Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

WHAT TO DO IN ABU DHABI IN ONE DAY

Where to go and what to see in Abu Dhabi trip from Dubai

BEST 1 DAY IN ABU DHABI ITINERARY 

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a great place to visit. Whether you get there as a day trip from Dubai or have a layover in Abu Dhabi, here are the best things to do in Abu Dhabi one day.

Although it’s bigger than Dubai, it’s much quieter and has fewer attractions. But that does not mean it is boring! Not at all. 1 day in Abu Dhabi is a good amount to see the main sights – and if you can stay longer, even better!

Abu Dhabi in a day, UAE, Arzo Travels

TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN ABU DHABI

Before talking about your 1-day Abu Dhabi itinerary, here are some tips for your trip.

Do´s and Don´ts in Abu Dhabi

  • Any intimacy between couples should be reduced to a minimum (even holding hands) and is forbidden in some places (mosques etc.).
  • Never drink alcohol in public (except in restaurants etc.) and do not get totally drunk.
  • Follow the dress code. Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative than Dubai, but you can show some skin (arms, legs), but my tip is always to respect the culture and religion, and don’t forget that it is not a western country. Check out my guide on the dress code for Dubai.

Disclaimer: This post also contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my links (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Is Abu Dhabi Safe for Tourists?

Keep in mind that the UAE is neither a democracy nor transparent. We do not know about crime rates or problems. However, I think Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, is safe in terms of crime and terror. You do not have to worry about being robbed or attacked or whatever. Exercise common sense and you will be fine.

Solo Female Travel in Abu Dhabi

I visited Abu Dhabi several times as a solo female traveler and absolutely loved it. Abu Dhabi is safe – for female and male travelers, for solo and family travel. As always, be aware of your surroundings, but you should not be afraid to travel to this Islamic country (as I also think Dubai is great for solo female travel).

Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi For a Day

I recommend visiting between late October and March, as it gets boiling in summer (from April to the beginning of October).

  • In December, however, some days can be really foggy. I experienced it myself and it was hard to do sightseeing as I wished to do. Luckily, I had seen many parts of Abu Dhabi before, but it can be a bummer for Abu Dhabi first-time visitors.

If you visit the UAE (or any Islamic country), you probably should avoid the time during Ramadan as well.

  • During this time, which lasts about 4 weeks, Muslims are not allowed to drink or eat during the day, which also affects tourists as some restaurants are not open during the day.
  • Drinking and eating in public is not forbidden but not welcome. 
  • There is also a stricter dress code and less alcohol available.
  • In 2023, Ramadan is from 22nd March to 21st April.

Where to Stay For a Night

If you stay overnight, then I have some hotel recommendations for you. Though hotels in Abu Dhabi seem a bit more affordable than in Dubai, it is not a budget destination.

How to Get to Abu Dhabi

1 day in Abu Dhabi most likely means you will get there from Dubai as a day trip, or you will have a stopover. Here are tips on how to get to the city center from either Abu Dhabi airport or Dubai.

From Abu Dhabi Airport

Abu Dhabi’s airport is close to the city center. So even if you only have an eight to ten-hour layover, you can still visit many great places in Abu Dhabi.

  • There is public transportation from the airport in Abu Dhabi. Buses take about 40 minutes and cost around 1€.
  • If you take a taxi from the airport, you have to pay $6-20 to the first stop (depending on the exact location).

From Dubai to Abu Dhabi

There are two main ways to visit Abu Dhabi from Dubai – do an independent tour or book a guided tour.

Independent Tour

You can explore Abu Dhabi by public transportation, taxi, guided tours, or a rental car. If you stay a full day in Abu Dhabi, an independent trip (by public transportation and taxi or a car) is the best option. 

  • Depending on your exact location, a taxi ride might cost around 70€ ($75) and takes about 90 minutes.
  • A public bus is much cheaper, but it will take more time, and you are less flexible.
  • You can also rent a car and drive to Abu Dhabi – the main highway is quite easy to drive. In Abu Dhabi, driving might become a bit more stressful, though it is nothing compared to driving in Dubai.

Tours From Dubai to Abu Dhabi

There are different tours that take you from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. The choices seem endless. Though those itineraries might not be 100% the way you want them to be, you can see which of the activities mentioned in the tour descriptions are the most appealing to you. Many tours have bundled a couple of great activities in Abu Dhabi.

PLACES TO VISIT IN ABU DHABI IN 1 DAY

If you have only one day in Abu Dhabi, my tip is not to waste time and start with the highlight first.

Grand Mosque / Sheikh Zayed Mosque

I begin with the most awe-inspiring place in Abu Dhabi: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi - best to see in few hours in Abu Dhabi
@shutterstock

The Grand Mosque is located towards the inland side of Abu Dhabi Island, about 20 kilometers from the airport. It is probably the most beautiful building in the world. Even if you are not religious or Muslim, I still highly recommend visiting it.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates

It’s lovely during the day and at night! If you want to feel a special atmosphere, you can visit during prayers. When the muezzin calls for prayers you get a feeling of this exceptional experience. During the prayers, however, you cannot enter the prayer room itself.

  • There is a dress code. Females have to cover their heads, legs, and arms. Men also have to cover their arms and legs. You can either use your own clothes or rent clothes for free. There is also a changing room.
  • It is always open to the public except on Friday mornings or on special occasions.
  • There is no entrance fee.
  • I would plan one to three hours for a visit. Here are my travel tips for the Grand Mosque.

Emirates Palace

I would then head to the Emirates Palace, another must in 1 day in Abu Dhabi (at least to me). The Emirates Palace is one of the most expensive hotels in the world, and it is absolutely stunning!

2 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Abi Dhabi @shutterstock
@shutterstock

Unlike Burj al-Arab, where only overnight guests or people with a written reservation for a restaurant/spa can enter, you can visit Emirates even if you are not a guest. The guards, at least in my experience, are very nice and will let you in so that you can take a look at the amazing, stunning lobby or have a meal or some coffee in one of the numerous restaurants. Of course, even the food/drinks are not very cheap. 

  • Buses run between the Emirates Palace and the Grand Mosque. However, it can be a little bit difficult on public transport as it is not yet perfect in Abu Dhabi. An alternative is taking a cab.

Heritage Village

From the Emirates Palace, you could head to Heritage Village! It is a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village that gives you a little feeling of ancient Arabia. Abu Dhabi layover

Here you will also find public workshops where craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills such as metalwork, pottery, weaving, and spinning yarn. It’s quite small, but it’s worth a quick stop.

  • It’s located at the Marina Mall, which is a great place to have a quick lunch or get some retail therapy.
  • Open daily from 11:00 am – 11:00 pm and it is free of charge.

Corniche Walk and Beach

One of my favorite things to do in Abu Dhabi is to take a walk along the Corniche. It is a lovely promenade and includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, restaurants, cafés, and the public Corniche Beach. If you’re fit you might want to walk the whole eight-kilometer stretch of the promenade.

Corniche in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock
@shutterstock

In my opinion, Abu Dhabi’s beaches are nicer than the ones in Dubai. Here you can enjoy some time at the beach as there are sections that are public and free to visit. It’s lovely to relax after the walk whether you sit down on a bench or at the (sandy) beach.

If you enjoy spending time at the beach, then you can probably be half a day there and have the time fly by. If you are not that much into beaches, you can just see them in an hour or so. 

So, all of the above activities actually will take between 4-8 hours, so you can see a few more attractions. 

Louvre Museum

Louvre Museum is a beautiful museum with stunning architecture that opened in late 2017 – add it to your one-day Abu Dhabi itinerary. Abu Dhabi in a few hoursThe museum is an art and civilization museum and is approximately 24,000 square meters in size, with 8,000 square meters of galleries which makes it the largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula. This is not a place to visit in an hour or so, but you will probably need more time to explore it. Apart from the art displayed, the interior also looks incredible.

In case you might be wondering why it is named after the famous Louvre in Paris – this one is a separate museum, although the two are linked by a thirty-year branding and training agreement.

    • It is located on Saadiyat Island Cultural District, which is further away. It takes about 15-20 minutes to get there from Corniche by car or 35 minutes from the airport.
    • It can get busy at times, you probably should book your tickets in advance.

Abu Dhabi at Night

If you stay a full day in Abu Dhabi and spend the evening/night in Abu Dhabi, then you have several options for the evening.

      • You can always go back to Emirates Palace, where the area is illuminated very nicely after dark.
      • Or you could go to Downtown Abu Dhabi, which is not very far from the beach section. Here you have more shopping areas, restaurants, and cafes. Plus, it’s a fab place to stop for dinner!
      • Alternatively, you can do a desert safari and spend the evening in the beautiful desert.

Alternative: Desert Safari

I am a big fan of desert safaris – I have enjoyed a few in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi, and highly recommend doing at least one in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi relax

Normally, the evening tours include a hotel pick-up in the afternoon and drop-off in Abu Dhabi before midnight. The one I did, and this goes for most desert safaris, included dune bashing, star gazing, a belly dance show, and a great BBQ (with lots of options for vegetarians and vegans).

HOWEVER, with only one day in Abu Dhabi, you need to make sure you have time for it because it will not allow you to see many other sights/places on a typical 1-day Abu Dhabi itinerary.

Alternative: Visit a Theme Park

Ferrari World on Yas Island is another top attraction – many people actually come to Abu Dhabi just to visit Ferrari World. It is situated close to the airport (about 10 kilometers / 6 miles) and if you have a layover for a few hours, you could still visit.

