Last Updated on August 1, 2023
If you’re looking for ways to spend a few days in Abu Dhabi, this itinerary will give you some ideas of what to see, the best time to visit, and where you should stay. Whether you have 2, 3, or 4 days to spare, we’ve got you covered. With attractions like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Ferrari World, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this fascinating city. Not to mention, Abu Dhabi has some seriously amazing Instagram spots for perfect photo opportunities! So why not get started planning your trip today?
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Table of Contents
What Can I Wear in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is a city that’s full of culture and traditions. While it’s modern in many ways, there are still certain customs that should be respected. That includes the way you dress, particularly taking into consideration the fact that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country.
For men, it’s generally recommended to wear long pants and shirts that cover your chest. You’ll also want to avoid anything too revealing or tight-fitting. It’s also a good idea to avoid shorts, unless you’re at the beach or pool.
As for women, there is a bit more leniency when it comes to clothing. However, you’ll still want to dress modestly and avoid anything too revealing. Skirts and dresses that fall below the knee are usually a safe bet. Make sure your chest and shoulders are covered. Again, shorts are generally only appropriate at the beach or pool. If you’re visiting a Mosque (which is included in our Abu Dhabi itinerary), you should wear a head covering. Please note that at the mosques, transparent clothing is not permitted even if you are covering your legs and arms.
When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Wearing more conservative clothing is a sign of respect for the local culture. Plus, you’ll be less likely to attract unwanted attention. So, if you’re not sure what to wear, it’s always better to go with something that covers up a bit more.
Finally, remember that it is extremely hot in Abu Dhabi! You’ll want to dress for comfort as well as modesty. Light, breathable fabrics are your best bet. And don’t forget the sunscreen!
How Many Days in Abu Dhabi are Enough?
So you’re thinking of heading to Abu Dhabi, huh? Maybe you’ve got some business there, or maybe you just want to check out the city’s famous luxury hotels and resorts. But how many days do you really need to spend in Abu Dhabi to get a good taste of what the city has to offer?
Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re just interested in seeing the sights and doing some shopping, then a couple of days should be enough. However, if you want to experience everything that Abu Dhabi has to offer, then you’ll need to give yourself about a week.
We personally wouldn’t recommend less than three days. This will give you sufficient time to see all the major highlights. If you’re interested in exploring local neighborhoods and Emirati culture more in depth, try to tack on a few extra days!
With a week or more, you can get a little taste of life outside the city in the amazing Arabian desert, and perhaps stop by glitzy Dubai, just next door.
How to Get to Abu Dhabi
Despite being a world away there are multiple popular ways to get to Abu Dhabi.
Most Popular: Fly to Abu Dhabi
There are a few different ways to get to Abu Dhabi by plane. The most common way is to fly into the Abu Dhabi International Airport, which is located just outside of the city. If you’re coming from Europe or Asia, there are direct flights into Abu Dhabi from many major airports, and there are also strong connections to North America.
Alternative: Fly to Dubai and Drive
If you’re looking to experience the best of what the United Arab Emirates has to offer, then flying to Dubai and driving to Abu Dhabi is a great option. This way, you can see the iconic cityscape of Dubai as well as the beautiful sandy beaches and luxurious resorts of Abu Dhabi.
It’s a great option if you’re torn between Abu Dhabi vs. Dubai!
The drive between the two cities is relatively short, so you won’t have to spend too much time on the road. Plus, there’s plenty to see and do in both places, so if you’ve got the time, this is a great way to get a taste of the country’s two major cities!
How to Get Around Abu Dhabi
No matter how you arrive in Abu Dhabi, you will need to seriously think about how to get around in the car-centric city.
Get Around Abu Dhabi Without a Car
Once you’re at the airport, getting into the city is easy. There are plenty of taxis and ride share services that can take you into town. If you’re taking a taxi, be sure to agree on a price before getting in so you don’t get ripped off.
Taxis are a great way to get around Abu Dhabi. Taxis are relatively inexpensive, and they can take you anywhere you need to go. Just be sure to hail a taxi from a reputable company, and always agree on a fare before getting in the car.
