Spending a week in Abu Dhabi was a sweet escape from the snowstorm in Amsterdam. I have been in Dubai before (that’s about 1,5 hour drive away), so I expected Abu Dhabi would be very similar. Of course in many ways it is, yet personally I found Abu Dhabi much more chill compared to Dubai vibes.
This capital city of the United Arab Emirates has many things to offer for its tourists. I would suggest to stay here for a long weekend and maybe combine your trip with Dubai.
When you pack your bags, remember that you’re going to a Muslim country and respect that. Now they are quite modern in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, still I would suggest to cover your shoulders and wear something down to your knees. At the beach and swimming pool swimwear is allowed, but remember that topless bathing is illegal!
We didn’t go to the dessert this time, as we have done that in Dubai already. Apart from that, I think we pretty much ticked off a lot of must-do’s of the Abu Dhabi list. It was quite the luxurious trip!
1. The Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel
For this trip I had the pleasure to stay at this gorgeous 5 star hotel, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers located at the infamous towers where Vin Diesel and Paul Walker awed everyone in the theaters with their attempt to fly the cars between this complex of skyscrapers towers.
I was staying at the Deluxe Club King where the room was very amazing and very spacious, with complete amenities and the spectacular view that made my stays even better. I mean look at the picture, this instagrammable spot is located right at my room, which gives me the freedom to pose without having people's eyes on me, and also the freedom to take all the time I needed to create the perfect shot with my iPhone X on selftimer on top of my suitcases.
One of my favorite part must be the breakfast buffet, as the hotel had a large selection that you can choose to start your day with. The fruit selection for instance, I was awed by the extensive types of fruits that I could choose. And what is worth mentioning is also the part where they had a Chinese section at the buffet, where it served buns, different kind of noodles, and other Chinese cuisines. I was missing fresh pressed juices from the selection but other than that, I was satisfied with my breakfast! And as you can see below on my pictures, the breakfast also came with a view of the swimming pool and the private beach.
The hotel also offers a private beach. I you lay here long enough, you get to enjoy some extras refreshments on the house like detox water or ice lolly.
Other benefits from being a guest at this hotel is that you get a free entrance to visit the Observation Deck at 300, while non-hotel guests would have to pay for the entrance fee. More detailed informations about the Observation Deck at 300 is available if you would just scroll down for a bit, but the hotel itself was overall a great experience for me, and I definitely recommend the hotel for you all!
Address: Etihad Towers,West Corniche, - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 2 811 5555
2. Observation Deck at 300, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
At the Etihad Towers, Jumeirah is located at the tallest building in the complex and thus a breathtaking view is guaranteed if you visit its Observation Desk at 300. In this tower and located at its 74th floor, lays the Observation Desk at 300 of which I personally recommend for you all to visit and experience the real life version of "cloud 9" while sipping your favorite beverage at one hand.
They would serve you delicacies like mouthwatering scones and sweets, tasty bites and extensive choices of savoury sandwiches, refreshing and quality beverages to be the perfect companionship for your afternoon.
You can also opt for its afternoon tea where you will be spoiled with lots of delicious sweets like cronuts, pastries, roulades, cakes, and much more! Make sure to reserve your spot 24 hours before your arrival and pay attention to the dress code. Bookings can be made by a direct call or email to the venue, or have your hotel concierge arranged a table or two for you.
Dress in your business casual outfit while daydreaming about the view and wondering how did Vin Diesel managed to cross the towers with just a car in the movie Fast and Furious 7. Yes, the amazing towers you saw on Fast and Furious 7 was indeed, the Etihad Towers. But no need to worry, there is not going to be any flying cars when you indulge yourself in the magnificent views and the scrumptiousness of the food.
Address: Tower 2, Level 74, Jumeirah Hotel, Etihad Towers - Corniche W St - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971 2 811 5666
Opening Hours: 10AM - 7 PM
3. Marina Mall
To escape the (summer) heat, go shopping at the modern Marina Mall with airconditioning. This is the closest mall from the Ethiat towers. The biggest one is the Yas mall. I haven't been there, but it's recommended by many websites.
Being one of the biggest mall standing in Abu Dhabi, get ready to lose control over yourselves and treat yourself some early presents (or just random presents) as there are any shops to spend your money on, from luxury stores, home decor, art&antiques, books, jewellery, to beauty salons! And after a day of shopping, relax yourself with catching a movie at its humongous cinema (Vox Cinema). And if you're into entertainment, get ready to be entertained with extensive choices like a bowling alley, shooting games, video games, bouncing village, and so on.
The Marina Mall is also a great spot to snap instagrammable photos as you can see below with my pictures. It's really close to the famous Atlantis hotel and the pier.
4. Emirates Palace
The Emirates Palace itself is already grandeur from the outside which you can see from my pictures below, and it can only make sense to expect nothing less from the interior right? I was in awe with both of its exterior and interior.
Its exterior is such the perfect contrast with the surroundings, how the sand colored grand building complements the color of the sky, and how the color of the palm trees decorates the sightings of its silver fountain. The Emirates Palace itself is considered as one of the 7 stars hotels in the world, and has became a landmark of Abu Dhabi and I can definitely see why.
