Why would anybody go on a 24 hour trip to Abu Dhabi?
Well – the answer is simple and shows a little bit of my craziness: I needed the miles! Oh and I wanted to see something new… Yeah. So if you´re ever in the same situation …meaning you have 24 hours in Abu Dhabi, this is what you have to do, see and what you can skip!
What to do?
I can already tell you one thing – some of you are not going to like what they will read in the follow passage. But it´s what I´ve learned in 24 hours in Abu Dhabi. So please keep reading and hear me out.
1. Take the Abu Dhabi Sightseeing Tour– If you want to see most of this amazing, modern city. It´s not only the best way to get around– it´s also the cheapest! Abu Dhabi is HUGE. I made my math and I found out that I would have spent almost twice as much if I had taken taxis for every trip that I took. And on top of it all: you learn a lot about Abu Dhabi in 8 different languages. I know a lot of travelers might not be huge fans of these “mass-tourism-tours”, but if you don´t like „mass-…“ then better don´t go to Abu Dhabi in the first place.
2. Instead of changing money at the bank – go to any Mall and buy something. You can pay with EUR or USD and you will get the change in Dirham (AED – the local currency).It´s easy, quick and I got the best rates at some Coffee place at the Mall (where you will alsoget a free Wi-Fi pass and can send a quick message to your friends and family. By the way: Wi-Fi is hard to find in Abu Dhabi.)
3. Walk along the Corniche. At this point I would like to say something about your safety in Abu Dhabi: For a city with 1.4 Million inhabitants, Abu Dhabi has a very low crime rate. I felt very safe. That changed, however, when I started walking around the streets with a friend who lives in the city. He taught me to always make sure that there´s a street light or a traffic light pole somewhere near when walking along a busy street. If certain people – usually NOT emirates! – want to attack western-looking individuals; they often do that by running them over with one of these gigantic cars that almost everybody drives in Abu Dhabi. Apparently, that has happened quite a few times in the past. So walking around the streets doesn´t seem to be the safest thing to do. At the Corniche, however, there are no cars and you can walk or cycle safely along the beautiful beach and coastline.
4. At the end of the day: Have a drink at the Rays Bar in the Etihad Tower.Not only will you love the stunning views of the 62nd floor, but they also have the world´s best popcorn! I swear. It´s so good, I couldn´t stop eating! I’d skip dinner for that popcorn anytime! However – go there early, before all the heavy smokers get there 😉 (yes, I am a non-smoker.)
What to see?
Of course, that´s a matter of personal taste and interest, but there are a few things you should see when you are in Abu Dhabi:
1. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
This fairly new mosque holds roundabout 40.000 worshipers on Fridays. Remember that tours are not available on Fridays! So you can save some money right there. You can go in all by yourself. It´s free of charge. Just remember the very strict dress code and don´t forget it´s a holy place – so be respectful.
2. The heritage village.
Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E where found in 1971 …before that most Emiratis used to live in tents! So, yes, everything in this city is fairly new. However, if you want to learn something about the history of these people —that´s one of the two places where they show you how they lived less than half a century ago. Yes, it´s touristy, but it´s free and I think they did a great job demonstrating how the nomadic people, the pearl divers and the fishermen used to live.
3. If you have time and do not want to go into one of the crazy big mallsin Abu Dhabi: Go on the Dhow Cruise along the corniche! If you don´t like boats and you can’t afford it, go to one of the beach clubs or the public beach. You also have to pay, but very little. The beach is divided into two sections: One for single men and one for women, children and families. The water is warm – even in the winter. When it comes to clothing I would like to advise you to use common sense. It´s an Islamic country. Not only is it disrespectful, but believe me you don´t want the looks of the women covered in their burkas when you´re running around wearing a tank top and hot pants.
4. The “Empty quarter”
the desert has a special atmosphere and quietness that is hard to describe. My desert tour got canceled due to the rain, but I would have loved to spend time in the desert again. It’s very special.
What to skip?
If you have little time there are some things you need to skip. Depending on your interests those might vary, but here is what I would skip next time or have skipped:
1. The Souk
all the souks here are copies of other Souks like in Istanbul for example. I definitely like the original ones better and I am not a big shopper anyway, so I skipped that.
2. “Havanna Bar” at the Emirate Palace.
On Tuesday night they have live music and it was fantastic! But I would still skip the Emirate Palace next time. Mostly they smoke a lot at the Havanna bar. I was already wearing my close for the flight back, so as I am sitting here typing these lines, my shirt still stinks of Havana cigar smell. Besides, you don´t see a lot of the Emirate Palace – so better watch a movie about it.
3. “Etihad Observation Deck” of the Jumeirah Hotel.
Yes, at 300 meters (74th floor) it is the highest point in Abu Dhabi, but it´s not worth it… since you´ll have a drink at the Rays bar anyways.
4. YAS Water world.
It was voted the second best water park in the world once, but let´s face it, if you are not traveling with children, or are a bit childish yourself – do you really need to go to a water park where they charge you 55 Euros to get in?! Only to get really wet and scream a bit?! (Well – some people might … I don´t! Especially because from the outside, it looks by far not as amazing as it did in the movie!
5. YAS Ferrari World
I don´t need to go on a 240 km/h roller coaster ride and I also don´t need the world´s largest indoor theme park. But I am also not a theme park-person.
6. YAS Mall
with its 400 stores is the second biggest mall in the U.A.E., but I still skipped it. After all- Malls are all: SAME, SAME, BUT DIFFERENT, right!?
7. YAS Marina Circuit.
Due to the tight schedule, I also skipped the Formula One racing track. I looked at it. I took a picture, but I didn´t go on the two hours tour behind the scenes. Besides, it was empty anyway. The marina itself and the hotels nearby look fantastic! So if you are a formula one fan: YAS ISLAND is your choice. Free shuttle buses take you around this widespread area.
8. If it´s summertime:Skip renting a bike. I guess in the winter months it´s ok, but 48 degrees Celsius and more is way too hot for cycling in the burning desert-sun.
9. I also skipped Masdar City
the solar power, zero Emission Project. But only because I was running out of time. However, I would love to see the driverless cars and the other state of the art projects of this only green city in the Middle East. It is on my list for a future visit (if I ever go back there again…)
Book at : Abu Dhabi Tour from Dubai
I hope my list is going to help you make your stay #inAbuDhabi an enjoyable experience. I most definitely don´t regret it and for the first time in my life, I don´t feel bad because I chose the “touristy-way” to explore a city. With more time I would have rented a car and explored everything by myself. But with a limited time I had, I am convinced that the Abu Dhabi sightseeing Tour was the cheapest and most efficient way to discover ABU DHABI