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock
Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock

Ferrari World is a mostly indoor theme park – it is the world’s first Ferrari-themed park and features the world’s fastest roller coaster. It is an ideal trip for those who either love Ferraris, and cars in general, or those who are totally into rollercoasters. However, you will not have much time to visit other places if you head to Ferrari World.

Some tours from Dubai have the Grand Mosque and a trip to Ferrari World as one tour.

      • To check out day tours from Dubai to Ferrari World, click here.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON ONE DAY ABU DHABI TRIP

One day in Abu Dhabi is not a lot of time – but it will allow you to get a good idea of what the city is about. You can visit some of the main attractions and see the most beautiful places in a day.  I hope these have given you some great inspiration for what to do in Abu Dhabi in 1 day – whether you explore Abu Dhabi as a layover or a day trip from Dubai.

As you have seen, I have added tours here for you. I personally love GetYourGuide and use them regularly for my own tours. 

PIN ME FOR LATER – ONE DAY IN ABU DHABI

1 day in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Arzo Travels

Safe Travels, Arzo

    Where to Stay in Abu Dhabi – Tips For Best Areas & All Budgets

    Abu Dhabi best places to stay - where to stay in Abu Dhabi

    Best Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi

    Are you planning a trip to Abu Dhabi and wondering where to stay in Abu Dhabi? Here are my personal picks – the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi for each budget.

    While nearly everyone knows Dubai, the actual capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi is lesser known to the extent that, until not long ago, it was still a hidden gem.

    This has changed over the last few years and Abu Dhabi is becoming more and more popular with tourists. There are quite a lot of things to do in Abu Dhabi – so it doesn’t come as a surprise that a lot of new hotels have been built.

    Things to Keep in Mind Before Booking Hotels in Abu Dhabi

    If you are looking for the perfect Abu Dhabi accommodation, keep reading to find your ideal hotel.

    When looking for the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, you need to keep a few things in mind.

    • First of all, of course, you have to consider your budget. Are you looking for a very affordable, mid-range, or luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi?
    • The second thing you have to keep in mind is whether you are looking for a family-friendly, beach, or business hotel in Abu Dhabi.
    • Your third consideration should be the location. While taking a taxi is quite cheap in Abu Dhabi, the public transport system there still isn’t fully developed. With this in mind, you need to think about which places you would like to visit if you don’t want to spend a fortune on taxi rides. 

    Abu Dhabi has several great areas to stay in, so here are some of my recommendations for you:

    Best Areas to Stay in Abu Dhabi 

    • Corniche
    • Saadiyat Island
    • Zaya Nurai Island
    • Yas Island
    • Near Grand Mosque

    For each area, you will find

    • Luxury Accommodations
    • Mid-Range Accommodations
    • Budget Accommodations

    READ MORE:

    DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU). MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

    Accommodations in Corniche in Abu Dhabi

    One of the most famous and best places to stay in Abu Dhabi is Corniche. Corniche is a beautiful and modern area right on the west coast of the United Arab Emirates – which boasts a new promenade.

    Corniche in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock
    @shutterstock

    There is still some construction work going on. Despite all of the development, it has a lovely beach (not all of the beaches are public, and some parts are only for hotel guests). There are hotels both directly on the beach and throughout the Corniche area.

    Getting to Corniche beach from this area is quick – you can either walk, take the bus or get a taxi. 

    Abu Dhabi’s most important landmark, the Grand Mosque, is about a twenty-minute drive away.

    Luxury Hotels  in Corniche – Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates Palace is one of the most famous and expensive hotels in the world. This luxurious 5* Kempinski hotel has 394 luxury rooms and suites, and it is one of the most iconic hotels in the region.

    2 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Abi Dhabi @shutterstock
    @shutterstock

    All guests are spoilt with views of the Persian Gulf or the Abu Dhabi skyline. Guests have several pools to relax, direct beach access (this area is, of course, a private section of the hotel), and there are several amazing restaurants with different cuisines.

    While there are many great and secluded areas, it changes once you step out of the hotel. It is busy and one of the best places to stay at. Especially at night, it gets busy and adds more beauty to this hotel and area.

    Luxury Hotels  in Corniche – Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers

    Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel is a multi-award-winning hotel located by the beach that provides stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, especially if you head up to the Observation Deck on the 74th floor.

    Usually, you have to pay to go and admire the panorama here as it is the highest observation point in Abu Dhabi, but if you’re a guest, it’s free.

    Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi
    @Pixabay

    The hotel consists of 382 luxurious rooms and suites, some world-class restaurants and bars, three swimming pools, and the hotel’s private beach.

    If that’s not enough for you, Avenue in Etihad Towers gives you a wide choice of high-end outlets if you’d like to do some shopping, and their Talise Spa is a great place to relax afterward.

    Luxury Hotels in Corniche – The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

    If you would like a view of the Corniche combined with top-class service, then St. Regis Abu Dhabi might be a good choice. As well as the stunning views, each of the hotel’s 283 rooms comes with complimentary butler service. best places to stay in Abu DhabiTheir popular Remede Spa provides various treatments and a nourishing menu of drinks and snacks, all in a serene location overlooking the hotel’s own 200-meter stretch of beach, the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf, and the hotel gardens.

    Mid-Range Hotels in Corniche – InterContinental Abu Dhabi

    Though a five-star hotel, InterContinental Abu Dhabi is definitely good value for the money, and thus, it is listed here as a mid-range hotel.

    The InterContinental also has a private beach! Many rooms provide great views of the marina and beachfront gardens to the guests, and there’s no shortage of restaurants to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that you love.

    What’s more, the hotel’s Bayshore Beach Club provides lots of activities, including water sports for those who are feeling active, an infinity pool, and a splash pool with slides that are great for kids.

    Mid-Range Hotels in Corniche – Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

    Another hotel overlooking the Corniche is Sofitel Abu Dhabi.

    This luxury 5-star hotel is just a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi airport. Included in your stay is using a shuttle bus to take you to Marina Mall, Yas Island, or directly to the beach. This makes it a good location to stay if you are looking for a nice hotel but do not want to spend a fortune.

    Its architecture and 280 rooms are designed with a modern feel and a French Art Deco twist. It also has all modern facilities such as free Wi-Fi, pool, gym, and spa and is very popular with couples.

    Budget Hotels in Corniche – Aparthotel Adagio Abu Dhabi

    Aparthotel Adagio boasts a central location in Abu Dhabi – in between the Grand Mosque and Corniche. Due to this handy location, you can be at many popular locations within a few minutes. It is known for being very clean, quiet, and spacious and shares the great pool and spa facilities with the Novotel hotel next door.

    Accommodations on Saadiyat Island

    With its many luxurious, expensive-looking properties, Saadiyat Island is one of the most beautiful areas in Abu Dhabi, and the beach is top-notch too and so are the hotels here. 

    Arzo Travels Abu Dhabi most beautiful places in Abu Dhabi

    A part of Saadiyat Island is public even though there is a 5€ ($6) charge for the day but the hotels here provide access to a private beach. If you want to enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches around in a gorgeous, secluded setting, Saadiyat Island has some of the best hotels in Abu Dhabi.

    One of the very few attractions in this area is the Louvre museum which opened at the end of 2017. This makes Saadiyat Island a quiet place and one of the best areas to relax.

    Luxury Hotels on Saadiyat Island- The St. Regis Saadiyat Island

    St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort is ideally located on the beachfront, ten minutes away from the city center and just 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport. Abu Dhabi and its best places to stayAs you can expect from its island location, St. Regis is known for being perfect for beach lovers, with its private beach being one of the best in the UAE. If this isn’t your cup of tea, it also has three outdoor pools and 5 restaurants.

    This hotel is one of the best in Abu Dhabi, and if you stay there, you will surely not be disappointed.

    Luxury Hotels on Saadiyat Island – Park Hyatt

    The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi is great for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. If you’re after a relaxing vacation, there are gardens surrounded by palm trees and one of the largest pools in Abu Dhabi.
    where to stay in Abu Dhabi

    For families, Camp Hyatt hosts fun and interactive activities for younger guests to enjoy while parents can take a break and enjoy the spa. It’s also near a range of nightlife! Plus, the staff is known to be extremely accommodating too, which we all know to be a significant detail!

    Accommodations on Zaya Nurai Island

    The most secluded and exclusive area to stay in is Zaya Nurai Island, which is a twelve-minute boat ride away. 

    Luxury Hotel on Zaya Nurai Island – Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Take it from me; Zaya Nurai Island is a gorgeous private island and definitely one of the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi. People, who don’t stay overnight, can also buy day tickets for beach and pool access. However, the resort is mostly for hotel guests, and the beaches are incredible!

    Private Pool at Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi

    There is lots to do, so you can easily stay for two nights and not get bored. You can try water skiing, jet skiing, or surfing and if you’re worn out from all of that there are restaurants, a spa, and several pools where you can relax, unwind and have fun.

    If you stay at the Zaya Nurai Resort, most rooms have their own private beach section and private pool. It doesn’t get much more secluded than this, even compared to other Abu Dhabi luxury hotels!

    Getting off the island is a little bit more difficult, so if you want to visit many other landmarks of Abu Dhabi, I recommend staying a maximum of two nights on Zaya Nurai Island and then checking in an Abu Dhabi hotel that is more centrally located.

