Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is an adventure that will take you to the peak and leave you gasping as you hurtle down the slope of fun and excitement. Here are some of our recommendations for things that you should do in Abu Dhabi.

A good holiday destination creates a lifetime of memories. And shopping is an integral part of that experience. Whether it’s souvenirs to carry back for your friends and family or some great deals, bring back a part of the country you’re visiting.

Here are some great places where you can indulge in retail therapy in Abu Dhabi.

Malls 

The Abu Dhabi Mall is one of the best places to go to for Abu Dhabi shopping. It has over 200 stores – both local and international – a multiplex, other amusements and is the best place to buy local perfume such as Oudh, Bateel’s gourmet dates and Arabic sweets and nuts.

Another great place to go Abu Dhabi shopping is the Carpet Souk. It has the widest variety of hand-woven carpets, rugs and tribal rugs called kilims. Carpets are a must-buy in Abu Dhabi because they are exported all over the world and it would be a shame to leave without this local treasure.

If it’s a luxury shopping experience you’re looking for then the Yas Marina Mall is where to do your Abu Dhabi shopping. It has over 400 international shopping, leisure and entertainment options and you can always sign off a hectic day of retail therapy with a movie or a roller coaster or even ice skating! 

Tip: Take turns to get your shopping done as the other half accompanies the kids to an ice-skating rink or rollercoaster. It’s a great way to combine some hard-core shopping without bored children.

High Street shopping 

If you want to go boutique shopping, one of the best shopping places in Abu Dhabi is Avenue at Etihad. This retail paradise oozes opulence and offers services such as bespoke tailoring, personalised service, some of the world’s best boutique brands and some luxury local ones. But it is not a trip for the bargain hunter or budget shopper. Of course, there are no charges for window shopping! So it might be worth a trip.

Paris Avenue is a great place to shop as these are brands that are looking to make a name for themselves in this market and will, therefore, offer you bargains on whatever’s trending. This really is worth a visit.

For any shopper, a trip to Abu Dhabi would be incomplete without a visit to The Galleria. The mall is as trendy and luxurious as the brands it houses. Visit it and if you walk away empty-handed, you’ll still have a taste of a truly world-class shopping experience.

Souks  

Nobody comes to an Emirati land skips the souks. Some of the best things to buy in Abu Dhabi are here. We recommend a trip to the Central Souk Market. In a slightly more modernised avatar, it still has old-world charm as you haggle for quaint souvenirs, fabric and perfumes. Sign off this experience with a manicure or pedicure at Princess Nails.

Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival 

For a family that loves to shop, or even a girl gang that travels together, we recommend the Abu Dhabi shopping festival. Held between the months of March and April, it is a great time for shopaholics to get great deals on everything from electronics, luxury watches and clothing, luxury branded bags, carpets and even gold. People come from all over the globe for this festival and the city comes to life with events, shows and a sense of cheer.

The best Abu Dhabi shopping guide is you. But we say, don’t leave without a carpet, some Ittar and Oudh and a gold coin or trinket. This land of luxury may seem like it only caters to the rich, but there are enough bargains to be had here for everyone. Select your Abu Dhabi tour packages  from SOTC and shop to your heart’s content.

 

A tour of Abu Dhabi’s national bird’s hospital is a definite add-on to the list of Abu Dhabi attractions. You can learn everything about these magnificent and fabulous birds of prey. You can watch them flutter as they are treated, use their wings to hide from the glare of the sun as they await their turn to be vaccinated or treated, watch their claws being clipped and, most importantly, take a picture with one on your arm.

Going camping in the desert is one of the different things to do in Abu Dhabi. 
After all, it is one of the world’s largest continuous stretches of desert. Your family and you can hire a 4x4 with a driver (preferably one who has experience driving in the sands) and enjoy a picnic or an Emirati dinner here. This experience is not recommended in the summer when there are sandstorms and, we would advise you to make arrangements properly while renting a tent or booking a traditional dinner. Step out in the cool evening air as a hot desert in the afternoon will be uncomfortable. Also, the consumption of alcohol is absolutely forbidden here

One of the offbeat things to do in Abu Dhabi would be to have a “Camelccino” at the Emirates Palace. You can enjoy its sheer opulence, its gorgeous tapestry, its marbled floors and indoor palms as you drink a cup of coffee with camel’s milk and gold stirred in it. This is not a cheap or even reasonable experience so check with your agent on how much it would put you back by.

A great way for you to relax and get a breather would be to visit the Corniche.  It is really one of the cheaper and best things to do in Abu Dhabi. And it also gives you a great vibe of the city. You can walk, jog, surf, take a Kayak, or cycle or just sunbathe and read a novel. For those who can afford it, beach clubs that offer you everything from a spa treatment to gourmet meals and drinks are available.

Want a peek into what the future looks like? Then one of the things to do in Abu Dhabi is to visit Masdar City. It is built for automatic cooling in the desert, has an electric car track and a host of sci-fi buildings. This is also set out to be a venue where scientists can gather and come up with more eco-sustainability projects for the whole world.

Another one of the unusual things to do in Abu Dhabi at night is to go to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Observe the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and world’s third largest chandelier made up entirely of Swarovski crystal. Its splendour is a sight to behold and the evening prayers echo through its vast interiors, making for a divine experience.

