Abu Dhabi is known for the splendid Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the world’s fastest rollercoaster Formula Rossa, the countless luxury shopping malls, and for being the capital of the U.A.E. Abu Dhabi is also famous for the Emirates Palace, the Etihad Towers, and world-class museums, such as the Louvre.
The Emirati capital might not be as famous as Dubai, but spending a few days sightseeing it will be worth your while.
On this list, you’ll find 33 incredible things Abu Dhabi is known for.
From amusement parks to delicious foods, and from high-tech museums to crazy attractions, discover what Abu Dhabi is famous for.
Fasten your digital travel belts, and let’s explore!
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The Attractions Abu Dhabi Is Famous For
From heart-stopping rollercoasters to opulent religious temples, let’s find what are the top landmarks that Abu Dhabi is known for.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The brightest diamond in Abu Dhabi’s crown is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Named after the late Emirates’ President, it’s one of the most gorgeous religious temples in the world. Even if you’re only doing a day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed should be on your itinerary. The gigantic mosque is the country’s major religious site. It’s also one of the biggest in the world. Inside the bright marble edifice, you’ll marvel at opulent chandeliers with Swarovski diamonds and the largest hand-knotted carpet on the planet.
- Emirates Palace. Exploring the lavish Emirates Palace is the most luxurious free thing to do in Abu Dhabi. Unless you give in to the enticement to try the poshest cappuccino in the world, that is (it has 24-carat gold flakes inside). The magnificent hotel is the true epitome of extravagance. Every room and suite is furnished with gold and marble. More than 1,000 jaw-dropping chandeliers brighten the halls. Emirates Palace also has two helipads and many top-brand shops that can satisfy even your most fastidious tastes.
- Corniche Road. The canopy of palm trees on this 5-mi (8-km) long waterfront boulevard is the perfect hiding spot from the generous sunrays in the capital. Corniche Road offers fountains, walkways, playgrounds, dining options, bike lanes, and stunning beaches. Along the boulevard, you can find several lush parks to sit down and relax. Among them are Urban Park, Capital Park, Sheikh Fatima Park, and Abu Dhabi Corniche Park. Along Corniche Road, you’ll also discover dozens of high-end hotels. This makes the promenade one of the best areas to stay in Abu Dhabi.
- Qasr Al Watan. Official delegations take place in this resplendent palatial complex. But U.A.E.’s Presidential Palace is open to the public as well. White granite and bright limestone adorn the beautifully designed building. But the real Arabian lavishness awaits you inside. When you enter Qasr Al Watan, turn your head to the ceiling where you’ll notice a chandelier with a whopping 350,000 crystals.
- The Founder’s Memorial. Among the most extraordinary things to do in Abu Dhabi is checking out the Founder’s Memorial. This peculiar landmark commemorates the legacy of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – the founder of the United Arab Emirates. Located on Al Ras Al Akhdar Peninsula, the memorial traces the history and culture of the U.A.E. The landmark consists of two open-air spaces – the Sanctuary Garden and the Heritage Garden. Pay attention to the cubic pavilion in the center because it houses a striking artwork dedicated to the Sheikh’s memory.
The Amusement Parks Abu Dhabi Is Famous For
Exhilaration has a new meaning in Abu Dhabi. The Emirati capital is chock-full of heart-pumping amusement parks. Let’s take a look at each one in the section below.
- Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. It’s no surprise Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is themed around motor racing given it houses the world’s fastest rollercoaster. The record-breaking Formula Rossa Rollercoaster speeds you up to 149 mph (240 km/h) in five seconds. Svet rode the rollercoaster front row in 2016. His spine is still tingly from the electrifying experience. A free-fall tower and four other rollercoasters will keep your adrenaline pumping during your visit. Don’t miss the Ferrari sports car museum either.
- Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. If you ever wanted to meet your favorite Warner Brothers superheroes and cartoon characters, head to Yas Island. There, you’ll find the indoor amusement park Warner Bros World full of amazing shows and entertaining rides. The park offers you six themed areas: Bedrock, Cartoon Junction, Dynamite Gulch, Gotham City, Metropolis, and Warner Bros Plaza. The names hint at the characters you’ll meet in each area 😉
- Clymb Abu Dhabi. Think you’re tough? Then, we have the ultimate test for you at Clymb Abu Dhabi. Inside, you’ll find a climbing area and indoor skydiving. The Flight Chamber is the widest vertical wind tunnel on the planet. Another record-breaking structure is the Summyt, which is the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall. Only a handful have succeeded in getting themselves to the top. Will you join them?
- Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. Heart-stirring waterslides and gigantic surfing waves await you at the Yas Waterworld. Jebel Drop – the park’s steepest and highest waterslide – is not for the fainthearted. If you prefer something less adrenalizing, try Bubbles Barrel – the biggest surfing sheet wave in the world. The award-winning park’s main theme focuses on “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”. The story is based on the history and traditions of the U.A.E.
- Yas Marina Circuit. If you haven’t had enough thrilling activities in Abu Dhabi, head to the Yas Marina Circuit. It has been holding the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. Love high speeds? Well, besides watching the world’s best racers in action… you can also feel the surge of adrenaline yourself. Ride a Formula Yas 3000 race car, drive with a professional in a Chevrolet drift taxi, or challenge your friends in a go-kart at the Yas Kartzone.
The Museums Abu Dhabi Is Known For
Did you know that besides the one in Paris, there’s another Louvre museum? Yep, and you can find it in UAE’s capital city. In the section below, you’ll read about the top Abu Dhabi museums.
- Louvre Abu Dhabi. You can explore the Arab world’s most visited museum in a futuristic building. The extraordinary structure has a floating dome that boasts 7,850 aluminum stars. Timeless masterworks in the Louvre Abu Dhabi will take your breath away. Admire ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, gorgeous Renaissance paintings, and post-modernistic art installations. Ancient goddess statues and ritual statuettes share the space with masterpieces by Da Vinci, Paul Gauguin, Joan Miró, and Picasso.
- Abu Dhabi History Museum and Aquarium. Khalifa Park is home to the exceptional Abu Dhabi History Museum and Aquarium. Unique, life-like dioramas narrate the history of the Emirate and depict vital moments of Abu Dhabi’s growth. See how the city evolved from dispersed desert communities to a modern metropolis. The exhibitions will take you on a trip from the traditional desert life through pearl hunting to the discovery of natural resources. When you’ve had enough history, visit the neighboring aquarium where you can explore the sea and its marine inhabitants.
- Heritage Village. One of the top sights Abu Dhabi is famous for is Heritage Village. The refurbished traditional desert village overlooks Corniche Road. This is where you’ll find what life looked like in the Emirate before petrol came into play. Heritage Village’s museum walks you around the artifacts unearthed in the area, while a few workshops display typical handicrafts. The village regularly hosts exhibitions and events.
- Heritage Park. One of the coolest free things to do in Abu Dhabi is visiting Heritage Park. Inside the waterfront attraction, you can learn about the history of the region. Roam between recreations of traditional Emirati houses of an oasis village while enjoying the stunning views over the capital city. Learn about life in the desert, attend one of the artisan workshops, or explore the goods at the traditional market called souk.
- Qasr Al Hosn. The late 18th century saw the construction of the oldest remaining building in the Emirati capital. It was around the Qasr Al Hosn fortification that Abu Dhabi grew and developed. The edifice features an inner fort, an outer palace, and a watchtower. The tower served as a post for supervising the coastal trade routes and protecting the quick-growing city. Today, Qasr Al Hosn acts as a museum that showcases Abu Dhabi’s history.