    Accommodations on Yas Island

    Situated around 120 kilometers southwest of Dubai is Yas Island. Yas Island is home to some of the top hotels in Abu Dhabi and of Abu Dhabi’s Marina Circuit Ferrari World, one of the biggest theme parks in the world.

    The only downside is that it is further away from landmarks like the Emirates Palace, located in North Corniche.

    Luxury Hotels on Yas Island – W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island

    If you are a Formula 1 fan or petrol head, then you’ll love W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island. Located in Yas Island’s center, the hotel hovers over the Yas Marina Circuit, the favorite racetrack of many F1 legends.

    If you like to wake up to the sound of race cars whizzing around underneath you instead of songbirds, this is an enjoyable experience. After this, you’re really close to Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor theme park!

    Being in the heart of Yas Island, it’s also right by Yas Mall, Yas Beach, and Yas Waterworld, among many other great attractions. The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to all of the main attractions.

    Mid-Range Hotels on Yas Island – Radisson Blu Hotel Abu Dhabi

    Another Yas Island hotel, the Radisson Blu, is close to Abu Dhabi city center and only 15 minutes away from Abu Dhabi Airport.

    While it is still close to all of the Yas Island fast-car-related attractions, this hotel is known for being a little more tranquil than Yas Viceroy with its peaceful atmosphere, including a special relaxation zone in the pool for adults only.

    Of course, nearby, you also have Yas Beach and a top-class golf course, Yas Links, or if you feel like staying on-site, there is a spa, fitness center, and tennis courts.

    Accommodations in the Area Around the Grand Mosque

    As this beautiful sight is one of the main attractions in Abu Dhabi, I can understand the urge to stay in this area.

    Best places to Stay in Abu Dhabi

    If you want to stay closer to the Grand Mosque and enjoy a great view of it, I recommend staying at the southern end of Abu Dhabi. The Traders Hotel, where I stayed, is a good choice.

    Getting to Corniche takes about 10-15 minutes by taxi.

    Luxury Hotels Near Grand Mosque – Fairmont Bab Al Bahr 

    This 5-star hotel is located at the gateway to Abu Dhabi and gives great access to the city center and Abu Dhabi Airport.

    It is said to boast some of the best room views of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (make sure you ask for the view when booking) and its private beach. If you like to go for a wander on foot, it is close to a popular local souk and many independent specialty shops where you can also take a leisurely boat ride down winding canals as though you were in Venice.

    Mid-Range Hotels Near Grand Mosque – Traders Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, by Shangri-La

    Traders Hotel is on the beachfront between the two bridges of Al Maqta and Mussafah leading into Abu Dhabi and just ten minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport.

    Where to stay in Abu Dhabi Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Hotel review

    As well as having its own small private beach with plenty of sun loungers and free towels, there’s also a gorgeous garden to walk through towards the nearby souk where there are lots of bars, cafes, and restaurants to while away your time when you’re not on the beach.

    This hotel has its own little souk, a beautiful long stretch of private beach with nice views and friendly staff, and even a little supermarket. Don’t miss the gorgeous night-time views of the Grand Mosque from here, either. 

    CONCLUSION: CHOOSING THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN ABU DHABI

    Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city to visit. It is great for a weekend trip and the choices of hotels are great.

    Sо, whеthеr you’re looking for a rеlаxing break complete with luxurious surroundings and beautiful beaches, or you’re looking tо bооk уоur Abu Dhabi budget-friendly accommodation, I hope, this post has helped you decide where to stay in Abu Dhabi. And though, the choices are numerous but the above-mentioned areas and hotels are my personal tips for staying in Abu Dhabi.

    READ MORE: 

    Safe Travels, Arzo

    Visiting Amazing Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

    Abu Dhabi - Grand Mosque

    Travel Information for Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

    When you plan a trip to the United Arab Emirates, make sure to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque – either as a day trip from Dubai or when you plan to stay in Abu Dhabi. Why? Because the Grand Mosque or the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in the UAE is probably the most beautiful building I have ever seen. Seriously, no words can describe its beauty.

    Though the pictures have not captivated the beauty, I hope you´ll get some travel inspirations and consider visiting it – as a Muslim or non-Muslim, since the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is also open to non-Muslims.

    Find out all the important things you need to know before visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates

    Visiting the mosque was one of the first things I did when I arrived in Abu Dhabi, and I was happy that the mosque did not disappoint at all. If you visit Abu Dhabi, this “attraction” should definitely be on your list.

    This post gives you all the important information: 

    • Basic facts
    • How to get there (from Dubai or Abu Dhabi)
    • Rules at Sheikh Zayed Mosque (how to dress, don´ts, etc.)
    • Opening Hours
    • Tours of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates

    Facts Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    It is now probably one of the most famous Islamic prayer houses in the world. Besides the beautiful symmetry, the white marble and golden elements impress. I would have loved to get on one of the minarets, but this was not allowed for normal guests.

    • The Grand Mosque opened in 2007 and can accommodate more than 40,000 worshippers, 10,000 in the internal areas, and 30,000 in the external areas.
    • The mosque has four minarets and eighty-two domes.
    • The architect of this gorgeous mosque is Yusef Abdelki.
    • There is free drinking water and free tours available.
    • There are several guided Grand Mosque tours without any extra costs. Unfortunately, these guides are not every hour, and I just missed one.
    • Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street، – 5th St – Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates

    Read More: Sharjah – the less known emirate is another great place to visit in the UAE.

    How to Get to Sheikh Zayed Mosque from Abu Dhabi

    The mosque is located at “the beginning” of Abu Dhabi. If you come from the Abu Dhabi airport or Dubai, it will be one of the first things you will see. There is a direct bus connection from Abu Dhabi Corniche, but the stop is quite far. It’s probably only 1 km away, but it felt more like 5 km with the heat. 

    How to Get to Sheikh Zayed Mosque  from Dubai

    • Buses are going from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, and it might be the cheapest way to get there (it is about 100km from Dubai Marina to Grand Mosque).
    • Another option to get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is to buy a hop-on, and hop-off ticket in Dubai since buses are going to Abu Dhabi as well (a review of the hop-on and hop-off buses in Dubai is here).
    • Taking a taxi might be another option since taxis are quite cheap in the United Arab Emirates.
    • There are parking options at Sheikh Zayed in front of the mosque if you come in your own car.

    If you also have wondered which place is better, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, click here and find out which role the mosque plays in this question.

    Rules at Sheikh Zayed Mosque

    What to wear at Sheikh Zayed Mosque? Dress code Grand Mosque:

    • You can enter the area in your normal clothes. If you want to enter the actual mosque, you have to cover yourself up as a female.
    • As a man, your arms and legs also have to be covered.
    • You can get appropriate clothes for free (ironed and washed), and there are dressing rooms (the red dress in the pictures were my own outfit).
    • Women and men are not allowed to touch each other.
    • The guards also forbid me from using my GoPro and its tripod to take pictures.
    • You can wear your shoes and only have to take them off when you enter the prayer rooms.
    • There are a lot of guards, so you had better stick to the rules.

    Sheikh Zayed Mosque Opening Hours

    • Open daily, from 9 am to 10 pm. Please check the visitor hours before your visit to make sure it is not closed for any reason.
    • The mosque closes every Friday morning to tourists (open only for worshippers) and re-opens in the afternoon.

    Best Time to Visit the Grand Mosque

    I visited in the morning and would have loved to see it at sunset as well. Most people I asked told me it looks even nice then. If you get the chance, try to visit the mosque twice because I would not have wanted to miss the mosque in the daytime.

    If you are not a religious Muslim, I suggest not visiting on a Friday (closed in the morning for the important Friday morning prayers).

    Conclusion: Is it Worth Visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque?

    I hope the pictures convinced you that it is worth visiting the mosque. I understand people who refrain from visiting religious buildings, but the Grand Mosque is probably the most amazing building, the most beautiful building, and impresses with its colors and gorgeousness.

    If you visit Dubai and do not plan to stay in Abu Dhabi for longer, I still think it is worth visiting the mosque and getting here from Dubai. (more pictures below, so keep scrolling down)

    • What else to do in Abu Dhabi? Check out this itinerary for your Abu Dhabi trip here.
    • Where to stay in Abu Dhabi? Find my tips here.Must see places in Abu Dhabi, Grand Mosque
    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates
    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates
    Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Dubai @shutterstock
    @shutterstock

     

    Abu Dhabi vs Dubai – Which is the Better Place to Visit?

    Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where to go, Arzo Travels

    WHERE TO GO? DUBAI OR ABU DHABI

    One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether I recommend Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi vs. Dubai?! Which is the better city to visit? Which city (emirate) wins? I am happy to share a list with you, which I have created based on my experiences, hoping that it helps you make the perfect decision.

    Both cities are incredibly safe regarding female solo travelers or concerning any crime. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are also both “rich” and “clean.” You can do desert safaris in both places (in my opinion, desert safaris are one of the best things to do in both places), as you can do water sports activities, and helicopter rides, and you can shop in both cities pretty well. Both are quite westernized, so there isn’t a cultural shock for western tourists – but in the end, it really depends on your interests which city the better one is. 

    Why is Abu Dhabi better than Dubai?

    Okay, let´s start with what makes Abu Dhabi better than Dubai.

    Here is an itinerary for Abu Dhabi here if you want to find out what to do in Abu Dhabi.

