Before black gold was struck and billions of petrodollars flooded the UAE, there were no gleaming skyscrapers, just Bedouin settlements. No less beautiful, these gatherings of tents and mud-built houses are commemorated at the city's Heritage Village Museum. Traditional crafts are brought to life by local tradesman, along with exhibits on the ways of life of farmers and fishermen. All the while camels roam among the verdant gardens.
Named after the father of the United Arab Emirates, the sprawling, pristine white Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a sight to behold. Finished in 2007, the huge structure can hold 40,000 people and borrows architectural styles from all over the globe. The largest mosque in the UAE, it features a carpet weighing nearly 50 tonnes. Visitors are advised to cover up before making a visit.
It is not even finished yet, but Saadiyat Island is already a major tourist attraction. Developers have named it the “island of happiness”. The plan is to build a cultural paradise on this small atoll next to Abu Dhabi.
The Guggenheim and the Louvre have signed up to build sites here, but for now, content yourself with the Manarat Al Saadiyat, an information centre detailing this ambitious endeavour.
An easy day trip is a visit to the oasis city of Al Ain. The city houses not one but seven oases—little pockets of calm and tranquillity, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the oppressive heat of the desert. Ingenious irrigation systems dating back millennia allow date palms to flourish here.
The city also lies close to Jebel Hafeet, the second-tallest mountain in the Emirates. The spectacular views are worth the steep road to the summit.
The artistic hub of Abu Dhabi, the Cultural Foundation promotes new events as well as safeguarding the creative heritage of Abu Dhabi. Here you will find the national library.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
Aside from its grand beauty, this mosque is large enough to hold more than 40,000 worshippers.
The Corniche offers white sandy beaches where you can enjoy various recreational activities, such as biking.
Despite its name, this world-class hotel is not a home to royalty but is just as luxurious.
Another architectural wonder, this iconic hotel features a grid shell with colour-changing glass panels.
If you are a fan of fast Ferraris and thrill rides, you should definitely check out this amazing theme park.
As its name suggests, this garden is truly a paradise and features about 10 million flowers.
Featuring a family amphitheatre and 28 attractions for all ages, the Hili Fun City is a favourite attraction in the city.
Learn some of the city's unique traditions and customs in this museum, which features plenty of interesting artefacts.
A modern contender to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Capital Gate is the world's furthest leaning man-made tower.
This site was once a home to the country's founder, and you can tour the private rooms and gardens in this historical museum.
A refreshing restaurant with a poolside bar, the Oasis Courtyard serves various refreshing drinks and snacks.
Feed a giraffe or ride on a camel in this wonderful zoo, which houses over 4,000 animals.
In this well-decorated club with a nice dance floor, you can enjoy the club's amusing presentations with the local crowd.
This eatery offers very affordable foods and an excellent shisha. You can also gaze at the towering skyscrapers while enjoying your meal.
Buy dried herbs and handmade soaps at the spice shop in this reconstructed traditional oasis village.
It is usually hot all year round in Abu Dhabi due to its desert climate. The best time to visit is from November to April, when temperatures vary from 15 to 35Â°C. This is the coolest of the seasons, and it is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities and hit the beach. If you want luxury hotels at discounted prices, you should travel to Abu Dhabi during the summer. Temperatures during this time can rise above 40Â°C, so make sure you wear cool clothing. You should also take note of when Ramadan occurs, as all restaurants are closed during the day and eating and drinking in public is strictly forbidden.
Stretching along four miles of the Abu Dhabi coastline, the Corniche is the ideal place to take a breath and soak up the magnificent skyline of Abu Dhabi.
Turn around to gaze out at the crystal-clear waters of the gulf. Dotted along the route are fountains and lush gardens, perfect for a pit stop and a picnic.
To cool off, move to the beach that runs parallel. It has lifeguard-patrolled swimming areas, volleyball nets, and sun umbrellas. If a stroll is just too slow for you, there are cycle lanes, and the road makes for a charming drive.
Crammed with stalls, silver-tongued salesmen, and almost anything you could want to buy, Abu Dhabi's souks are unique markets. Haggling is a way of life here and merchants would be disappointed if you did not get involved in this traditional way of doing business, so drive a hard bargain.
