Do you want to explore the beauty of the Emirati capital to the fullest?
But you feel a day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi just isn’t enough?
Then, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you’ll discover the 7 best areas to stay in Abu Dhabi.
The Emirati capital might not be as enthralling as the futuristic Dubai, but it offers more than a few attractions you can’t find elsewhere.
From high-speed rollercoasters to opulent palaces, and from imposing mosques to stunning galleries, let’s find where to stay in Abu Dhabi.
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1. Yas Island – the Best Place in Abu Dhabi for Amusement Parks and High-Speeds
Yas Island is Abu Dhabi’s top tourism project.
The popular island is a leisure, shopping, and entertainment center.
It’s also close to Abu Dhabi International Airport. The Yas Express transports travelers from their hotels on the island to the top amusement parks.
On Yas Island, you can spoil yourself at the following entertainment hubs:
- Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Themed around motor racing, the amusement complex seduces with thrill rides, driving simulators, and a car factory tour. The highlight and a must-ride for any adrenaline junky is the Formula Rossa Rollercoaster. It’s the fastest in the world, reaching the whopping speed of 149 mph (240 km/h). Svet tried it front-row in 2016, but he still remembers the spine-tingling ride.
- Yas Marina Circuit. Continuing the racing theme, Yas Marina Circuit has been hosting the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. At the track, you can not only watch the best racers in the world but also experience the adrenaline-rush yourself. Drive a Formula Yas 3000 bolide, ride with a professional in a Chevrolet drift taxi, or race your friends in a go-kart at the Yas Kartzone.
- Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. Heart-pumping waterslides and huge surfing waves take turns to keep you entertained in this awesome water park. It features Bubbles Barrel, the world’s largest surfing sheet wave, and Jebel Drop, the park’s highest and steepest waterslide. The award-winning waterpark is themed around “The Legend of the Lost Pearl”, a story inspired by Emirati history and traditions.
- Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. If you wish to meet your favorite Warner Bros superheroes and cartoon characters, you can do it in this indoor amusement park. Fun rides and amazing shows await you there. Inside, you can explore six themed areas: Gotham City, Metropolis, Bedrock, Cartoon Junction, Dynamite Gulch, and Warner Bros Plaza. We’ll leave you to guess which characters you can meet at each. 😉
- Clymb Abu Dhabi. In this indoor skydiving and climbing park, you can put your body to the ultimate test. Learn to skydive in the Flight Chamber, the world’s widest vertical wind tunnel. Or attempt to climb all the way up to the Summyt, the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall. Either way, you’ll feel the rush in your bloodstream, guaranteed.
Our recommendations: If you want to feel like a superstar, choose The WB Abu Dhabi by Hilton. This extraordinary establishment will pamper you with its outdoor pool, play areas, funky design, and excellent eateries. Not a fan of superheroes? Then, the apartments at Doubletree Yas Island Residences will seduce you with a gigantic pool, spacious rooms, bright decors, and culinary delights.
2. Corniche Road – Abu Dhabi’s Glitzy Waterfront Boulevard
The 5-mile (8-kilometer) long Corniche is a striking waterfront boulevard lined with palm trees.
It features walkways, fountains, bicycle lanes, playgrounds, dining options, and the dazzling Corniche Beach.
Before the 1970s, the current area only had a beach. Modern and traditional ships (dhows) used to anchor there for transferring goods and passengers. In the early 2000s, the authorities reclaimed land from the sea and extended the boulevard, demolishing some of the earlier landmarks.
Here’s what you can enjoy if you decide to stay on Corniche Road in Abu Dhabi:
- Corniche Beach. This city beach has an international clean-water status. You can relax on the golden sand or splash in the pristine waters. Ropes and floats show you how far it’s safe to swim out.
- Abu Dhabi Beach. Another gorgeous city beach, this one offers not only swimming but also picnic options. You’ll also find a volleyball area, a garden, and restrooms at Abu Dhabi Beach.
- Heritage Park. The waterfront park comprises of recreations of traditional Emirati buildings. The views over the city from Heritage Park are also worth checking out.
- Green spaces along Corniche Road. If you’re in search of a nice, quiet spot to sit down and enjoy the sun, you can choose from several wonderful parks along the boulevard. They include Sheikha Fatima Park, Capital Park, Abu Dhabi Corniche Park, and the Urban Park.
Our recommendations: Treat yourself regally at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi. The posh accommodation features staggering interior designs worthy of a royalty. Even more jaw-dropping are the views of the sea and the city from the high floors of the hotel. If you prefer saving a few bucks, check out Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort Corniche. Its modern, airy rooms offer the same sweeping vistas for half the price. The beach is a few feet away, while the large pool and the gym invite for a solid workout.
