With some clever planning, one day in Abu Dhabi provides enough time to dip your toes into the city’s top attractions: from admiring its incredible architecture to experiencing the thrills of its leisure attractions, plus the beauty of its desert and Gulf-side setting. Here are some ways to pack the best of the city into a single day.
Mornings are ideal for sightseeing to avoid the extremes of the UAE’s heat. For an easy overview, take a hop-on hop-off bus tour, sitting on the open-air upper deck or the air-conditioned interior. Check out the palm-lined Corniche, Emirates Palace, and other sights, and disembark to explore further at any of the route’s 24 stops. Or go for a more traditional coach excursion with visits to the dazzling Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Heritage Village to discover the city’s Bedouin roots. Alternatively, focus on Abu Dhabi’s modern architecture, with a panoramic drive around its innovative skyscrapers and ecofriendly Masdar City.
Abu Dhabi is big on action-packed entertainment, and the afternoons are perfect for enjoying them. Make tracks for Ferrari World, the world’s biggest indoor theme park, to experience the planet’s fastest roller coaster and other thrilling rides. For mellower fun, cool off at the family-friendly water slides and pools of Yas Waterworld, or take a thrilling spin around the Yas Marina Formula 1 Circuit in a 3000cc race car. For something even more leisurely, head for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This beautiful contemporary museum showcases important Western and Eastern art under a spectacular, sunlight-filtering dome.
Saving Abu Dhabi’s desert until the evening lets you enjoy it at its most magical. Join a desert tour that includes dune bashing, camel riding, and sandboarding before a barbecue dinner and live shows at a Bedouin-style camp. Or up the romance with a candlelit dinner for two at a luxe retreat in the dunes. You may prefer a more mellow sunset boat ride around Abu Dhabi’s mangroves, watching for gazelles and birds in the golden light. Other options include Arabian dhow (traditional sailing boat) dinner cruises along the city’s creeks—perfect for admiring the floodlit skyline.