Buses are another great option for getting around Abu Dhabi. The public bus system is cheap and efficient, and it can take you almost anywhere you need to go. Just be sure to check the schedules ahead of time so you know when the buses are running. Also be aware that it is not overly common for tourists to take the bus, so you might be receiving a few stares, but otherwise taking the bus is perfectly fine.
Walking is also an option to get around some areas Abu Dhabi, but is generally not preferred. Between certain areas or destinations it is certainly possible, but most of the main attractions are quite spread out, not to mention the intense heat that you can experience most of the year. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
Car Rental Abu Dhabi
There are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to rent a car in Abu Dhabi. The first is the cost. Renting a car can be expensive, and is generally only worth it if you plan on driving each day to one or more different locations. However, if you plan in advance car rental in Abu Dhabi can be quite reasonable, and the price of fuel is also quite low compared to European and most United States prices. Secondly, you need to consider how comfortable you are driving a car in a foreign country. We’ve prepared a complete guide to Driving in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that will easily have you prepared for your trip.
Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore sites that are further away from each other. Plus, parking is plentiful (and usually free!). We’d recommend renting a car if you are able to as it gives you a lot more flexibility to choose the timing of your itinerary.
Ultimate 2 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Abu Dhabi is a relatively small city, but it’s still jam-packed with things to do! When visiting Abu Dhabi, especially if you are a first-timer, you’ll undoubtedly want to see the city’s major highlights and attractions. We’ve put together this Abu Dhabi itinerary for those who don’t have a full week to spare, but want to see the sights and scenes that Abu Dhabi is known for.
Day 1 of 2 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Day 1 of your 2 days in Abu Dhabi itinerary is a busy one! Be sure to wear comfy shoes and pace yourself. You’ll see some incredible architecture, panoramic views, and interesting museums. Top it off with your choice of a visit to Soul Beach or a quick shopping trip to Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island.
Visit Qasr Al Watan (Presidential Palace)
Qasr Al Watan is the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, and it’s definitely worth a visit! The building itself is very impressive, and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and an expansive square in front of the main entrance.
The palace was designed by a French architect and completed in 2019. It covers an area of about 4,000 sq meters (43,000 sq ft) and has a total of 200 rooms. The interior of the palace is decorated with beautiful marble, chandeliers, and intricate designs. Visitors are free to tour the palace grounds and see the presidential suite, as well as several museums and art galleries. There is also a library on site that contains over 100,000 books.
Inside, you can learn about the history of the United Arab Emirates, and see some of the amazing gifts that have been given to the country’s leaders over the years.
There’s also a great café on site, so you can grab a coffee or a bite to eat after your visit.
Location on Google Maps: Qasr Al Watan
Hours: Opening hours are 11:00 AM to 6:30 PM Tuesday through Sunday; Closed Monday
Cost: AED 65 for adults ($17.70 USD) tickets GYG
Helpful Tips: Check out the Palace in Motion light show if you’re able! The light show happens daily at 7:30 PM.
Observation Deck at 300
Located on the 74th floor of Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, the Observation Deck at 300 offers stunning panoramic views of the city. As the highest observation deck in the city, it should come as no surprise that this is a major attraction in Abu Dhabi.
Stay for afternoon tea if you’d like (AED 250 or $68 USD) which includes yummy treats, tea and coffee, and mocktails.
Location on Google Maps: Observation Deck at 300
Hours: The Observation Deck at 300 is open from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM Monday through Saturday; Closed Sundays
Cost: AED 95 – includes an AED 55 credit towards food or drink ($25.90 USD)
Helpful Tips: If you are a fan of sunsets (I mean, who isn’t?), this is a spectacular place to watch the sun dip below the horizon. You can adjust your Abu Dhabi itinerary to come here in the evening if it sounds like an experience you’d enjoy!
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Whether or not you’ve ever visited the original Louvre in Paris, this international museum experience in Abu Dhabi is a must! In a somewhat unexpected alliance between France and the United Arab Emirates, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors in 2017.
Explore the magnificent halls of Emirati and international art, artifacts, and interesting relics from all over the world. There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions, showcasing over 600 pieces of art from around the globe.
