Enjoying a stopover or weekend break in this Middle Eastern metropolis? You’ll want to see and experience as much as you can, and we’re here to help. From riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster to bartering for bargains at the souks, there’s a lot you can do in 48 hours.
Check out our 2-day Abu Dhabi itinerary for ideas on how to get your speedy sightseeing fix…
Start your trip off by getting immersed in emirate life and ticking off a mixture of cultural sights and exhilarating attractions. A hop-on, hop-off guided tour is the most convenient way to get from one place to the next in a short amount of time. And, you’ll get informative commentary and tips on how to make the most of your stay as you go.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the perfect place to visit in the morning to avoid the heat, crowds and long queues. This beautifully-designed bright white mosque is the largest in the country and it’s opulently decorated with marble stone and semi-precious jewels. It’s completely free to enter and open every day of the week except Fridays.
After a relaxed morning, it’s time to get stuck into the action. Your tour bus will take you to Yas Island where a range of adrenalin-fueled activities await.
If it’s prime waterpark weather, head to Yas Waterworld for the afternoon and enjoy over 40 rides, slides and attractions. There are speedy vertical slides and water coasters for thrill seekers, plus wave pools, lazy rivers and raft rides for the whole family to enjoy.
If the weather is scorching hot, you might want to stick to an indoor activity for your mid-day sightseeing. Head to Ferrari World where some of the world’s best, record-breaking rides are housed in a comfortable air-conditioned oasis. Here you can ride the fastest rollercoaster in the world, Formula Rossa, which hits speeds of up to 240 km/h in 4.9 seconds. If thrilling coasters aren’t your thing, there are plenty of family-friendly attractions and relaxed rides to keep everyone happy, plus loads of dining options too.
Got the need for speed? The Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. And throughout the year, you can harness your inner Lewis Hamilton and enjoy a range of driving experiences there. Take a high performance car for a spin or go for a go karting trip with the family – the choice is yours.
Yas Island Drive - Green Route
Spend your first evening sipping cocktails at a rooftop bar and enjoying views of the city. If you’ve been at Ferrari World on Yas Island for the afternoon, you’ll be near the Yas Viceroy hotel, which is the perfect place for a drink. Head to the Skylite Rooftop Bar which overlooks the Formula One racetrack and toast a successful first day in the city.
The Yas Mall is also nearby, and open late every day – sometimes until 10pm or midnight. It boasts no less than 60 restaurants and bars to dine at, so grab a bite to eat and do a spot of late night shopping if you’re partial to a spending spree.
Yas Drive – Green Route, Stop: Yas Mall
If you’d love to learn more about emirate history, pay a visit to the Emirates Heritage Club where you can wander around a recreation of a traditional Emirate village to experience the old way of life. Craftsmen and women demonstrate traditional skills like pottery, weaving and spinning, and give you the chance to try them for yourself. There are also UAE culture and national heritage exhibitions throughout the year too.
City Tour – Red Route, Stop: Heritage Village
Abu Dhabi is known for its glitz and glamour, and you just have to experience some of it on a trip to the emirate. Don’t miss the Emirates Palace hotel, which made an appearance in the film Sex and the City 2. This palatial hotel is a gorgeous place to explore, with stunning architecture and manicured gardens to enjoy. Inside there are 14 restaurants, cafes and bars where you can grab a bite, and the option to enjoy a high class afternoon tea.
City Tour – Red Route, Stop: Etihad Towers
Another tea time option, if you love a dining experience with a twist, is afternoon tea at the Observation Deck at 300. This place is located on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel and gives you stunning views over the city. In the afternoon, high tea is served at the observation deck’s restaurant.
Fancy grabbing some last-minute souvenirs or soaking up the atmosphere at the souk? There are a few night markets to choose from in Abu Dhabi where you can barter for everything from jewellery and homemade crafts to carpets. Try the Al Ain Souk for a traditional experience, and look out for the pop-up night markets that take place throughout the year, particularly during Ramadan.
Abu Dhabi is so much more than just a stopover. There’s plenty to see and do, but you can experience the fabulous sights, dining experiences and thrilling activities in a short space of time. For more Abu Dhabi sightseeing inspiration, browse our bus routes and maps.
If you’re there during the winter months when the weather is cooler, join a desert safari trip. You’ll whizz over golden sand dunes in a 4x4 exploring the desert landscape, and get the chance to ride a quad bike or do a camel trek. Trips are offered throughout the day, so you can squeeze them into your itinerary – whether you want a quick whistle-stop trip or a day long adventure.