi is located on a T-shaped island which extends into the Persian Gulf. It’s more quiet and conservative than flashy Dubai, 90 minutes to the north, but that’s part of its charm. Come here for beautiful mosques, stunning modern architecture, traditional markets and relaxing beaches.
Things to do
You’ll discover more than 400km of coastline in Abu Dhabi. Your hotel may even have its own private stretch of sand, or if not, there’s 10km of public beaches, many with Blue Flags to mark that they’re safe and clean. Take your towel to the Corniche or Saadiyat and Al Bateen Beaches. For a touch of luxury, splash out for a spot at the Hiltonia or Saadiyat Beach Clubs.
Among all the concrete and glass of the skyscrapers, you’ll find a surprising amount of greenery in the city. Head for Heritage Park, Capital Gardens, Khalifa Park and Khalidiyah Garden to discover beautiful oases in what was once desert. You’ll enjoy fountains, lakes and kids’ play areas with swings and slides and even a miniature railway (in Khalifa). No wonder families flock here at the weekend for a picnic.
As an early spot for pearl diving, it was the discovery of oil 30 years ago which really brought wealth and development to Abu Dhabi. Celebrated for its melting pot of cultures, you’ll find Christian churches, Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras alongside the Islamic mosques. Abu Dhabi is more religiously diverse than its neighbour Saudi Arabia, but be respectful of the Islamic culture and dress modestly. When visiting malls, parks and mosques make sure that you at least your shoulders and knees are covered. For a glimpse of a more traditional way of life, visit the Heritage Village where you can learn pottery and metalwork skills and haggle in the souk markets over Bedouin clothes and spices.
If you like to live in the fast lane, you’ll love Abu Dhabi. Formula One fans won’t want to miss a visit to the Yas Marina Circuit where they hold the Grand Prix every year. Get your heart racing on the world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World. You’ll reach 249km/h in just 4.9 seconds riding Formula Rosso, while Flying Aces has the world’s highest coaster loop. Kids will love the karting and Speed of Magic 4D fantasy ride. Other thrilling adventures you can enjoy in Abu Dhabi include desert safaris, waterparks, camel rides and sandboarding.
Adu Dhabi has a desert climate, which means rainfall is unlikely. The highest temperatures are usually recorded in August when days can reach 40°C or higher. For those wanting to experience the city without the intense heat, we suggest heading here during winter when temperatures are more bearable, around the 20°C mark.