Have you ever visited Abu Dhabi? The capital city of the United Arab Emirates hides many golden gems to discover! Thanks to Etihad Airways you can have a 2-night free stopover in Abu Dhabi as an extension of your international flight. A unique opportunity to visit this majestic city, that should be on everybody’s must-see list. Are you ready to include Abu Dhabi in your travel itinerary? Keep reading and discover all the city has to offer.
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates is worth a visit, don’t you think? Its construction started in 1996 and concluded twelve years ago, in 2007. It takes its name from the former President Zayed bin Sultán Al Nahayan, who died in 2004 and whose resting place is located next to the mosque. The building complex occupies more than 12 hectares, which makes it the 15th largest mosque in terms of capacity in the Islamic countries.
The aim of President Zayed when promoting this project was to join all in one building the main architectural and artistic styles of the Islamic World. Thanks to this, you will have the opportunity to admire an astonishing design that was inspired by the fusion of Islamic art from Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan or Turkey, among others, to show the diversity and richness of its cultural legacy.
The mosque is open to visitors from different religions and can gather more than 40,000 people. It is especially busy during the Eid prayer days, when Muslims celebrate the end of their Ramadan holy month.
2. Observation Deck at 300
If you want to enjoy the best views of Abu Dhabi, you cannot miss to the Observation Deck at 300. It is located on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel, being the highest observation point of the city.
Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, you can access the observatory to admire Abu Dhabi’s impressive skyline from a bird’s eye view. Thanks to its glass walls you will be able to spot everything from 360 degrees, not only the sky-scrappers, but also the Arabian Gulf.
This is an ideal visit to end the day and enjoy the sunset while you taste some of the varieties of tea offered in the restaurant or toast with a cocktail with Abu Dhabi at your feet.
3. Desert Safari
Would you like to live an authentic Emirati experience? We recommend a desert excursion from Abu Dhabi!
One of the best known areas to spend the day in the desert is the Liwa Oasis. Connected by a modern highway, the Oasis is 150 km away from the capital and gathers 50 villages, the most prominent of which is Muzayri. Liwa Oasis is located north of the Rub Al Khali desert, famous for having the largest sand dunes expanse in the world. A place to enjoy fun activities such as sand boarding, buggy riding and camel trekking.
Apart from day trips, it is also very popular to book a one-night stay in the desert. A unique way to experience first-hand the traditional life in this ecosystem, taste dishes of the local cuisine and admire the stars from the camp.
4. Yas Island
If you are looking for entertainment, shopping and sunbathing in the same place, Yas Island was created to fulfill your dreams! This macro project started in 2006, aiming to turn this island into one of the main leisure areas in Abu Dhabi. Several world-famous theme parks stand out, as the Warner Bros World, where to meet your favourite cartoons or Yas Waterworld, with the world’s largest surfable sheet, apart from many water slides.
Furthermore, those who love cars can’t miss Ferrari World. As well as the Yas Marina Circuit, that hosts Abu Dhabi’s Formula One racing every year. Otherwise, if you are more keen on shopping, you can spend the day at Yas Mall, where you will find your favourite brands among more than 350 international labels.
After an exciting day, why not enjoy a relaxing evening at the beach and have dinner in one of Abu Dhabi’s more luxurious hotels? In Yas Island, you can have it all!
5. Boat Tour
Abu Dhabi is known internationally for its skyscrapers and the most spectacular way to see them is from a boat cruise along the coast of the Persian Gulf. There are boat trips for all budgets, from luxury yachts to catamarans, speedboats or traditional dhows. Whatever the boat, you can’t miss this experience!
In addition to contemplating the city skyline, there are also island hopping tours, to visit several nearby islands in a single day, bathe in their turquoise waters, snorkel and, if you’re lucky, see dolphins. If you fancy a more romantic plan also from the water, we suggest to take a sunset cruise, from which you can enjoy the city lights at twilight.
6. Qasr Al-Hosn
Also known as Old Fort or White Fort, this national monument, built around 1790, is the oldest building in the city. The fortification served as a protection to the first settlement in the area, later it was the Emir’s royal residence. Qasr Al-Hosn has witnessed the city’s growth over centuries.
As for its architecture, the inner courtyard and the green tiles of the north gate are two essential spots not to be missed. The building also hosts a museum with archaeological pieces, paintings and images that tell the history of Abu Dhabi. As well as an artisans area in which traditional arts of the country are exhibited, such as palm leaf hand-crafts or loom-weaved fabrics.
7. Falcon Hospital
Did you know that in Abu Dhabi there is a world-famous falcon hospital? It was opened in 1999, as an affiliate of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency. In 2006 it extended their activity to other bird species, and, today, it has consolidated as the leading avian hospital in the world. Since its establishment, more than 110,000 falcons have received examination and treatment, both captive-bred and wild.
Furthermore, the Falcon Hospital is one of the best-rated tourist attractions in the city. During your visit, you can join the Falcon World Tour, in which you will have the chance to meet some of the ‘patients’ and to learn more about the hospital’s efforts to raise awareness on the importance to preserve these stunning animals.
In order to enjoy this unforgettable experience, it is highly recommended to book the Falcon World Tour in advance, as it attracts hundreds of tourists every year.
Now that you know more about the capital of the UAE, when do you plan to visit it? Don’t forget that with Etihad Airways you can have a 2-night free stopover in Abu Dhabi in any international flight!