22 Best Things to Do in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE

When one thinks of the United Arab Emirates, it's usually Dubai that first comes to mind.

However, let me introduce you to its equally mesmerizing sibling - Abu Dhabi.

Trust me, having been fortunate enough to call this place home for quite a while now, it's a captivating city with its unique blend of tradition and modernity.

Let me walk you through the best things to do in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where the warmth of the sun meets the cool sea breeze, where the desert's serenity meets the city's hustle and bustle.

Ready to be enamored by the enchanting city of Abu Dhabi? Let’s go!

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Paddle Through Paradise at Jubail Mangrove Park

Paddling at Jubail Mangrove Park
Mahmoud_Alaydi / Shutterstock.com

The whiff of the salty air hits you the moment you step out of the car, marking the start of an unforgettable experience at Jubail Mangrove Park.

Nothing beats the feeling of embracing the early morning light as you paddle through the calm azure waters of this natural sanctuary.

Imagine starting your day surrounded by the stunning scenery where the green mangroves meet the clear blue sky.

And there's Max, with his wealth of information about this ecosystem, making the experience even more enriching.

Kayaking through the mangroves with him at the helm was simply the perfect way to kickstart the day.

The waters of Jubail Mangrove Park
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The magic doesn't end there. Imagine the experience of paddling under a soft pink sky as the sun began to set.

That's exactly what we did on the sunset tour, soaking in the serenity of the Jubail Mangrove Park.

The reflection of the setting sun on the crystal-clear water was a sight to cherish.

This isn't just a location, it's a living, breathing ecosystem that tells a beautiful story.

Aerial view of Jubail Mangrove Park
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Marvel at the Grandeur of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Marvelous exterior of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
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Here in Abu Dhabi, we are blessed with an architectural marvel that not only serves as a place of worship but also a testament to the artistic prowess of our nation.

That architectural wonder is no other than the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Each day, I get to witness the sublime beauty of the Mosque, topped with 82 magnificent white domes of varying sizes.

However, the true magic unfolds as the sun begins to set, and the soft glow of the lights illuminate the mosque.

It's a spectacle that never fails to leave me breathless.

The grandeur of this mosque is unmatched by any I've seen before.

The intricate artwork adorning the walls and the columns not only showcase our rich cultural heritage but also the meticulous craftsmanship that has gone into creating this masterpiece.

During the day, I often find myself seeking solace in the serenity of the women's wudu area or prayer room.

It's a beautiful and tranquil space adorned with stunning artwork.

Perfectly lined pillars at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Panuvat Ueachananon / Shutterstock.com

It’s an ensemble of tranquillity, spirituality, and artistry that makes Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque an anchor of our community.

The staff here are always gracious and supportive.

Their warm smiles and helpful nature contribute significantly to the overall ambience and experience of visiting the mosque.

At night, the mosque transforms into a sight to behold.

The architectural details, highlighted by clever lighting, leave me and other onlookers in awe.

I cannot help but feel immense pride in being part of a city that is home to such a magnificent edifice.

Astonishing interior of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
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Pamper Yourself at Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental

Entrance to Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental
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Ever since the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental opened its doors, my life in Abu Dhabi has been touched by a hint of luxury that's hard to match.

The sprawling beachfront property has quickly become my go-to place for relaxation and entertainment.

My days at the Palace often start with a vigorous workout at their state-of-the-art fitness center.

The center has everything I need to keep fit, right from the latest gym equipment to personal trainers who help me make the most of my workouts.

After working up a sweat, I love to head to their spa for some well-deserved pampering.

The therapists are experts in their craft and their treatments always leave me feeling rejuvenated.

It's a perfect way to recharge and get ready for the rest of the day.

The Palace is also home to some of the city's chicest restaurants and bars.

The food is phenomenal, with a variety of cuisines to cater to every palate.

The breakfast spread is simply delectable, and the fine-dining options for dinner are an experience in themselves.

Aerial view of Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental
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It's always a pleasure to indulge in their culinary delights.

But the real jewel of Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental is its marina.

Having direct and spacious beach access, I often find myself spending countless hours soaking in the sun, the breathtaking views of the sea, and the soothing sound of the waves.

