Things to do in Abu Dhabi that don’t include Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. To be honest, I wasn’t the least bit interested in Ferrari World. As beautiful as they can be, cars rarely excite me.
Abu Dhabi is to Dubai what Mississauga is to Toronto. A bustling, growing city that’s just not there yet. That’s a good thing. Abu Dhabi is a less crowded, less noisy option in the UAE. And if you want even less crowds and noise, try Al Ain.
Regardless, Abu Dhabi is a spectacular city with lots to offer. Two days were enough to explore the touristy places.
Where I stayed
Cousin’s condo across Dalma Mall.
Nissan Sunny car rental from Thrifty.
Abu Dhabi Itinerary
My first time jet skiing and it was in the Persian Gulf waters. It was exhilarating, despite seeing one too many people fall off their jet ski.
Fun fact: When handed raggedy life jackets, I wondered if they even worked. In the water, I was getting the hang of maneuvering a jet ski. Racing at maximum speed, I made a sharp turn and felt a whoosh behind me as my little sister went flying (she was sitting behind me, arms around my torso). My sister is not a good swimmer. I quickly slowed to turn around. Utter relief swept over me. She was afloat. I started to giggle. She was drenched and in shock and took a while to clamber back on my jet ski.
We rented jet skis from Blue Whale Jet Ski, located across the smelly Al Mina Fish Market.
A smaller mall with American stores. You can ride the Marina Eye, which is located across the parking lot.
Extravagance. A shiny, gold hotel where the washrooms offer towels to dry your hands. Here’s the catch: restaurant reservation are required to enter the premises (unless you’re a UAE/Oman citizen). My cousin made reservations and security let us through the gates.
Sheikh Zayed Bridge
An interesting place to explore at night. Park in Al Maqta Fort’s parking lot and walk back, along the road. There is an opening along the wooden fence to your left. There is a whole lot of sand to walk through until you reach the bridge. Experience the thrill if you’re able to climb and stand atop a bridge peak. Look down to the vast ocean, while cars on both sides zoom past. I was way too anxious to climb any higher.
Better than Marina Mall and decorated like it’s Christmas everyday, with all the lights. This is where I fell in love with the Tim Horton’s cookies n’ creme frappe. If Canada offered it, they would have all my money.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
It’s a popular tourist place for a reason. Stunning architecture, glorious lighting and the evening sky made it all formidable. I caught Mahgrib here, the evening Islamic prayer, and was surprised to see the ladies prayer room so tiny. A huge mosque with a tiny prayer room. Go figure. Ladies, if you aren’t wearing mosque-appropriate clothing, you can borrow a long, hooded robe from the mosque entrance. Men should be in long pants and an appropriate top. I had borrowed my cousin’s daughter’s abaya (long black cloak).
For my itinerary, around CAD $200. However, only the jet skiing cost money. I stayed at my cousin’s house so food was provided. For a single person, it depends on how many attractions will be visited. I recommend checking the prices of attractions on their websites to help set your budget. Restaurant food is priced either similar to or less than the cost of food in Canada. Groceries are more expensive.
Driving in Abu Dhabi
Check out my blog post on driving in Dubai. It’s the same all over the UAE. Driving from Dubai, or from Al Ain, to Abu Dhabi is a piece of cake. Roads are rarely congested. Although, be careful with missing an exit. It’s not like Canada or the United States where you can take the next highway exit. In the UAE you will continue to drive for a while until the next roundabout to make a u-turn.
Abu Dhabi immerses you in the Middle Eastern landscape, architecture and hospitality, while letting you stay in the comfort of western living. If you’d like the taste of an ultra-luxurious lifestyle then this place is a must visit.
Share your questions or tips on visiting Abu Dhabi in the comments below!