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Wondering what there is to see in Abu Dhabi? Here’s a complete guide to the attractions and places of interest of a city suspended between past and future.
A bridge that links the past to the present and makes the future something incredibly tangible. Because in Abu Dhabi the future is within the reach of your hands: its amazing skyscrapers and its futuristic architecture do not deny the past, but blend with it to create a new atmosphere, especially in the eyes of Western tourists.
Abu Dhabi’s location: the beautiful capital of the Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Nestled in an island that stretches out scenically over the Persian Gulf, the city has its airy maritime view of Corniche Beach, the great pride of the city: a name borrowed from the French language for a beach (and a promenade) of almost 6 km, on which public parks and beautiful fountains alternate themselves. The beach is framed by a majestic skyline on which the famous, super-tall skyscrapers stand out.
But Abu Dhabi has not been a futuristic city throughout its history. The contemporary urban structure is very recent: just think that the first paved road dates back to 1961. Until the end of the 1950s, the capital of the Arab Emirates lived on sheep farming and fishing. The discovery of oil and the wealth it has produced have changed the cards on the table: in a few years the city has changed its physiognomy, becoming one of the most modern cities in the world.
So all we have to do is pack up and leave: we are about to discover what there is to see in Abu Dhabi, the city of the future.
What to see in Abu Dhabi: places of interest
Abu Dhabi is a city of many facets: here past traditions and futuristic impulses coexist peacefully giving the opportunity to those who visit it to choose the type of stay most pleasing and best suited to their interests. Maxi skyscrapers, grandiose palaces, mosques and shopping centers coexist in a temporal melting pot that will leave even the most skeptical amazed and bewildered.
The great mosque of Sheikh Zayed
So what is there to see in Abu Dhabi? Let's start with the most spiritual part of the city, with a visit to Sheikh Zayed's Grand Mosque. It is not - of course - the only mosque in town, but it is undoubtedly one of the most majestic and one of the largest in the world. Just think that it has a capacity of 40,000 people!
The architecture of this sacred place is incredible and really leaves you breathless from the moment you step inside: surrounded by reflective pools of water, the visitor is immediately struck by the colors of the building, the white and gold sparkle and dazzling view, a foretaste of the architectural beauty of the mosque as a whole. 80 domes for about 1000 columns form the "skeleton" of a structure that, inside, hides just as many wonders: from the largest hand-knit carpet in the world to one of the largest chandeliers ever built, located in the main prayer room.
Open every day except Friday morning, Sheikh Zayed's Grand Mosque alone is worth the trip to Abu Dahbi.
Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace
Among the places of interest in Abu Dhabi one cannot but include the Emirates Palace. As its name would suggest, the Emirates Palace is a 7-star hotel where heads of state and royal families often reside. Characterized by a grandiose structure, its design is strongly inspired by the aforementioned Grand Mosque: the central dome, raised to more than 72 meters from the ground, dominates the other 114 domes, forming a structure that extends for about 1 km from arm to arm. If you are wondering if it is possible to visit the Emirates Palace, the answer is yes: visitors are allowed to enter the foyer, from where they can admire part of the interior.
Etihad Towers: the symbol of Abu Dhabi
We can't talk about Abu Dhabi without mentioning its maxi skyscrapers. Among these, the most famous are undoubtedly the Etihad Towers: a total of five skyscrapers, a true symbol of one of the most modern and futuristic cities in the world. Inside there are luxury hotels, apartments and - above all - a beautiful panoramic terrace, called the Observation Deck at 300. Located on the 74th floor of the second tower, visiting it you can admire the incredible city skyline, which stretches for 360° from the Persian Gulf to the city. The entrance costs about 23 euros.
Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi
One of Abu Dhabi's major tourist attractions is - without a doubt - the Ferrari World. It's a real Ferrari theme park. Under a red roof, of course, there are 37 rides and attractions on which you can have fun with the whole family.
Obviously, there is also a Ferrari Dealership, which is the biggest in the world. The park's attractions are based on the city's Guinness race, with the world's highest death circle and the fastest roller coaster ever. The Ferrari World is always open and the ticket costs 295 dhs for adults and 230 dhs for children (respectively 71 and 55 euros).
Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi for Formula 1 lovers
Let's stay on the Ferrari theme to discover a place that Formula 1 lovers in Abu Dhabi can't miss. This is the Yas Marina Circuit, located on Yas Island and the setting for the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Opened in 2009, it is undoubtedly one of the most visited places of interest in Abu Dhabi : here you can try your hand at tailor-made races or attend one of the many motor events that the circuit offers all year round.
Heritage Village of Abu Dhabi
What was Abu Dhabi like before it became a real city of the future? To find that out, you really need to visit the Heritage Village: crossing the threshold of this structure you will be transported back in time to get to know the life of the Bedouins before the modernization of the city, as well as the craftsmanship typical of the manufacturing tradition of the Emirates. The entrance is free and inside you can also find a beautiful shop of local spices.
Other things to see in Abu Dhabi
It would take several pages to write down everything you can do and see in Abu Dhabi. The city has a lot to offer, with experiences dedicated to every type of interest. Horse lovers, whether they are experts or beginners, can enjoy a day at the trot, perhaps directly on the beach.
Golfers can't miss the incredible golf parks that the city has to offer: from the park on Yas Island, designed by architect Kyle Phillps, to the Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, where they can play while admiring the city's skyscrapers; last but not least, the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, awarded by Golf World magazine as one of the best golf courses in the world.
Cycling enthusiasts can also enjoy a bike ride to discover the city, starting first of all from Corniche Beach. If you're more adventurous, perhaps you can embark on a desert excursion: from off-road trips to real safaris, there are also dune explorations and sandboarding activities!
What about art? Art lovers will have to plan a visit to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the first true universal museum in the Arab world. 92000 square meters where you can admire ancient and modern works in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District. In short, every desire in Abu Dhabi has the power to become reality.
Sea in Abu Dhabi: on the beach with a view of the skyscrapers
Is Abu Dhabi a suitable destination for those who want to go to the beach? Yes, indeed: in fact, Corniche Beach is waiting for tourists and visitors, a beach several kilometers long on which you can enjoy a bit of beach life, including umbrellas. Supervised by lifeguards, Corniche Beach is divided into three areas: one for families, one for singles and, finally, the public beach. It is a Blue Flag beach, which makes it an excellent destination both from an environmental point of view and in terms of the recreational facilities.
To visit Abu Dhabi - as well as all the United Arab Emirates - you must be in possession of a passport with a residual validity of at least six months. From 2015, in fact, the UAE visa is no longer required for European citizens who intend to stay in the United Arab Emirates for up to 90 consecutive days (every 180).
When to visit Abu Dhabi? What is the climate of the capital of the Arab Emirates and, above all, what are the temperatures visitors can expect? Abu Dhabi's climate is sub-tropical and temperatures are high all year round. The probability of rain and precipitation is very low.
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly from late autumn to spring: from November to April (about), in fact, temperatures range between 21 and 34°C, these are the months in which visitors can enjoy the sun without suffering from the extreme heat, which affects the city during the summer months.