You could easily spend a few hours here, so pace yourself in case you want to fill your Abu Dhabi itinerary with other activities!
Location on Google Maps: Louvre Abu Dhabi
Hours: You can visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi from 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM Tuesday through Sunday; Closed Mondays
Cost: AED 63 ($17.15 USD) Tickets can be purchased ahead of time to avoid waiting.
Helpful Tips: You must buy your tickets online, in advance. Be sure to spend time enjoying the outdoor covered areas of the museum to marvel in the architecture of this impressive building and if you have the time, try the delicious on-site French restaurant.
Option 1: Soul Beach
Soul Beach in Abu Dhabi is one of the most popular beaches in the city. This is because it offers a great combination of amenities, activities, and scenery. The beach is situated on Saadiyat Island, which makes it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the views.
There are plenty of sun loungers and parasols for visitors to use, as well as a range of water sports facilities. The loungers all have a QR code with a menu, serving a variety of refreshments.
The island also has a number of restaurants and cafes along the boardwalk, making it the perfect place to spend a few hours.
Location on Google Maps: Soul Beach
Hours: Soul Beach is open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily
Cost: AED 50 weekdays & AED 75 weekends ($14 & $21 USD)
Helpful Tips: Be sure to slather on the sunscreen if you’re brave enough to lay in the searing Emirati sun!
Option 2: Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island
Malls in the Middle East are the place to be, and this one is no different. The Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island is a pretty great place to shop, especially if you’re looking for high-end brands. The mall is huge, and it can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get your bearings it’s not too bad. There are plenty of stores to choose from, as well as restaurants and cafes. Our favorite place to eat here is Grand Beirut!
If you’re visiting Abu Dhabi, the Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island is definitely worth checking out. Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s still a fun place to walk around and window shop. Who knows, you might even find something you can’t live without!
Location on Google Maps: Galleria Mall Al Maryah Island
Hours: The mall is open from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM Friday and Saturday.
Helpful Tips: Once the sun goes down, the promenade waterfront path that’s adjacent to the mall is a lovely spot to take a stroll!
Day 2 of 2 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Day 2 of your 2 days in Abu Dhabi itinerary covers the rest of the major highlights of the city. This is how we would personally spend the second day, but as always, feel free to tailor this itinerary to suit your personal needs and interests!
The National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi
The National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi is one of the best places to visit in the city. Located in the heart of the Corniche, this world-class aquarium is home to more than 200 species of marine life.
Some of the highlights of the aquarium include the Shark Lagoon, where you can see sharks up close; the Ray Lagoon, where you can hand-feed rays; and the Ocean Tunnel, which gives you a 360-degree view of the underwater world.
The National Aquarium is also a great place to learn about marine conservation. The aquarium offers educational programs and activities for all ages, in addition to some fun hands-on experiences for the kiddos.
Location on Google Maps: National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi
Hours: You can experience the aquarium from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM daily.
Cost: Entrance tickets are AED 105 ($29 USD). Purchase your tickets ahead of time to avoid long lines!
Helpful Tips: Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a watch! You’ll be doing a lot of walking. This aquarium is huge, and it’s easy to lose track of time.
Afternoon at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
If you’re looking for a breathtaking afternoon activity during your stay in Abu Dhabi, look no further than the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This stunning piece of architecture is one of the largest mosques in the world and is truly a sight to behold.
You must agree to the rules and ‘Mosque Manners’ when reserving your ticket. Read them carefully and be sure to show respect as this is a place of worship.
The massive white marble structure is adorned with intricate Islamic calligraphy and design, and is surrounded by pristine gardens. Visitors can also take advantage of the free guided tours that are offered daily.
Location on Google Maps: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Hours: Public visiting hours are 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM Saturday through Thursday; 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM & 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM Fridays
Helpful Tips: Be sure to dress appropriately (women should wear a headscarf), and show up for your required entry time as per your ticket. If you arrive early, or just need a break from the heat, there is an air-conditioned underground mall at the entrance to the mosque.
