31 BEST Things to do in Abu Dhabi [November 2019]

Last Updated on

An island, a capital, and an awesome place to visit, Abu Dhabi is one-of-a-kind when it comes to vacation destinations.

Known for its modern development, the city is also packed with fascinating history ensuring that you’ll have plenty to see and explore during your trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at some of the best attractions of Abu Dhabi and begin to plan the vacation of a lifetime.


Table of Contents

Our Favorite Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi!

Looking for class? Budget? Location? We have you covered! Here are three excellent choices of where to stay in Abu Dhabi to maximize your experience.

Novel Hotel City Center

The Best Budget Hotel in Abu Dhabi

Novel Hotel City Center

Novel Hotel City Center is our pick for the best budget hotel in Abu Dhabi

  • Close to the Corniche!
  • Outdoor pool

Fitness center, swimming pool, restaurant, and spa doesn’t usually mean budget-friendly, but when it comes to Novel Hotel City Center it does! Great location by the waterfront with plenty of attractions nearby.


Centro Yas Island by Rotana

The Best Mid-Range Hotel in Abu Dhabi

Centro Yas Island by Rotana

Centro Yas Island by Rotana is our pick for the best mid-range hotel in Abu Dhabi

  • Next to Yas Marina Circuit!
  • Great family location

Close to amusement parks and important cultural attractions, the Centro Yas Island is perfect for comfort and location! Enjoy Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, and a restaurant on site with a 24 hour take away service.


Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi

The Best Luxury Hotel in Abu Dhabi

Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi

Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi

  • World class service!
  • Restaurants, spa, and airport shuttle

A true luxury option in Abu Dhabi, Dusit Thani has it all from authentic Thai and Indian restaurants, massage treatments, a swimming pool, and floor to ceiling windows for a truly jaw-dropping view out over the city. Relax and enjoy!


31 Best Things to do in Abu Dhabi


#1 – A Bird’s Eye View from the Etihad Towers

A Birds Eye View from the Etihad Towers

One of the best things to do in downtown Abu Dhabi

  • Iconic landmark of Abu Dhabi
  • 74th floor observation deck!
  • Best photos in the city

The spectacular five building complex known as the Etihad Towers has become a symbol for Abu Dhabi and one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Enjoy the panoramic view out over the city, but if you’re afraid of heights, you might want to pass on this one!


Not sure where to say? We’ve put together a list of Abu Dhabis best hotels!

#2 – Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

One of the most important cultural sites of Abu Dhabi

  • Prominent Islamic monument
  • Icon of the city!
  • Important religious site

A trip to Abu Dhabi isn’t complete without going to see the famous Sheikh Zayed Mosque! One of the best photo sites in the city and a unique look into the local culture.

Top attractions include the Swarovski crystals, the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, and incredible reflective pools!


#3 – Stroll Along the Corniche

Stroll Along the Corniche

One of the best free things to do in Abu Dhabi (Photo Credit – Tripadvisor)

  • Almost 5 miles!
  • Stunning coastal views
  • Dining and shopping galore

Get out for a walk and enjoy the city! This popular public walking area overlooks the Dhow Harbour and is lined with classy shops and restaurants.

Take in the city skyline, relax on a bench, or go for a morning jog before heading back to your hotel!


#4 – Appreciate the Skyline from a Speedboat

Appreciate the Skyline from a Speedboat

Let loose and feel free!

  • Terrific view!
  • See the city from a new perspective
  • Get an adrenaline rush!

Hoping for a bit more adventure? Hop on a speedboat tour to see the city from a whole new point of view.

See the top sites including Al Maya Island, the Corniche, and the iconic city towers all from the comfort of a classy speedboat!


Abu Dhabi is incredible! These are the most spectacular places to visit in Abu Dhabi!

#5 – A Historic View at the Al Jahili Fort

A Historic View at the Al Jahili Fort

Photo Credit – abudhabiculture.ae

  • Once a battleground, now a monument
  • Enjoy an outdoor concert!
  • Free public entrance

Once a defensive site, the Al Jahili Fort is now a popular public venue and place of historic exploration.

Walk around the battlements, learn about the various native tribes, or attend one of the evening concerts held in the central courtyard!


