10 Unmissable Things to do in Abu Dhabi
Best Things to do in Abu Dhabi You Shouldn’t Miss!
Many people traveling to the United Arab Emirates prefer to spend most of their time in Dubai and plan only 1-2 days in Abu Dhabi or, even worse, skip it entirely.
Which, in my opinion, is a pity because the capital city has a lot of things to offer as well.
In fact, the number of cultural experiences compared to Dubai is even higher!
Yes, Abu Dhabi is indeed the more peaceful, laid-back and traditional city of them both, while the flashy Dubai is bursting with great nightlife and endless entertainment options.
However, there’s still enough to see and do to keep you busy for days!
I compiled the following list of 10 things to do in Abu Dhabi based on my time in the city.
They should serve as inspiration for your future trip there.
Depending on how many days you have, you can add or skip some recommendations as you wish. The most important thing is that you have an amazing and unforgettable trip!
PS: If you still haven’t booked your trip yet, maybe you want to check out some of the best Abu Dhabi quotes to get some inspiration!
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)
Epic Things to do in Abu Dhabi For Everyone!
1. Visit The Breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Something you absolutely CAN’T MISS when traveling to Abu Dhabi is a visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Seriously, if your time is super duper limited and you can only tick off one single thing from this list, definitely go for the mosque.
For me, the mosque was one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been to.
Not only is it one of the world’s largest mosques but a true architectural work of art featuring 82 domes, 1,000 columns, 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet.
Inside its main prayer hall, you also find one of the world’s largest chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Something else that will immediately catch your eye while touring the mosque is the stunning glasswork of the windows. Colorful mosaics of carved and sand-blasted glass create truly remarkable works of art.
While the mosque is a major tourist magnet, you should not forget it’s also a holy place of worship. Therefore, it’s important to behave accordingly.
You can find opening times, dress code and other useful information in my complete guide to visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque!
2. Marvel at Famous Art at The Louvre Abu Dhabi
Another activity that needs to be on the list of best things to do in Abu Dhabi is a visit to The Louvre – especially if you’re an art lover!
This museum, which is allowed to carry the same name as the famous Louvre in Paris due to a special agreement, is located on Saadiyat Island.
Opened in 2017, the iconic gallery museum features a permanent collection of more than 700 true masterpieces and around 300 works that are loans from partner museums such as The Louvre in Paris.
The chronological and theme-based display guides you through different cultures and periods of time, from prehistoric times to the present.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is not only a tourist magnet because of its extraordinary exhibition including paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso. No, its architecture is an eyecatcher as well!
The museum’s 180-meter dome (which was constructed by an Austrian company by the way) is a traditional Islamic architecture style and consists of 10,000 structural components.
Though it was constructed based on ancient traditional Islamic architecture, contemporary materials and state-of-the-art engineering were used to give the museum a modern touch.
A combination that is truly one-of-its-kind!
You can visit The Louvre Abu Dhabi from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm.
Due to its popularity, it’s usually very crowded, even if you arrive at the opening time. Thus I highly recommend you buy tickets online in advance to avoid queuing. It definitely pays off!
Tours you might find interesting:
3. Eat Lunch With a View at Aptitude Café & Eatery
Spending a couple of hours at The Louvre and admiring all the incredible artworks can make you really hungry. Good for you there’s a lovely café nearby where you can get delicious food and refreshing drinks!
Aptitude Café is located right next to The Louvre and thus not too difficult to find.
We stumbled upon it solely by coincidence, when I wanted to go around the museum to get some good photos. Since we were quite hungry already, we decided spontaneously to have lunch there.
The menu features hot dishes, breakfast items and sweet pastries along with special coffee creations. It’s open daily (also on Mondays when the museum is closed) from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Besides the yummy food including many great vegan options, the lovely setting with a picture-perfect view of The Louvre makes Aptitude Café the perfect place to relax and hang out after your exciting time at the museum!
4. Admire The Stunning Qasr Al Watan
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and The Louvre aren’t the only buildings in Abu Dhabi that impress with their magnificent architecture.
Qasr Al Watan is a grand palace neighboring the high-class luxury hotel Emirates Palace. It’s the official presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates that was opened to the public in 2019.
It’s possible to tour the entire palace to experience royal culture and discover the rich legacy of tradition and knowledge that has shaped the country over time.
