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Destinations

Abu Dhabi: A Guide to Popular Attractions, Flights and Hotels in the Emarati Capital

Destination Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the seat of the Government of the United Arab Emirates and its Capital. It is the second most populous city in the UAE (after Dubai) with 1.4 million people including residents and expatriates.

In the early 20th century, Abu Dhabi was known for its pearl trade. Divers would go down into the sea without any equipment. They would hold their breaths to one minute to a minute and a half while they searched for oysters.

Abu Dhabi found its wealth with the discovery of oil in the 1930s and further exploration in the 50s. Even today, Abu Dhabi possesses more than 90% of the entire UAE’s oil and gas reserves – which makes it the wealthiest emirate in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi has been trying to diversify its revenue from Oil and Gas to Tourism, Real Estate, Retail and other sectors. Its immense wealth has allowed Abu Dhabi to quickly scale up in many businesses and sectors it desires to invest in.
A prominent example is the founding and expansion of Etihad Airways is into one of the largest airlines in the world within a span of 10 years.

Abu Dhabi aims to attract tourists and visitors of every type. It, therefore, has a comprehensive list of attractions aimed to maximize tourist revenue. Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall, Shaikh Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace, Beach Rotana, Ferrari World and Yas Island that is mainly developed with the aim of raising tourist revenue, are some of the many attractions in Abu Dhabi, to name a few.

Flights to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is served by Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), located about 30km east of the city. Some thirty airlines fly to Abu Dhabi daily mostly serving the rest of the Middle East and South Asia. The bulk of destinations in the Americas, Europe and Australia are served by Abu Dhabi owned Etihad Airways.

Abu Dhabi International is the hub for Etihad Airways, which carries the bulk of passenger traffic through the airport. Etihad has quickly grown into one of the world’s largest airlines thanks to a budget where money is not an option.

Etihad Airways provides flights from Abu Dhabi to more than 80 destinations in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Australia, North America and Europe.

Notably, Etihad has no flights connecting to Dubai. However, Etihad does provide its economy passengers with a bus service to and from Dubai. You will need to have a booking reference number and book your seat on the Etihad Express at https://www.etihad.com/en-us/plan-and-book/book-etihad-express/.

Ralf Roletschek [GFDL or CC BY 3.0]

The Etihad Express bus connects Abu Dabhi International Airport to the Mazaya Shopping Centre in downtown Dubai. It takes one hour and forty minutes, 01:40h, to make the 120km trip.

In symmetry, passengers flying Emirates, wishing to go to (or come from) Abu Dhabi, can take the Emirates Airport Shuttle service with connects Dubai International Airport to the Emirates Airline office in Abu Dhabi’s Al Khalidiya District. Emirates Passengers can reserve their seat on the airport shuttle service at https://www.emirates.com/english/before-you-fly/dubai-international-airport/shuttle-service-dubai.aspx

Flying Business Class to Abu Dhabi

If you are taking a long-haul flight to Abu Dhabi from an international destination like Toronto, Dublin, London Heathrow, New York City, Sydney or Manila, you will expect to be in your seat for 7 hours to 14 hours non-stop.

Click here to learn why a Business class fare may be worth the extra especially when flying long haul.

Bram Steeman [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Etihad Airways has consistently aimed to provide superior service to its First and Business class passengers. It is one of the few airlines in the world that provides a chauffeur service to its business class passengers connecting Abu Dhabi International Airport to/from anywhere in the UAE. See https://www.etihad.com/en-us/plan-and-book/book-chauffeur/.

Business class passengers to/from Abu Dhabi flying Etihad Airways have free access to their Premium Lounges in Abu Dhabi and five other locations in New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Paris and Dublin.

There is also an Arrivals lounge outside the customs and immigration area in Abu Dhabi International Airport available to Business Class Passengers. This gives you an opportunity to freshen up before exiting the airport and being driven to anywhere in the UAE by an Etihad Chauffeur.

Economy Passengers can also avail the facilities of Etihad Premium Lounges for a fee. See https://www.etihad.com/en-us/experience-etihad/lounges/pay-for-lounge-access/.

Where can you buy cheap airline tickets
to Abu Dhabi?

Finding discount airline tickets is a job in itself. Airline ticket prices are sensitive to time – when the ticket was purchased and the time of the flight. External factors such as the price of oil and competition also affect airline ticket prices.