    Abu Dhabi

    • The capital of the United Arab Emirates
    • Largest emirate (in size of geography)
    • About 1 million inhabitants

    Grand Mosque

    • Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because it is home to the stunning Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

    It is home to the most beautiful building in the world: the Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Dubai has more interesting and more famous buildings, but it does not have Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque.Why is Abu Dhabi better than Dubai

    The mosque is just beyond amazing and one of my favorite reasons to always revisit Abu Dhabi. To find out more about the mosque and tips when visiting click here.

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates

    More Beautiful Beaches

    • Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because it has nicer and more tranquil beaches.

    Abu Dhabi has more beautiful beaches: the public beaches at Corniche or Saadiyat Island are wonderful. Overall, the beaches in Abu Dhabi were more appealing to me than the ones in Dubai.

    Though Saadiyat Island charges a small fee (about 5€) it is definitely worth the money, and if you do not want to spend money on a day at the beach you will have a nice time at the free beaches in Abu Dhabi – which are quite empty, and you´ll not see them crowded.

    Luxury Accommodation is Cheaper

    • Compared to Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because you get more luxury for less money.

    Accommodation in Abu Dhabi, especially luxury accommodation, is cheaper. As a test, I did some further research to be sure it was not only when I visited.

    It seems that accommodation is cheaper throughout the year in Abu Dhabi. To check out the best hotel deals, click here. I have stayed in several hotels in Abu Dhabi, and whenever I visited, the prices were below the ones in Dubai – while the standard is the same!Which is better to visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi

    Abu Dhabi is Quieter

    • Abu Dhabi is, in comparison to Dubai, the better place to visit because it is more tranquil and much quieter.

    Abu Dhabi is quieter. This can either be a pro or a contra argument, but if you do not like too much “bling-bling” and too much of the hustle and bustle, you´ll probably enjoy Abu Dhabi more than Dubai. Though you will also find authentic areas in Dubai, Abu Dhabi is still a bit more “Arabian-like.”Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi

    Emirates Palace

    • Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because you can visit Emirates Palace.

    The Emirates Palace, the top hotel in Abu Dhabi, is also open to “ordinary” people who want to have a look, while Dubai´s “top” hotel (Burj Al-Arab) is much more difficult to access.Emirates Palace Kempinski in Abu Dhabi (Emirates)

    Zaya Nurai Island

    • Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because you will find there the Maldives of the Emirates.

    Abu Dhabi has Zaya Nurai Island, which is one of the most beautiful islands in the region. Zaya Nurai Island is a private island and you can get there after a 12-minute boat ride. To be allowed on the island, you have to get either a day pass or stay there as an overnight guest.

    Why visit Abu Dhabi

    Better Place to Relax

    • Abu Dhabi is the better place to visit because it is more like a vacation.

    Where can you relax better? In Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Well, I would say Abu Dhabi is the better place to relax. There are fewer crowds and less traffic in Abu Dhabi. So, Abu Dhabi is the better place to relax and chill.Abu Dhabi relax

    Read about my 12 top tips for things to do in Abu Dhabi.

    Why is Dubai better than Abu Dhabi?

    Here are the reasons why I like Dubai better than Abu Dhabi.

    Dubai

    • The biggest city in terms of inhabitants and the most famous city in the UAE
    • About 2,5 million inhabitants

    The City of Superlatives

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because it constantly breaks new records.
    Dubai in 2 days
    Burj Khalifa is so tall, it does not fit into the camera and you have to tilt it if you want to have it captured

    Dubai is the city of superlatives. There are many unique buildings: It is home to the highest building in the world, Burj Khalifa (pictures from the top of Burj Khalifa here), the 7* hotel Burj Al-Arab, and many more interesting buildings. If you are into superlatives, visit Dubai.

    More Attractions in Dubai

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because there is so much to do and see.

    There are more attractions, more to see & more to do. You will never feel bored in Dubai. Whether you head to the tallest building in the world (Burj Khalifa), Miracle Garden, Dubai Mall, or Madinat Jumeirah – there is so much to do that it was hard for me to pick only 50 top activities in Dubai.

    Click here to read my top 50 things to do in Dubai. 

    Abu Dhabi or DubaiEven though I have visited Dubai several times, I have these “wow” effects all the time. One of them was when I visited the top of Burj Khalifa. 

    Dubai is More Liberal

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because it is more liberal.

    Dubai is more liberal. Yes, it is still a conservative place but I think it is less conservative than Abu Dhabi (click here to find out what to wear in Dubai as a female).

    There are more bars, clubs, and parties than in Abu Dhabi – if you are into good nightlife, you will love Dubai more. Also, you might feel less restricted in your clothing than in Abu Dhabi.Better place to visit in UAE

    More Luxury Hotels

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because there are so many luxury hotels to choose from.
      Lobby at Atlantis - The Palm Dubai
      Lobby at Atlantis – The Palm Dubai

    There are more luxury hotels. If you are on a budget, you can just do hotel sightseeing for free. You´ll not get disappointed – like the “Atlantis – The Palm.” The amount of luxury hotels in Dubai is seriously crazy.

    • TIP: If you want to splurge but have to save money, visit during Ramadan (it might be less fun but the hotel prices drop like crazy).

    Palm Island

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because it has unique islands, like Palm Island.

    Dubai has Palm Island. Though the beaches are private (you can get a day pass at many hotels), it is a perfect place to ride a bike and enjoy great views.

    Madinat Jumeirah

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because you will find the recreation of ancient Arabia in a modern dress.

    Dubai has Madinat Jumeirah, which is, without any doubt, one of my favorite areas in Dubai. It is just a great place to spend the day, get lost, and top the day off.

    Bigger Shopping Malls

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because you will find the biggest and most interesting shopping malls there.

    Dubai has more (and bigger) shopping malls (find a quick guide for Dubai Mall here) and is the place to shop.

    Crazy Souks

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because there are also many local markets to shop. 

    I have a love-hate relationship with Dubai Deira. The old part of Dubai often means being stressed out as it is hectic, but it is a place that reminds me like no other in the UAE (except for the desert) that I am in Arabia. The souks (markets) there are just something you have to experience once – you cannot find souks of that intensity in Abu Dhabi. 

    Which place to visit - Abu Dhabi or Dubai

    Better Day Trips Options

    • Dubai is the better place to visit because you can do some very fun day tours.

    Location: Dubai has, in my opinion, a better location. It is closer to Oman (and a day trip to Oman is fun) and to other emirates like Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, so day trips to other places are easier and more fun from Dubai. Oman

    CONCLUSION: DUBAI VS ABU DHABI

    As you can see, it really depends on what you are interested in and what you like to answer the question of whether Abu Dhabi or Dubai is better for a vacation. Are you more of a person who likes to go out and enjoy those “wow” moments, or do you enjoy the “natural” beauty and more quiet?

    What about me? Do I think Abu Dhabi or Dubai is better? I actually liked Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai. I have to admit that I visited Abu Dhabi only three times, while I have visited Dubai more often and have spent much more time there.

    Knowing what I know now, I would say: If I stayed in the United Arab Emirates for one week, I would probably stay 4-5 nights in Dubai and then 2-3 nights in Abu Dhabi.

    By the way: Abu Dhabi and Dubai are not that far away from each other. So if you still cannot decide which place to visit, you can just take a hop-on and hop-off bus to Abu Dhabi or Dubai or take a taxi to get from one city to the other (about 80 kilometers).

    There is also a bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and the other way around.

    Ready to book your next trip? Will you visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Or both 🙂

    TRAVEL TIPS FOR DUBAI AND ABU DHABI

    Dubai and Abu Dhabi are both fun cities to visit with great tours and activities. Here are a few more tips for your trip – whether you visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi – or both!

    Safe Travels, Arzo

     

    PIN ME FOR LATER

    Save this for later!


    Abu Dhabi or Dubai? Which is the better city to visit? Find out which is the perfect destination for you. United Arab Emirates.

    Best Things to Do in Abu Dhabi, UAE

    Things to see and do in Abu Dhabi in 3 days. UAE.

    WHAT TO DO IN ABU DHABI – BEST PLACES TO VISIT

    Are you planning your Abu Dhabi itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Abu Dhabi? Then read on as this post will help you plan your trip – whether you stay in Abu Dhabi for 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, or longer.

    Here you will find out about what to do, the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi, and many more travel tips for your trip.What to visit in Abu Dhabi - the desert is one of the best places to visit

    ABU DHABI TRAVEL TIPS

    Before talking about things to do, here are a few important travel tips for your trip.

    Abu Dhabi is not as famous as Dubai (both cities/emirates border each other) but it is actually the capital of the United Arab Emirates. I have written a more detailed post about the differences between Dubai and Abu Dhabi where you can find out about the main differences.

    Do´s and Don´ts in Abu Dhabi

    • Any intimacy between couples should be reduced to a minimum (even holding hands) and is completely forbidden in some places (mosques etc.).
    • Do not drink alcohol in public, unless you do it in a licensed restaurant/bar etc. Do not get totally drunk.
    • Homosexuality is forbidden in the UAE.  

    Disclaimer: This post also contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my links (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

    What to Wear in Abu Dhabi – Dress Code for Females

    Though the UAE is an Islamic country, you do not have to cover your head. However, you should be aware that there is a dress code in many places, like shopping malls or public places.

    You can wear bikinis at the beach and shorts/skirts in many places, but probably do not bring the shortest and tightest clothes you have.

    If you want to find out more about the dress code for Abu Dhabi, you can read my post about “What to wear as a female in Dubai.” Though Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative, the post gives you some great ideas about dressing behavior in Abu Dhabi as well.