The massive building with its facade of white granite and limestone might stun you from the outside already, but wait until you get inside!
A highly decorative interior awaits you featuring Islamic architectural patterns on the arches and domes and beautifully ornated tile-work on every wall.
Moreover, it’s home to a giant chandelier with 350,000 pieces of crystal.
The palace is divided into two parts: The eastern wing and the western wing.
The eastern wing houses a great number of artifacts and other important objects. Plus, you can visit a library with more than 50,000 books to learn more about the political, social and cultural history of the UAE.
On the contrary, the western wing is the place where meetings of the UAE Cabinet, summits of international committees and banquets for official events take place.
As with other famous sights in Abu Dhabi, it is advisable to book tickets in advance to avoid long waiting times. If you prefer, you can also join a guided tour that includes the palace.
You can visit Qasr Al Watan every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and a ticket costs AED 65 for adults and AED 30 for children.
Tours you might find interesting:
5. Have a Cup of Coffee at Emirates Palace
The next of the unmissable things to do in Abu Dhabi is among the slightly more expensive ones. At least if you compare the amount of money you need to spend to what you get in return. 😀
BUT, it could be your only visit to Abu Dhabi so why not get the whole experience, even though it might break your budget a bit?
Less than three kilometers away, there’s the grand and iconic 7-star luxury hotel Emirates Palace. Overlooking its own natural private beach, it’s the place where celebrities stay during their time in Abu Dhabi.
Accordingly high is the number of very expensive luxury cars you’ll spot in front of the building. Lamborghini, Maserati, Ferrari, Rolls Royce – you name them.
I don’t even want to start telling you the room prices, not even for one night in the cheapest room category …
However, it’s still possible to enter the hotel as a visitor and that’s even free of charge! What you should definitely do tho if your budget allows it, is to have a cup of coffee at Le Café.
I tell you right away: The prices for the coffee are not comparable to anywhere else in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi isn’t the cheapest city anyway but the coffee prices at Emirates Palace are on a completely different level.
Even though we didn’t even try their renowned signature 23K gold-flaked Palace Cappuccino, I paid the proud amount of $30 for two coffees.
I chose a simple Latte Macchiato with oat milk and my boyfriend went for the orange-infused cold brew.
My boyfriend loved his coffee and mine was really good as well, plus we got some sweets to eat. Still, it really hurt when I paid the bill. 😀
For me, the experience was definitely worth it tho. Le Café is a place you won’t visit that often.
It’s incredibly glamorous and luxurious, plus it’s featured on all lists of “Best Café in Abu Dhabi” and “Best Afternoon Tea in Abu Dhabi”. You almost get the feeling of being a celebrity yourself!
So yes, definitely go there but plan enough time because you really want to enjoy that coffee for as long as possible!
6. Click Enough Photos of The Iconic Etihad Towers
The next activity not to miss when in Abu Dhabi is easy to do and completely free of charge for you! (Good to hear after the previous point, right?)
All you need to do is to grab your camera and get ready to capture another one of Abu Dhabi’s most iconic landmarks!
Directly opposite Emirates Palace on the other side of the main street, you spot the impressive Etihad Towers. This building complex features five skyscrapers with the highest being 305 meters.
Of the five towers, three are residential towers, one is a business tower, and one is home to the five-star Conrad at Etihad Towers hotel.
On level 74 of the latter, you find the Observation Deck at 300, the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi. From there you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the city and click photos of the city skyline, Corniche Road and the Arabian Gulf.
If you prefer to stay on the ground, you can also visit The Avenue to do a bit of window shopping. It is home to some of the world’s most exclusive boutique stores.
However, if you want to buy something without spending thousands of dollars, check out the next place for a nice shopping experience without breaking the bank!
7. Do Some Shopping at Marina Mall
There are many shopping malls in Abu Dhabi, especially in the city center. One of them is Marina Mall which is located along the breakwater on Corniche Road, not far from Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace.
This mall offers everything your shopping heart desires. It houses over 400 retail stores, a food court, pharmacies, coffee shops, a cinema, a Mercedes-Benz car showroom and a hypermarket.
Just right outside the mall is The Marina Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that is visible from all corners of the city. It has 42 capsules including luxury capsules that should make the 5-minute ride even more special.
Even if you decide to skip the Ferris wheel ride, Marina Mall offers so much entertainment, you could easily spend an entire day inside without getting bored!