For this trip I didn't stay at one of the glamorous rooms in the Emirates Palace, but I did enjoy the infamous Afternoon Tea at its Le Café. Said to be the best Afternoon Tea in Abu Dhabi, I can agree with the popular opinion. I mean, look at the 24 karats gold sprinkles that decorated my cappuccino, and now we're talking about extra! The cappuccino is actually not included in the Afternoon Tea set, but you can definitely order from the a la carte menu. They also serve Afternoon Tea sets that is gluten-free and vegetarian, as they would go above and beyond to meet everyone's needs, and all you have to do is let them know!
You can feel like a royalty for a day by having the luxurious Afternoon Tea at this grand palace, where you can expect artisanal cakery and pastries, exquisite delicacies, and the best quality of herbs and coffee beans that come from all over the world. This set of Afternoon Tea is crafted for two persons, and if you come with a group of 3 or more, you can give them a call or leave an email about your inquiries and they would be happy to serve your needs. But make sure to be quick, as they only serve a limited amount of Afternoon Tea set per day so make sure to secure your spot. And if you didn't, Le Café at Emirates Palace also welcomes its guest for an afternoon coffee and its extensive a la carte menu for the guests to choose.
The set of Afternoon Tea has the price range from AUD 350 to AUD 669, with the price differences is due to the different beverages that you can choose to complete your Afternoon Tea, from hot beverages, juices, to glasses of bubbly. The Afternoon Tea is served from 2 PM to 6PM everyday, while the 24 karats gold sprinkled cappuccino (Palace Cappuccino) is served from 7 AM to 12.30 AM.
5. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
I have heard and read that Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the grandest and most majestic of the Grand Mosque ever, and after seeing it with my own eyes I can say that I agree with it. Imagine seeing different architectural styles from across Muslim civilizations in one grand landscape. Since the vision of Sheikh Zayed about this mosque is to celebrate cultural diversity, you can expect to see Turkish, Moorish, Egyptian, Pakistani, and other islamic countries' designs embellished on the Mosque.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque opens at 9AM 'till 10PM on Saturday-Thursday, and 4.30 PM until 10PM on Friday. Only during Ramadhan month that the opening hours change to 9AM until 2 PM on Saturday-Thursday and closed on Friday. There would be lots of people visiting the Mosque, but since the Mosque itself is enormous, there is enough space for everyone to enjoy its beauty.
Yes, I know by now that you might be wondering about the allowed clothing in order to enter the area. You are required to wear ankle-length trousers or skirts, loose-fitting and shoulder-covering clothing, and a headscarf for women when visiting. Before you enter the Mosque area, if your clothing is not seen as appropriate enough for the Mosque rules, you would also be given a free-of-charge Abaya that you can wear during your visit to the Mosque and return it when you are done. Eventhough the Abayas come in different sizes and would fit any body types, being stylish will still probably be your main concern. My tips is to wear a stylish bag to light up your look, and keep a happy attitude about wearing an Abaya because it's not everyday you can wear one, right?
Other than it costs you nothing to visit the Mosque as it gives free entrances, I would also recommend for you take a free guided tour to learn more about the culture, the history, the religion, and the architectural aesthetics. For more information about the tour hours, you can click here.
6. Louvre Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi also has a Louvre! They had to pay $500 million just to use the name and another additional $700+ million for art loans. Although it doesn't have any similarities from the one in Paris, the Louvre Abu Dhabi offers something as magnificent that it should be on your Must-Visit List when you are visiting Abu Dhabi. Louvre Abu Dhabi has became a cultural beacon since its opening at November 2017.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is so rich with cultures, where you can find lots of show-stopping, inspiring, jaw-dropping artworks and installations from all over the world that are spread across 12 galleries. Make sure to spare some long hours to fully emerge in the beauties that lie inside the walls of Louvre Abu Dhabi, and also outside.
One of my favorite spot in Louvre Abu Dhabi is The Domed Roof created by Jean Nouvel (pictured below). The pictures was actually made up of eight layers! Going here while the sun was shining will actually give you a spectacular effect as if you're being rained with lights.
The "Fountain of light" from the Chinese artistAi Weiwei was one of my favorite piece in the last gallery. This twisting steel structure contains 32,400 glass crystals and it part of the permanent collection.
Louvre Abu Dhabi opens everyday in the week except for Monday. From Saturday to Wednesday the Louvre Abu Dhabi opens at 10AM 'til 8PM, and 10AM 'til 10PM at Thursday and Friday. You can reach the museum by public transportations like the public bus route 94 that will stop Louvre Abu Dhabi (Saadiyat Island), or by private cars and taxis.
It will cost DH60 to enter the museum and DH30 for visitors between the ages of 13 and 22. And for more detailed and extensive information about Louvre Abu Dhabi, you can visit the website as I've added the link below!
7. WTC Abu Dhabi Zouk & Mall
The Souk is located at the opposite side of the WTC mall. Both buildings are connected by this bridge that is also used as a foodcourt. The Souk is where you can find all sort of Arabian spices, lamps, carpets, and local foods. At this Souk is where I found the dainty handmade Lebanese glasswork, and I just had to took so many things home with me! The name of this store is Rudi Arts and definitely worths the visit!
While for the Mall part, the space is very, very spacious. In here you can find high street brands and some local shops that sell Arabian clothing.
And if you go one floor up you will find a really big super market named Lulu Hypermarket. Food-wise, this was my Abu Dhabi paradise. You can find all sorts of international (street)food and ingredients for a really good price.
This cafe is actually not an Abu Dhabi specialty, in fact this cafe is so international that you can find them in Marrakesh, Indonesia, Paris, and other places in all over the world. I was at the WTC and was craving for some international food and since Paul also has a beautiful interior, it became my choice.