The best things to do in Abu Dhabi include awe-inspiring and ultramodern attractions that you can only find in one of the richest cities on the planet. These diverse attractions range from the UAE’s largest mosque, with its impressive architectural and interior features, to the world’s fastest indoor rollercoaster.

    Other highlights include fun recreational spots for the whole family and heritage oases where you can learn about Emirati traditions and culture. Read on to learn more about what you should include on your next visit to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

    What are the best things to do in Abu Dhabi?

    1

    The Corniche

    Abu Dhabi’s charming waterfront

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Corniche is Abu Dhabi’s iconic 8-km stretch of waterfront where you can bike and stroll along manicured paths as well as enjoy various beach activities. Among the best things to do in Abu Dhabi, it’s where you can take a dip in the calm waters off a white and sandy artificial shoreline, against the high-rise skyline of the UAE’s capital.

    The whole length of the Corniche is dotted with soccer fields, volleyball courts and parks that make good use of the seaside setting. It’s a place to be for gorgeous sunsets and the spectacular Abu Dhabi Corniche Fireworks series are unmissable events that take place on this waterfront.

    Location: Corniche Rd - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Map
    2

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    One of the world’s largest and grandest mosques

    • Photo
    • Budget

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the must-see landmarks in the UAE capital with its massive scale, 82 domes and towering minarets. The complex was completed in 2007, named in honor of the UAE’s late president and the mosque’s brainchild, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

    The mosque’s design blends diverse Islamic architectural elements. Inside, check out its series of 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers with Swarovski crystals – the largest measures 10 meters wide and 15 meters tall. It also features the world's largest hand-knotted carpet, made with New Zealand and Iranian wool. As with any mosque visit, respectful conduct and attire is a must.

    Location: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street - 5th St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm, Fridays from 9 am to noon and 3 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 419 1919

    Map
    3

    Al-Hosn Fort

    Abu Dhabi’s oldest stone building

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The 18th-century Al-Hosn Fort and Palace is a historical Abu Dhabi landmark that the city was built around. Also known locally as Qasr al-Hosn or ‘Palace Fort’, it was built in 1761 as a watchtower to defend the only freshwater well on the island. It later became the permanent residence of ruling sheikhs and emirs.

    Today, the palace-fort features a museum where you can learn more about Abu Dhabi’s past through various artifacts and exhibits. The vast fort grounds also play host to the multiday cultural event known as the Qasr al-Hosn Festival. It usually takes place in early December, celebrating Abu Dhabi’s culture and heritage through crafts, live music and cuisine.

    Location: Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum St (2nd St) - Al Hisn - W3 - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm, Fridays from 2 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 697 6400

    Map
    4

    Beaches of Abu Dhabi

    From beautiful urban waterfronts to secluded sandy coves

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The best beaches of Abu Dhabi offer sandy seaside fun and spectacular sunsets, all backed by incredible city skylines. Corniche Beach tops the list for most visitors – especially families – with its calm, clean and swimmable waters bordered by several parks and promenades. The many cafés and restaurants close to the beach offer more fun after the sun goes down.

    Al Bateen Beach is a leisurely retreat with water sports to enjoy, including kayaks, jet skis, and pedalos. It also has picnic spots overlooking Hudayriat Island and its long white bridge that stretches over the calm waters. For pristine nature, head to Saadiyat Beach. This well-preserved strip of white sand is home to protected dunes and turtle nesting sites. It’s accessible via a wooden boardwalk on the north-western shore of the namesake island.

    5

    Ferrari World

    Hair-raising fun at the world’s first Ferrari-themed park

    • Families
    • Luxury
    • Adventure

    Ferrari World on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island should be on the bucket list of all fans of the famous Italian supercar maker, along with families and groups who share a need for speed. Almost everything outside and inside this massive indoor theme park features the Prancing Horse logo and the signature Ferrari Red – rosso corsa.

    Among the many rides, there’s Formula Rossa, Ferrari World’s proud ‘fastest in the world’ rollercoaster. It takes you from 0 to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. If you want to combine crazy speeds with dizzying heights, try Flying Aces, which reaches 63 meters high at speeds of up to 120 km/h. For younger speed freaks in the family, there are dedicated rides like Formula Rossa Junior and the Flying Wings, or even feel like Schumacher behind the wheel of scaled-down Formula 1 automobiles.