3. Al Zahiyah District – the Best Dining and Entertainment Hub of Abu Dhabi
Al Zahiyah District in the city center of Abu Dhabi is famous for its countless dining and entertainment options. In the area, you’ll have a hard time choosing between all the pizza parlors, fast-food eateries, noodle shops, curry houses, and high-end restaurants.
Add to that exclusive nightclubs and you’ll understand why tourists and locals alike love the area.
Located between the north end of Corniche Road and Al Maryah Island, the district hosts Heritage Park and Abu Dhabi Mall. Five bridges connect the neighborhood with the neighboring Al Maryah Island.
Worth exploring in this central city area are:
- Abu Dhabi Mall. The entertainment and shopping arcade invites in its 200 shops, and offers a wide variety of dining options, supervised play areas, and modern multiscreen cinema. Although not as impressive as Dubai Mall, it’s still loads of fun to explore.
- Heritage Park. Learn about the history of the region in this free-entry park. You can enjoy stunning views over the city while roaming between reproductions of traditional Emirati houses in Heritage Park.
- Electra Park. Relax from the hustle of the big city in this cozy recreational space. Grassy lawns, paved trails, and various playgrounds, including a basketball court, await you in the park.
Choose to stay in the area if you’re looking for affordable lodging and proximity to the city center.
Our recommendations: The excellent Grand Mercure Abu Dhabi condo-hotel welcomes in its elegant suites and studios. At your disposal, you’ll have three bars and restaurants, a large swimming pool, and an array of wellness facilities. Another great option in the district is Al Manzel Hotel Apartments. Its comfy rooms, modern amenities, and exceptional service will make your vacation unforgettable.
4. Al Ras Al Akhdar Peninsula – the Regal Area of Abu Dhabi
Often called the “Malibu of Abu Dhabi”, you’ll find Al Ras Al Akhdar Peninsula at the western end of the Emirati capital.
The posh district hosts one of the most popular attractions of Abu Dhabi, the 5* Emirates Palace. Here’s what else awaits you in the area:
- Emirates Palace. Luxury is an understatement for the majestic Emirates Palace. Even if you’re not staying here, you can explore this outstanding hotel for free. In Le Café, spoil yourself with the world’s poshest cappuccino, sprinkled with 24-carat gold flakes.
- U.A.E. Presidential Palace. Qasr Al Watan (in Arabic) receives official delegations but is also open to the public. The bright edifice is intricately designed, and features white granite and limestone. A huge dome covers The Great Hall where you can flabbergast at a chandelier with 350,000 crystals. The east wing is named The House of Knowledge and the west wing – The Spirit of Collaboration.
- The Founder’s Memorial. This extraordinary attraction celebrates the legacy of the founder of the U.A.E., Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The memorial displays the history and culture of the young country. It consists of the open-air Heritage Garden and Sanctuary Garden. At the center, you’ll see a cubic pavilion housing The Constellation, an artwork dedicated to Zayed’s memory.
- The Observation Deck at 300. The deck is located on the 74th floor of the Etihad Towers. The lookout is the highest viewing platform in Abu Dhabi. It offers a 360-degree sweeping panorama of the city’s majestic skyline. The entrance fee includes credit for the café as well, which you can use for their popular afternoon tea.
- Avenue at Etihad Towers. This exquisite shopping location is for fashion and jewelry aficionados with thick wallets and extraordinary taste. In the boutiques, you’ll find the latest high-end designer collections, and the world’s finest jewelry and watches.
Our recommendations: Wanna feel like a royalty? The Emirates Palace is the embodiment of opulence. The hotel will enthrall you with its spa facilities, marina, private beach, helicopter landing pads, and ballroom. Explore the world’s finest cuisine in the 14 upscale restaurants or relax all day at the two enormous swimming pools. If futuristic skyscrapers are more to your liking, check out Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers. Its classy establishments, manicured gardens, gorgeous private beach, and outstanding spa facilities will enchant you. By staying there, you’ll also have free access to The Observation Deck at 300.
5. Saadiyat Island – the Best Area of Abu Dhabi for Cultural Exploits and Beach Relaxation
The island offers the greatest combination of cultural endeavors and beach activities in Abu Dhabi.
On Saadiyat Island, you can explore the following outstanding galleries and museums:
- Louvre Abu Dhabi. The futuristic art gallery is the most visited museum in the Arab world. The remarkable structure features a floating dome, consisting of 7,850 aluminum stars. Inside, timeless masterworks will spellbind you. You’ll find anything from Egyptian sarcophagi through Renaissance paintings to post-modernistic art installations.
- Zayed-Gandhi Museum. This digital museum celebrates two anniversaries: 100 years of the birth of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and 150 years of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. The collection contains rare photos, videos, and memorabilia representing the life, work, and ideas of the two famous leaders.
