The Persian Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi has a modern, multicultural city with excellent beaches with warm waters and sunshine, great shopping possibilities, golf courses and marinas, luxury hotels and fine dining opportunities as well as vast deserts, coral reefs and mangrove swamps.
Wealthy city of Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the largest city in the country, located on the coast of the Persian Gulf. The emirate around it is mainly desert. It is a clean modern city with skyscrapers, long boulevards and shopping malls that has many nationalities but also a more Arabian feel than Dubai, the most popular travel destination in the United Arab Emirates. However, Abu Dhabi is now determined to compete with Dubai for the tourism and massive construction of tourism infrastructure, including high-rise hotels, several man-made island projects and an indoor skiing center is on the way.
Sights and activities in Abu Dhabi: beach resorts, golf, deserts and shopping
Although Abu Dhabi is the financial and political center of the United Arab Emirates, it has somewhat less touristic sights, activities, nightlife and entertainment than the neighboring Dubai. It still has plenty of great beaches, nice good-value hotels and restaurants and a few charming sights to visit. There are plenty of excellent beaches in Abu Dhabi, most of which are privately owned by hotels or clubs. They offer good swimming and many different options of water sports.
New artificial islands are being built along the coast, of which Lulu Islands will have beach resorts and the Yas Island will host a motor sports center as well as hotels, golf courses and villas. There are many large and modern malls for shopping in Abu Dhabi that offer great opportunities for good-value tax-free buys. Sailing is also a popular activity in Abu Dhabi. The most popular of the many parks in the city is Khalifa Park that has an aquarium, a museum, as well as playgrounds and gardens.
Attractions & activities. Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is a recreation area with historic open-air museum, where local craftsmen have workshops displaying traditional skills. There is also a cultural center in Abu Dhabi city center with theater, poetry, music, dance and art exhibitions, as well as a palace fort built in 1761. The huge Emirates Palace Hotel is also somewhat a sight. You can also make desert safaris outside the city with four-wheel drive cars, visit one of the many golf courses in Abu Dhabi, go horseback riding or playing polo, or take a boat out to the nearby Futaisi Island that has plenty of wildlife including gazelles and flamingos, as well as good opportunities for biking, horseback riding or birdwatching.
Abu Dhabi travel tips and practical information
Abu Dhabi has a dry desert climate, with warm winters and hot summers, and plenty of sunshine around the year.
For those not used to hiot temperatures, it is best to visit Abu Dhabi during the Winter or Spring, as the temperatures during the Summer can rise up to 48°C / 118°F.
Traveling to Abu Dhabi can be done by air. The city has an international airport with regular flights to Abu Dhabi from many parts of the world, and the international airport in Dubai is also relatively close. You can travel to Abu Dhabi by bus or shared taxi from elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates or by long-distance bus from the neighboring countries. The city has an inexpensive bus system, but it is difficult to use as it does not have scheduled routes. Taxis are plentiful, and car rental in Abu Dhabi is also a good option.
Accommodation in Abu Dhabi consists almost solely of high-end hotels, although the prices of the hotels in Abu Dhabi are cheaper than for example in Dubai. There are plenty of restaurants in Abu Dhabi with a multitude of cuisines, including Middle Eastern, Asian and Western ones.
Safety & regulations. Abu Dhabi is a very safe destination, with the sometimes chaotic traffic being your biggest safety concern. It is good to remember that most inhabitants in Abu Dhabi are conservative Muslim, so you should act and dress respectively. Alcohol is served only in hotel restaurants and nightclubs, and it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public in daytime during the Ramadan month. English is spoken widely in Abu Dhabi.