Much like its neighbor, Dubai, Abu Dhabi is filled with tourist attractions and other impressive things to do and see during a visit. High-rises, sophisticated malls, outdoor pursuits thrive in this city and will enthrall your senses in the days that you spend here.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Ferrari World amusement park, Corniche waterfront, Qasr al-Hosn…36 hours may seem not be enough to view the sights the city has to offer. But if that is what you have in hand, then here is a well-curated list of things to do in Abu Dhabi in 36 hours and leave with a sense of accomplishment !
When we are talking about 36 hours, it just 1.5 days. Assuming you arrive in the city in the morning and check into your hotel room, you would need some time to get ready to savor the sights for the rest of the day. So here is what you can do on Day 1- on the day of your arrival.
2 PM: Ferrari World
Looking for a thrilling and exciting afternoon, head to the Ferrari World. Just sink into the world of excitement and fun in this amusement park which has rides and activities for all ages. Most importantly, all the rides and activities are based on the theme of Ferrari. Well, there is one thing you can boast of when you visit this place among the things to do in Abu Dhabi. You can hop on to the fastest roller coaster in the world to send that adrenaline rush all the way down your spine. Formula Rossa as it is called takes the riders to 240 km per hour in just five seconds. This one hell of a ride makes sure that you leave Abu Dhabi with that reeling sense of excitement of the ride that stays with you long after you are finished with it. Well, this ride could just make you feel how it would be like if you participate in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
5 PM: Corniche Beach
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are famous for its beaches apart from the opulence and grandeur. The seafront of Abu Dhabi is a wonderful sight and most hotels and restaurants have their seating overlooking the pristine and calm blue waters of the ocean. The Corniche Beach is one such place that must feature of your list of things to do in Abu Dhabi. An evening along the shores dotted with restaurants and cafes with a stunning panoramic view of the Abu Dhabi skyline will captivate your eyes and mesmerize your soul. You can rent bicycles to cruise through the seaside or sunbathe on any of the beaches of your choice. There are beaches offered to families, singles and the general public.
8 PM: Check-in Hotel Intercontinental Abu Dhabi
After a fun-filled afternoon and an equally fun evening, you still have 24 hours to spend in the city of Abu Dhabi. To complete your list of things to do in Abu Dhabi, you need to spend the night in a reliable and comfortable place. If you have not yet checked in to a hotel, the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi is one of the best places to pick. Very close to the Corniche Beach front and the Emirates Palace, it is the epicenter of the nightlife in the city with bars like the Yacht Club and Belgian Beer Café. There is a whole of restaurants that serve different cuisines from around the world. If you wish to go skiing, then it is the best place to hire a jet ski. The cost of hiring a room will approximately be around 836 DH or 100USD. Reasonably priced, the hotel is a prime spot to check in to tour the tourist attractions of the city.
10 PM: Ray’s Bar on The 62nd Floor of Jumeirah Etihad Towers
If you want to live it up in Western-style and finish the day with a round of drinks and good food, head to Ray’s Bar on the 62nd floor of Jumeirah Etihad Towers. With a contemporary cocktail bar and city views that just leave you speechless, the place is an absolute delight. DJ’s playing your favorite music and a menu that is heavily influenced by cuisines of Asis, Ray’s Bar promise you fun-filled night. If you have a “ night with reckless abandon” on your things to do in Abu Dhabi list, then Ray’s Bar is a must-visit. The inspired theme, chic décor, and the DJ setting is perfect for a stylish and fantastic night out. Ray’s Bar is a testimony to what a happening city Abu Dhabi has metamorphosed into.
Head back to your hotel, after a rocking night for a great start to the next 24 hours in the city.
Start your morning with a good round of sumptuous breakfast and tea to keep you on your feet for the next couple of hours. There is still a lot to be ticked off the on the list of things to do in Abu Dhabi and Day 2 will see a photo finish to all of that.