The crystal-clear waters are always inviting, and the pristine sands make it a perfect spot to relax.

When I'm not at the beach, I'm usually lounging by their grand swimming pool.

The well-designed pool provides a refreshing escape from the summer heat.

The impeccable poolside service ensures I am always well-attended to with drinks and snacks, making my time by the water truly enjoyable.

Take Pictures with the Architectural Beauty: Qasr Al Watan

Breath taking exterior of Qasr Al Watan Library
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Just another day in the city and I found myself heading over to Qasr Al Watan, our presidential palace.

I must admit, every visit to this grand edifice is a breathtaking experience.

Carved out of domed marble and limestone, its majestic structure outshines every other monument in the city.

The online portal for the palace Qasr Al Watan is a convenient way to plan your trip.

The palace is not just about splendor, it's a treasure trove of history and culture.

Every corner holds a tale, every stone is steeped in tradition.

The grandeur of the mosaic-clad great hall leaves you in awe, and the extensive library, a haven for scholars, simply invites you to delve into the rich Arabian history.

My trip to the palace started at the ticket office. I had already booked my tickets on the Platinumlist App, not only was it convenient but also a bargain.

From there, I hopped on a bus, a free service provided to all visitors.

Driving is also an option, with ample parking spaces near the ticket office.

The palace tour typically takes about 1-2 hours, but for me, it felt like time stood still.

The artwork is a marvel, the detailing intricate.

The opulence of the meeting rooms and dining areas is out of this world. I must have clicked a thousand pictures, each a postcard-perfect moment.

The evenings are even more magical, with laser shows that light up the Qasr Al Watan.

Winter, though, has its own charm, making it the best season to explore this attraction.

If you intend to visit, here's a tip: maintain the dress decorum. No sleeveless or short dresses are allowed.

Also, the palace is equipped with washrooms, but don't forget to carry your own water.

Feel the Thrill at Formula Rossa

Roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
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One of the most exhilarating experiences in my life has to be my first ride on the Formula Rossa.

Known for being the world's fastest roller coaster, it doesn't disappoint.

In less than 5 seconds, this beast of a ride accelerates to a mind-blowing 240 km/h.

The moment you sit in your seat, the anticipation builds up.

You feel the adrenaline rushing through your veins, waiting for the ride to take off.

And then, in a blink, you're thrown back into your seat as the coaster zooms forward, reaching top speeds in an instant.

The wind howls around, so loud that you can barely hear your own screams.

They give us goggles to protect our eyes, which adds an extra layer of coolness and authenticity to the whole Ferrari experience.

Although the ride is amazingly fast, it's surprisingly smooth.

Dip of Formula Rossa
Pit Stock / Shutterstock.com

It's easy to mistake the smoothness for lack of speed, but the rush of the wind and the roaring sound serve as stark reminders of the breakneck speed you're traveling at.

Now, the ride is not all about speed, it has its moments of slower pace where you can catch a breath and take in the view before plunging back into the thrill.

One thing I learned from my multiple rides on the Formula Rossa is the difference in experience depending on where you sit.

My advice? Try the front seat for the best experience, it offers a whole different perspective.

Plus, it has its own queue, which is usually shorter.

Meet Marine Creatures at The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi

There's nothing more perfect for a family day out than The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi in the scorching summer heat.

It's a haven for both land and sea creatures and a fantastic escape for all ages.

It's located just a few steps away, perfect for a quick family outing.

The place is not usually crowded, which gives you the liberty to take your time and take in the beauty of all the different species.

One of my family’s favorite activities here is watching the divers feed the fishes - it's a sight to behold!

They do this around 6:30 in the evening, so if you plan to visit, try not to miss this.

The overall layout of National Aquarium Abu Dhabi is spacious, with a wonderful variety of creatures from various habitats.

The general admission ticket is reasonably priced and gives you access to all these spectacles.

There is also a glass boat tour, but personally, I think you can skip it.

The view from the top isn’t as breathtaking as it is inside the aquarium, and the tour is relatively short.

Get Closer to the Skies at the Observation Deck at 300

A person at Observation Deck at 300
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Would you like to touch the sky? Or perhaps, sip a cup of tea as the sun sets, bathing the city in a golden hue?

