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What to see and do in Abu Dhabi – a guide to notable landmarks and attractions

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A stretch of road hugging the coastline, a sparkling city skyline lurking in the background, artificial islands brimming with private beaches and resorts, adrenaline-inducing theme parks and an exotic desert landscape that screams with adventure; these are just a few of the things that visitors will experience when visiting Abu Dhabi.

Sajeev Valappil

My Destination local expert on

Abu Dhabi

Shopping is evidently the favorite national past time in Abu Dhabi with a huge number of futuristic shopping havens located throughout the city. With all its modernized luxuries, Abu Dhabi still holds true to its fishing village roots as it keeps its hidden charms of bustling local souks, floating dhows, flowing palm trees and that dangerously seductive barren desert landscape. Escape the comforts of modern life and explore the delights of what the real Abu Dhabi has to offer.


Sheikh Zayed Mosque


The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque, is the world’s newest and 6th largest mosque - the size equivalent of five football stadiums. Infusing the styles of Moorish, Persian and Mughal architecture, this place of Islamic worship has quickly established itself as Abu Dhabi’s shinning pride and joy. Join a tour and marvel at its stunning beauty which include white-marble domes,impressive grand pillars, and a lavish interior designed using precious stones and24 carat gold pieces. The Grand Mosque also features the world’s largest chandelier which uses Swarovski crystals and the world’s largest hand-woven Persian carpet.  


The Corniche


Dubai may well be regarded as the Paris of the Middle East but Abu Dhabi could well truly be considered the Saint-Tropez of the Middle East with the picturesque Corniche showcasing the city’s beachfront beauty. Walk along this magnificent 9km promenade where you’ll encounter tranquil gardens, tropical overhanging palm trees and a calm breezy ocean to keep your mind at peace. The area also provides various leisure and recreation activities for hire such as water-sports, swimming and cycling.


Falcon Hospital


As the national bird of the UAE, the falcon is considered in high regard in the Arab world, symbolizing force and courage. Visiting the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the largest falcon clinic in UAE, is a must-see attraction where visitors will have the opportunity to experience the age-old sport of falconry, a traditional hunting game where the falcon hunts its prey within its natural habitat. Guided tours are available which includes entry into the museum and hospital, a falcon performance and lunch in a traditional Arabian tent.


Heritage Village


It’s hard to believe that only 40 years ago, Abu Dhabi was nothing more than just a simple fishing village. The Heritage Village is an interactive living museum where visitors can travel back in time before the discovery of oil and experience the old Bedouin lifestyle. Live the life of a Bedouin nomad and enhance your desert skills by participating in the many different workshops where local craftsmen will happily teach you the skills of weaving, pottering and metal work.


Visit the Desert


When traveling to Abu Dhabi, it is an imperative that you take part in a desert safari. On the harsh barren landscape, experience the romance of the desert as you weave through sand dunes in an adrenaline-inducing 4WD ride. For a more intimate desert experience, camel riding tours are also available. Many desert safari tours involve a romantic sunset viewing, an authentic Arabic dinner complete with belly dancing performances and falconry demonstrations. To further experience the local culture, why not visit the Al Wathba Camel Race Track where you can watch the majestic desert creature’s race with great speed.