Everything you need to know about what to do in Abu Dhabi as a First Timer

Abu Dhabi, as a first-timer’s paradise, offers an enchanting blend of history, culture, architecture, and entertainment. Whether you are wandering through the glistening corridors of a grand mosque or gazing at the stars from a tranquil beach, remember that Abu Dhabi’s magic lies in the journey itself.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Prepare to have your breath taken away as you set your eyes upon the resplendent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a beacon of grandeur and devotion. The mosque is a masterpiece of modern Islamic architecture, blending Moroccan, Ottoman, and Mughal influences into a symphony of white marble, gold, and floral motifs. Its exquisite details, from the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet to the Swarovski crystal chandeliers, leave a lasting impression on all who enter. As a first-timer, remember to respect the mosque’s dress code—men in long trousers and women in long-sleeved dresses with headscarves. Guided tours are often available to provide insights into the mosque’s history, architecture, and cultural significance. Whether you’re a spiritual seeker or an architectural enthusiast, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-visit, promising a sensory experience that lingers long after you leave.

Desert Safaris

Your vacation spent in Abu Dhabi would be void if you don’t experience a thrilling desert safari. Experience the thrill of riding through the desert over sand dunes and get off the beaten track in a 4×4. Moreover, do not miss sandboarding over hills at breakneck speeds, travelling on the back of a camel and even racing over the rolling hills on a quad bike. If you opt to stay at an Abu Dhabi resort the likes of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara you can experience an exciting desert adventure along with many water sports. Whether you prefer a traditional camel trek or a birds-eye balloon tour, you’ll come across numerous ways to discover the hidden wonders of the Arabian desert. After an exciting drive, spend your evening in a traditional Arabic camp enjoying a BBQ dinner under the stars. If you are luckier, you will get the opportunity to try out some activities like Shisha, henna painting, Arabic sweet tasting, and belly dancing significant to Bedouin culture. Enjoy a cup of Arabian coffee and dates to ensure you grasp every aspect of Arabian culture.

Yas Island

For those seeking an adrenaline rush and a dose of entertainment, Yas Island is your playground. Home to the iconic Yas Marina Circuit, where Formula 1 races unfold in all their heart-pounding glory, this island offers much more than high-speed excitement. Yas Island houses Ferrari World, the world’s first Ferrari-branded theme park, where you can indulge your need for speed on the Formula Rossa roller coaster, the fastest in the world. If you are in the mood for aquatic adventures, Yas Waterworld beckons with its myriad water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers. And for a touch of retail therapy, Yas Mall boasts a plethora of international brands and delectable dining options. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a family traveller, or just looking for some entertainment, Yas Island is an irresistible destination that adds a dash of excitement to your Abu Dhabi experience.


Where Tranquility Meets Spectacle! No trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without a leisurely stroll along the Corniche, a picturesque waterfront promenade that offers panoramic views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf. The Corniche is the embodiment of Abu Dhabi’s harmonious blend of natural beauty and modernity. Take a relaxing bike ride, fly a kite, or simply bask in the serenity of the surroundings. The Corniche is also home to pristine public beaches, inviting you to take a dip in the turquoise waters or enjoy a leisurely picnic with loved ones. As the sun sets, the Corniche transforms into a spectacle of colour, with its illuminated skyscrapers reflecting on the calm waters—a fitting end to a day of exploration.

Saadiyat Island

Prepare to be enchanted by the cultural haven that is Saadiyat Island, a testament to Abu Dhabi’s commitment to nurturing artistic expression. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, a stunning collaboration between France and the UAE, is a crown jewel of the island. Its futuristic dome filters sunlight to create an ethereal ‘rain of light’ effect that dances upon the exhibits, ranging from ancient artefacts to masterpieces by renowned artists. The upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi promises to further enrich the island’s cultural tapestry with its avant-garde architecture and curated collection of modern and contemporary art. Saadiyat Island’s pristine beaches, luxurious resorts, and lush golf courses complete the experience, offering a serene escape from the bustling city. Saadiyat Island also stands as a symbol of sustainability and eco-consciousness. The island’s mangrove sanctuary is a haven for local wildlife, providing a tranquil retreat for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. For the culturally inclined first-timer, Saadiyat Island is a sanctuary of creativity that transcends borders and opens minds.

A Stroll Back in Time at Al Fahidi Historic District

While modernity reigns supreme in many parts of Abu Dhabi, the Al Fahidi Historic District in Al Ain offers a charming escape into the city’s past. This meticulously preserved heritage area showcases traditional Emirati architecture, with wind-tower structures, narrow lanes, and sand-coloured buildings that narrate tales of a bygone era. Explore the Al Ain Palace Museum, where you can immerse yourself in the history of the ruling family, and the Al Ain Oasis, a lush expanse of date palm groves and intricate irrigation systems that have sustained life in this desert region for centuries. The Al Fahidi Historic District is a window into Abu Dhabi’s cultural roots, an opportunity to savour the simple pleasures of life in a fast-paced world.

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