Postcards & Passports

One Day in Abu Dhabi: Perfect Guide

Abu Dhabi, the Emirate city of the United Arab Emirates, is usually overshadowed by the more glitzy and glamorous Dubai. Most people do not know that it is the capital of UAE and the largest Emirate of the country. Abu Dhabi is most popular for its amazing cultural attractions. Apart from this, the city offers several fun attractions too. While you can spend several interesting days exploring the city, it is possible to see some special attractions with just one day in Abu Dhabi.  Here are two one-day itineraries for Abu Dhabi so you can pick the one that interests you the most…

Option 1 for One Day in Abu Dhabi

Sunrise Desert Safari: 5 AM

Before you explore the city, head to the place where it all started: the desert. The sunrise desert safari happens early in the morning and gives you the chance to witness a glorious sunrise. The transformation of the dark desert into a golden hued one is mesmerizing and would kick-start your Abu Dhabi trip like nothing else. Apart from the sunrise, you would also get to enjoy some adventurous activities like dune bashing, camel riding, sandboarding and quad biking. The sunrise desert safari promises great views and at the same time mind-blowing experiences too.

Hours: 5 AM to 9 AM

Location: Al Khatim Desert, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Duration: 4 hours

Tickets: AED 1000

Louvre Abu Dhabi: 10 AM

Art lovers can start their memorable day in Abu Dhabi with a visit to the elegantly designed Louvre Abu Dhabi. Located on Saadiyat Island, the beautiful structure of the Louvre Museum, which was built by Jean Nouvel, is one of the main reasons people visit this museum. However, the exhibits in the numerous galleries in the museum are also worthy of the visit. Louvre Abu Dhabi houses art works from the Neo-Classical Age to the modern times and aims to fill the gap that exists between the art of the Eastern and Western worlds.

Hours: 10 AM to 8 PM (Sat – Weds) and 10 AM to 10 PM (Thurs and Fri) – Monday closed

Location: Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Duration: 2 hours

Tickets: AED 60

Qasr Al Watan: 12:30 PM

A new entry to the numerous architectural landmarks of Abu Dhabi is Qasr Al Watan or the Presidential Palace. Qasr Al Watan pays homage to the Arabian design, artistry and architecture. The place has some of the most opulent and iconic rooms, including the Great Hall, the majlis, the library, etc. While the architecture of the place is mesmerizing, another impressive thing about this place is the intricate design of the interior. Moreover, a visit to Qasr Al Watan is also an educational experience.  There are manuscripts, artifacts, etc. that give you a glimpse of the culture and heritage of the UAE. You also get to know about the governing values and traditions of the country at Qasr Al Watan.

Hours: 10 AM to 8 PM

Location: Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Duration: 30 minutes

Tickets: AED 60

Abu Dhabi Heritage Village: 2:00 PM

If you want to know more about the history, culture and heritage of this Emirate, the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is the place you must definitely visit. Here, you will see the recreation of an Arabian oasis village with Bedouin style homes, traditional souks and an ancient mosque. You will also get to see several artisans indulging in glass blowing, fabric weaving, pottery, etc. These artisans conduct workshops where the guests get the chance to learn the interesting skills of pottery, spinning, metal work and weaving. You can enjoy some shopping at the spice shop that sells handmade soaps, dried herbs and several other things that would be perfect souvenirs.

Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM (Sat to Thurs) and 3:30 PM to 9 PM (Fri)

Location: Near Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi Corniche Breakwater, UAE

Duration: 1 hour

Tickets: Free

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: 4:00 PM

As the day nears sunset, it is time to visit one of the most magnificent structures of Abu Dhabi: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Popularly known as the Grand Mosque, this mosque is the largest in the UAE and can hold around 41,000 worshippers at a time. Consisting of 82 domes, the entire structure is made of white marble with beautiful, intricately carved designs. The architecture of the place is the combination of Mughal, Persian and Alexandrian styles. The mosque is also home to the largest carpet as well as the biggest crystal chandelier in the world. An important thing to know is that it is mandatory for women to wear a black abaya, which is the traditional attire of Muslim women in the UAE. Men should also wear full-pants and full-sleeved shirt while visiting the Grand Mosque.

Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM (Sat to Thurs) and 4:30 PM to 10 PM (Fri)

Location: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Duration: 1-2 hours

Tickets: Free

Abu Dhabi Corniche: 5:30 PM

After a tiring day of sightseeing, head to Abu Dhabi Corniche to enjoy a relaxing evening along with an amazing sunset. The Abu Dhabi Corniche is an 8 km stretch that includes a white sand beach; numerous cafes and restaurants; parks for kids; walking, jogging and cycling tracks and fountains. The beach is a great place to hang out and watch the beautiful sunset and the turquoise waters. You can rent private deck beds if you want to enjoy the beauty of the Corniche and the beach in private. You can also go on a dhow cruise along the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Hours: 8 AM to 8 PM (Corniche Beach)

Location: Stretching from Hotel Hilton to Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street

Duration: 1-2 hours

Tickets: Free

Ray’s Bar at Etihad Towers: 8:00 PM

Etihad Towers is most popular for its Observation Deck @ 300, which is the highest observation deck in the city. However, if you want to enjoy the awesome nightlife of the city along with the views, you have to come a few floors down to Ray’s Bar, on the 62nd floor of the Etihad Towers. Ray’s Bar gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Apart from this, European cuisine and fantastic tunes of the DJ await you at Ray’s Bar.

Hours: 6 PM to 3 AM

Location: Level 62, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche Road W, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Duration: 3-4 hours

Tickets: Approximately AED 365 for two people

Option 2 for One Day in Abu Dhabi

The above itinerary would be perfect for those who love culture but can be a bit too serious for those who want to see the fun side of Abu Dhabi. This would be especially true if you are travelling with your kids. Abu Dhabi is home to several premium amusement parks where you can spend your entire day from morning to evening, enjoying the various attractions. Here are some of the theme parks you can visit in Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari World: Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is an exclusive F1 racing theme park that also houses the fastest roller coaster in the world, the Formula Rossa.

Yas Waterworld: Located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, Yas Waterworld is an Emirati-themed water park with amazing rides, slides, pools and other attractions.

Warner Bros. World: Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is the first of its kind not only in the UAE but also in the Middle East. The park has rides and attractions based on the characters, shows and movies produced by Warner Bros.

Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a part of the UAE, which is located in the Middle East, which has an extreme climate during summer. The months between June and October are hot in Abu Dhabi, especially during July and August. Hence, it is best to avoid visiting Abu Dhabi during these months. On the other hand, during the winter months between November and February, Abu Dhabi enjoys a pleasant climate, making it the ideal time to visit the city.

Tips for Travellers before Visiting Abu Dhabi

It is extremely crucial to know all about the place you are going to visit to ensure that you have a problem-free holiday:

  • You can easily find a cab that would take you from Abu Dhabi airport to the city. If you are travelling to Abu Dhabi from Dubai or any other Emirate, you can either take a cab or a public bus. Both are comfortable.
  • The fastest and the easiest way of commuting within the city is by cabs.
  • Abu Dhabi may appear modern to you in every way but the locals here are conservative. Hence, as a matter of respect, dress modestly whenever you are in a public place.
  • Refrain from any kind of public display of affection, as such behaviour is not only frowned upon but also illegal in the UAE.
  • Drinking and driving is a punishable offence, even if you did not have more than a sip.
  • Be extra careful while taking pictures of public or government buildings and locals, especially women and children. Always ask permission before clicking photos of the local women.
  • Never speak ill about or badmouth the ruler of Abu Dhabi or the royal family. The royal family, especially the King, is deeply respected.
  • To save time and money, book the tickets of the attractions you want to visit online.

These one day itineraries are just a sample of things to do in Abu Dhabi if you only have a day to spare. You are free to replace these with the places you find more interesting. You can also change the order of the attractions you visit, as per your convenience. Whichever sights you plan to visit in Abu Dhabi, you will undoubtedly enjoy the best 24 hours in the capital Emirate, especially if you are a culture lover.

Guest Author Bio


Priya Ghatol

Priya Ghatol is an avid travel writer who specializes in adventurous travel writing. Her blogs and articles give deep insight about various tourist places and act as a perfect travel guide for someone who is traveling to a place for the first time. Priya has exemplary research, writing, and editing skills which make her easily match the reader’s intellect and interest. She has blogged extensively about her travel experience while traveling to several places like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Europe, Dubai, USA, Canada, etc.

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