What do you know about Abu Dhabi?
You may know that it’s an oil-rich Muslim nation. But it is also the place I’ve called home since September 2010. I arrived here to teach English and assumed I would fulfill my 2-year contract and head back to Ohio. But a funny thing happened here in the desert. It was love at first sight.
Like many others before, I found myself seduced by the UAE’s capital city and within three months, I knew I wanted to live here forever.
Travelers have come to Abu Dhabi for hundreds of years via ship, camel or, more recently, first class flights. Upon landing, you’re welcomed with the heady mix of opulence and traditional Arab hospitality.
As a resident here, I know how to give a great tour.
If you only have one day to see this city, follow my break-neck itinerary below and make the most of your day. But be well-rested beforehand. It’s a whirlwind.
6:00 AM – Breakfast At 18 Degrees – Hyatt Capital Gate
Fuel up for your day with a meal in the hotel that’s informally called ‘the leaning tower of Abu Dhabi.’ The Hyatt Capital Gate holds the Guinness World Record for furthest leaning man-made tower with an incline of 18 degrees.
18 Degrees is the name of the restaurant where you will find a Mediterranean breakfast buffet which if, weather permits, I would suggest you enjoy out on the terrace for a panoramic view of the city.
Cost – Full breakfast, 130 AED
10:00 AM – Tour Of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Nearly every visitor to Abu Dhabi makes a visit to the Grand Mosque. The fourth-largest mosque in the world welcomes visitors of all faiths to take in the beauty of this architectural wonder. The dress code requires covering up, and if you’re not prepared, proper attire is available on loan.
Daily tours are led by UAE citizen guides who can tell you all about the marble, crystals, gold and semi-precious stones that were sourced from all over the world to create this landmark.
Cost – FREE
12:00 PM – Manarat Al Saadiyat Museum
The future of Abu Dhabi museums will include outposts of the Guggenheim and the Louvre. Until those open in 2017, visitors can take a look at the currently open museum, Manarat Al Saadiyat. There you will see the ever-present exhibit “Saadiyat Story” which details how this island is becoming Abu Dhabi’s world-class cultural destination.
Cost – FREE
2:00 PM – Lunch At Saadiyat Beach Club
If this wasn’t a 24-hour itinerary, I would suggest purchasing a day pass and lounging around all day on one of their pool-front cabanas, however, if you’re pressed for time, a light lunch here will suffice. At least you’ll get to get a photo of one of the most luxurious infinity pools in the city.
Cost – varies
4:00 PM – Afternoon Tea At Emirates Palace
Emirates Palace is the second most expensive hotel ever built (Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is Number 1). To see what ran up the tab (I’ll give you a hint- lots of real gold finishings) pop on into the Caviar Bar or Le Cafe for afternoon tea.
Expect an array of sweets and a cappuccino sprinkled with 24 karat gold flakes.
If your time at the mosque or museum got you behind schedule, afternoon tea goes on at Emirates Palace until 6:00 PM.
Cost – AED 320 for two
6:00 PM – Ferrari World
Do you feel the need for speed? If so, it doesn’t get any faster than the Formula Rosso ride at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. This IS the world’s fastest roller coaster and take it from me, a longer wait for the front car is worth it. Just hang on for dear life.
Cost – one-day tickets start at 275 AED each
9:00 PM – A Nightcap At Skylite Rooftop Lounge
If you’re not worn out by now, put on your smart attire and head to the top of the Yas Viceroy Hotel. There you’ll rub elbows with the socialite set under a futuristic purple-light canopy. Cheers!
Cost – varies
So there you have it, my 24 hours in Abu Dhabi break-neck itinerary. If you try this, let me know how it goes..and how long it took for you to recover afterwards.