    Is Abu Dhabi Safe for Tourists? Solo Female Travel in Abu Dhabi

    Keep in mind, that Abu Dhabi (UAE) is not a democracy nor transparent. So, I can just talk about how I felt, as we do not have reliable information about the crime rate.

    I think Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, is a great place to visit as a tourist because it is safe. Safe in terms of crime and terror (read more about safety in the UAE here).

    As a solo female traveler, it is a great destination and I absolutely loved it. As always, exercise common sense, but you should not be afraid to travel to this Islamic country (as I also think Dubai is great for solo female travel).

    Where to Stay in Abu Dhabi

    Abu Dhabi has some amazing hotels. The standard is pretty high, but so are the prices. Though hotels here seem a bit more affordable than in Dubai, it is not a budget destination. Below, you find a summary of my recommendations.

    Abu Dhabi Guide for First-Time Visitors

    BEST THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI IN 1-6 DAYS

    Let´s talk about the best activities and attractions.

    Admire the Grand Mosque

    Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi. The mosque is one of the most stunning, or probably the most stunning, most incredible building I have ever seen.

    It is the largest mosque in the UAE – it can host more than 40,000 people. It was constructed between 1996 and 2007 and has become one of the main attractions in the city.

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque best tourist attraction in Abu Dhabi

    The beauty is just beyond words! If possible, visit it during the day and at night time as well. While it is pretty to look at any time of the day, it has a special charm at sunset. Though I am not religious, I love the muezzin´s call for the pray.

    • If you have the chance, try to visit during prayer time (5 times a day). However, it is closed on Friday mornings or special occasions.
    • The best: it is free, free, free, and totally awesome.

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Abu Dhabi Emirates Where to go in Abu Dhabi

    • How to get there: The mosque is located at the “beginning” of Abu Dhabi. Whether you are coming from Dubai or Abu Dhabi airport – it is almost impossible to miss it. There is a bus going from Abu Dhabi Downtown, or you can take a cab.
    • Click here to find out more about the most beautiful place in Abu Dhabi and what to know before visiting the Grand Mosque.

    Visit Corniche

    Corniche is a beautiful 8-kilometer promenade with access to the public beach.

    Corniche in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock
    @shutterstock

    In my honest opinion, the beaches here are nicer than in Dubai. The water is clearer and the sand finer. And it is less busy than Dubai´s beaches. It is also a nice place to walk, jog, or ride a bike with some nice views of Abu Dhabi.

    You can either spend a full day here (strolling and spending time at the beach) or just come here for a quick walk. 

    • It is free to visit – including the beaches. However, there are some parts that are also private beaches that belong to luxury hotels. Those parts can only be accessed if you are a hotel guest.

    Visit Heritage Village

    Abu Dhabi sightseeing is not complete without a stop at Heritage Village. It is a small recreation of a traditional desert village with crafts workshops & monthly cultural festivals.

    Abu Dhabi layover -Heritage Village Sehenswerte Orte, Heritage Village

    It is a charming place, though quite small. If you do not visit any workshops, you will not need a lot of time to visit this place. Heritage Village is located at the “end” of the city, so you can either continue to the Emirates Palace afterward, Marina Mall, or Corniche.

    • This is another free activity in Abu Dhabi.

    Explore Emirates Palace

    The Emirates Palace is one of the most expensive and luxurious hotels in the world and one of the main tourist attractions. Many visitors find their way to this hotel – so it can be “busy” in front of the hotel. At night, the buildings around are illuminated which makes the area even prettier. 

    Emirates Palace Kempinski in Abu Dhabi (Emirates)

    I had lunch at one of the restaurants and thus was able to do a bit of sightseeing, but you can visit even without dining there. The guards might ask you what you’re doing there, so be prepared for an answer. However, they were quite nice and if you say, you want to have a coffee, it might be fine.

    Access is limited to the lobby (which is stunning) and sometimes certain exhibitions.

    After lunch, I headed to the backyard, which was lovely, too. It is a nice way to splurge even if you do not stay overnight at the Emirates Palace.

    Emirates Palace Kempinski in Abu Dhabi (Emirates)

    Whether you use this as an itinerary for Abu Dhabi or just an inspiration, you can do the above-mentioned activities in one day. 

    Shop Souvenirs or Traditional Clothes

    Of course, Abu Dhabi has some big modern shopping centers like Marina Mall. The malls here are not as numerous and big as in Dubai, but (window) shopping is one of the most popular things tourists and travelers do.

    If you like to get souvenirs or traditional clothes, I recommend getting them from smaller markets, so-called souks, which you can find in many places. Do not forget to bargain when you buy from the souk.

    See Abu Dhabi From Above

    To see Abu Dhabi from above, go to Etihad Towers Observation Deck. The deck is part of a luxury hotel and part of the Jumeirah group. You might remember those views from the Furious 7 movie.

    The Observation Deck at 300 is located in Etihad Towers’ second tower (there are two of them) and offers the highest vantage point in the UAE at 300 meters on level 74. To compare: at Burj Khalifa, you can visit levels 124, 125, and 148. However, level 74 should be good enough for some awesome views.

    Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock
    @shutterstock

    As I have a thing for great views, it was on my list, but I spent too much time on Zaya Nurai Island so I ran out of time.

    It was on my list for the second trip to Abu Dhabi. After reading the reviews, a visit seems to be totally worth it, but Abu Dhabi in December can be quite foggy, so I had to postpone my visit again. However, if you have a clear day, you should visit. 

    • Hotel guests can get up there for free.
    • Other guests have to pay an entrance fee of AED 95. They also get a credit voucher of AED 55 which can be redeemed on the day of your visit at the cafe on the observation deck. 

    Do a Speed Boat Trip

    One of the best things to do – especially on a hot day – is to enjoy a breeze while doing a speed boat tour in Abu Dhabi. As we all know, is that it can get really hot in Abu Dhabi. The best you can do is to combine sightseeing with colling down.

    Yellow Speedboat Tour with Arabian Adventures

    You can forget the heat even in the hottest summer months. Also, it is a nice thrilling activity – especially if you sit in the front. But no worries – it is not as adventurous as a skydive – so even families can hop on a speedboat (minimum age is 5 years).

    Depending on the tour you choose they last about 60-100 minutes.

    The meeting point depends on the boat tour. Tip: if your boat tour starts from Emirates Palace, you can combine the trip to the Emirates Palace with the boat tour.

    DAY 3 IN ABU DHABI

    Do a Desert Safari

     I have done a couple of desert safaris in Dubai and totally loved them. They were actually one of my travel highlights, and so was the desert safari in Abu Dhabi.

    Best things to do in Abu Dhabi

    If you have not planned any desert safari in Dubai, you should definitely do a desert safari here. They are some of the most popular UAE activities.

    On my last trip, I visited the UAE with my cousin, and I booked the trip for both of us. After asking her about the highlight of the trip to the United Arab Emirates, one of the first things she said was “The desert safari in Abu Dhabi.”

    The desert safaris normally include dune bashing and photo stops in the desert. If you do them in the afternoon/evening, you can also expect a nice BBQ (which also caters to vegetarians and vegans).

    My top recommendation for a desert safari in Abu Dhabi is the one in the evening with dinner under the stars – what an experience!

    Spend a Day at Ferrari World

    Ferrari World is rated as one of the best activities in Abu Dhabi. What could a Ferrari World park be? Well, it is a mostly indoor theme park located on Yas Island. Actually, it was the world’s first Ferrari-themed park and features Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. 

    While I am not that much into fast cars or roller coasters, I have never visited so I cannot give you my two cents on it but 

    Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi @shutterstock best activities in Abu Dhabi

    While I am not that much into fast cars or roller coasters, I have never visited so I cannot give you my two cents on it but if you are into theme parks and/or interested in cars, it should be on your list.

    Plan a full day for that activity. As it is located at “the beginning of Abu Dhabi,” it is great to start coming from Dubai. 

    Check out Beaches at Saadiyat Island

    Relax at Saadiyat Island – probably the most beautiful public beach in Abu Dhabi. It is a natural 27-square-kilometer island about 15- minutes drive from Abu Dhabi Downtown. 

    Itinerary Day Tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

    The beaches at Corniche are pretty and free, however, the 400-meter Saadiyat public beach is even more beautiful. It is also not very crowded, and it feels safe enough to leave your stuff at the beach while hopping into the water. I admit I tend to be a bit paranoid in some places and never leave my stuff unattended.

    I have not figured out how to get there if a public bus is getting there, so I recommend getting there by taxi.

    • Though it is a public beach, you have to pay about 25 AED entry fee (an extra fee for renting a lounge and towels).
    • If you stay in one of the few hotels on Saadiyat Island, you will have free access to the hotel beach.

    Do Cultural Sightseeing (Louvre)

    Once you are on Saadiyat Island, you can visit the Louvre museum which is an art and civilization museum that opened in November 2017. The UAE and France signed an agreement that allows it to use the Louvre’s name until 2037, and has been described by the Louvre as “France’s largest cultural project abroad”.

    Of course, they probably just got paid very good money – either way, now Abu Dhabi has its own Louvre. 

    Arzo Travels Abu Dhabi Louvre best things to see

    The museum encompasses 9,200 square meters of galleries, including a permanent gallery and a temporary gallery. It is the largest museum on the Arabian peninsula – with artworks from around the world intending to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art.

    I stopped by, but the lines were quite long, so I did not get into it. This should not have come as a surprise to me as by 2019, the Louvre Abu Dhabi had already attracted 2 million visitors. Thus, I recommend booking your tickets in advance.