Different souks specialise in different things: the Meena Souk is the place to go for carpets, and the fish market is worth a visit just for the chaotic atmosphere of Middle Eastern commerce in full swing.
One way to avoid the neck pain you may develop after staring up at so many incredible skyscrapers from the street is to turn the tables and look down on them from the vantage point of a helicopter.
A tour in a chopper gives you a complete picture of Abu Dhabi and its desert isolation. All of the city's major sites and the fantasy islands being created off the coast are included in the route.
Even for non-smokers there is something fascinating about shisha. In traditional cafes, locals seem to be able to sit all day, sucking flavoured smoke from these burbling, otherworldly contraptions. What attracts you first is the wonderful smell, as the tobacco is infused with apple, strawberry, coffee and just about any flavour you can think of.
Visitors arriving by plane will land at Abu Dhabi international Airport. Offering duty-free shopping and quick check-in times even at peak periods, it copes with the burgeoning number of travellers well.
A taxi to downtown Abu Dhabi should take no more than 45 minutes.
A public bus service is also available and certain airlines run free shuttle services.
Another option is to fly to Dubai International Airport and make your way on to Abu Dhabi by bus. The journey should take around two hours.
Abu Dhabi's buses are cheap and run all night. The downside is that the service is not extensive and the timetable not observed as strictly as European tourists might expect.
Inter-city buses are another matter. Every ten minutes comfortable buses leave from the main bus terminal for Dubai and Al Ain. The service runs from mid-morning to around 10pm at night.
White-and-gold painted taxis are easy to find in Abu Dhabi. They are metered, but check to make sure it is on before starting your journey. Fares are cheap but the driving can be hair-raising.
Silver-painted taxis are more expensive, but the cars are of better quality and the drivers safer and with better language skills. They also give receipts.
If you feel like a more independent way to get around Abu Dhabi, consider one of the many Abu Dhabi car hire options.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi often offer complimentary bus and taxi services, so check with the reception desk when you arrive, it could save you a lot of money over the course of your stay.
Located in Abu Dhabi Corniche, this beachfront hotel is in a shopping district and within 2 mi (3 km) of Al Khubeirah Garden, Abu Dhabi International Marine ...
Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana£50Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana£50
Located in Abu Dhabi, this beachfront hotel is in the historical district, 1.3 mi (2.1 km) from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and 2.7 mi (4.3 km) from Sheikh Zayed ...
Nestled on the beach, this Abu Dhabi Corniche hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of The Corniche, Marina Mall and Heritage Village. Al Khubeirah Garden and Observation ...
Nestled on the beach, this Al Maqta hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Al Maqtaa Fort and The Souq at Qaryat Al Beri. Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Khalifa Park are ...
Nestled on the beach, this Al Maqta hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of The Souq at Qaryat Al Beri and Al Maqtaa Fort. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Abu Dhabi Golf ...
Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi£78Shangri-la Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi£78
Situated in Abu Dhabi, this hotel is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) from Al Ghazal Golf Club and within 6 miles (10 km) of Higher Colleges of Technology-Abu Dhabi Women's College ...
Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Int Airport£34Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Int Airport£34
This family-friendly Abu Dhabi hotel is located near the airport, within 1 mi (2 km) of Yas Marina Circuit, Du Arena and Yas Marina. Ferrari World is 1.4 mi ...
Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island£40Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island£40
This family-friendly hotel is located in Mahdar Bin Usayyan.
This family-friendly Abu Dhabi hotel is located near the airport, within 2 mi (3 km) of Yas Marina, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. Yas Mall and Sheikh Zayed ...
Located in Abu Dhabi Corniche, this beachfront hotel is in the city centre and within 2 mi (3 km) of The Corniche, Marina Mall and Heritage Village. Open Beach ...
Prices reflect the lowest "base rate" found over the next 30 days. Rates are subject to change and may not include taxes and fees, hotel service charges, extra person charges, or incidentals, such as room service. Converted rates are provided for your convenience. They are based on today's exchange rate, but the hotel will charge you in the local currency. Local charges may apply