Morning: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is undoubtedly the most beautiful mosque in the whole of United Arab Emirates. It stands in resplendent glory, and the religious place is tur feat for the eyes. The walls are built from pure white marble and adorned with colorful stones and gems bought from all over the world. The beauty is that these stones and gems are set in floral shapes that add to the elegance of the walls of the mosque. The mosque is not just an architectural marvel but also an impressive monument that speaks about the story of the United Arab Emirates. The name originates from the creator and visionary, Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who was the first ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The mosque gives you a deep insight into the religion of Islam and its underlying principles and fundamentals. The sheer architecture will leave you enthralled by the beauty and the grand space that it covers gives you an idea of the number of people who visit it for their everyday prayers. During the festival of Eid, about 41,000 visitors come to the mosque to offer prayers. It is probably the only mosque that captures the unique interaction of Islam and other world cultures.
Mid-noon: Abu Dhabi Bridge
The Abu Dhabi bridge is a sight you must include in your list of things to do in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi bridge of Sheikh Zayed bridge as it is officially known is a spectacular sight to see and enjoy the amazing skyline of the city of Abu Dhabi. The curved arches conjure undulating sand dunes, and the bridge features a dynamic lighting design that has subtle colors that accentuate the spine. With curved arches that hold the four-lane carriageway and a pedestrian walkway that lets tourists and onlookers admire the beauty of the city amidst the calming sea, the Abu Dhabi bridge is a sight to see. The curved arches form a wave-like silhouette.
Afternoon: Emirates Palace
Well, you cannot leave Abu Dhabi without visiting the Emirates Palace. Add this to your things to do in Abu Dhabi list, and you will not regret it. You would need to go back to your hotel to dress appropriately for a visit to the Emirates Palace. But it is worth it as you can experience one of the most luxurious afternoon tea’s in the world. Also a hotel, the lavish property is renowned for the unparalleled Arab like experience and essence. Its award-winning five-star hospitality and authentic ethos make it a winner. It is located in the heart of Abu Dhabi and is outstanding in both design and service. You can enjoy unprecedented views of pristine private beaches to the landscaped pool and a private marina that overlooks a natural bay. The iconic site is perfect to experience as you would hardly find such a hotel in any other part of the world. The hotel resonates the opulence and grandeur of the United Arab Emirates.
During the day, the golden exterior of the hotel complements the surrounding greenery and foliage amidst the glistening water fountains and blue sky. At night, the lighting changes and features a majestic rainbow-colored effect that radiates the main dome. The main palace stretches to over a kilometer between each wing, and the gardens are spread over 100 hectares of land. With 114 domes, the central done is at an imposing 72.6 meters above the ground. It is crafted meticulously with gold, pearls, crystals and other rare gems. The interiors of the Palace boast of 1,002 chandeliers, two handcrafted wall displays that picture the Palace in its entirety. Step in the Le Café, inside the palace that serves 24 karat Gold flakes Palace Cappuccino to experience royalty. The coffee is complemented with real flakes of 24-carat gold that makes your experience truly golden!
Evening: Souk Central Market
You cannot leave a city without shopping. And most importantly without shopping for a souvenir. Well, Abu Dhabi will not disappoint you. The Souk Central Market is the perfect place to tick off the last item on your things to do in Abu Dhabi list- buy a souvenir. You will find traditional items and ware that are peculiar to the Arab region that you can buy as a memory to reminisce your time in Abu Dhabi. The market is typically Arabian styles with traditional stores that sell everything from hukkahs, lamps, traditional dresses to Arabian themed mugs and magnets. You can shop as much as you want to take a slice of United Arab Emirates back home.
How to Get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai?
There are no train or flight services between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and vice versa. Fortunately, the cities have plenty of options with the development of public transport. You can choose between car rentals, taxis, even helicopters. There is a mode of transportation for every budget. The journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is a comfortable one and can be undertaken by bus or taxi. For the ones who love to drive, you could hire a rented car and drive along the beautiful expressway that connects the two cities. The entire journey time is less than three hours. The intercity bus leaves from both locations and is the cheapest costing about 25 AED. Both the major airlines, Emirates and Eithad, offer free services to those who wish to commute between the cities. Taxis will cost you USD80. Car rentals will cost you around USD 25.
There is so much to do in the city that 36 hours may not just seem enough. However, with a well-planned itinerary and organized schedule, you can very well cover the major sights of the city to have a good break. Whether you are visiting Abu Dhabi from Dubai or on a transit to another city, you can afford to step out and plan a few things to experience the magic this city has to offer.