Home to Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi is a bustling transit point in the UAE, with most stopovers lasting as long as a day. So what do you do when you have only 24 hours in Abu Dhabi to explore the city? You refer to a complete guide on the best things to do in Abu Dhabi in 24 hours, and that’s what we’re here for.
MyBayut has compiled a list of all the places to visit and things to do when you have to spend a day in Abu Dhabi. Let’s see how much of this you can fit in your schedule!
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The idea behind this 24 hours travel guide to Abu Dhabi is to expose you to the effortless blend of modernity and the centuries-old Arab culture in the city. And if you spend 24 hours in Abu Dhabi without visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, you haven’t explored the city at all. This mosque boasts grandeur everywhere you look. From the spectacular domes to the intricately designed minarets, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will leave you in awe. It even offers one of the best mosque tours in the UAE. If possible, make sure you sign up for it.
- Location: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street
Explore Qasr Al Watan
Located inside the Presidential Palace in Ras Al Akhdar, Qasr Al Watan is only a small glimpse into Arab royal court. Its blazing white granite and limestone façade paired with the regal grandiose of its interiors makes the place a must-visit for anyone keen on learning more about the UAE’s culture. Architecture, sculptures, manuscripts and more – this place can make even the top museums in Abu Dhabi seem lacklustre. With 24 hours in Abu Dhabi, make sure you have Qasr Al Watan on your list of places to visit.
Location: Presidential Palace – Ras Al Akhdar
Discover the Louvre
Talking of museums, let’s not forget art. Louvre Abu Dhabi is a marvel in its own right. Everything from the building to the art and artefacts displayed within take you on a journey through the best of art and architecture. The museum features precious artefacts from South East Asia and Ancient Egypt, strategically placed between the works of Paul Gauguin, Piet Mondrian and Monet. Have 24 hours in Abu Dhabi? This place is worth every minute you spend here. Besides, it’s one of the most Instagram worthy spots in Abu Dhabi.
Location: Saadiyat Island
Visit Qasr Al Hosn
Another palace worth appreciating, Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. This archaic structure stands as a proud legacy of Arab heritage. Once home to the ruling family of Abu Dhabi, the fort is now a cultural hub of the city’s rich history. The fort, which dates back to the 18th century, was opened for public after the completion of a ten-year renovation. Now that it’s restored, we think it’s definitely worth visiting if you have 24 hours in Abu Dhabi.
Location: Ras Al Akhdar
Shop at Central Market Souk
Next on our list of ‘things to do in Abu Dhabi in 24 hours’ is a trip to the Central Market Souk. A day in Abu Dhabi would be incomplete without a local shopping experience and this souk is all about that. Welcoming you to a host of shops selling a variety of items – from gold and antiques to perfumes and carpets – this place is a shopping buff’s paradise. Buy some fresh dates, get a henna tattoo or get some keepsakes for your visit. There is just so much to purchase here.
Location: Hamdan Street
Experience the Dhow Cruise
If you want to indulge in a unique sightseeing experience while you spend 24 hours in Abu Dhabi – the Dhow Cruise is your best option. The Dhow cruise in Abu Dhabi takes you on a spectacular water journey allowing you to witness the best views of Abu Dhabi’s waterfront developments. You can see the Abu Dhabi Marina, the Emirates Palace Hotel, the Ferris Wheel and everything else that passes by when the dhow sails towards Lulu Island. This 1-hour cruise happens four times a day, starting from and ending at the Marina Mall behind Havana Café.
Location: The Marina Mall
Where to Eat
You obviously can’t spend 24 hours in Abu Dhabi and eat nothing. There are a lot of restaurants – big and small that you can try for a proper meal or just a quick bite depending on your schedule. But if you’re looking for good dining experiences, try these:
- Emirates Palace Hotel for hi-tea. It’s expensive, but the menu is vast. Plus, you get to explore this incredible hotel before and after you’re done eating.
- Lebanese Flower for a traditional Lebanese meal with perfectly done hummus and their delicious lentil soup.
- Café Layali Zaman for an authentic mezze experience. Try their smoky moutabel, you’ll thank us!
- For drinks and dinner, head over to Barfly by Buddha Bar. Stunning views, great ambience and delicious food. The perfect end to a day in Abu Dhabi!
