Abu Dhabi (courtesy ADTA)
Abu Dhabi Travel Guide
Welcome to Abu Dhabi
Welcome to the Abu Dhabi tourism area and visitor guide. Discover the best in Abu Dhabi for visitors: hotels, itineraries, shopping, nightlife, restaurants, and more. Are you lost about what to do? Here are some suggestions:
- Find out the best things to do in Abu Dhabi
- Decide where to stay and perhaps stay at one of the best hotels in Abu Dhabi
- And once you have decided you want to visit, plan your trip around one of our Abu Dhabi Itineraries
And for those who want a bit more about Abu Dhabi, start here!
Marhaba and welcome to Abu Dhabi where the desert is transforming to provide a tourist haven based on cultural ethnicity and exquisite luxury. It's a fascinating plan. Abu Dhabi has everything from the back street where you can explore authentic shops - andything from crafts and perfume to abays and Arabic clothing shops. And it also has the authentic foos from fatayers to shawarmas followed by the option to smoke some shisha in a traditional shisha cafe while sipping on some chai nana, that's mint tea, for those who don't know.
And that's just the authentic side of Abu Dhabi! Abu Dhabi is rising up and building a whole new cultural capital from world renowned museums to world beating destinations such as the Yas Marina, and with the space it has, a masterplan is evolving to make this into a global travel destination. It is nearly there. With all the islands it has at its disposal, you can quickly envisage the type of luxury that this place could provide.
Abu Dhabi is the largest and most powerful of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Yes, it has oil - nearly 10% of the world's oil and 90% of the oil in the UAE, which is why it has it all to spend over the next 100 years, when it all dries up, to morph the economy to be dependant elsewhere. Dubai is the emirate well-known due to dramatic transformation over recent years. The five other emirates are less populous - Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain - but they all have their own charm, in different ways. Dubai has taken the limelight up to now, and now Abu Dhabi has hit the scene with a "hey, check me out" type approach which is drawing more visitors every year. The nadir will arrive when all the museums and hotels are complete on Sadiyaat Island which will bring a very new and different Abu Dhabi to the world. It's worth visiting now - and worth visiting in about 3 years time.
The Abu Dhabi restaurant scene offer a range of cheap to very very expensive and with a whole range of options when it comes to choice. You could get a most American of fast food, and the most European of gourmet. But you can also get Arabic mezze and street food, with some authentic Emirati food thrown in at the same time. You can eat for next to nothing or try out some of the best food in the world at places like Cipriani and Hakkasan. Unlike other parts of the Gulf, the Emiratis are more flexible in their understanding of world culture. There are bars and clubs, and the vibe is global and cosmopolitan, exclusive, rather than bling. And you have a ticket to that exclusivity.
Hotels range from 3 star cheaper Arabic style to the five star plus. Hotels like the Fairmont Abu Dhabi are world class with the Emirates Palace fit for a king. However you want to experience Abu Dhabi, you can. Whether you want a hotel chain that you know or a global boutique brand they are either here already or are coming. Even some of the older hotels have been pulled down or refurbished, to prepare for the new influx of tourists that will be gracing these shores. Abu Dhabi is presenting itself as a upmarket destination and is preparing itself for package holiday tourists en masse which some perceive will become an option to the glitzy Dubai. We believe Abu Dhabi is a completely different holiday - more chilled but a complimentary alternative. After all, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are both part of the same "country" and as they merge closer together, many will visit both in one holiday. In fact, some already are and have been for many years.
Weather wise Abu Dhabi is blessed with a warm breeze from the Arabian Gulf. Abu Dhabi itself is an island, although the largest part is stark desert inland. Much of this area is being explored and some remarkable history is being unearthed. Abu Dhabi, in years to come, will attract the adventurer, the modern day Indiana Joneses and Wilfred Thesigers. But for now, that remainss a vision. Visions that have been realised include the Emirates Palace hotel, which when built was the most expensive hotel in the world - and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the most wonderful building in the whole of the UAE, and open to all faiths. There are some amazing hotels that world has yet to experience - the Qasr Al Sarab in the desert - and the Desert Islands Resort on Bani Yas Island, perfect for honeymooners and where you can go on safari, desert style. It's a little secret that we have just let out of the bag.
Abu Dhabi is ready for the next step and its transformation has stayed true to the heart beat of old. They new Abu Dhabi is gleaming - but an even newer Abu Dhabi is emerging inland - the desert awaits. Enjoy your stay in Abu Dhabi - and let us know how you find it.
We have put together itineraries of Abu Dhabi, but to give it to you more direct, we think that there are a few thing that you must do including viewing the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and visiting the Emirates Palace if you are not staying there. There are heap of options to make it difficult to hone done to a few, but if you are a shopaholic, you should check out some of the malls in Abu Dhabi, or even some of the old school souks in Abu Dhabi - and not to mention the brand new central souk developed for a new century and new age. More new age can be found by visiting Masdar, the first green city - and you can see the the future of Abu Dhabi being mapped out at Manarat Al Saadiyat, a fantastic exhibition. Make sure you sample our recommendations of food at some of the best restaurants in Abu Dhabi. For the kids and bigger kids amongst you, Ferrari World is a great day out. We love the back streets of Abu Dhabi and to sample the past, we recommend the Heritage Village. If you have time, you could see the Auto Museum - and if you have the money and have the ability to wake at 4am , make sure you take a trip to see the desert by hot air balloon - it's an experience that will stay with you forever.
Enjoy Abu Dhabi and we hope that it meets all that you want it to be and more.