    Visit Zaya Nurai Island

    When in Abu Dhabi, you need to plan a day trip to this private island – beautiful Zaya Nurai Island.

    things to do in Abu Dhabi what to do in Abu Dhabi

    I missed out on some activities because I spent too much time at Zaya Nurai Island Resort. It is a private island that has been voted one of Conde Nast Traveller UK’s most incredible islands. It is just really beautiful! 

    Depending on your budget, you could either book one of their incredible villas, OR get a day pass which is surely worth each penny. This will allow you to access their beaches and some pools and more. On the island, you can do watersports, rest & chill at the beach, enjoy a fun day in one of the lounge areas, or get pampered in the spa.

    • It is a 15-minute boat ride off the shores of Abu Dhabi.
    • Day passes are AED480. AED420 which is redeemable against food and beverage, spa, and activities. For this price, you have the boat tour and beach and pool access already included.

    Visit Dubai

    If you are in Abu Dhabi, consider a day trip to Dubai. I know not everyone likes the idea of a busy city, but I highly suggest at least a day trip to Dubai if you have one week in Abu Dhabi.

    La Mer Beach Dubai - best places to visit in Dubai

    There are buses from Abu Dhabi to Dubai for about 10€ ($11) return. However, whenever I wanted to use them, it was still not perfect as I would end up in the middle of nowhere in Dubai. So, I suggest either doing a guided tour from Abu Dhabi to Dubai or splurging and taking a taxi from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (prices depend on your starting point, but I always paid around 60€).

    • In Dubai, there is a lot to do – what exactly? Well, find out here.
    • Also, I have written a quite detailed post on whether to visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai to check out if you are unsure which city/emirate to visit.

    FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI

    Abu Dhabi in one day is possible. But with so many fun and interesting things to do in Abu Dhabi, you should try to add a few days to your Abu Dhabi itinerary so you can get a better glimpse of the city.

    It is a safe city and has quite a lot to offer – whether you visit by yourself, with friends or family, or with your partner. Given its religion and politics, there are things to keep in mind when visiting (as you can see in my do´s and don´ts), but Abu Dhabi is an interesting place to visit.

    So, whenever you visit – stay safe and enjoy!

    Safe Travels, Arzo

    Hotel Review: Traders Hotel by Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi

    Where to stay in Abu Dhabi Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Hotel review

    Hotel Review: Traders Hotel by Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi

    I have visited the UAE several times and on my recent trip to Abu Dhabi I really wanted to stay in a hotel close to the Grand Mosque – one of my favorite sights ever!

    I think the Grand Mosque – also called the Sheikh Zayed Mosque – is the best landmark in Abu Dhabi and so I booked a two-night stay for me and my cousin at one of the top hotels in Abu Dhabi, the Traders Hotel by Shangri-La.

    If you are looking for very beautiful, 4* accommodation with access to a beach and a good view of the main attractions in Abu Dhabi this might be the perfect choice so keep reading to find out about the Abu Dhabi hotel that could be just right for you.

    Wondering why to add Abu Dhabi to your UAE itinerary? Click here to read my top recommendations for things to do in Abu Dhabi.

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

     

    Location and Lobby of Traders Hotel Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi

    Traders Hotel is located in Qaryat Al Beri, one of the first areas of Abu Dhabi you will see if arriving from Dubai or the airport.

    The hotel boasts a beachside location and it is also close to the Grand Mosque which is the main sight-seeing point in Abu Dhabi. It is also about fifteen kilometers from other important landmarks like the Emirates Palace or Corniche which will cost you around twelve to fifteen € (about $9) to get there.

    Where to stay in Abu Dhabi - best 4 star hotel in Abu Dhabi

    We arrived at the hotel from Ras Al-Khaimah and I was surprised at just how colorful and how fun the hotel was. We stayed there over Christmas so there was a huge Christmas tree and some other Christmas decorations too. The hotel lobby is very big and bright – the furniture is really colorful making it a lot more stylish than a lot of hotels by Shangdi La.

    The check in was very quick and we hadn’t booked any breakfast so we were asked if we would like to and we actually only booked for one night.

    Rooms at Traders Hotel Abu Dhabi

    The Traders Hotel has about 300 rooms and suits and what is interesting to know, is that the hotel isn’t built upwards but spreads out instead. We had a superior room which was nice, clean and had a great view and a balcony which is always a plus.

    Best hotel view in Abu Dhabi

    Of course, the hotel was clean and had everything we could need: bottles of water, tv, air conditioning, and everything else that you would expect from a four-star hotel in Abu Dhabi.

    Abu Dhabi Where to stay

    Breakfast at Traders Hotel Abu Dhabi

    As mentioned, we didn’t book breakfast when we booked the hotel but booked it when we arrived for about 25€  – and it was a nice breakfast.

    Served on the ground floor, it included warm hearty meals, a lot of sweet options, fruits, and you could also press your own fresh orange juice. You have the chance to sit inside or outside – and thus, enjoy a nice beach view, and the staff were very nice.

    Over all, it was definitely worth the money given the fact that Abu Dhabi is not necessarily cheap.

    Restaurants at Traders Hotel Abu Dhabi

    The breakfast restaurant, Afyä, serves lunch and dinner as well but if you keep walking within the hotel complex (which is, as I mentioned, spread out) you will find many more restaurants in the Souk as well as cafes and bars so you will have a lot of options if you don’t feel like going out.

    Alternatively, if you want to just have a drink at the beach that is also possible as there are some bars right on the beach.

    Beach and Pool at Traders Hotel Abu Dhabi

    I personally really enjoyed the beach and pool section of Traders Hotel and though we didn’t stay at the hotel very much, we enjoyed the nice beach with a view of the Grand Mosque.

    Abu Dhabi Hotel review Traders Hotel Shangri La

    I was pleasantly surprised when someone came immediately and brought us free water and of course, since it is a hotel beach it is just for people staying there so it didn’t feel crowded at all.

    Afterwards we strolled towards the other end of the hotel which was a beautiful walk since there is a little canel and you could do an abra ride – it is quite cute and definitely quite romantic, so this is probably the perfect hotel for love birds or honeymooners in Abu Dhabi.

    There are lots of loungers too, where you can lay back and just chill so it is a perfect place to relax, day or night. I also felt that the hotel was very family friendly and a great place to stay in Abu Dhabi with families with children as well as for solo travelers.

    If you walk from the lobby area to the other side you will also have the beautiful view of THE mosque.

    Hotel review Traders Hotel by Shangr-La

    Other Things to Do at Traders

    As mentioned, there is a Souk (or market) where you can buy clothes or souvenirs. There are also a number of supermarkets, bars, and cafes where you can sit outside and have nice views.

    The souks are quite expensive compared to what you can buy at other souks in Abu Dhabi.

    Despite this, it is still a lovely place to just walk around. I especially enjoyed it when it was very foggy, as it often is in Abu Dhabi in the morning, so then makes for a nice walk during the day.

    Abu Dhabi Traders Hotel Review

     

    Conclusion

    Is the Traders Hotel by Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi worth the money?

    We really enjoyed our time at the Traders Hotel. It is a very beautiful four-star hotel and as usual, the standard in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for hotels is quite high and this hotel was no different.

    The staff were friendly, it was clean, and there were plenty of options for things to do there so for these reasons it is one of the best hotels in Abu Dhabi.

    Although I personally enjoyed the location because it is close to the Grand Mosque, you should know that getting to other important landmarks might take some time and cost some money but if you enjoy staying at the beach then this is the perfect chance as you have the beach to yourself.

    Overall, I can definitely recommend staying at the Traders Hotel and it is a great place to stay in Abu Dhabi.

    Looking for other ideas on where to stay in Abu Dhabi? Then click here and find more great hotels in Abu Dhabi – for all budgets and all areas.

    Book your stay at Traders Hotel Sharing-La here

    Click here if you are looking for the most luxurious hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

    Only read this review out of curiosity and actually only plan a day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai? Then this post will help you organizing your one day in Abu Dhabi.

     

    Best Hotels: 10 Luxury Hotels in Dubai and 2 Luxury Hotels Abu Dhabi

    Top luxury hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

    10 Luxury Hotels in Dubai and 2 Luxury Hotels Abu Dhabi

    If you are looking for a great luxury hotel in Dubai or Abu Dhabi this post will help you t pick the prefect luxury hotel for you.

    Not each luxury hotel is the right choice for you, so find out what to expect at the top 10 luxury hotels in Dubai and at 2 top luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi.

    Dubai’s hotels are synonymous with luxury – I do not think there is any other place with such a high density of luxurious accommodations as there is in the biggest city of the United Arab Emirates. Las Vegas might challenge it, but does not come close since the quality in Dubai is top-notch.

    If you are looking to book an awesome accommodation in Dubai or Abu Dhabi this list can help you finding the perfect hotel for you.

    Due to the huge number of top hotels in Dubai, I have not stayed in all of them (yet) but I have had the chance to stay in most of these awesome hotels, and here is my list of “Top 12 luxury hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi”.

    Find out:

    • What are good hotels in Dubai for families?
    • What are good hotels in Dubai for couples?
    • What are the best hotels for business guests or solo travelers?

    12 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The best hotels in UAE.

    My 10 Top 10 Luxury Hotels in Dubai

    5* Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina

    Grosvenor House Dubai - a 5* Starwood Property

    Grosvenor House Dubai has the best reviews of all hotels in Dubai – and, if you ask me, nothing is exaggerated. This hotel is one of my favorite hotels ever: the 5* Starwood property Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina.