8. Sip a Cocktail at Brick Rooftop Kitchen & Bar
I don’t know about you but for me, the perfect way to end a long day of exploring usually includes good food and some fancy drinks. Preferably both in the same place.
In Abu Dhabi, the perfect address to get exactly this is Brick Rooftop Kitchen & Bar.
This rustic-styled, garden-themed restaurant is located on the 12th floor of Aloft Abu Dhabi. So besides just food and drinks, you also get stunning views of the city skyline at night!
At Brick, the menu consists of different international dishes but something they all have in common is that they’re made in one of the two brick ovens.
Fun fact: They’re named Henry and Henrietta. 😀
Since I’m vegan and my boyfriend isn’t, we needed a place serving vegan and non-vegan options. At Brick, you can find both!
Let me tell you: The vegan food was heavenly! And so were the drinks.
Because we enjoyed it so much, we came back a second time.
This time, my boyfriend also chose a vegan dish, precisely the vegan version of the British dish “Bangers & Mash”, whereas I went for a plant-based mushroom katsu burger.
Again, the burger was absolutely amazing and my boyfriend liked his vegan dish very much as well.
The delicious food in combination with great cocktails, cool atmosphere, friendly staff and, of course, the incredible views make Brick the perfect place to end your day in Abu Dhabi!
9. Enjoy The Best Pizza in Abu Dhabi at Pizza di Rocco
Another great place to enjoy a good meal, whether it’s lunch or dinner, is Pizza di Rocco.
Pizza di Rocco is an award-winning Italian Pizzeria serving traditional and authentic pizzas that are baked in a hand-crafted Neopolitan-style oven.
The restaurant has several locations distributed across the city and offers delivery service as well.
We went to the branch at Etihad Plaza, a small but lovely restaurant where you can observe the kitchen staff making your pizza.
The selection of vegan dishes is excellent with different pizzas and kinds of pasta.
I went for just a vegan Margherita but it was super tasty!
Moreover, compared to many other restaurants in the UAE, the prices at Pizza di Rocco are very affordable.
So if you’re craving some amazing Italian cuisine, don’t forget a visit to Pizza di Rocco. It’s definitely another one of the unmissable things to do in Abu Dhabi!
10. Stay at The Hotel Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Last but not least, don’t miss the opportunity to stay at Abu Dhabi’s best hotel: The Hotel Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.
It’s not only the city’s best hotel in my opinion, no. The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr has won the 2022 Hotel of the Year Award for being the “Best Luxury Business & Leisure Beach Hotel Worldwide”!
No wonder, the beachfront five-star hotel spoils you with spacious rooms and suites, a large pool with plenty of sunbeds and a pool bar, more than five different restaurants, shops and beauty salons and probably one of the richest breakfast buffets I’ve ever seen!
In addition, the rooms facing the sea offer breathtaking views of Abu Dhabi’s greatest design masterpiece – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Imagine yourself in the morning when you get up, push the curtains aside and the first thing you see is the most beautiful mosque in the world.
Isn’t that fantastic?
I can tell you, it absolutely is!
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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:
Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!
Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.
Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having one. I use the simple and flexible one from World Nomads to be protected against unforeseen events.
Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.
Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.
The water feature at the museum looks incredible!
It’s such a cool museum – inside and outside!
I have always wanted to visit Abu Dhabi! I have been to known to splurge on coffee, so Emirates Palace is definitely on my list.
Then Emirates Palace is the perfect place for you!
So far I haven’t visited either Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but Abu Dhabi is even higher on my travel list. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque looks so stunning. I’d really love to visit soon!
I liked Abu Dhabi a bit more than Dubai so yes, definitely go there!
The way my jaw dropped looking at all these photos! I knew it was a beautiful place but WOW!
Haha yes & it’s even more stunning in real!
Beautiful photos and great recommendations for things to do. Thanks for sharing.
I’m very happy you like it Katie!
I can’t believe how beautiful Louvre AD is! 😍
It’s amazing! Absolutely loved it 🙂
Abu Dhabi is on my bucket list so thanks for all the great suggestions of where to go, see and eat. You’ve given me loads of inspiration.
It’s a very cool city!
That cafe looks amazing, despite that eye-watering coffee price!
Haha yes it was a bit of a shock BUT we knew we only do it once so it was worth it 😀