    Location: Yas Leisure Dr - Yas Island - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Wednesday–Sunday from noon to 8 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +971 600 511115

    Map
    6

    Yas Island

    A small island that’s big on leisure and entertainment

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • Photo
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is a destination on its own, being home to some of the UAE capital’s most popular attractions. Firstly, it’s a mecca for lovers of exotic automobiles and motor racing enthusiasts, who come for Ferrari World and the Yas Marina Circuit where the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held.

    When you’re not riding on the world’s fastest rollercoaster or cheering on your favorite F1 drivers, there’s plenty of other leisurely fun to be had, like splashing with the whole family at the Emirati-themed Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. The water park features 45 rides and slides as well as seasonal events and shows. For shopping, dining and even more entertainment, there’s Yas Mall, which is Abu Dhabi’s largest.

    Location: Yas Island - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Map
    7

    Museums in Abu Dhabi

    From Emirati heritage to amazing automobiles

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The best museums in Abu Dhabi come in a huge variety, each offering a unique set of treasures to admire. Art lovers can check out the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the largest art museum on the Arabian Peninsula. It showcases works from multiple French museums, including Paris’ own Louvre.

    At the likes of the Zayed Heritage Center and Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, you can go back in time and learn about traditional Emirati life through fascinating reconstructed desert villages. Fast-forwarding to modernity, you can visit Manarat Al Saadiyat, with its high-tech and interactive exhibits. For automobile lovers, the Emirates National Auto Museum showcases over 200 vehicles from the private collection of Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, aka ‘The Rainbow Shiek’.

    photo by thefool0803 (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Abu Dhabi Heritage Village

    An oasis of Emirati heritage in the UAE capital

    • Families
    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo

    Plan a visit to Abu Dhabi Heritage Village for a journey back in time to learn more about Emirati life in a reconstructed desert village. Inside this walled complex run by the Emirates Heritage Club, you’ll find barasati traditional houses as well as a mosque and a souq (street market).

    Stroll along the stone paths by manicured gardens from one ‘desert home’ to another. You can drop by each to watch craftspeople demonstrating traditional techniques in creating pottery and even glassblowing. The different exhibitions, market stalls and even special events help keep the visit interesting. This cultural oasis is a pleasant escape from Abu Dhabi’s modern high-rise cityscapes.

    Location: Abu Dhabi Theater Rd, Corniche - Breakwater Rd - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Saturday–Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm, Fridays from 3 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +971 (0)2 681 4455

    Map
    9

    Mangrove National Park

    Refreshing nature and wildlife spotting in Abu Dhabi

    • Families
    • Adventure
    • Group

    Mangrove National Park, also known as Mangrove Lagoon National Park, is where you can trade the UAE capital’s bustling, modern cityscape for lush and soothing nature. The protected ecological jewel just outside Abu Dhabi’s city centre is home to rich birdlife and the mangrove forests and saltmarshes offer outdoor adventures for the whole family.

    On a kayaking trip, you’re likely to spot herons and flamingos, while marine mammals like dugongs and dolphins also occasionally navigate the channels. If you’re looking for a quieter alternate, there’s Jubail Mangrove Park with its wooden boardwalks that allow for soothing, meandering walks through lush greenery.

    Location: Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from 10 am to midnight

    Map
    10

    Observation Deck at 300

    Bird's-eye views over Abu Dhabi’s high-rise cityscape

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Luxury
    • Group

    Observation Deck at 300 is where you can take in uninterrupted bird's-eye views of the capital of the United Arab Emirates. You can find the cool chillout spot on the 74th floor of Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers' second tower. At 300 meters, it’s deemed the city’s highest vantage point.

    From noon, you can head up to the spot for Instagrammable shots against the modern Abu Dhabi skyline. Stay on for the amazing sunsets over the Corniche and the Arabian Gulf. Afternoon high tea and happy hour deals from 5 pm to 7 pm are other good reasons to head up here. Enjoy servings of fine tea blends, coffees and mocktails paired with sweet and savory morsels along with the memorable view.

    Location: Tower 2, Level 74, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers - Corniche W St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates

    Open: Daily from noon to 8 pm

    Map
    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler

    Start planning your trip

    COVID-19 Travel Alert

    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

    Back to top

    Maps