- Emirates National Auto Museum. Love cars? Even if you don’t, you might appreciate the exclusive collection of vehicles at the Emirates National Auto Museum. Just a short drive out of Abu Dhabi, the museum exhibits more than 200 cars owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. Admire the largest model jeep in the world outside the Emirates National Auto Museum. Inside, you can marvel at classic American cars, off-road vehicles, and the Mercedes rainbow collection of the Sheikh.
- Zayed Heritage Center. This Emirate heritage-style village provides you with a captivating overview of the life of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Zayed Heritage Center is a fantastic homage to the founder of the U.A.E. – a man who shaped the nation. Inside the museum, you can admire a photo gallery of the Sheikh, his favorite hunting rifles, and other personal memorabilia. The village, which houses the museum, is full of camels and the Sheikh’s collection of vehicles.
The High-Tech Places That Make Abu Dhabi Famous
Observation decks, digital museums, and futuristic leaning architecture. In the section below, you’ll explore the top high-tech landmarks that make Abu Dhabi famous.
- The Observation Deck at 300. The tallest viewing platform in the capital is the Observation Deck at 300. You can find the lookout on the 74th floor of the Etihad Towers. The deck provides you with a stunning 360-degree panorama of Abu Dhabi from 300 m (984 ft.) high. The good thing about the entrance fee is that it includes credit for the coffee shop. It’s up to you whether you’ll use the credit for the famous afternoon tea or the Etihad Sparkler – their signature virgin cocktail.
- Manarat Al Saadiyat. You can engage in several activities at this magnificent, high-tech center. You can marvel at interactive art displays. You can attend various theater shows. Or you can join art and photography workshops, many of which are free of charge. Besides arts and performances, Manarat Al Saadiyat hosts various events where you can hang out, relax, exchange ideas, and eat delectable food.
- U.A.E. Pavilion. This gorgeous structure was originally constructed for the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Today, you’ll find the U.A.E. Pavilion on Saadiyat Island. The building’s unusual shape looks like two rolling sand dunes. On one side, they’re curvy and smooth. On the other, they’re almost vertical. After the pavilion’s relocation, it has been showing various art collections from the Emirati capital.
- Capital Gate. The nickname of this stunning skyscraper is “The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi”. The reason for this moniker is that Capital Gate has an 18° incline to the west. The 35-story building is among the tallest in U.A.E.’s capital. It also holds a Guinness World Record for the furthest manmade leaning construction. Two diagonally intersecting beams support the peculiar edifice. This guarantees its stability despite the big incline. If you’d like to experience the uniqueness of Capital Gate, book a room at Hyatt Hotel, which is inside the skyscraper.
The Shopping Centers Abu Dhabi Is Famous For
Much like the neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is also a fantastic shopping destination. Discover the top spots to spend your money in the section below.
- Abu Dhabi Mall. Despite its smaller size than Dubai Mall, this gigantic shopping center is still one of the things Abu Dhabi is known for. The arcade invites visitors to its more than 200 stores. Fun play areas, high-end multiscreen cinema, and a broad range of restaurants await you in Abu Dhabi Mall. The shopping center also offers direct access to the swanky Beach Rotana Hotel. From there, you can go straight to the beach.
- Yas Mall. Designed as a town, with a network of streets, squares, and boulevards, Yas Mall is one of Abu Dhabi’s coolest retail centers. The mall’s central spot gets tons of natural light. That’s where you can admire many impressive sculptures by modern artists. Next to hundreds of top-notch stores, you’ll find trees, a pool, and various restaurants that serve local and international cuisine. Yas Mall offers direct access to the thrill-pumping Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
- Marina Mall. As the name suggests, this shopping center sits along the breakwater. By far its most prominent feature is the internal steam fountain. A gorgeous glass mosaic crafted by hand adorns the fountain’s base. Marina Mall welcomes you with four levels of retail space that cover everything from fashion to leisure. Musical fountains, a bowling alley, a multiplex movie complex, and a 328-ft (100-m) observatory will keep you entertained.