Look no further than the Observation Deck at 300, a lofty haven perched on the 74th floor of the prestigious Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers.

My first sojourn to this Observation Deck at 300 was on a balmy Saturday evening, lured by the promise of an infamous high tea.

As I ascended the elevator, my heart fluttered, not out of fear but exhilaration.

The doors opened to reveal a vista of floor-to-ceiling windows offering a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city.

The azure hues of the sky were a stark contrast to the city's concrete jungle below.

The Emirates Palace could be seen in the distance, glistening like a jewel in the crown of the city.

Settling into one of the best tables in the house, I was treated to an aperitif that was as delectable as it was surprising.

The high tea was a culinary marvel, an enticing array of layered sweets that proved to be a tasty treat.

Binoculars at Observation Deck at 300
Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

As the last rays of the sun disappear, the staff efficiently block off the window passage, allowing for a more relaxed view of the city's twinkling lights.

With a minimal spend of AED 55, you can enjoy a beverage accompanied by a snack, basking in the brilliance of Abu Dhabi's skyline.

Signage of the Observation Deck at 300
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Learn about Local History at Qasr Al Watan Library

Gorgeous interior of Qasr Al Watan Library
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Ever since I laid my eyes on the magnificent structure of the Qasr Al Watan Library, I knew I was in for a treat.

Stepping into it, it's as if I was welcomed into a different realm, one filled with knowledge from all corners of the world.

It's not just a library; it's an exquisite blend of modernity and tradition where old and new books coexist.

The staff here are a breath of fresh air. Their respect for every visitor is commendable, and they're always ready to help you find your next great read.

I remember my first visit here, I wanted to check out a book and they guided me through the simple process.

I deposited 400 AED for a library card, which they assured me would be refunded.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I can use the same account for the Abu Dhabi Children Library and the Qasr Al Watan Library.

Grand hallway at Qasr Al Watan Library
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This place isn't just about books, though.

It's about the atmosphere, the tranquility, the respect for learning, and the warm welcome extended to every visitor.

I've found my little sanctuary in the bustling city of Abu Dhabi.

Get Inspired at The Louvre Abu Dhabi

People looking at the displays at Louvre Abu Dhabi
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It's always a pure joy to visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a unique fusion of art and architecture situated on the shores of Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island.

It's an innovative museum that's not just surrounded by water but it's a place that bridges the gap between ancient and modern art forms.

Visit their webpage here for more information.

The moment you step foot on the premises, the first thing that catches the eye is the museum's magnificent dome, an architectural marvel that's simply admirable from a distance and even more so up close.

Every time I gaze upon it, I am left in awe.

And it's not just the exterior that marvels, the interior is just as breathtaking, with the ceiling creating a spectacle which is absolutely stunning to see.

The museum is nothing short of a treasure trove with its array of exhibitions that take you across different periods and cultures.

Each visit feels new as you delve into the historical pieces that transport you through time.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a place where you could easily lose track of time, so don't be surprised if you find yourself spending the whole day exploring.

Exterior of Louvre Abu Dhabi
Touseef designer / Shutterstock.com

And if you're a fan of the great outdoors, the museum's outside spaces are perfect for enjoying the sea breeze and the mesmerizing views of the Arabian Gulf.

It's a slice of tranquility right in the heart of the bustling city.

Adding to the overall experience is the museum's restaurant and café, perfect for a quick bite or a relaxed meal.

The food is absolutely delicious, and the outdoor terrace offers a comfortable place to unwind and soak in the surroundings.

For families, there are dedicated areas where you can relax and even feed your little ones.

People strolling around the Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Unleash Your Inner Child at Warner Bros World, Abu Dhabi

Exterior of Warner Bros World
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Every city has its charm, but not all of them boast an indoor theme park that leaves both kids and adults grinning from ear to ear.

That's where Abu Dhabi stands out, with Warner Bros World on Yas Island, a destination that's become a family favorite.

My first visit here was something to remember, the aura of the place was filled with nostalgia - all my favorite cartoon characters coming to life.

From Looney Tunes to DC Superheroes, it was a dream come true!

This indoor theme park is a blessing in the desert heat, with its cool interiors providing a pleasant environment. The rides cater to everyone.

