I have to admit it, the United Arab Emirates did not steal my heart. It must be said, however, that they are certainly not boring or lacking in identity, as I have repeatedly heard!
In Abu Dhabi you can immerse yourself in the beautiful culture and visit the brand new Louvre Abu Dhabi or measure your fears in the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The city, of course, has nothing to envy to his sister Dubai!
What to see in Abu Dhabi: you will remember about my visit to Dubai and the many contrasts between past and present of which I have spoken in this article. Very much like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is also a city full of contrasts. In fact, within a short distance from each other, you can find one of the most characteristic sites of Islamic worship in the world, the marvellous Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the sumptuous Emirates Palace, a luxury hotel that has become the icon of the city!
The ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi is from November to April: Abu Dhabi climate is sub-tropical with high temperatures throughout the whole year. Except for the month of February, the wettest ever, rainfall is very rare. The best time to visit the city is November – March, when the temperatures are more bearable and you will not suffer the heat that clouds the city during the summer months.
How to get to Abu Dhabi: if Abu Dhabi is your final holiday destination you can reach it on any scheduled flight. The city has an airport, with numerous international flights. If instead, you have decided to spend your holidays in Dubai and only visit Abu Dhabi very quickly (1 or 2 days is ideal), you can use the bus service from IBN Battuta – Dubai. The price is 50 aed per person a/r (around 12$) and the journey takes a couple of hours. Alternatively, the taxi service is also quite cheap (a return trips costs approx. $120).
Move around by taxi: in Abu Dhabi, the taxi is the most widely used vehicle and prices are very modest. The bus service is virtually non-existent and totally unclear with no route maps or info points.
Where to sleep without spending too much: for my brief stay in Abu Dhabi I chose Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan, a 4-star excellent for its value for money and the fabulous location: in the heart of Abu Dhabi and just a few minutes from the sea by taxi. A clean hotel, with a friendly and polite staff, easily accessible and with a wonderful outdoor pool in the rooftop of the building. From here you can easily reach many places of interest in the city such as the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center and the Great Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
What to see in Abu Dhabi? I’ll tell you right away. Start your visit with a walk along the promenade and a tasty breakfast in one of the many little bars you will meet along the way. Walking along the Corniche of Abu Dhabi, an 8 km long walk, you will reach a wonderful white beach and where you can lie under the scorching sun of the United Arab Emirates for some relaxing time in search of a tan.
Along the Corniche of Abu Dhabi you will find the icon of the city, the Emirates Palace, a luxury hotel that can be visited without having to book. As soon as you open the front door you will be amazed to see the amount of gold and crystals that adorn the hall of the hotel. Until a few years ago, a gold vending machine was set up inside. The gold machine has recently been moved to the Dubai Mall.
Among the many suggestions to give on what to see in Abu Dhabi, you can certainly not miss the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. A unique construction of its kind built on a very particular location, surrounded by the waters of the ocean, and with an impressive architecture. After being baked in the sun, it is here that me and my beardy boy spent our first afternoon in Abu Dhabi!
The brand-new Louvre Abu Dhabi, inaugurated on November 8, 2017, has become a media “case” even before its opening to the public. Perhaps because no one would have expected the opening of such an important museum as the Louvre, in a city so relatively new and little known as Abu Dhabi. Or maybe because of the fear that it had not been good enough to deserve an important and well-known name such as Louvre. On the other hand, not everyone is ready to accept the idea of a second Louvre in the world!
It must be said that the Louvre Abu Dhabi will hardly be able to match the fame of its Parisian equivalent, for the evident inferiority of the art pieces we find there, but it certainly deserves a visit especially for its amazing architectural beauty.
Start your second day in Abu Dhabi with a visit to the wonderful Sheikh Zayed Mosque: a structure designed, precisely by Sheikh Zayed, as a union between the cultural diversity of the Islamic world and the historical and modern values of architecture and art. The mosque is the largest place of worship in the United Arab Emirates and during the Islamic prayer on Friday it is host more than 41,000 people.
The admission to this marvelous Islamic collision is absolutely free (avoid Friday, the day of prayer). Do not forget that you will need specific clothing to enter the mosque. Long trousers, long-sleeved shirt and a hat are required for women. If you do not have a hat, you will be given a tunic.
If you are looking for some adrenaline, in the afternoon you can go to the fabulous Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: a 86,000 m² playground, equivalent to about 7 football pitches, located in the small Yas island! Ferrari World Abu Dhabi rollercoasters exceed all possible limits: from the highest lap of death, to the most crazy acceleration of the globe! Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world, has the same gravitational force that would be felt if an F1 car braked at full speed. The price of the entrance to the playground is 295 aed (about € 70) but you can save 10-15% if you book online.
After leaving the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, before returning to the hotel or saying goodbye to this amazing city, take a trip to Yas island with the Yas Express (a free minibus that goes around the famous F1 circuit Yas marina). In the harbour area you will find lots of little places for dinner!
Abu Dhabi, along with its sister Dubai are two unique and very unique cities. I would almost dare to say absurd, in the positive sense of the word. I really hope you now have an idea of what to see in Abu Dhabi!
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