From world’s largest handloomed carpet to beautiful man-made islands, tallest skyscrapers, a hospital only for falcons, luxurious malls, biggest sand dunes and lavish hotel chains, Abu Dhabi is a one-stop tourist destination where you can satisfy your wanderlust. The rapid urbanisation has made it one of the wealthiest cities in the world, but still, the place has retained its authentic Arabian feel. The capital of United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi host numerous tourist every year from across the globe and entertain them with its rich cultural essence.
Best time to visit: You should visit Abu Dhabi during winter, between December to March to enjoy the best weather.
Visa and immigration: If you’re an Indian passport holder having US Visitor Visa/ Green card, you are eligible for visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days in Abu Dhabi, while others would be required to apply for UAE Visa one month prior to your date of travel. For passengers holding ECR (Emigration Check Required) passport and labour and work e-visa, OK to Board (OTB) message, will be necessary.
How to reach
By Air: Abu Dhabi International Airport is located at a distance of about 32km (30minutes drive) from the Abu Dhabi city. IndiGo now provides direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Kochi & Kozhikode along with seamless connections to several other cities in India.
You can also reach Abu Dhabi by taking a flight to Dubai and then travelling by road (One and half hour journey) using public buses, taxis or rental cars. IndiGo operates 14 daily flights to Dubai from Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Chandigarh, Kochi, Kozhikode and Amritsar.
Getting around: You can travel around Abu Dhabi using taxi, buses and rental cars. Taxis are differentiated into silver taxis operated by taxi companies and pink taxis driven by women and meant for female passengers and boys below the age of 10. And buses are operated within Abu Dhabi and its suburbs.
This place is a must-try for its shawarma (chicken or beef). You must also try their hummus which they serve with tomatoes, onions, chickpeas and parsley and the popular labneh, thick yoghurt with garlic.
It is among UAE’s best Lebanese restaurants, serving delicious grills and mouthwatering hot and cold mezzeh. You can satisfy your taste buds either by sitting indoors or while enjoying the sea view from the terrace.
Here is your chance to enjoy the authentic flavour in a typical Arabian ambience. Inspired by Bedouin tent, Mezlai offers delectable dishes flavoured with ingredients from mountains, sea, desert and oasis. Start with their Rocca salad with Lobster and wild oregano. Followed by Lamb medfoun (lamb shoulder slowly cooked in a banana leaf) and veal machboos (casserole) or hamour with spiced rice.
Located on the beach, overlooking Al Reem Island and the sea, you need to sit back, relax and enjoy yummy seafood in the most fashionable and stylish environment. Their menu is focused explicitly on seafood cooked in a variety of method such as tandoori, wok and traditional.
The main highlight of 18 degrees is its interactive three show kitchens wherein the chefs prepare Mediterranean specialties in front of the visitors. Located on the 18th floor of Hyatt Capital Gate, the place offers best views of the city along with the irresistible Mediterranean cuisines.
The best way to remember a trip is by stocking up some souvenirs. In the case of Abu Dhabi, buy some local art ornate wooden carvings, carpets reflecting Arabian culture and jewellery. The souvenirs are widely available in the city in varied shapes and sizes, and you need to know the right place to find the authentic items. Also, Abu Dhabi boasts of opulent malls and is a paradise for shopaholics. You will find each and everything in these malls starting from luxurious brands to high-end amusement parks for the children.
Marina mall: It is one of the leading shopping destinations in the city. Spread over five floors, the mall houses more than 400 outlets of high-end brands like Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Burberry and more. If you are looking to shop from upscale fashion, beauty, electronics or home furnishing brand, then Marina mall is a one-stop shopping hub for you.
Abu Dhabi Mall: It is yet another mall highlighting the mall culture in Abu Dhabi. You will find major international brands like Diesel, H&M, Longines, Michael Kors, Rolex etc. in this mall along with several restaurants, children’s play area and a Cineplex.
Al Wahda mall: Al Wahda mall mixes local brands with global names and presents an exciting mix of entertainment, shopping, food and leisure activities. Spread over 3.3 million square feet, every year the mall attracts more than 30 million shoppers.