- U.A.E. Pavilion. The stunning structure was built for the 2010 Shanghai Expo. Its shape resembles two rolling sand dunes – smooth and curvy on one side, while almost vertical on the other. After the pavilion’s relocation, it’s been hosting art collections from Abu Dhabi.
- Manarat Al Saadiyat. At this high-tech center, you can participate in different art and photography workshops, explore interactive art displays, or attend a theater performance. The current exhibition showcases a visual journey of reinterpreted memories from the 1990s.
Apart from these magnificent cultural centers, you can spoil yourself at Saadiyat Beach. The fine, white sand and the clear, turquoise water will seduce your senses. Sunbeds, umbrellas, showers, and changing rooms are at your disposal.
Tip: You can also visit neighboring Al Jubail Island from Saadiyat Island. The pristine isle hosts Jubail Mangrove Park, Abu Dhabi Pink Lake, and Plant Lake Abu Dhabi.
Our recommendations: The 5* Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is everything you can wish for from a seaside resort. Apart from the incredible beach, you can soak all day in three swimming pools, hit the gym, or explore the onsite restaurants. Another equally awesome place on the island is Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas. This five-star establishment has a sublime pool, modern rooms, and a whopping eight dining options. What more do you need for a perfect beach vacation?
6. Capital Center – the Perfect Abu Dhabi Location for Business Travelers
Capital Center is Abu Dhabi’s business district.
The area revolves around Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center. Its spacious events halls host trading fairs and expositions.
Near the center is the most popular landmark in the neighborhood, the Capital Gate skyscraper. Its nickname is the “Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi” as the metallic tower has an 18° incline to the west.
The 35-story structure is one of the tallest in the capital and holds a Guinness World Record for being the farthest manmade leaning building.
The district also offers a perfect selection of eateries. International fast-food chains, Italian bistros, and Asian high-end restaurants welcome for a quick bite or a gourmet experience. Meanwhile, rooftop bars in upscale hotels serve top-notch drinks.
Our recommendations: Andaz Capital Gate by Hyatt is an attraction by itself. In the record-breaking skyscraper, you’ll be treated like a celebrity. Enjoy staggering views while soaking in the pool or sipping a cocktail in the bar, both of which are located on the roof. Alternatively, stay at the four-star Pearl Rotana Capital Centre in the heart of the business district. The modern, upscale hotel has a swimming pool, a spa center, a gym, and five unique diners waiting to pamper you.
7. Al Rawdah District – the Best Area in Abu Dhabi to Explore the Grand Mosque
The residential Al Rawdah neighborhood is home to the biggest landmark in Abu Dhabi.
Named after the late President of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the main religious site in the country. Its beauty and splendor require a few hours to marvel at.
The monumental mosque is the largest in the U.A.E. and one of the biggest in the world. Over 1,000 pillars support the 4 minarets and 82 domes. The minarets rise 351 ft. (107 m) high.
The breathtaking exterior features marble from several regions, including China, India, Italy, and North Macedonia. Precious stones, such as amethyst, jasper, lapis lazuli, mother-of-pearl, and red agate, cover the massive columns.
The interior of the mosque is also spectacular. When you walk inside, pay attention to the following:
- The magnificent carpet. Measuring over 60,000 sq. ft. (5,500 sq. m), it’s the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world.
- The opulent chandeliers. Made of brass, gold, steel, and Swarovski crystals, they’re true masterpieces. The biggest one weighs 12 tons including 88 lbs. (40 kg) of 24-carat, galvanized gold.
When visiting mosques in the U.A.E. and in any other Muslim country, respect the dress code. If you’re unsure how to clothe properly, or you wish to check the opening times and other details about the mosque, visit its website.
Apart from the opulent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, in the Al Rawdah District you can also explore the futuristic Wahat Al Karama Memorial. It’s dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the Emirati war.
For sports fans, there’s the Zayed Sports City Stadium. Foodies will find a wide selection of international restaurants scattered along the Grand Canal.
Our recommendations: The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi on the shore of the Grand Canal features a staggering design, which rivals the architecture of the Grand Mosque. The resort invites you in its magnificent gardens, on its pristine private beach, and in its eight world-class restaurants. The top-notch spa center seduces with a steam room, a Hammam, a hair and beauty salon, and 15 treatment rooms offering relaxing massages.
Now You Know Which Area to Stay in Abu Dhabi
There you have it – the 7 best areas to stay in Abu Dhabi for tourists.
Whether you want to:
- feel the adrenaline kick of the world’s fastest rollercoaster,
- admire precious art in an exquisite contemporary setting, or
- relax at one of the city’s magnificent beaches,
We’re sure you’ll find the perfect place to stay in the Emirati capital.
Now, tell us:
Which area would you like to stay in on your visit to Abu Dhabi?
Please share in the comments below.