    Though I normally prefer hotels with a bright and light interior, and Grosvenor House is actually not bright, this hotel totally rocks it. It is the perfect luxury hotel for business people and people who like a classy hotel without too much modernity.

    You can find the most beautiful lobby (especially at night with all the candles) at Grosvenor House, and the lobby restrooms are the best I have ever been to. The hotel has two towers, each 45 stories high, and a total of about 750 rooms.

    There are 14 restaurants and bars at Grosvenor House, while the Buddha Bar is very well known in all of Dubai. The simplest rooms are the Deluxe Rooms. But of course, you can choose a fancier suite as well. The most expensive rooms are the Royal Suites.

    The spa in Tower 2, the B/Attitude Spa, is probably one of the best ones in Dubai. Since it is a top-notch 5* hotel it is definitely not cheap, but the prices are not actually that high. Also, the hotel is located in Dubai Marina – one of my favorite areas in Dubai – with the marina and many restaurants and shops close by.

    + Location, an awesome lobby, great value for money, and fantastic service

    – Not perfect for families with smaller kids. Though the hotel has a spa and pool area in each of the towers (and you can access the beach of the sister property, le Royal Meridien).

    – I do not think it is the most family-friendly hotel in Dubai.

    Click here to find out rates for a stay at Grosvenor House

    Atlantis – The Palm

    Atlantis - The Palm
    Atlantis – The Palm

    Royal Suite Atlantis - The Palm Dubai
    30,000$ suite -Royal Suite Atlantis – The Palm Dubai

    Atlantis – The Palm is probably one of the most famous hotels in Dubai. This huge iconic building is located on the Palm – a man-made island in the shape of a palm – which is home to many fantastic hotels. Atlantis is one of the hotels that is the

    Atlantis is one of the hotels that is the most fun – to the point where you actually do not have to even leave the property.

    I am not a person who can spend days at the same place, but this impressive hotel has everything you need. Tons of different restaurants, several pools, its own big waterpark, shops, beauty salons, clubs, etc.

    I stayed there for 2 nights and was not bored for a second (and I did not leave the hotel for more than 50 hours in total). I stayed at a terrace club suite with a fantastic view over the Persian Gulf and enjoyed every second of the stay.

    If your budget is smaller, you could opt out for a Deluxe Guest Room. Or, if you want to experience the highest form of luxury. could choose to stay at the Royal Bridge Suite – the most expensive suite of all. I had the chance to see this impressive suite and walk through it.

    I have never seen a more beautiful hall and it felt almost unreal. Atlantis – The Palm is perfect for people who look for:

    + Fun hotel, with great restaurants (also with enough choices for vegetarians), a beautiful beach, the hotel is the best hotel in Dubai  for families with kids, or for people who want to stay at the hotel most of the time and enjoy an all-inclusive resort stay

    – The hotel can be very busy at times, it is huge (which can be either seen as positive or negative), and it has so much to offer that I would not recommend it to those who plan to see a lot of Dubai or for those who will be mostly outside the hotel.

    Check Out Rates for Atlantis – The Palm

    Anantara – The Palm Dubai

    Anantara The Palm Dubai
    Anantara The Palm Dubai

    Anantara- The Palm is a lovely, Thai-inspired resort, also located on the Palm, and an absolutely peaceful place. I loved the little bungalows, over-water villas, beach pool villas, and the typical Thai details all over the resort.

    There are several beautiful pools and some rooms have direct beach access. Even though my room did not have direct access, I still enjoyed all the pools and the beautiful beach. The beaches on the Palm are definitely prettier than on Jumeirah Beach.

    + Heaven on Earth, perfect hotel in Dubai for families and people who seek silence, Thai-influenced.

    – At the end of the Palm, so it is pretty far from many other attractions in Dubai.

     

    Check out Rates for Anantara – The Palm

    Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi

    Beach and Pool Access at Westin Dubai Mina
    Beach and Pool Access at Westin Dubai Mina

    To be fair, I have to say that I did not stay at Westin Mina overnight.

    I had a day pass for pool and beach access because I wanted to check out the pool. Westin Mina is known as one of the best hotels in Dubai.

    Westin Mina is known as one of the best hotels in Dubai and has Dubai’s longest pool (500 meters). In a city where it is all about superlatives, this is pretty impressive. In addition, you’ll find the 1,200-meter long private beach and 9 restaurants and bars.

    The fanciest rooms are the One Bedroom Suites, which can be up to 391 m2  and are (surely) pure luxury.

    + Location is pretty good (located on Jumeirah Beach, close to Dubai Marina), pool and beach area is extensive, another great choice for a stay with kids in Dubai

    – Extremely big hotel. I cannot say much more since I did not stay overnight, but I assume it can get quite busy.

     

    Check out Rates for Westin Mina

    Intercontinental Dubai Marina

    Intercontinental Dubai Marina
    Intercontinental Dubai Marina

    I have a thing for Intercontinental hotels and I have a thing for Dubai Marina. So this hotel is one of my favorites in Dubai. I really enjoyed my two nights stay in this 5* IC property and would book it again for sure.

    + This hotel is very modern and stylish with a bright and colorful lobby and rooms. I loved the pool with a view and the staff was just awesome. As the hotel is in Marina there is no beach access – if you want to get to the beach you need to walk a bit (or take a taxi) and can use the public beach at JBR Walk.

    + Perfect for the younger visitors who enjoy going out and explore Dubai Marina and for business guests

    – As the hotel is in Marina there is no

    – beach access – if you want to get to the beach you need to walk a bit (or take a taxi) and can use the public beach at JBR Walk.

    – not the best choice for a family vacation

     

    Check out Rates for Intercontinental Dubai Marina

    Burj Al-Arab

    Dubai Jumeirah Beach
    Dubai Jumeirah Beach with Burj-Al Arab

    Okay, I have never visited the Burj Al-Arab and was not even sure if I should add it. If I had not put it on my list it (probably) would have been the only “top hotels in Dubai” list without the Burj Al-Arab on it. Though I do not mind not going with the mainstream, I decided to put it on the list.

    After all, it is the only 7* hotel in the world. Needless to say, that Burj Al-Arab has extremely fancy suites.

    One of the most expensive is the Royal Two-Bedroom suite, but there are also cheaper rooms (like the Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite) available. What I know from hearsay is:

    + Only 7* hotel in the world, extremely private since it is not open to the “public” (so people cannot visit for a day if they do not have any reservations for a restaurant, etc.).

    – Definitely not a bargain. According to hear-say the interior is pretty old-fashioned and not very new.

     

    Check out Rates at Burj Al-Arab

    The One and Only – The Palm

    I have not stayed at The One and Only – The Palm but this is definitely very, very high on my list. If I could choose to stay at any hotel I have not been to in Dubai, I would probably pick this one as the interior looks beyond amazing (in particular the pool, which you can check out here).

     

    Check out Rates at The One and Only – The Palm

    The Ritz-Carlton at JBR 

    Friday Brunch at Ritz-Carlton Dubai
    Friday Brunch at Ritz-Carlton Dubai

    Another hotel I would love to stay overnight is the Ritz-Carlton Dubai, which is located at JBR Walk, close to the Marina, with direct access to the beach.

    I tested their famous Friday Brunch (review here) and realized how gorgeous this property is. Unlike most top hotels in Dubai, it does not rise up into the sky, but is rather a low-rise Mediterranean-style building.

    Do not be misled by this: the Ritz-Carlton does live up to its name, and the pools and the location (at JBR Walk, a popular district at the beach with many shops, restaurants etc. close by) are superb.

    The simplest rooms are the Deluxe rooms, and if you are ready to reach deeper into your pocket you could get the most expensive suite, the Presidential Suite.

    + Beach access,a great hotel in Dubai for families (I have not stayed overnight, but this is my impression after having seen the pool and beach area)

    + With the beautiful beach access, this seems to be the perfect hotel in Dubai for couples.

    – Cannot say anything at this moment

    Check out Rates at Ritz-Carlton

     

    Click here to find all luxury hotels in Dubai and book your accommodation for the best price

    2 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Abi Dhabi

    Though Dubai’s density of top-notch hotels in unchallenged, Abu Dhabi has some fantastic hotels as well. It was not easy to pick only two, but here are my two most favorite luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi. Here is my full Abu Dhabi accommodation guide.

    Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi

    2 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Abi Dhabi @shutterstock
    2 Favorite Luxury Hotels in Abi Dhabi @shutterstock

    Though I only had lunch at Emirates Palace, it impressed me straight away.

    It is known to be one of the top 3 hotels in the UAE, but unlike the Burj Al-Arab, it is open to the public. And so I had lunch without making a prior restaurant reservation at one of their restaurants.

    While I enjoyed the view from the outside I was very pretty but not as stunning as the interior. The minute I set foot into this giant property I felt overwhelmed by the luxury. Visiting the Emirates Palace is actually on almost any “to do list for Abu Dhabi” (it is also on my recommended Abu Dhabi itinerary).

    After having visited it, I can say: the interior is more than impressive and definitely worth a look.

    As the hotel is visited by many people who do not stay overnight, I was also surprised by the very friendly and patient staff. So a big thanks to them (and those who kept the fingers crossed that I would find my lost GoPro again).

    The location is great, and though I lost my GoPro here (it was found later but with a missing card), I have very fond memories of this gorgeous property. I can clearly see why it is considered as one of the top hotels in a city (or in 2 cities) where everything is glamorous.

