A Day in Abu Dhabi – That’s All You Need

Apologies for the bump in posting – 1.) BoardingArea underwent a server move for a few days, and 2.) I have already admitted this in the past – I’m completely terrible at staying connected when I’m traveling.

I’m finally on my way back home after an amazing 10-day trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and The Maldives with friends (can anyone guess what flight I’m on? I’ll even pass along a prize to the winner…). Now that I have just a few hours left in the air, I figured I’d bang out a quick Abu Dhabi trip report.

This was my first time visiting UAE, and I’m glad I cut my Abu Dhabi stay drastically. Originally I had planned 2 nights/3 days in Abu Dhabi, and at the very last minute, I decided a 12-hour “day trip” would be sufficient – and it sure was.

Getting there: If you’re considering a day trip from Dubai like I did, allow yourself 90-minutes each way by car in normal traffic and/or a ~$60 taxi fare. One thing that surprised me about UAE in general was that taxis are so damn reasonable.

If you haven’t made your way over to Abu Dhabi yet, here’s a few things you can see and do to capture what the city has to offer in just a day:

1. Visit the Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is truly a spectacular site that’s open from 9am – 10 pm daily. Admission is free and so is parking; there are also plenty of taxi cabs near by if you don’t have access car of your own. The dress code is strictly enforced (see image below). I was dressed pretty conservatively (sweater and long pants), and I was still given a traditional robe to cover up with (abaya).





 2. Check Out the New Etihad Towers

Take a moment to swing by the Etihad Towers for some nice panoramic views of Abu Dhabi. Located right across the street from Emirates Palace Hotel, Etihad Towers is the perfect spot for a mid-day lunch break. My friends and I chose to have “a lunch with a view” at Quest, on the 63rd floor. There was a 3-course fixed price menu for about ~$50 per person. Each table is located in a private room with floor-to-ceiling windows and superb service.


3. Visit Emirates Palace Hotel

If you want a taste of the UAE luxurious lifestyle, take 10-20 minutes (at most) to stroll through the Emirates Palace Hotel. You’ll see lots of Lamborghini’s, Ferraris, and Bentleys parked out front. They even have a “Gold ATM” inside… just incase you need to stock up on your supply, of course.

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4. Spend Time at Ferrari World

If you’re looking for a thrill, a break from the heat, or perhaps you want to ride the world’s fastest roller-coaster inside the largest indoor amusement park on Earth, be sure to check out Ferrari World, a Ferarri-themed amusement park. We tried to make it to Ferrari World at the end of the day, but unfortunately we were unaware that the amusement park closed at 8 pm that evening. The was a major bummer because it looked like a cool place to have fun.

5. Stay at Hyatt Capital Gate

We spent one night at the Hyatt Capital Gate to make it easier to get to AUH the next morning for our flight to the Maldives, and wow what a cool stay it was! The Capital Gate building is a futuristic and modern architectural wonder with its awesome “leaning” design. Even if you don’t have a chance to spend the night, be sure to stop for pictures of the building as you drive by it.

That pretty much sums up my visit to Abu Dhabi. Like Singapore, I honestly believe one day in Abu Dhabi is enough. What about you? For those who have also visited Abu Dhabi, what else would you recommend?


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  1. Santastico says

    I would agree with you that 12 hours in Abu Dhabi and Singapore would be enough if all you want is to “check” that you’ve been there and place a pin in your travel map. Yes, you can rush to the main sites, take pictures and leave but these are places that you should spend more time to explore. I haven’t been to Abu Dhabi but many times to Singapore and the more I go there the more I find new things to do. At least for me, these are places where I like to explore how the locals live, eat in non tourist restaurants, explore hidden streets where you find amazing little markets selling local stuff. Again, that is my style. When I was younger I visited Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls all in 2.5 days by car and I was amazed I had visited all those places in such short time. Well, now I see that I only have pictures of the tourist places and I haven’t explored those cities at all.

  2. Worldtraveller73 says

    I’m going to guess Emirates for your routing, with a stopover in DXB, although the same combination (Americas / Europe – UAE – Maldives) can be done via AUH on Eithad.

    I agree. There is not a lot in Abu Dhabi at the moment. In 2015 when everything is built on Saadiyat Island, it might be a different story.

  3. Joey says

    On the outbound you flew Swiss so I presume you’re on the same flight back?
    I’ve never been to AUH but good to know you only needed a day to see it.

  4. Andrew yvR says

    We are doing 3 days in Dubai and 48 hours in Abu Dhabi over our honeymoon. I wish Saadiyat was ready or even Masdar city, but it will be interesting to see it all in progress.

  5. Freeman says

    A day might be enough for Abu Dhabi, but you definitely need three days in Singapore, if nothing else for the food!

  6. says

    The chandelier in the Grand Mosque–I want one of those!

    BTW, the only Mosques that are larger than Abu Dhabi’s are in Mecca and Medina, making it the largest Mosque in the world outside of Saudi Arabia!

  7. Scott says

    Agreed, Singapore requires much more time that a day. You can’t even go through a single museum in a day (there are 3 major ones). The food, Clarke Quay, the night safari at the zoo, Chinatown, and little India require much more time. I’m sure there is more that I don’t know about. Any large city likely requires months to fully appreciate.

    I was there for 5 days and never got bored.

  8. Sean says

    I’d agree you can do SIN in a day, but preferably would have two. IMO, you could do a couple hawker stands, orchard road, and MBS in a day. Sure, a second day is needed for night safari, sentosa, little india, etc. But to me, the highlight of SIN is the food. And this can be sampled easily in a day.

  9. Michelle O'Neil says

    Thanks for this advice on Abu Dhabi 1-day trip! If I had only 1 day in Phuket, I would recommend such a schedule: visit the famous Buddhist Wat Chalong temple in the morning, then the Big Buddha – another sacred place with some spectacular views of the island, then explore some of the most popular beaches on the West side of the island Kata, Karon, Patong, and see a beautiful sunset from the viewpoint of Laem Sing beach. Then finish it off with a show and dinner program at Phuket FantaSea Thai Cultural Themepark. Their show is wonderful and apparently been named as the best show in Thailand. The buffet is in a really grand restaurant, which is supposed to be the largest such facility in Asia. There are also plenty of shops with reasonably priced Thai souvenirs and handicrafts for your souvenir shopping. That’s just my advice for a 1-day Phuket experience! Enjoy your travels!


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