This UNESCO heritage site is also one of the oldest permanent settlements in the world. Watch the locals play cards and smoke cigarettes as camel traders haggle. It’s really worth the 2-hour trek as you can see the desert and Oman’s mountains on your way in and out.

Visiting the Yas Island Hotel is another one of the fun things to do in Abu Dhabi. This is the world’s largest LED display built over and above the Yas Marinas F1 racing circuit and is a must-see at night when it has an outer space kind of feel, when lit up. This can be followed by a nightcap in the Yas Island Hotel. It’s expensive but it’s a one-off experience. After all, how many hotels will you visit that are built over a Grand Prix racing circuit?

This is the work of an eccentric billionaire whose collection of cars is a must-see, when in Abu Dhabi. Filled to the brim with vintage cars, convertibles and custom-made luxury vehicles, this stellar collection is certainly worth a visit. It’s a pity you can’t drive them though!

 

Going pearling is another great Abu Dhabi experience. It will give you an insight into the Arabian Gulf’s pearl industry. Come to the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa and climb aboard a traditional pearling dhow. A leisurely cruise along the channel between Abu Dhabi and the Hudairi Yat Islands promises to be unforgettable

Travel back in time with souvenirs, paintings, carvings and other artefacts, some of which are a century old. You may not want to spend so much but will definitely give you an idea of what to shop for.

A great family or even couple’s thing to do – it will give you a better understanding of what a traditional Arab home is like and you can also enjoy its beautiful craft stores and its small museum.
In this city of traditions and futuristic modernity, there are two worlds. You will experience the real Abu Dhabi where these two meet. We hope you will enjoy the confluence. Pick from Abu Dhabi tour packages  of your choice from SOTC and start preparing your own list of things to do in Abu Dhabi.

 

The world’s only Ferrari-themed park. The world’s fastest roller coaster. The world’s largest indoor theme park. We think that these three qualify in making Ferrari World one of the super Abu Dhabi attractions.

As a visitor, you can see the Ferrari factory at work, take a spin on a real Ferrari, walk through a display of over 70 years of Ferrari models and also take a ride that shows you Italy’s marvels – Venice, the Amalfi Coast, the Roman Colosseum and the town where Ferraris are made – Maranello.

You can sign off this day of excitement with a fitting signature – get on The Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest roller coaster. This park is a must-visit for people of all ages. It is not a just a Ferrari attraction, it’s a tribute to the splendour and history of all automobiles.

An instant hit when it was launched and test-run, the gold dispensing machine is one more of Abu Dhabi attractions.

Covered in gold leaf itself, this ATM dispenses grams of gold based on how much money you feed in it. For fussier clients, the option of choosing an engraving is available and its location at the Emirates Palace Hotel makes gold-buying very convenient for those who can afford it. It has an intricate system which helps it avoid money launderers and it is perfectly legal. So, think of this as a memento from the land of sun, sand and tax-free gold.

Spend a day at The Yas Marinas Mall. It is one of the top to-dos in Abu Dhabi sightseeing. With more than 400 shopping, leisure and entertainment stores, it’s the perfect way for your family to have a fun day. Shop till you drop while your children and parents go ice-skating, roller coaster riding, bowling, watching an animated film or even watching stunning musical fountains. Oh, and its chic restaurants make for a great meal in between.

 

No amount of Abu Dhabi sightseeing is complete without a trip to the Warner Bros World. Hop on the Ani-mayhem ride or go on the Flintstones Bedrock River Adventure. Put your kids through the paces with the Tweety Wild Wockets or the daffy Jet-propelled Pogo Stick. It’s all laughs and thrills and great childhood memories here. 

Tip: Tamer rides like the Cartoon World Carousel are better for the younger ones, and for senior citizens, it is better to ask which rides are back-friendly and which aren’t.

One of the most exciting places to see in Abu Dhabi is the Yas Waterworld. It has the world’s first and largest six-person tornado waterslide, 3-meter high waves on the Bubble’s Barrel and the Bandit Bomber – a 550-meter coaster on which riders can shoot jets of water and use special effects. You’ll end up very wet, very tired and very hungry – so go and have a giant combo meal to end this exhilarating adventure.

Another one of the fun places to see in Abu Dhabi is the Emirates Park Zoo. Here, children can learn about animals, pet the tamer ones and all of you can spot flamingos, giraffes and snakes – to name just a few.

Another one of the relaxing things to see in Abu Dhabi is to rent a kayak and go to the Marinas Mangrove. This serene ride shows you its flora and fauna and you can take some postcard pictures of nature in Abu Dhabi

No Abu Dhabi sightseeing tour is complete without a visit to its desert. Spend an afternoon dune bashing and wind it off with a traditional Emirati meal, Bedouin dancing, a henna tattoo and some shisha smoking. 

Tip: Alcohol is not permitted here as this is a public area and drinking in public is illegal in Abu Dhabi. Also, make sure that each and every one of you has UV filter shades or the sun and sand can be uncomfortable.

For a luxury experience, buy a day pass to the Zaya Nurai Island. This private island has more than one beach and there are several swimming and paddling pools where you can relax and unwind away from the city’s bright lights and hustle and bustle.

All visitors should go to the Souk Central Market. It is one of the main things to see in Abu Dhabi. With a traditional interior, it houses several souvenir shops that sell anything from charming brass coffee pots, rugs that are hand woven and silver-embroidered fabric too.

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