From the scariest ones that send adrenaline pumping through your veins, to the kiddie rides that sprinkle innocent joy, there's something for everyone.

When it comes to food, the options are plentiful, albeit a little on the pricier side.

Yet, every bite feels worth the splurge when you're basking in the excitement that this place offers.

Getting around is easy too. The parking is nearby, and there are also free buggy rides to and from the parking area, which adds to the overall experience.

Sculpture at Warner Bros World
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One of the highlights is the park’s impressive cartoon-based attractions.

Every corner of Warner Bros World is filled with a well-themed atmosphere that takes you back to your childhood days.

The 3D, 4D, and even 5D attractions here are far superior to those found in other theme parks.

However, if you're an adventure junkie, you might crave for more thrilling rides.

Warner Bros World tends to lean more toward family-friendly attractions.

Interior of Warner Bros World
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Stroll through Umm Al Emarat Park

Palm trees at Umm Al Emarat Park
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Oh, you haven't truly experienced Abu Dhabi until you've spent a day at Umm Al Emarat Park.

It's a breath of fresh air, a real gem in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle.

For a mere 10 AED, which allows you multiple entries on the same day, you can explore the shade house, the botanic garden, the amphitheater, and a vast open lawn.

You wouldn't believe how big this place is! I often go there to take long walks, especially during the cooler months.

It's a great place to relax and recharge, and the best part is it's never really crowded.

Here, I can enjoy my solitude, or catch up with friends over coffee at one of the several cafes and restaurants sprinkled throughout the park.

Yet, Umm Al Emarat Park isn't just about serenity and relaxation.

The grounds of Umm Al Emarat Park
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It's a vibrant hub of activities, too, especially for kids.

From riding ponies to watching camels, rabbits, turtles, and ostrich-like birds, there's a mini zoo that garners the wonderment of children and adults alike.

Plus, there's an enormous play area sure to keep the little ones busy for hours while the adults can sit back and enjoy their time.

Amphitheater at Umm Al Emarat Park
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Defy Gravity at CLYMB Yas Island

There's a certain kind of magic to living in Abu Dhabi and having the world's tallest indoor skydiving chamber right in your backyard.

That's right, I'm talking about the famed CLYMB Yas Island, your destination for adrenaline rushes and adventurous escapades.

The first time stepping foot in this futuristic, multi-faceted building, I was instantly drawn to indoor skydiving.

Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the feeling of flying without intimidating heights.

The staff at CLYMB Yas Island, they're a friendly bunch.

They made me feel right at home, guiding me through pre-flight demonstrations and calming my pre-flight jitters.

But the fun at CLYMB doesn't stop at skydiving.

You see, they also have an indoor climbing center, and while it may not be the tallest as it claims, it still stands impressively tall.

I'm not the most experienced climber, so the towering wall looked like a daunting challenge.

But the staff on the floor were supportive and encouraging, although they can be a little pushy with their rules.

But hey, safety comes first, right?

Watch the Sunrise at Al Maryah Island

Sunset over Al Maryah Island
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Ever wondered where the heart of luxury meets the tranquility of nature?

It's right here, on Al Maryah Island.

A typical day for me begins with a refreshing jog around the park, where the smell of the morning dew mingles with the salty sea breeze.

Watching the sunrise here is an experience in itself.

As the city slowly wakes up, the island transforms into a bustling hub with modern business towers and hotels dotting the skyline.

The connectivity of the island is commendable.

There are four bridges that link the islanders to the mainland of Abu Dhabi.

A short drive across these architectural marvels takes you to Al Reem Island.

It's a sight you shouldn't miss.

With one of the finest malls, Al Maryah Island houses a galore of shopping possibilities.

The Galleria, our very own shopping haven, hosts a range of high-end outlets where you'll surely find something that catches your eye.

Dining options are aplenty too.

Whether it's an intimate dinner or a grand feast, the array of restaurants on the island caters to every palate and occasion.

Residential areas on the island are as luxurious as they come.

Nestled amidst the island's well-planned infrastructure and natural beauty, it's a privilege to call this island home.

The island is also home to a large clinic, ensuring we have access to healthcare facilities round the clock.