Getting Around in Abu Dhabi for Tourists
Taxis are the common mode of transportation in Abu Dhabi and they are easily available everywhere. The normal taxi prices in Abu Dhabi start from around AED 5, but taxis coming from the airport usually have a minimum rate of AED 25. Besides the taxis, you can take the bus which is quite cheap. Fares across the city begin from AED 5. Buses are cheaper, but they take longer than taxis to take you from point A to point B.
The Big Bus Tours Abu Dhabi
One of the best and most affordable ways of spending a day in Abu Dhabi is to get a 24 hours Big Bus Tours ticket. This hop-on, hop-off tour takes you through the city, visiting all the prominent tourist spots in Abu Dhabi. The best part is that you get to learn a lot about the city, thanks to the on-bus explanations available in 8 different languages. You can even enjoy a free Corniche Dhow Cruise and entry into Marina Sky Towers on purchasing the tickets.
That’s about it from our end. You might observe that this post doesn’t include major recreational facilities in Abu Dhabi, like Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld or the Yas Marina Circuit. The reason is simple. None of these places would have allowed you to truly see the essence of Abu Dhabi in the shortest possible time frame. Still, if you’re an adventure junkie who loves rides and thrills, skip everything and spend your 24 hours in Abu Dhabi at Yas Island! If it’s summertime when you are visiting, you will definitely fall in love with the indoor theme park of Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi.
That said, there are a lot of other things that first-timers to the UAE or Abu Dhabi are curious about. We have tried to answer all the frequently asked relevant questions right here.
What Can You Do in Abu Dhabi at Night?
There are a lot of things to do at night in Abu Dhabi, but keeping in mind the 24-hour time constraint, these rank top of the line:
- Enjoy a night stroll at the Corniche. This waterside district comes alive with locals, tourists and the pleasant breeze – an experience that will introduce you to the heart and soul of Abu Dhabi. While you’re there, try out all the other things to do at Abu Dhabi Corniche.
- Experience the tasteful nightlife in Abu Dhabi at one of the city’s several bars and nightclubs. The atmospheric sundowner sessions at Asia de Cuba shouldn’t be missed.
- Witness the glorious vistas of Abu Dhabi from the 300-metre Observation Deck located on the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. The place offers telescopes and floor-to-ceiling windows for you to be mesmerised by the stunning night views of the Abu Dhabi skyline.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Abu Dhabi?
Yes, you can drink alcohol in Abu Dhabi at licensed restaurants and bars as long as you are above the age of 18. However, the hotels in Abu Dhabi are prevented by law to serve alcohol to anyone less than 21 years old. The legal drinking age in Dubai and other emirates except Sharjah is 21. Drinking alcohol is illegal in Sharjah.
What Language is Spoken in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi’s official national language is Arabic, which is widely spoken among the local Arab community. However, the city has a large population of Pakistani, Indian and other south Asian expats who speak fluent English, Urdu, Hindi, and other regional languages.
Is it Safe to Travel to Abu Dhabi?
The UAE is one of the safest places to travel for women and men alike. Abu Dhabi, similar to Dubai and Sharjah, is home to a large number of expats, which makes the city a multicultural hub of different nationalities and religions. Therefore, it is safe to travel to Abu Dhabi whether it’s for work or vacations.
What Should I Know Before Going to Abu Dhabi?
- Public display of affection between members of the same sex and/or opposite sex is unacceptable behaviour.
- Smoking publicly is banned in Abu Dhabi, but most establishments and restaurants have separate smoking rooms.
- Dress modestly. Unless you are at the beach, make sure your shoulders and knees are appropriately covered.
- Know the mosque etiquette. Take your shoes off. Wear nothing sleeveless. Women should cover their heads and avoid tight clothing.
We hope this 24 hours travel guide to Abu Dhabi proves helpful for you. This beautiful city has tons to offer to anyone willing to explore, but of course, without time constraints. If you have more than one day in Abu Dhabi to spend, check out some free things to do in Abu Dhabi as well – or maybe fit them into your 24-hour schedule to make the most of your stay.
Just keep in mind that staying in Abu Dhabi for 24 hours is a race against time for you. And if you want to make the most of it trust the experts at UAE top property blog – MyBayut!