- Avenue at Etihad Towers. If you’d like to splurge, head to Avenue at Etihad Towers. Shopping there takes luxury to a whole other level. The arcade is a true Mecca for fashion and jewelry worshippers. The top designers on the planet invite you to check their exotic collections in high-end boutiques. You’ll find the finest watchmakers in the world also in Avenue. Pack your thickest wallet and go on a shopping spree!
- The Galleria. The leading lifestyle destination in Abu Dhabi is The Galleria Al Maryah Island. The mall offers unmatched shopping, dining, and entertainment options. At your disposal, you’ll have over 400 stores, including more than 100 bars and restaurants, as well as top-notch family fun for every age. High-end brands like Cartier, Chanel, Rolex, and Louis Vuitton make this mall a must-visit for luxury shopaholics.
- Miraj Islamic Art Centre. Although the Miraj Islamic Art Centre is touted as a museum, it’s much more than that. Inside, you can marvel at royal robes, silk textiles, hand-woven carpets, encrusted ceremonial objects, miniature paintings, and Arabic calligraphy-engraved vases. Besides learning how they crafted the items, you can also buy many of the art pieces. When you quench your shopping thirst, satiate your real thirst at the rooftop café of the center. It offers panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and the Emirates Palace.
Mouthwatering Foods Abu Dhabi Is Known For
The capital of the U.A.E. is a delicious melting pot of international cuisines. But you can try dozens of peculiar traditional dishes as well. In the list below, we’ll show you the foods and drinks Abu Dhabi is famous for.
- Whole stuffed camel. A popular Abu Dhabi food, the whole stuffed camel has won the Guinness world record for the largest dish. Chefs stuff the camel with a lamb. Which they then stuff with one or more chickens. And then – everything is stuffed with rice and eggs; at times, even with fish. You can taste the exquisite dish only on extremely special occasions like the Sheikh’s wedding or during a cultural Bedouin ceremony.
- Khuzi. As U.A.E.’s national dish, Khuzi (or Ghuzi) is a must-try in Abu Dhabi. The dish epitomizes lamb or mutton served on spicy rice. Nuts, veggies, and raisins garnish the deliciousness. Khuzi comes with plenty of spices, including cloves, nutmeg, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, and many others. Usually, locals prepare it for special occasions, but you can find it in many restaurants as well.
- Baklava. Wherever you go in the Middle East, you’ll find baklava. But that shouldn’t prevent you from sampling it in Abu Dhabi. Arabic baklava is drier, smaller, and very different from the Turkish one. But that doesn’t make it any less mouthwatering.
- Luqaimat. If you’re a sweet tooth, don’t miss U.A.E.’s most popular dessert – luqaimat. These small crunchy dumplings are drenched in sweet and sticky date syrup. If you’re not following a strict diet, luqaimat is a great way to end your scrumptious Emirati meal.
- Sulaimani. If you decide to feast yourself on several desserts, don’t worry. We have the ideal beverage for easing your digestion – Sulaimani. This golden-brown-colored tea combines lemon and mint leaves with cardamom. Its sweet, tangy taste is the perfect refreshment after a heavy meal.
- Jallab. Abu Dhabi is one of the hottest capitals in the world. So, if you’re craving a cold drink, give jallab a try. Locals prepare the drink from dates, grape molasses, and rose water. The mixture is then garnished with pine nuts, golden raisins, and crushed ice. The beverage is popular during Ramadan when Muslims need drinks that can keep them hydrated during their fasts.
Which of the Things Abu Dhabi Is Known For Surprised You the Most?
This wraps up our list with the top 33 things Abu Dhabi is famous for.
The Emirati capital invites you with its unmatched landmarks, high-tech museums, heart-stopping amusement parks, world-class shopping malls, and delectable delicacies.
To ensure you have the best time possible, use the resources below.
Start Planning Your Trip to Abu Dhabi with Our BEST Recommendations:
Top Tours in Abu Dhabi
Best Accommodations in Abu Dhabi
Easiest Transportation Options in Abu Dhabi
Now, we’re eager to know:
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