#6 – Splash around at Yas Waterworld

Splash around at Yas Waterworld

One of the best fun things to do in Abu Dhabi (Photo Credit – Yaswaterworld)

  • Great family fun!
  • Cool off from the desert heat
  • Over 40 rides!

With enough fun, rides, games, and dining options for an entire vacation, the Yas Waterworld is one of the top attractions of Abu Dhabi and a guaranteed amazing experience!

Themed rides feature Emirati inspiration to add a unique cultural touch to the water park.

#7 – See More of Abu Dhabi with a Hop-on Hop-off Bus

See More of Abu Dhabi with a Hop-on Hop-off Bus

One of the best cheap things to do in Abu Dhabi

  • All the top attractions
  • See a lot in little time
  • Set your own pace!

In the comfort of an air-conditioned tour bus, you can visit all the top attractions of Abu Dhabi without any rush or pressure.

Stop at your favorite places for tours, photographs, and exploration then hop back on to continue the tour!


#8 – Shop till you Drop at the Marina Mall

Shop till you Drop at the Marina Mall

Things to do in Abu Dhabi this weekend (Photo Credit – hypeandStuff)

  • Shopper’s dream!
  • Over 400 stores!
  • Shopping at its best

One of the biggest mega malls in the city, you can find practically any brand, store, or specialty item at the Marina Mall!

If you get tired of the stores, there’s also plenty of attractions like a movie theater, bowling alley, and ice rink making it easy to spend a whole day shopping, playing, and having fun!


#9 – Rent a Jet Ski

Rent a Jet Ski

A cool thing to do in Abu Dhabi in summer

  • Up to 2 people!
  • Fun adrenaline activity
  • Explore the Persian Gulf

Tired of staying on land for your vacation? Rent a jet ski to get a whole new perspective of the city!

With jet skis for 1 or 2 people and training on-site, it doesn’t take long before your riding the waves with the best view of the Abu Dhabi skyline!


#10 – Enjoy the Greenery in Al Ain Oasis

Enjoy the Greenery in Al Ain Oasis

Find the green in the desert (Photo Credit – sujatravel.com)

  • Native date palms
  • Almost 3,000 acres!
  • Amazing scenic contrast

The green and lush oasis of Al Ain is a great spot to escape the rush of city traffic and heat of the desert, plus some great photos of where desert sand meets vegetation.

Towering banana, fig, and date trees fill the space, which are still used to supply Abu Dhabi with staple crops for the market!


#11 – Ride a Camel

Ride a Camel

One of the more unique things to do in Abu Dhabi

  • True Arabic experience!
  • Stunning photo opportunity
  • Desert at sunset

If you want to take your trip to Abu Dhabi to a whole new level, it’s time to go for a camel ride. What better way to experience the raw and stark beauty of the Arabian desert!

You might also have the chance to see traditional camps, try local cuisine, and of course, get plenty of pictures of the incredible desert sunset!


#12 – Step Back in Time at Heritage Village

Step Back in Time at Heritage Village

Who said learning isn’t fun? (Photo Credit – simreens)

  • Roots of UAE life
  • Traditional fishing village
  • Fun and interactive!

Abu Dhabi may be known for its vibrant contemporary vibe, but that doesn’t mean you need to miss out on a historic experience!

Across from the Corniche, you can see the Heritage Village, a recreation of what village fishing life would have been like including huts, workshops, and handmade crafts.


#13 – Theme Park Fun at Warner Bros. World

Theme Park Fun at Warner Bros. World

Great thing to do in Abu Dhabi with kids

  • First Warner Bros. theme park!
  • Batman to Scooby-doo
  • Great family fun!

Traveling with young children? The whole family is guaranteed to enjoy fun, games, and activities at the Warner Bros. World theme park!

Hop on a rollercoaster, take pictures with your favorite characters, and enjoy a meal at one of the themed dining experiences!


#14 – Photograph the Yas Viceroy at Night

Photograph the Yas Viceroy at Night

Photo Credit – adventurous-travels

  • 12 story hotel!
  • Stunning visual effect
  • Amazing engineering

Built directly above an F1 race circuit, the Yas Viceroy hotel made history as an architectural victory.

One of the top visual attractions of Abu Dhabi, the sweeping curved dome of the hotel lights up every night with a spectacular LED lighting display for a jaw-dropping effect!


