If you’re putting together a list of things to see in Abu Dhabi, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From stunning 21st century buildings to traditional souks and even Bedouin villages, there’s so much to see and explore.

You’ll probably find some hidden gems of your own, but we’ve put together a list of our chosen must-see sights to get you started…

The Corniche

The Corniche is an elegant strip that stretches for 4 miles (6.4 kilometres), with landscaped lawns and lush gardens on either side. It’s a great place to stroll and people-watch, and you’ll also find play areas for the kids, running tracks, picnic tables and more. Fountains all along the Corniche enhance the cool atmosphere, and the beautiful Abu Dhabi beaches can be found just over the road.

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Red Route, Stop: Public Beach

The desert

If you’d like to see what life might have been like before all the modern opulence, an evening desert safari can take you out to the sand dunes and to a Bedouin-inspired camp. Your tour guide will connect you with a range of activities to try, including sand boarding, henna painting and shisha smoking. Your evening ends with a BBQ under the stars. Remember, a trip to the desert is also included in our.

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Deluxe Ticket

The Emirates Palace

This is a must-see if you’re in Abu Dhabi. With spectacular design and completely over-the-top furnishings, as well as manicured lawns, glinting chandeliers and lots of gold everywhere, the Emirates Palace is made to impress. It's somewhere between a hotel and a palace, but you’re free to wander the atrium and the grounds, taking in the opulence as you go.

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Red Route, Stop: Etihad Towers

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

See the world’s largest handmade carpet in the main prayer hall and marvel at the elaborate chandelier. Everywhere you look there's gleaming white marble, inlaid with intricate floral designs. The architecture may be vast, but the atmosphere is spiritual and intimate. Remember to follow the dress and behaviour codes when you visit.

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Red & Green Route, Stop: Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The Yas Marina Circuit

If you’re a Formula 1 fan then you’ll want to come over to Yas Island, the home of Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 racetrack. Come over on a Tuesday and you’ll be able to get out on the track yourself for free, either on foot or by bicycle. You can take a 2-hour guided tour of the circuit too.

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Green Route, Stop: Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

You’ll need to book well in advance, but it’s worth it. You’ll learn about the history of Arabian falconry and observe the careful and traditional art of training. 75,000 falcons pass through the hospital every year, so you won't want to miss the chance to observe falcon feeding, and perhaps even hold a falcon yourself.

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Saadiyat Island

This is a tourist resort for the locals. Just 500 metres off the coast, the island offers a range of activities for visitors, including everything from meditative yoga to water sports. There’s a golf course here too, and it will soon become a centre for the arts in the region, with Abu Dhabi outposts of the Louvre Museums and the Guggenheim, currently under construction.

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Red Route, Stop: Louvre Museum

The Eastern Mangroves

The Mangroves here are extremely important ecologically, helping to protect the coast from waves and currents, and acting as a haven for birds and marine life. You can come and take a guided kayak tour around the trees to see this unique ecosystem for yourself. It’s a good idea to bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a bottle of water.

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Red Route, Stop: Eastern Mangroves

Abu Dhabi Mall

Let’s face it - Abu Dhabi's fantastic tax-free shopping is a prime drawcard, with a number of malls that are really closer to palaces. This huge complex is home to hundreds of stores. Don't miss Marina Mall, with its free Sky Tower, stunning Yas Mall on Yas Island, or Abu Dhabi Mall, which includes everything from exclusive designer brand names through to supermarkets and hypermarkets. There’s a Cineplex here too, so if you get tired from all that shopping, you can relax with your favourite movie.

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Red Route, Stop: Abu Dhabi Mall

Heritage Village

With the jungle of towering skyscrapers constantly growing around you, it’s difficult to imagine what the Emirates were like before the discovery of oil. But a visit to the Heritage Village can give you an idea. Come and explore around a traditional Bedouin village – you might even be able to have a go at a traditional craft during your visit.

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Red Route, Stop: Heritage Village

There are enough places to visit in Abu Dhabi to keep you entertained for the duration of your visit. If you don’t manage to tick off all our top picks, you’ll just have to return to the Emirates again. Chances are there’ll be even more to explore when you do! But if it’s your mission to visit them all, why not hop on one of Big Bus tours for a front-row seat to some of Abu Dhabi’s tourist attractions and landmarks.