Driving time: 1hrs 14mins (119km)
Head to the nation’s capital for culture by the bucket-load, as well as beautiful natural landscape and stunning infrastructure that you have to see to believe. Prepare for your eyes to bulge and your jaws to drop. Let’s hope the wind doesn’t change…
Things to do
Witness a spectacle at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This majestic architectural marvel attracts thousands of worshippers and visitors each and every week. Voted the second favourite landmark in the world in 2017 by TripAdvisor (ranking ahead of iconic sights such as the Taj Mahal and Sydney Opera House), it should be the first stop on any trip to the capital.
Construction started in 1996, taking a staggering 11 years to complete. The epic project features 82 domes, the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and a chandelier embedded with one million crystals.
Free guided tours are held, with staff on hand to answer questions and enlighten you on all elements of Islamic culture as well as the building itself.
Free. Open Sat-Thu 9am-10pm, Fri 4.30pm-10pm. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Abu Dhabi (02 419 1919).
Peruse some art at Louvre Abu Dhabi
The world was waiting for a decade, but at the end of 2017, Louvre Abu Dhabi finally opened. And, yes, it was worth the wait. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the crown jewel in the capital city’s burgeoning Cultural District in Saadiyat Island, which is already attracting tourists from all over the world. The architectural marvel – which is the result of a partnership between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France – is home to more than 600 artworks, half of which will be loaned by 13 of France’s biggest cultural institutions.
The art on display includes classics from masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse and Édouard Manet as well as more modern greats including Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Besides the permanent collection there are also regular visiting exhibitions, live performances and workshops.
From Dhs30. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.louvreabudhabi.ae (600 565 566).
Go kayaking in the Eastern Mangroves
One thing we love about the UAE’s capital is that it’s not all about stunning skyscrapers, impressive landmarks and long stretches of golden sands (although we do love those things, too). The lush greenery and azure waters of the Eastern Mangroves are a truly breath-taking sight, so a visit should be right at the top of your Abu Dhabi bucket list. You can see them up-close by diving in for a fun-packed kayak session. Pick up a paddle and explore Abu Dhabi’s beautiful landscapes during a trip through the Gulf waters. There really isn’t a better way of taking in the vast mangrove forests.
From Dhs160 (adults). Eastern Mangroves Promenade, Al Salam Street, Abu Dhabi (02 656 1000).
Race to Yas Marina Circuit
For motor sport fans, it really doesn’t get any better than hurtling down an F1 track like your heroes. Yas Marina Circuit is fuelling the dreams of petrolheads all over the land by offering the chance for drivers to put a Formula 3000 car through its paces. There are loads of other driving experience options, too. Get on track for a high-octane experience by getting behind the wheel of a fantastic fleet of racing machines. It’s time to take the McLaren by the horns and live in the fast lane.
Marina, Abu Dhabi, www.yasmarinacircuit.com (02 659 9800).