Abu Dhabi Guide
Things to Do in Abu Dhabi in 3 Days
A few years ago Abu Dhabi was still a hidden gem and people would rather visit Dubai than its bigger sister. However, over the last years, there has been a lot going on in Abu Dhabi and it is definitely worth to visit the capital of the Emirates.
I visited Abu Dhabi for three nights and I did not get to see and do as much as I wanted.
The reason is simple: I just stayed at Zaya Nurai Island for too long (which is the most gorgeous island/beach in all of the United Arab Emirates) and, thus, had about 6 hours less than originally planned and missed out on a few activities that were on my list. However, I would love to share my thoughts about things to do in Abu Dhabi.
However, I have prepared a list with must-see activities for Abu Dhabi and think, this guide helps first-time visitors.
Abu Dhabi Guide for First-Time Visitors
Do´s and Don´ts in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi probably is not as famous as Dubai (both cities border each other) but is actually the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and also has quite a lot to offer.
While I have written a more detailed post about the differences of Dubai and Abu Dhabi I recommend Abu Dhabi to anyone who enjoys nice beaches and a more authentic feeling of the UAE.
What to Wear in Abu Dhabi
Though UAE is an Islamic country, you do not have to cover – either as a female or a male tourist. However, you should be aware that there are dress codes in many places like shopping malls or public places.
Dress Code for Females in Abu Dhabi
You can wear bikinis at the beach and shorts/skirts in many places but probably should not take 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 the dressing behavior in Abu Dhabi as well).
Scroll down to read more about “What to pack for 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 in public (except in restaurants etc.) and do not get totally drunk.
Follow the dress code
Is Abu Dhabi Safe for Tourists?
I personally think Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, is a great place to visit as a tourist, because it is safe – Abu Dhabi tourist places are safe in terms of crime, terror, and also a great solo female travel destination (read more about safety in the UAE here).
Best Time to Visit
I recommend visiting Abu Dhabi between October-March, as it gets really hot in summer. I visited the UAE several times and it was actually too hot for me in October and April (and even March is still a bit too hot for me), but I am not good with heat.
If you enjoy heat then April and June, and September should be fine as well but be aware that some activities are not offered during the summer months and some restaurants etc. are closed during the time.
If you visit the UAE (or any Islamic country) you probably should avoid the time during Ramadan as well. During this time, which last about 4 weeks, Muslims are not allowed to drink or eat during the day, which has also an effect on tourists as some restaurants are not open during the day and drinking and eating in public is not welcome. There is also a stricter dress code and less alcohol available.
To check out the best prices for your flight ticket to Abu Dhabi click here.
When is Ramadan (Ramadan changes every year)
In 2018 Ramadan starts in the middle of May -until mid-June
in 2019 it is mostly during May
Where to Sleep in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has some amazing hotels – the standard is pretty high and so are the prices. Though Abu Dhabi´s hotels seem a bit more affordable than in Dubai it is not a budget destination, even cheaper hotels offer good value for money.
5* Luxury Accommodation in Abu Dhabi:
Zaya Nurai Island Resort (also my favorite place in Abu Dhabi)
Millennium Corniche Hotel Abu Dhabi (I stayed here as well and it is really good value for money)
St. Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi (Saadiyat has one of the most beautiful beaches in all of UAE).
3* and 4* Accommodation in Abu Dhabi:
Check out the best prices for hotels in Abu Dhabi or click on each link to find out more about the hotel
What to Wear in Abu Dhabi / What to Pack for Abu Dhabi (Mostly for Females)
Things you should pack for your Abu Dhabi trip (apart from your basics, like luggage or underwear and toiletries)
Most important of all: Sun protection and after sun treatment (even in winter)
A hat is more than just an accessory in Dubai, so my must-have item for Dubai is a stylish hat
Abu Dhabi is made for maxi dresses, to get your own maxi dress click here (try to avoid dark and synthetical materials and stick to cotton etc.)
Linen trousers are great to wear (covers legs and protects from heat – get them here
You can wear short skirts in most places – but I would still recommend to have them not too short and to be aware that they are not appropriate everywhere
Some long skirts should be on your list
The more the merrier – my rule for hot destinations – this applies especially for tops
Blouses should be on your list (for the evening, some places that do not allow naked arms, or for the winter)
Shorts are great for the beach
Some cardigans for winter or the evening
Most of the women I saw in Abu Dhabi were wearing flat shoes though you can hardly be overdressed in some restaurants and malls
It is totally fine to wear bikinis in Abu Dhabi
I love kaftans and think, it is best to wear from the beach back to the hotel room etc. Luckily, they look super cool these days
Flip Flops are my must-have for beach days
Pack an international Adapter – check if you need one
Do not forget to take your camera equipment
Things to Do in Abu Dhabi in 3 Days
While Dubai is crazy, Abu Dhabi is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle though it still has developed over the last years and though the most famous sight might be the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque there is much more to see. If you enjoy relaxing at the beach luxurious hotels and some shopping activities you will not get bored at all, but if you have only three days at Abu Dhabi choose from some of the tips.
1) Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque is one of the most stunning, or probably the most building I have ever seen. Th beauty is just beyond words, and it is worth to crowds and the abaya you have to wear despite the heat. If possible, visit it during the day and at night time.
More Places to See in Abu Dhabi
2) Visit Corniche, which is a beautiful promenade with access to the public beach. The beaches in Abu Dhabi are nicer than in Dubai. The water is clearer and the sand finer, and in October, the beaches and the promenade were still pretty empty. It is also a nice place to just walk, jog, or ride a bike with some nice views of Abu Dhabi.
3) Do a Yellow Speedboat Tour with Arabian Adventures. You see a lot and can enjoy the fresh breeze. It took about an hour and it is the best thing you can do outside because it is extremely refreshing, you can forget the heat even in the hottest summer months.
4) Visit Emirates Palace, which is one of the most expensive and luxurious hotels in the world. I had lunch at one of the restaurants, but you can visit even without dining there – the guards might ask you what you’re doing there so be prepared for an answer. If you are thinking about staying here overnight click here to find out about the prices.
What else to do in Abu Dhabi
5) Visit Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. To be honest I did not visit Ferrari World. I was interested in visiting (as it is apparently more than just cars and a big theme park with crazy roller coasters), but since my time was very limited I skipped it. If you are into theme parks and/or interested in cars, it should be on your list, but plan a full day for that activity.
6) Relax at Saadiyat Island – it is probably the most beautiful public beach in Abu Dhabi.
7) Go (window) shopping. Of course, Abu Dhabi has some big shopping centers like Marina Mall, but I left it out.
8) See Abu Dhabi from above and go to Etihad Towers Observation Desk. You might remember those views from the Furios 7 movie. As I have a thing for great views it was on my list but I did spend too much time Zaya Nurai Island so that I ran out of time. It is on my list for my next Abu Dhabi trip.
9) Visit Zaya Nurai Island. I wanted to do several of the activities which I did not do, as for example visiting the Etihad Towers. However, I missed out because I spent too much time at Zaya Nurai Island Resort which is a private island that has been voted to one of the most incredible islands by Conde Nast Traveller UK.
Depending on your budget you could either book one of their incredible villas or if you are on a budget you can get a day pass which is surely worth each penny. For more about the island check out my posts and convince yourself to visit the island.
The best deals for hotels are here – so get your own offer and save money.
If you want the best deals for tours in Abu Dhabi click here.
You Only Have Time for a Day Trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai?
If you only have one day or a few hours in Abu Dhabi (you can use a hop-on and hop-off bus from Dubai to get to Abu Dhabi) make sure you visit the Grand Mosque (day and night time), go to Corniche beach to relax and walk along the Corniche promenade and visit Emirates Palace.
What to Do in Abu Dhabi in 2 Days?
You have a bit more than 24 hours but not 3 days in Abu Dhabi to spend? The Sheikh Zayed Mosque should be on your list, as well some resting time at the Corniche beach, a visit at Emirates Palace and a Speedboat tour. Then you should visit Zaya Nurai Island either with a day pass to Zaya Nurai Island or even with an overnight stay.
Disclaimer: Arabian Adventures and Zaya Nurai Island Resort invited me as their guests. But all opinions are my own. 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.
Things to Do in Abu Dhabi in 3 Days
Things to do in Abu Dhabi in 2 or 3 Days