Sunset at Wahat Al Karama
As the sun sets over Wahat Al Karama in Abu Dhabi, locals and tourists alike flock to the area to watch the magnificent spectacle. The sky turns a beautiful orange hue, and the buildings and landmarks of the city are silhouetted against the backdrop. It’s truly a sight to behold and one of the best Abu Dhabi Instagram spots!
Just before sunset you can also catch the Honour Guard March, a daily ceremony in memory of Emirati martyrs.
Location on Google Maps: Wahat Al Karama
Hours: The memorial plaza area is open 24 hours.
Cost: There is no fee to visit!
Helpful Tips: For some spectacular views of the Mosque lit up at night, be sure to hang around well past sunset! Free parking is available at the entrance.
Day 3 of 3 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Yas Island is the perfect place to explore if you’re looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation. There’s something for everyone here, from world-class shopping and dining to thrilling theme parks and pristine beaches. Guess where we’re headed on day 3 of your Abu Dhabi itinerary?!
Abu Dhabi is well known for its luxury shopping malls, and Yas Mall is one of the best. If you’re looking to do some serious shopping, or just window shop, Yas Mall is the place to be.
There are plenty of restaurants and cafes to take a break in, as well as a cinema and an amusement park. It’s the ideal place to spend a few hours if you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy.
Location on Google Maps: Yas Mall
Hours: Mall opening hours are from 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM
Helpful Tips: The parking lots are seriously huge. Take note of exactly where you parked your car and how you entered the mall, so that you don’t get lost on the way back!
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
If you’re a car enthusiast, then a visit to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is a must. Located on Yas Island, Ferrari World is the world’s first theme park dedicated to the legendary Italian sports car brand.
The park features some of the most exhilarating rides and attractions inspired by Ferrari, including the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa. You have to try this incredible roller coaster which features a maximum speed of 240 km/h (149 mph), which it reaches in just 4.9 seconds. There’s also plenty of other fun things to do at the park, from exploring the interactive museum to taking a spin in a Ferrari race car simulator.
A visit to Ferrari World is the perfect way to experience the thrill of driving a Ferrari without having to actually own one!
Location on Google Maps: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Hours: You can visit Ferrari World between 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily.
Cost: Entrance fees are AED 310 ($85 USD) and can be purchased online ahead of time.
Helpful Tips: The line for Formula Rossa can get quite long on busy days. It is popular for a reason! The best times to go are right at opening, over lunch (before you eat!) or near the end of the day.
Stroll the Yas Bay Waterfront
The Yas Bay Waterfront is the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the beautiful views. The waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees and offers plenty of seating for resting along the way. Along the promenade, you’ll find several cafes and restaurants, as well as public art installations.
The Yas Bay Waterfront is also home to a variety of events and activities, so be sure to check the calendar before you visit.
Location on Google Maps: Yas Bay Waterfront
Hours: The waterfront is open 24 hours.
Cost: It’s free to visit the waterfront, and free parking is available.
Helpful Tips: For dinner, head to Café Del Mar, one of the best restaurants in the area.
Day 4 of 4 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
You can’t possibly visit Abu Dhabi without taking at least a few hours to spend in the desert! The desert safari drive is the perfect option for day 4 of your 4 days in Abu Dhabi itinerary.
Go on a Desert Safari Drive
Ready to experience the desert like never before? Then it’s time to go on a desert safari drive in Abu Dhabi! If you are not sure which desert safari is right for you, check out our guide of all the best Abu Dhabi Desert Safaris!
Whether you want to spend a full day or a half day adventure in the desert, this is the perfect way to end your Abu Dhabi itinerary.
This is your chance to see the desert up close and personal, and there’s no better way to do it than from the comfort of your own car.
You’ll also get the opportunity to try your hand at sandboarding, camel riding, dune-bashing, and more. Most of the tours available end with a traditional meal in a desert camp of traditional Emirati cuisine.
Location on Google Maps: Nearly all Desert Safari tours include pickup from your hotel.
Hours: Ranging from 4 to 8 hours.