    For the purest form of luxury you can book one of the Suites at Emirates (check out the prices for the fancy 3 bedroom Palace Suite at Emirates Palace here).

     

    Check out Rates at Emirates Palace

    Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Private Pool at Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi
    Private Pool at Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi

    Last but not least, let me introduce you to Zaya Nurai Island Resort, a resort on a private island in Abu Dhabi.

    This resort tops the other places not only in the category of luxury, but also in location, being on the most beautiful beach in all of UAE, in little and big details, and in the privacy, it gives it guests.

    I have a full hotel review here with many pictures and more details, but if you are looking for a boutique hotel with the most beautiful beach, you do not have to look further. Zaya Nurai Island has it all.

    It just opened 2 years ago, so there was some construction work going on, which I did not see much of. However,  I enjoyed every second of my stay at this private island also known as the Maldives of the Emirates.

    I stayed at the beach villa, which was extremely spacious, friendly, and just pretty. All rooms have their own private pool, so regardless of which room you choose, I am sure you’ll enjoy this little piece of heaven.

     

    Check out Rates at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Find all the luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi and get the best rates for your stay

    I hope this post has helped you, either for daydreaming a bit, or deciding on a luxury accommodation for your next trip to the amazing UAE.

    Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

    READ MORE

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Safe Travels, Arzo

    Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the Emirates

    Zaya Nurai Island Resort in Abu Dhabi

    Hotel Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort – the Maldives of the Emirates

    Zaya Nurai Island Resort-Maldives of the Emirates
    Zaya Nurai Island Resort-Maldives of the Emirates

    I had one main reason for visiting Abu Dhabi: to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque. However, after having seen pictures of the Zaya Nurai Island Resort, I found another reason.

    If you are wondering about the best hotel in Abu Dhabi and where to stay in Abu Dhabi you will probably find the answer now, as I have reviewed the best resort in Abu Dhabi – Zaya Nurai Island, but you will also find some links to other posts I have written on Abu Dhabi.

     
     
     
     

    Location

    How to get to Zaya Nurai Island? It is a natural, private island, reachable after a 12 minutes boat ride from Abu Dhabi. Well, you could also reach the island via a helicopter or seaplane ride if you like it even more exclusively.

    I opted for the boat ride, which leaves from the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center on Saadiyat Island.

    The taxi driver had a little trouble finding the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center. So it took a while before I actually reached the Zaya Nurai Welcome Center. Once an hour, a boat brings guests to the island. Since I am a huge fan of boat and ferry rides, my stay at Zaya Nurai got off to a great start.

    Speed boat of Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the EmiratesOnce at Zaya Nurai Island the staff welcomed all guests at the pier and brought, with the guest buggies, to their rooms.

    Rooms at Zaya Nurai Resort

    I checked in at a Beach Villa at Zaya Nurai Island Resort. The minute I entered the villa, I fell in love. Everything was bright, spacious, and luxurious. The best part was the gorgeous view from my king sized bed. I had seen many pictures before arriving, but when I finally saw it with my own eyes, I was overwhelmed.

    I could not stop admiring this room and the private pool. It all came with a private cabana, sun lounges, some other seating options, a private beach section, and a great view of the Persian Gulf. The beach was very beautiful: white and sandy – and quiet.

    Even when all the rooms are fully booked, guests would seemingly still have a lot of privacy with their own private beach section at Zaya Nurai Island Resort.

    The room had a huge bathtub which I did not even use since I had my own private pool. I did not even get to sit on the couch to watch TV shows on Netflix – which I normally enjoy doing. Instead sat on my bed outside, just enjoying the great view.

    It felt so calm and peaceful, so far away from the hustle of bustle of the cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai where I had stayed at before.

    There were some complimentary bottles of water (as usual in the United Arab Emirates) and a tea/coffee maker, plenty of snacks in the mini bar and alcohol were also in the room, though – of course – not compulsory.

    Of course there are also other accommodation possibilities available, and even more luxurious ones. I guess, that any room will be a great choice, even the smaller ones.

    Room with a Private Pool. Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the Emirates
    Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the Emirates, Room wit a Private Pool

    View from our bedroom at the Zaya Nurai Island
    View from our bedroom at the Zaya Nurai Island

    Getting Around on Zaya Nurai Island

    The island is not huge, but big enough that you’ll want to get one of the (complementary) white bikes which help you to explore the island. Alternatively, you could also ask for a buggy to get you around. Another option is to take a stroll and discovering the island by foot.

    Speaking of this, I have to mention the only negative aspect of my visit. If you walk around the island, you will notice some construction work and little diggers at work. It is not loud and it was not close to my accommodation, but it disturbs the perfect look of the island.

    Buggie at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Buggie at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    There are several spots that I enjoyed exploring. I headed, first, to the Smokin´ Pineapple, which is a beach bar and named after the stone oven that is shaped like a pineapple. This area was the “busiest” during my stay.

    It was also very “Instagrammable” since there are swings, hammocks, and cabanas making it a perfect location for taking beautiful pictures. All the photos I took there were incredibly bright, even without filters or edits.

    Are there water sports or any other activities at Zaya Nurai Island Resort? I had always wondered if staying on such a private island would get boring, but there was a lot to do. Zaya Nurai Resort offers some water sports and I tried out to “surf”, under supervision, and did some jet-skiing.

    There are still a few other water activities to do, but I ran out of time (though I did stay longer than 24 hours).

    Outdoor beach hammock at the Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Outdoor beach hammock at the Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Private heaven in UAE: Zaya Nuria Island in Abu Dhabi.
    Private heaven in UAE: Zaya Nuria Island in Abu Dhabi.

    Restaurants at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    What restaurants are at Zaya Nurai Island Resort? Is there vegetarian food available? Well, it has several restaurants. I tried out the Mexican Dusk restaurant for dinner. The vegetarian choices were a bit limited, but I did find some delicious dishes and an even more delicious non-alcoholic strawberry margarita.

    Tip: If possible, visit at sunset. The view is just awesome and sitting outside is wonderfully breezy.

    Mexican Dust Restaurant at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Mexican Dust Restaurant at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Vegetarian Drink at the Mexican Dust Restaurant at Zaya Nurai Resort
    Vegetarian Drink at the Mexican Dust Restaurant at Zaya Nurai Resort

    I also had pizza at Smokin´ Pineapple, which was great, and my requests wasn´t a problem (no mushrooms and olives for me). Though sitting on the swings was not that comfortable (there are other seating options), it is a gorgeous spot for having snacks and a drink.

    Italian Food at Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi
    Italian Food at Zaya Nurai Island in Abu Dhabi

    Pizza at Zaya Nurai Island Resort Abu Dhabi
    Pizza at Zaya Nurai Island Resort Abu Dhabi

    Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island

    How is the breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island resort? I am a huge buffet fan because I can hardly decide what I want to have. So, I was not sure what to expect when learned about the À la carte breakfast.

    Breakfast was included in my stay, but since I hate wasting food and there was no buffet, I decided not to order too much.

    I had a hard time choosing but finally went for my first Acai smoothie ever. It did not only look great but also tasted delicious and now I understand what all the hype is about. They brought you some croissants, etc. as a kind of “appetizer.”

    The pancakes I ordered on top, were quite filling (I asked for extra Nutella with mine) – though delicious- and I ended up not finishing.

    The breakfast, though not a buffet, was amazing. It was a bit hot outside, so I changed and enjoyed the cooler air inside.

    The restaurant offers some amazing views and, as I checked the area out, I could not stop taking pictures.

    Breakfast With a View at Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Breakfast With a View at Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

     

     

    Stunning View at Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Stunning View at Breakfast at Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    Looking for more affordable accommodations in the UAE? Then I recommend visiting and staying in Sharjah – the hidden gem of the UAE.

    Other Services

    Is Zaya Nurai Island Resort child-friendly? Yes, it is. Though I did not see many kids at Zaya Nurai Island Resort and it was in general very quiet, I think it is kids friendly. I am sure my little nephew would have loved it there.

    Beaches and pools are a great place for kids. But the resort also offers more, especially for parents. Childcare takes care of kids above four years. After checking out the facilities I am sure it is a place kids will enjoy and parents surely will also enjoy some time off.

    Zaya Nurai Island Resort also might be the most romantic resort I have ever stayed at. At night lights are switched on ad though I stayed there by myself I assume it is the perfect romantic get-away.

    Conclusion

    Staying at Zaya Nurai Island Resort was a wonderful experience and I can truly recommend it. It seems the resort has done a lot within the last few months. The criticisms which I had previously read (no spa, only one restaurant, no alcohol in the mini bar) have all been solved.

    There is still a lot of work going on, as evidenced by the construction work I’d seen.

    Considering that Zaya Nurai Island only opened in 2015, it’s already incredible.  Zaya Nurai Island Resort is surely one of the most luxurious resorts/hotels in the Emirates. I am sure it deserves its nickname, “the Maldives of the Emirates.”

    The white, sandy beaches, the clear water, the exclusivity of a private island only accessible via boat, seaplane, or helicopter, and the beautiful accommodations with their own private pools make it a dream destination. I have never felt closer to the Maldives.

    Review: Zaya Nurai Island Resort- the Maldives of the Emirates

    Goodbye Lovely Zaya Nurai Island Resort
    Goodbye Lovely Zaya Nurai Island Resort

    More pictures on Instagram.

    More about Dubai and tips for the Emirates are here.

    Pin It on Pinterest