Fortunately, there are discount airfare search engines like Jetradar that save a huge amount of time by comparing other discount airfare websites helping you buy airline tickets for cheap

Note that all prices are stated in US Dollars and the fares initially exclude baggage fees.

You can also use Jetradar to find cheap business class flights to Abu Dhabi. To maximize savings, Tuesday mornings tend to be the best times to search business class discount airfare. Airlines usually announce deals on Monday evenings and ticket prices climb higher as the week progresses into Friday.

Abu Dhabi Hotels

Some of Best Hotels in Abu Dhabi include the opulent Emirates Palace Hotel, Khalidiya Palace on the Beach by Rotana and the Jumeirah Hotel at Etihad Towers.

Find more Popular Abu Dhabi hotels at hotellook.com.

Cheap Hotels in Abu Dhabi

Finding a hotel on a budget should not mean making sacrifices. You can find hotels with reasonable rates in modest settings even close to Abu Dhabi City Centre.

Find more Abu Dhabi hotels for cheap at hotellook.com.

Top Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World

Alberto-g-rovi [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

A Ferrari branded theme park – the first of its kind in the world. It features the fastest roller coaster in the world – Formula Rossa – which can reach speeds up to 240km/hr. You can experiences forces from 1.7G to 4.8G throughout the 2.2km ride.

Other adrenaline pumping rides include interactive Scuderia motion simulators, go carts and a roller-coaster called “Flying Aces” which has the world’s tallest non-inverting loop.

Skip the lines and buy your tickets to Ferrari World in Abu Dabhi from Get Your Guide.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a satellite museum of the world famous La Louvre en Paris.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is one the largest art museums in the Middle East. It aims to bridge the gap between art forms of the west with those of the east.

Art loaned from around the world and special exhibitions also take place due to the connection to La Louvre.

You can skip the lines a the ticket booth and purchase a voucher from Get your guide with will then be exchanged for the actual tickets at the main entrance to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.

Desert Safari with BBQ, Camel Ride & Sandboarding

Johnwick415 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular tourist activity in the UAE is to take a Land Cruiser and go dune-bashing in the desert. This is then followed by Sandboarding, Camel rides and more fun in the sand.

At the end of the day, you are invited to have some warm coffee and dates at a desert camp (shared with other tourist groups) which is followed by a BBQ buffet and a puff of sisha.

Click here to book your desert Safari in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. You will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel location in Abu Dhabi.


Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus

This sightseeing bus tour takes you on a guded tour of about 26 different stops across Abu Dhabi.

You can hop on and hop off at any stop and further Abu Dhabi’s iconic sights at your own pace.

The buses stop at locations such as the grand Shaikh Zayed Mosque, Emirates Palace, Marina Mall, Ferrari World, Al Hosn Fort and more.

Click here to 2 day or 5 day ticket for the Hop-on Hop-Off Abu Dhabi Sightseeing tour.

Speedboat Sightseeing Tour

Abu Dhabi is a city of islands and many areas can be easily accessed by boat.

On the water, you can have an unobstructed view of all the sights Abu Dhabi has to offer – the massive Emirates Palace hotel, incredible views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Presidential Palace, Al Maqtaa Fort, and more.

The guided speedboat sightseeing tour follows a trail around Al Lulu Island. It take you along the Abu Dhabi Corhiche, towards Al Mina – Abu Dhabi Port – where you will see wooden dhows sail out to sea.

The boats can reach incredible speeds – but are safe and operated by licensed navigators.

Click here to book your tour of Abu Dhabi by Speed boat.

Please note pregnant women and children under 5 years of age are not permitted to ride the speedboats out of concerns for safety.

Yas Marina Circuit Venue Tour

Rob Alter [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Yas Island track is home to Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 and Grand Prix. It is located just south of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

A 2-hour guided tour of the Yas Marina Circuit is conducted in an air-conditioned bus. You will learn about the different race cars the latest F1 models and see what the spectators see from the Du Arena View.

If there are no events happening, the bus will drive along the race track, passing areas like the Drag Strip, Kartzone and Shams Tower.

Other highlights of the tour include access to the Race Control room, the F1 team pits and the garages for a behind the scenes experience of an F1 race

Click here to book your place on the Yas Marina Circuit guided bus tour in Abu Dhabi.

For additional thrills, you can ride as a passenger on a Yas Radical SST and experience the exhilaration of hairpin turns. See https://www.getyourguide.com/abu-dhabi-l494/yas-radical-sst-passenger-experience-t71613/

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