As the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a modern place in many ways. The oil-rich centre lines the seafront of the Persian Gulf, occupying a scattering of connected islands. Here, in the lofty, glass skyscrapers, shopping centres, hotels and even theme parks proliferate. There is not much by way of history here, but that oil money is being spent increasingly wisely from a tourism standpoint, with parks, palaces, mosques and, since 2019, Abu Dhabi’s very own Louvre Museum opening to visitors and enriching Abu Dhabi’s cultural landscape.
Tours are possible to Abu Dhabi from its fellow United Arab Emirate of Dubai, just to the north. No stranger to desert glitz and glamour itself, a day-tour of Abu Dhabi is an excellent way to experience another of the region’s major cities during a Dubai holiday. There is a decent assortment of Abu Dhabi tours available, including half-day highlights trips and full day tours offering comprehensive coverage of cultural and religious sites of significance. Here are three of the best.
From $79/ per person
Focussing on the most impressive landmarks in Abu Dhabi, this nine-hour tour includes highlights such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Etihad Towers. The former is a modern mosque, started only in 1996, but one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture anywhere. You will have a guided tour of this site over the course of 90 minutes. The Etihad Towers are another modern marvel in Abu Dhabi. The five-tower structure houses all sorts, including a 74th-floor observation deck, which provides unimpeded views of Abu Dhabi and beyond.
From $82/ per person
As with the other tours on this list, this sightseeing tour of Abu Dhabi starts with a hotel pick-up in Dubai. Drive along the eight-kilometre Corniche Road, which ends up along the palm-lined beach. Visit the famed Qasr al Watan presidential palace, which opened up to the public only in the summer of 2019. This is a great chance to get a glimpse of how the UAE is governed, as well as the heritage underpinning it all. Other highlights include the Central Souk and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Please note that, as with all tours on this list, conservative dress for all genders is required for entry to the mosque.
FROM $86/per person
Not unlike the other tours on this list, Abu Dhabi’s highlights are rather modern. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, by comparison, with a couple of decades under its belt, is rather old. But it’s no-less beautiful for that, and this tour from Dubai takes it all in, including the Swarovski crystal-studded glass panels, the crystal chandeliers and the huge hand-woven carpets. A late-2019 addition to the city skyline is the stunning Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island. The iconic design is a masterpiece of modern architecture, containing within it collections of art and culture from the region and the world at large.