Cost: Starting at $55 USD per person
Helpful Tips: Bring plenty of water, a sunhat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi
This is variable depending on what it is you’re looking for from your Abu Dhabi itinerary. During each season, prices fluctuate, as do the number of tourists and the accommodation availability. Personally, we think November to April is the best time to visit, but we’ll break down each season for you below!
Winter in Abu Dhabi
The weather in Abu Dhabi is lovely during the winter months! The average temperature during December, January, and February is a comfortable 23 C (73 F). That means you can enjoy all of your favorite outdoor activities without feeling overheated.
Prices in Abu Dhabi are relatively affordable compared to other cities in the region. You can find good deals on accommodation, food and activities. However, be aware that prices increase during peak times such as Christmas and New Year.
The city of Abu Dhabi is quite crowded during winter due to the influx of tourists. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder season (March to April or October to November).
Spring in Abu Dhabi
Spring is one of the busiest times of year in Abu Dhabi, as people from all over the world come to enjoy the city’s many attractions. This means that you’ll need to be prepared for large crowds at all of the popular tourist spots.
The weather in Abu Dhabi during spring is also something to take into account. It can be quite hot and humid, so make sure to pack your sunscreen and drink plenty of water.
And finally, prices in Abu Dhabi during spring tend to be higher than usual due to the increase in tourism. However, there are still plenty of deals to be found if you know where to look.
Summer in Abu Dhabi
The summer months in Abu Dhabi are hot, humid, and often quite crowded. The weather can be unbearable at times, but there are still plenty of people who flock to the city during this time of year.
Prices for hotels and other attractions tend to be higher during the summer months, so be sure to plan accordingly.
There are still plenty of things to do in Abu Dhabi during the summer, so don’t let the heat deter you from enjoying all that the city has to offer. However, we’d recommend limiting the number of outdoor activities, as the sun can be quite brutal during this time of year.
Fall in Abu Dhabi
If you’re looking for a break from the cold weather, Abu Dhabi is the perfect place to go. The temperatures in Abu Dhabi during fall are still quite warm, averaging around 30 C (86 F).
You can expect crowds to be a bit smaller than usual during this time of year, as many people prefer to travel during the cooler months or during summer when many people have vacation time.
Prices for hotels and activities will also be lower than usual. So if you’re looking for a bargain, fall is the ideal time to visit Abu Dhabi! Just be sure to pack your sunscreen!
Best Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi
There are a number of different hotels to suit all travel styles and budgets. We’ve picked our top favorites for you below!
Budget Abu Dhabi Hotel
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island is less than a 10 minute walk to the beach and less than a 10 minute drive from the airport. It’s best to have car when staying here as Yas Island is a fair drive from the city, although it has numerous attractions all on its own. If you don’t want to spend a fortune but still want to be on the water with easy access to the city’s attractions, this is a great choice.
The pool is a nice bonus for a budget friendly hotel. You’ll get standard amenities, including Wi-Fi, coffee station in your room, and even a fitness center.
Mid-Range Abu Dhabi Hotel
With the number of hotels in Abu Dhabi, there are many luxury brands that are more affordable here than you might find in other parts of the world. The Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island is an award-winning beachfront hotel in Abu Dhabi that gives you many luxury amenities without the luxury price tag. The hotel features an on-site restaurant, fitness center, pool, room service, and spa. Plus, beach access to some of the most pristine shores of Saadiyat Island.
The loungers and umbrellas on the beach are picture-perfect, and the private beach of the hotel is nothing short of stunning.
Luxury Abu Dhabi Hotel
The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is an impressive Venetian-inspired hotel and resort, boasting gorgeous sunrises over the canal, sunsets illuminated by the Grand Mosque, and sprawling, perfectly-manicured grounds to relax on, the Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi is our personal choice for a stay in Abu Dhabi. Here, you’ll find eight on-site restaurants and one of the biggest pools in the city!
Ultimate 2, 3, or 4 Days in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Visiting Abu Dhabi for just a few days is enough time to get a taste of the city, and with a bit more time you can even explore some of the nearby beaches, or the Arabian desert! Be sure to let us know how you enjoyed visiting Abu Dhabi and if there is anything we have missed on our 2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary.