The emirates are well known for their love of luxury and 5 star experiences, which usually come with a 5 star price tag! But Abu Dhabi also has lots of places to visit that are a bit kinder to your credit card. Whether you’re on a budget or simply looking for some ideas to fit into your itinerary, take a look at our top 7 free things to do in Abu Dhabi…
1. Admire the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Recently, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was rated second in Trip Advisor’s World’s Top 25 Landmarks list. One of the world’s largest mosques, this gleaming marble wonder rises majestically out of the desert. Guided tours are free.
2. Visit Emirates Palace
Abu Dhabi’s most iconic hotel, this is the biggest hotel in the Arabian Gulf and a tourist attraction in it’s own right. Occasionally it hosts art exhibitions, concerts and so on, and the gardens and fountains are very pleasant. It’s also home to the Barakat Gallery, which is filled with ancient artifacts and art from China, Africa, Egypt and Rome – the kind of things you imagine Indiana Jones might find!
3. See Al Jalili Fort
A very picturesque fort, built around 125 years ago but carefully preserved. The landscaped gardens are worth a saunter round. There’s a decent exhibition of photographs from British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger from his mid-century crossings of the Empty Desert.
4. Wander through the greenery at the Al Ain Oasis
Filled with date palm plantations (many of which are working farms), this is a refreshing green haven. Wander along shady walkways for a welcome change of scenery from the dry, desert landscapes. An ancient irrigation system taps into underground wells, delivering life-giving water to the plants.
5. Stroll along the Corniche
This 4-mile long promenade is a favourite with both locals and tourists. On one side, you’ve got impressive architecture and on the other, beautiful sandy beaches. Stop for a photo op alongside a marvel of modern engineering, the Capital Gate skyscraper (also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi). You can walk all the way to the marina, pausing for a picnic and perhaps a dip in the ocean along the way.
6. Watch traditional craftspeople at work
Located just off the Corniche, the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is a good place to drop in as you’re walking by. It’s an open air reconstruction of a traditional oasis desert village. There are workshops where you can watch some traditional crafts demonstrated, like weaving and pottery.
7. Visit the city of the future
This isn’t yet a tourist hotspot (there are no guides, no crowds, no souvenir kiosks) but if you’re interested in sustainable technologies and enjoy imagining what the future might look like, Masdar City is a fascinating place to visit. Designed to be the world’s most eco-friendly city, everything is powered by the sun. The highlight of the visit is a (short) ride in a futuristic driverless car. There are a few eateries and cafes where you can have lunch. Masdar City is located really close to the airport, so a good place for a quick stop before flying home. It’s still in it’s infancy (more of a village, than a city), but continued growth and development will see the arrival of more attractions.
To find out more about holidays to Abu Dhabi, please visit our main website or give one of our friendly team a call on 0208 329 2600.