#15 – The Majestic Qasr Al Watan Palace

The Majestic Qasr Al Watan Palace

  • Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi
  • History, artwork, and royal beauty
  • Stunning Arabic design!

From the collection of artifacts to the meticulously maintained gardens, the Majestic Qasr Al Watan Palace is one of Abu Dhabi’s most brilliant gems!

New interactive displays and guided tours make the trip more meaningful and give you a unique look into the history, architecture, and manuscripts.


#16 – Experience True Luxury at the Emirates Palace

Experience True Luxury at the Emirates Palace

You don’t know what style is until now… (Photo Credit – blog.headout.com)

  • World-class resort
  • Almost 250 acres!
  • Hotel? It’s a castle!

Forget 5-star luxury, the Emirate Palace goes above and beyond in every measure for accommodation.

You don’t have to break your budget and book a room to experience the luxury! Visit the resort to see the gardens, fountains, and incredible gold and mother-of-pearl decorations to feel like a royal yourself.


#17 – Exhilarating Desert Safari

Exhilarating Desert Safari

It’s not for the faint of heart!

  • Sandboarding, dune bashing and more!
  • Amazing desert photos
  • Super adrenaline rush!

Are you hoping for some excitement and adventure? Hop on a safari tour and cruise around the dunes in a 4×4 vehicle!

Bring your camera to get some shots of the epic landscape and selfies to commemorate your vacation.


#18 – A World of Art at the Louvre Museum

A World of Art at the Louvre Museum

One of the best museums in Abu Dhabi

  • Incredible dome structure!
  • Persian Gulf’s largest museum
  • World famous artwork

It might not be Paris, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit the Louvre! Named after the first and famous Parisian museum, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi continues the tradition of excellence in artwork.

Get photos of the iconic dome and browse through the countless galleries of priceless paintings and sculptures.


#19 – First Circular Skyscraper in the World

First Circular Skyscraper in the World

Photo Credit – dailymail.co.uk

  • “Best Futuristic Design!”
  • Ride the elevator!
  • Great architectural landmark

Abu Dhabi continues to make history in terms of its architecture and innovative design. The Aldar Headquarters is just another example, nicknamed “the coin” for its iconic shiny round structure.

Great spot for photos and views out over the city if you ride up the elevators to the viewing deck!


#20 – Hop on a Yacht Ride

Hop on a Yacht Ride

A very cool thing to do in Abu Dhabi

  • See the city in style!
  • All the top sights in luxury
  • Great romantic experience

In a city as exciting and fun as Abu Dhabi, you won’t want to hold back! A yacht is the perfect way to see the city from a stunning new perspective.

Cruise around to see the theme parks, Heritage Village, Marina Mall, and mosques! Make sure you bring your camera for post-card worthy pictures.


#21 – The Strange Capital Gate Hotel

The Strange Capital Gate Hotel

Photo Credit – amusingplanet.com

  • Inspired by the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
  • Unique design
  • An unconventional design

35 stories tall, the Capital Gate Hotel might look lopsided, but it actually had an incredibly sound structural base!

It’s another iconic building in Abu Dhabi to distinguish the city as a place of architectural innovation. Famous as the world’s furthest leaning tower, it’s a great photo site!


#22 – Take Shopping to a New Level at Abu Dhabi Mall

Take Shopping to a New Level at Abu Dhabi Mall

A whole new meaning to ‘shop till you drop’ (Photo Credit – Gulfnews.com)

  • 200 plus stores!
  • Top designer brands
  • Local and handmade items

The perfect blend of traditional with the modern, the Abu Dhabi Mall is one of the top shopping venues in the city. Get local sweets at the Bateel Dates shop, then browse designer products for a fancy souvenir!

With entertainment options, restaurants, and great views of the coast, you can spend a whole day exploring the mall!


#23 – Enjoy the View on a Seaplane

Enjoy the View on a Seaplane

  • Water takeoff and landing
  • One-of-a-kind view!
  • Emirates Palace and Grand Mosque from above

Ready to take your vacation to the next level? Take one of the seaplane tour rides above the city fore a new perspective on the famous landmarks of Abu Dhabi.

Photographers and adventurists will love this activity! Get your adrenaline going while also snapping memorable photos.


#24 – Boutique Shopping in Avenue at Etihad

Boutique Shopping in Avenue at Etihad

A fashion-lovers dream come true (Photo Credit – ahlanlive.com)

  • Top quality shops
  • Exclusive items!
  • The latest and greatest in fashion

Make sure you have enough cash before embarking on this shopping expedition! Avenue at Etihad has some of the best exclusive items in the city, but you’ll pay the price for these signature fashion statements.

Numerous major fashion outlets combined with a local flare make Avenue at Etihad a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.


#25 – Floor the Gas Pedal at the Yas Marina Circuit

Floor the Gas Pedal at the Yas Marina Circuit

Race your dreams into reality!

  • Ultimate thrill adventure!
  • Safety guide and instructor
  • Hit the world-famous track!

Have you ever dreamed of speed racing? If you have, you’re in luck, because you can make that dream come true at the famous Yas Marina Circuit with a professional driving guide!

Buckle up and enjoy the thrill of flying around the track and getting personal pointers to improve your racing skills!


#26 – Shopping and More at the Galleria

31 BEST Things to do in Abu Dhabi [[date]]

Shopping and More at the Galleria (Photo Credit – tripadvisor)

  • Year-round festivals
  • Incredible architecture!
  • Top brand stores

Modern and stylish, The Galleria shopping center is a vibrant hub of activity at all hours of the day.

From international cuisine, numerous brand name stores, and a jaw-dropping curved glass roof, The Galleria redefines what a shopping experience should be like!


#27 – World’s Largest Indoor Theme Park

World’s Largest Indoor Theme Park

If you like rollercoasters, you’ll love this (Photo Credit – dailymail.co.uk)

  • World’s fastest roller coaster!
  • Ferrari themed
  • Fun for all ages

Be prepared to lose your voice screaming on the rides! The enormous Ferrari World theme park located on Yas Island has some of the biggest and most exciting rides in the world!

Go straight for the Formula Rossa roller coaster or try out some of the smaller rides and games to work yourself up to the biggest!

#28 – Traditional Shopping at the Souk Central Market

Traditional Shopping at the Souk Central Market

Best place to find a local souvenir in Abu Dhabi (Photo Credit – greenprophet.com)

  • Perfumes, spices, and handicrafts
  • Haggle for the best price!
  • Authentic experience

Hoping to pick up a handmade souvenir? Check out the Souk Central Market with local vendors, craftsmen, and a unique vibe!

If you want to score a good deal, you’ll need to get your bargaining face on to get a better price.


#29 – Compare the Historic and Modern

Compare the Historic and Modern

  • Traditional to contemporary
  • See lots in only one day!
  • Social, historic, and cultural sites

What makes Abu Dhabi special is the blend of the historic and futuristic evident in the city landmarks, culture, and atmosphere.

Witness this contrast for yourself in a day tour and stop at attractions like the Qasr Al Hosn exhibition, the ultra-modern Etihad Towers!


#30 – Find a Gold Trinket at the Madinat Zayed Gold Center

Find a Gold Trinket at the Madinat Zayed Gold Center

A priceless treasure could be waiting… (Photo Credit – trip.com)

  • Famous Emirati jewels!
  • Unique shopping venue
  • Over 70 jewelry stores!

Hoping to find a special gemstone for your sweetheart or perhaps something to bring back to a close friend at home? From diamonds and pearls to traditional gold pieces, there’s a world of wealth at the Madinat Zayed Gold Center!

Play it safe and check gold prices online before committing to a purchase!


#31 – Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Bridging the traditional and contemporary (Photo Credit – dezeen.com)

  • Blend of Islamic and Arab art
  • Symbolic of the desert
  • Top photo site!

As dusk falls, the dramatic illumination of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge brings this monument of Abu Dhabi to life.

The modern design by Zaha Hadid is meant to invoke imagery of the desert sand dunes surrounding the city. Make sure you come away from your vacation with photos of this magical landmark!


From desert magic to contemporary style, you’re in for the trip of a lifetime when you travel to Abu Dhabi! Kick back and enjoy this ultra-exciting city and all the attractions it has to offer.

*** Some of the links on Hotel Jules are affiliate links, which means if you do make a purchase, we may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you.) Thank you for using our links! Your support keeps the site going***

About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.