Dubai: Visiting Abu Dhabi

There is plenty to do in Abu Dhabi, from high-end restaurants and shopping centers to traditional historic religious sites.

When most travelers think about visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they picture its crown jewel, Dubai, and with good reason. Dubai is the international hub for business and tourism, a vibrant, modern city with luxury shopping and nightlife. The tallest building in the world is one of the most prominent features of architecture here, but innovative and over-the-top construction projects are a regular event in general. Dubai is a fabulous city to spend a few days exploring, but it is not the only emirate worth visiting: 140 km south-west of Dubai on the Persian Gulf is the island of Abu Dhabi, a worthy one-day excursion on our Dubai itinerary.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, a completely separate emirate from Dubai, is the largest of the emirates, and it serves as the governmental hub of the UAE. Many people find it a welcome change from the hustle and nightlife of Dubai, with its laid-back and more culturally traditional atmosphere. Don’t worry about being bored, however. There is plenty to do in Abu Dhabi, from high-end restaurants and shopping centers to traditional historic religious sites.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This architectural marvel is the third largest mosque in the world, and the largest in the UAE, covering four football fields worth of space. It can hold 40,000 worshipers at a time and welcomes nearly 4 million visitors each year.

Emirates Palace Hotel

The Emirates Palace is a seven-star luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi and likely one of the most luxurious hotels in the whole world. Visitors can access the lobbies and exhibitions there for free, but only hotel guests can visit the gardens, private beach, or rooms. If you’re a movie buff, Sex And the City 2 is supposed to be set in this hotel but was actually filmed in Morocco

Things to Consider

Remember that Abu Dhabi (and Dubai for that matter) are in a dessert, so it is fairly hot all year long. The most temperate time to travel for most people is November through February when it is actually cool enough to require sweaters or light jackets. If you’re hoping to hit the beaches in the area, however, October or March through mid-May are going to be the best times. The peak summer months are very hot, but you will find that most modern buildings are reasonably comfortable, with the AC going full blast. 

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