Cruise over Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Structure of Sheikh Zayed Bridge
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There's a certain charm about driving on the stunning Sheikh Zayed Bridge as the sun sets over the horizon.

The bridge, an architectural marvel designed by none other than Zaha Hadid, stretches for 842 meters, standing tall at 64 meters high.

As I cruise along this grand structure, I cannot help but marvel at the complexity of its design, which many say is the most intricate one ever built.

Every ride feels like an experience in itself. The bridge's curved arches bring to mind the undulating sand dunes that are so representative of our region.

But what truly sets this bridge apart is the dynamic lighting that subtly shifts across its spine, adding a sense of fluidity to its silhouette.

In the evening, the bridge is a sight to behold, its beautiful lights reflecting off the water below.

The road of Sheikh Zayed Bridge
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Adjacent to the ancient Maqtaa Bridge, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge offers a splendid view of the Maqta Fort and the grand canal of Abu Dhabi.

This wonderful mix of the old and new, the traditional and the modern, is what makes this place so special.

Have a Splash at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi

Signage of Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
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I can't count the number of times I've been to Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi.

Every visit is as exciting and thrilling as the first one.

The place is a perfect blend of adrenaline-fueled waterslides and static surfing waves that never fail to deliver a jolt of excitement.

My most memorable visit was during a Philippine-themed event.

The ambiance was filled with vibrant energy with a crowd that was nothing short of exuberant.

A poolside party, non-stop dancing, entertaining live band performances, and hilarious stand-up comedy acts - the atmosphere was absolutely electric.

Being there with your loved ones on weekends is an experience that’s hard to beat.

But there's more to Yas Waterworld than just its thrilling rides.

Despite the exciting chaos, there were times when we couldn't experience all the rides due to the crowd.

Swimming pool at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
Vladimir Zhoga / Shutterstock.com

But that’s just another reason to come back. The park also has an array of shopping and dining options that cater to everyone's taste buds.

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is more than just a water park. It's a fantastic destination that offers something for everyone in the family.

From exciting rides that will get your heart pounding to a designated side area for the young ones and comfortable cabanas for the family.

Add to that the numerous eating and drinking places, and it becomes clear why it’s one of the best in Abu Dhabi.

Waterslides at Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
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Feel the Adrenaline Rush at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Bird's eye view of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend, amidst the stunning backdrop of Yas Island, I find an adrenaline rush at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

It's more than just a theme park; it's an embodiment of the Ferrari spirit.

The park's iconic structure, inspired by the classic double-curve side profile of the Ferrari GT body, is a sight to behold.

Underneath its enormous red roof, it houses a plethora of high-octane rides, captivating attractions, and immersive experiences.

Every time I visit, I make it a point to ride the Formula Rossa - the world's fastest rollercoaster.

The thrill of reaching speeds of over 240 km/h in under five seconds is sheer joy for a speed enthusiast like me.

There's never a dull moment with a variety of state-of-the-art simulators and live shows that keep the excitement levels soaring.

The park is not just about thrill rides. It's an Italian culinary tour with a selection of authentic restaurants that promise a gastronomic delight.

Souvenir shop at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock.com

However, be prepared to loosen your purse strings, as the food and shops here can be a bit expensive.

For families with small children less than 1.3m in height, the offerings might be a tad disappointing.

But worry not, there are baby trolleys available for rent, although they're not particularly cheap.

One pro tip: try to get there early. The park can get crowded, and you'll want to get on your favorite rides before the queues start building up.

And remember, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is open 365 days a year, so there's always a chance for a re-visit.

Have a Family Day at Corniche Beach

Corniche Beach during sunset
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There's a certain charm to evenings spent at Corniche Beach, one of the few beaches with international clean-water status.

It's like having a little piece of paradise right here in our city. The beach is split into two sections.

One side offers a free entry where you can swim and enjoy the waves but remember, seating arrangements are to be made by yourself.

On the other hand, the paid beach offers you a bench and other amenities.

This makes the experience more comfortable and relaxing.

This site has become our go-to spot for family hangouts.

Sandy shore of Corniche Beach
Stephen Bridger / Shutterstock.com

The breeze is gentle, and the beauty of the beach is everlasting.

You can just keep walking, breathing in the salty sea air until you're tired, yet the sight never gets old.

There's always a good crowd at the Corniche Beach, full of life and energy.

The sight of people skating, jogging, or simply playing with their kids adds to the wholesome environment.

Corniche Beach Promenade
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Journey through Time at the Abu Dhabi History Museum and Aquarium

What better way to spend a quiet afternoon than immersing oneself in the rich tapestry of Abu Dhabi's past?

The Abu Dhabi History Museum and Aquarium is an often overlooked gem tucked away inside Khalifa Park.

Despite its small size, this institution holds a wealth of artifacts and exhibits that narrate the emirate's growth from its humble beginnings to the vibrant metropolis it is today.

The journey through the museum begins in a suspended cart, which can comfortably fit four people, a unique feature that adds an element of excitement.

As it meanders through the museum, it pauses briefly at various exhibits, allowing visitors to take in the historical significance.

It's like a miniature time machine whisking you through the annals of our city's history.

Having disembarked from the cart ride, visitors are led through an enchanting aquarium.

The soft lighting and gentle murmur of the water create a serene atmosphere that's a perfect counterpoint to the vibrant history section of the museum.

As the indoor tour concludes, the experience extends to an outdoor exhibit adjacent to Khalifa Park.

It's an ideal spot for a leisurely stroll, particularly during the cool winter months.

And the best part?

The entrance is only 7 AED, making it an affordable outing for the family.

While the museum could benefit from a few more interactive exhibits to engage its visitors, its charm lies in its simplicity.

The mini aquarium at the end of the tour is an unexpected delight, adding a touch of sparkle to the experience.

Get Up Close with Animals at Emirates Park Zoo

Lion at Emirates Park Zoo
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There's something quite magical about a day out at Emirates Park Zoo.

Nestled in the heart of our city, it's become a favorite weekend spot for families, mine included.

The park boasts a fantastic array of wildlife and hands-on experiences that never fail to captivate and educate.

The sun can be harsh during the summer afternoons, so when we plan our visits with the kids, we make sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection.

As the day cools, one of the highlights at the park begins - the sea lion show.

The show starts at 6.30 pm and is an absolute delight, with the graceful sea lions performing tricks that have all the kids clapping and cheering.

But the real charm of the Emirates Park Zoo lies in its opportunities for animal interaction.

The kids are always thrilled to participate in the elephant and giraffe feeding sessions.

There's a thrill in their eyes as they get to be that close to these magnificent animals.

Kids feeding the turtles at Emirates Park Zoo
Anastasia Pelikh / Shutterstock.com

My kids simply adore the 'Breakfast with Giraffes' and 'Lunch with Leopards' experiences.

It's not every day you get to share a meal with such unique dining companions!

The park offers more than animal interactions.

The children can also partake in go-carting, ziplining, and obstacle courses.

There's even a pony ride for the little ones.

Tourists feeding the giraffe at Emirates Park Zoo
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Take Photographs at the Fossil Dunes

Sunny day at Fossil Dunes
AY Amazefoto / Shutterstock.com

Stepping out onto the famed Fossil Dunes of Al Wathba left me with a feeling of awe.

It's not every day you get to see ancient, fossilised dunes up close.

There's something about their natural formation - shaped by wind, sand, and time, that stirs up a sense of wonder.

I remember the first time I visited, armed with my trusty camera.

It was a scorching afternoon, and although the heat was intense, the sight that greeted me was worth it.

But a word of advice, it's best to go prepared with water, snacks, and a full tank of petrol, as the dunes are quite a distance from the city and amenities are sparse.

As a photography enthusiast, I was captivated by the sheer beauty of the dunes, especially at night.

Sunset at Fossil Dunes
NSThakki / Shutterstock.com

The way the lights illuminate them is simply stunning. If you're lucky, you might even be able to catch the evening light show - a sight you won't want to miss.

The Fossil Dunes are extremely well maintained and equipped with toilets, free parking, and even a couple of food trucks that open in the late afternoon.

I often grab a cup of coffee or a quick snack from the food trucks after a long walk along the kilometer-long trail system.

The trails wind through the dunes, giving you the opportunity to observe them up close.

Visiting in daylight offers a different kind of treat. You can see the entire site in a breathtaking 360° view.

Structures at Fossil Dunes
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Spot the Wildlife at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Tall grasses at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
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One of my favorite places to unwind and get in touch with nature is the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve.

Just close to the city of Abu Dhabi, this reserve provides a unique blend of desert terrain and wetland marshes, making it home to diverse wildlife such as eagles and large flocks of flamingos.

I find myself visiting there quite often, especially during the winter season when the reserve opens its doors to the public.

Every visit to Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is an adventure waiting to unfold.

On a typical day, I would set out for a leisurely walk on one of the nature trails, taking me across dunes and sand flats.

The Flamingo Trail, stretching over 3 kilometers, is my personal favorite.

Completing this trail usually takes me around an hour and a half, but for the more fitness-savvy, it can be done in about 45 minutes.

Nevertheless, I prefer to take it slow, soaking in the serene ambiance and resting along the way.

After all, it's not about the destination but the journey.

The reserve operates from 8 am to 4 pm daily, except for Mondays.

Flmaboyance of Flamingo at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
malangusha / Shutterstock.com

However, it's best to plan your visit during winter as it remains closed during summer.

Once there, the sight that greets you is truly breathtaking.

Flocks of flamingos gracefully stride across the marshes, painting a beautiful picture against the backdrop of the desert landscape.

It's also advisable to carry a hat and some snacks, as the weather can get a bit hot.

On my last visit, I had the opportunity to join a guided tour around the wetlands.

It was an enriching experience, with the guide sharing interesting information about the wildlife inhabiting the reserve.

I even got a closer look at the flamingos and ducks during the car ride around the wetlands.

Tourists walking on the narrow trail at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve
Eusaphzae / Shutterstock.com

See Vintage Cars at Emirates National Auto Museum

Display of cars at Emirates National Auto Museum
Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Living just a few miles away from the Emirates National Auto Museum, I've had the pleasure of visiting this hidden gem more times than I can count.

This place is a paradise for any car enthusiast.

Nestled in the heart of the desert, the museum is home to a vast array of vintage and modified cars, trucks, and military vehicles.

The variety of cars there is impressive, to say the least. From classic American hot rods to elegant European vehicles, there's something for everyone's taste.

You can see the love and effort that Sheikh has put into maintaining these magnificent machines.

Visiting Emirates National Auto Museum is like taking a trip back in time, where you can see the evolution of the automobile industry.

The vehicles are housed in a pyramid-shaped building that is air-conditioned, but sometimes I must admit, it can get a bit warm inside.

Exterior of Emirates National Auto Museum
Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Also, it's important to note that they only accept cash for the entrance fee.

I learned this the hard way on my first visit, but now, I always come prepared.

And remember, you'd need at least three hours to thoroughly explore the collection.

Vintage cars at Emirates National Auto Museum
Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

Take a Dip at Saadiyat Beach

Saadiyat Beach view
Myroslava Bozhko / Shutterstock.com

As Abu Dhabi's gem, Saadiyat Beach has been my ultimate go-to place whenever I need to unwind.

Nestled in the heart of the city, it's truly a paradise with its stretch of soft, white sand that's reminiscent of the Maldives and the clear, turquoise water that's never crowded.

The beach is wide and long enough for a leisurely stroll, and the waves are just amazing - perfect for a gentle swim or a fun-filled frolic.

On certain days, the sunsets are a sight to behold.

Imagine the sun and the sea becoming one in a glorious display of nature's beauty.

Boardwalk at Saadiyat Beach
SimonPRBenson / Shutterstock.com

While there's an entry fee to Saadiyat Beach, trust me, every penny spent is worth it.

It's probably the cleanest beach I've visited, boasting super clean blue waters.

And after a day of swimming, you can freshen up in the clean bathrooms that are readily available.

Turquoise blue waves crashing on the white sands at Saadiyat Beach
Myroslava Bozhko / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

It's a privilege to be living in such a diverse and vibrant city as Abu Dhabi.

The dichotomy between the modern and traditional, the man-made and the natural, is what makes this place so special.

It's an ever-changing city that continues to surprise and delight - and I'm glad to call it home.

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