It is quite impressive to know that Abu Dhabi houses some of the most happening clubs in the UAE. These clubs are usually packed with locals, travellers or socialites during live music evenings, ladies’ nights or weekends. So here are some ideal hangouts spots where you can relax and have fun after a long day of sightseeing.
Rush: As soon as you enter this club, its stylish décor will set your mood to spend the rest of the night here. The bright coloured lighting and a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the Yas racetrack adds up to the cool factor of the place. Do visit the club on a Thursday when international and local DJs play some cool music till 3 am.
Sax Club: This place is known for its amazing ladies' night on Mondays and Wednesdays. On these days, beverages are free of cost for ladies. Apart from this, the club is also famous for playing the most happening music in different genres like hip-hop, EDM, house music as well as R&B. On Thursdays and Fridays, you can enjoy a performance by some of the famous Lebanese superstars.
Sea Lounge: It's a place where you can go for several reasons like to munch some delicious snacks or to enjoy dancing or just for chilling. Sea Lounge is the perfect place to have a drink while enjoying the serene views of the Gulf. Although it's a chilled-out place in the first half of the weekend, in the latter half, it's a place that plays the most happening numbers of soul music, R&B and electronica.
Mad Yas Island: It is touted as one of the best party places along with being the most significant indoor nightclubs in the city. Witness the most prominent music artists, the best of music and entertainment shows clubbed with jumbo-sized LED screens, 360 degrees projection mapping, exceptional sound system, stunning light shows.
Emirates Palace Hotel Being among the very few world's seven-star luxurious hotel, Emirates Palace Hotel is known for its lavish interiors and state-of-the-art amenities like lush green landscaped gardens, private beach, two large swimming pools, a perfect spa and 10 restaurants amongst others. To experience luxury at its best not only in terms of ambience but also its offerings, Emirates Palace Hotel is the perfect address to select for your stay.
Premier Inn It is directly connected to Abu Dhabi International Airport through the Skypark walkway in Terminals 1 & 3. The hotel boasts of a bar, fully equipped gym, restaurant and a roof-top swimming pool offering spectacular views. It also provides complimentary shuttle service to the main tourist spots that include Ferrari World, Waterworld, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and drops off service to the Corniche.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel One of the most famous hotels in the city, it’s the ideal destination for a luxurious accommodation. The hotel features landscaped gardens and pools and also boasts of private beach and spa. If you don’t want to go somewhere out you can sit in the hotel, relax and enjoy beautiful views of the city skyline.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas Situated on a private beach of Saadiyat Island, its location is the most highlighting factor of this Park Hyatt. The airport is 35 minutes from the hotel which makes it ideal for the business travellers or tourists with interests in beach and relaxation.
Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas Just 5 minutes away from the beach, this 5-star property boasts of the spectacular Arabian Gulf views and striking Arabic architecture having a royal presence. The hotel is known for its varied range of dining options, exquisitely designed 327 rooms along with 13 beach villas.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: A paradise for car fanatics this place satisfies the need for speed to the utmost level. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a Ferrari branded theme park for all age groups. Here you can live your dream of driving a Ferrari. It is home to various classic cars and more than 20 rides including world’s fastest roller coaster ride, Formula Rossa.
Yas Waterworld: This huge water park is the best option to beat the heat during hot temperature. Being the first of its kind in UAE, Yas Waterworld boasts of 43 slides, attractions and rides including the longest, fastest tornado water slide and first water-laser rollercoaster in the world.
Desert safari: You can’t miss desert safari while in Abu Dhabi. It is one of the most thrilling activity to enjoy in deserts. You must experience Dune bashing riding in an SUV for 20 to 30 minutes. Try to stay overnight in the lap of the desert and enjoy camel rides, scenic sunset and belly dancing along with scrumptious dinner.
You must have heard about party hopping, but in Abu Dhabi, you need to go for island hopping as the city is home to several beautiful islands. These islands are not just bare pieces of land; instead, they are fully equipped with the latest amenities and offer a wholesome, entertaining experience from private beaches to wildlife sanctuaries. Some of the famous islands that you can add to your list are Yas Island, Bahrani Island, Sir Bani Yas Island, Lulu Island, Al Futaisi Island and Saadiyat Island. You need to grab your preferred mode of island hopping either by speedboats, jet skis or kayaks and start the ultimate adventure.