Last updated on February 17th, 2020
Often overshadowed by its sister city Dubai, Abu Dhabi has lots to offer to people visiting for the holidays. Its glitzy, high-rise buildings, a string of islands, and a nine-kilometer waterfront at Corniche make this city the best place for couples, families and singles to stay.
Abu Dhabi has particularly remained a choice destination among UAE natives due to its laidback, family-friendly scene and tasty Arabic delicacies. Additionally, its structures are more spread out, having a variety of colorful neighbourhoods that make the city even more homely.
Corniche Beach stands out from the rest of the towns as it is the central landmark of Abu Dhabi Island. It spreads over a six-kilometer stretch and has a promenade for you to walk over the entire stretch. You will also find the Grand Canal located at the city’s crossing point to the mainland and the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the gateway to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.
The city’s Downtown area is pretty busy, given the great mix of cultures and proximity to the beach. Tourists bask in the area to cool off from the hot temperatures that sometimes hit 50 degrees Celsius. If you want to explore areas of the city that are not located in the main island, consider visiting Saadiyat Island, Khalifa City, Sas Al Nakhl, towards the International Airport and beyond.
Dhow Harbor is another highlight of the city. It’s a beehive of activity as tourists depart and arrive from their day’s hustle on the water. It is an excellent place to arrange for a boat cruise around Abu Dhabi and home to a range of seafood restaurants. Dhow Harbor also hosts a good selection of markets that sell fish, Iranian handicrafts, carpet, household goods, among other products.
What’s the best area to experience the city for the first time, tourists, what’s the best district when whith a family, or where to stay for swimming and beaches ? or what are the best luxury places to stay in Abu Dhabi ? Read on below to find out more best neighbourhoods to stay in Abu Dhabi UAE.
What is the Best Area to Stay in Abu Dhabi ?
Best for First Time (Sightseeing): Downtown, Corniche Beach
Your first time here? Corniche Beach and downtown make the best places to stay. Corniche boasts a good selection of cafes, lounging areas, and food stalls making first-time tourists feel like they are visiting paradise.
Where to Stay in Abu Dhabi City Centre
- Best Luxury Hotels in Abu Dhabi
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi • Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
- Best Great Value – Top Rated Hotels
Pearl Rotana Capital Centre • City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel
- Best Cheap Hotels in Abu Dhabi
Al Diar Dana Hotel • Centro Al Manhal by Rotana
- Best Apartments (Aparthotels)
Grand Mercure Abu Dhabi • Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana
Best Areas to Stay in Abu Dhabi
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi for romantic stay (honeymoon) ?
The best places to stay in Abu Dhabi for honeymoon or romantic trip are luxury hotels with a private beach. For example the Four Seasons Hotel at Maryah Island is one of the perfect places for the hopeless romantic. The hotel is located along a waterfront walkway that connects it to another high-end hotel and shopping mall. Another highly recommended property is the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri.
What’s the best area to stay in Abu Dhabi when with a family ?
The Yas Island area boasts a range of family-friendly attractions. If looking to shop, you will want to stay at Beach Rotana, which is connected to Abu Dhabi Mall that boasts an outdoor and indoor play area for kids, and a kid’s pool. Other great options are hotels or resorts located at the beach.
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi for swimming & beach ?
The 5 Best Neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi for Tourists & Business Trip
It is one of the best neighbourhoods tourists visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time should stay. Abu Dhabi has indeed transformed over the years, evident by the unique sculpted topiary and glass skyscrapers towering the town.
However, if you want to get a feel of what the city was like before the rapid development visit Downtown, Abu Dhabi. Your first stop should be at the Qasr Al Hosn Fort, the oldest structure in the city’s town. The forte was once the nation’s capital and the central economic hub from 1760. It has since been dwarfed by the towers but still provides a bit of history about Abu Dhabi City.
Downtown is one of the most vibrant places in the city thanks to numerous city shops, malls, restaurants, cultural activities, to name a few. It is this vibrancy that causes many tourists to throng here. Also, its proximity to other popular areas like Corniche (a five-minute walk), Urban Park, and the scenic Lake Park makes it a pretty great neighbourhood to stay.
If you are all about tickling your taste buds, a visit to one of the five famous restaurants in the area will have you beckoning for more. The Fifth Street Café is one such area with a relaxed, multipurpose eatery ideal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also, if looking to taste a bit of Arabic cuisine, visit Abu Shakra Restaurant & Grill. The restaurant has a full menu of different Arabic delicacies.
- Best Hotels (Luxury): Royal Rose Hotel • Le Royal Meridien
- Best Great Value / Affordable Hotels: Southern Sun Abu Dhabi • Al Diar Dana Hotel
2. Yas Island
This artificial island is located a few minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport. This proximity to the city’s airport is what makes Yas Island home to a cluster of high-end hotels that have access to Yas Beach. The area boasts many family-attuned entertainment venues, including Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World.
Ferrari World has become a leading tourist attraction in the Middle East as it has the fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa. Yas Waterpark, on the other hand, has more than 40 attractions, including a suspended roller coaster. It is divided into four areas to cater to varying tourist preferences.
What’s more, the park has a water cinema that displays a 12-minute film in 5D. Warner Bros also opened a theme park in 2018, which has up to six different theme lands. If you a sports enthusiast, you will love Yas Marina Circuit, which is tailored to host different motorsports.
Tourists can hop into any of the five large stands to watch the drivers showcase their sporting prowess. Each stand accommodates more than 40,000 people. Due to a large number of tourists visiting Yas Island, there is no shortage of accommodation.
- Best Hotels (Luxury): W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island • Yas Island Rotana
- Best Great Value / Affordable Hotels: Park Inn by Radisson Yas Island • Centro Yas Island-by Rotana
Stretching over a nine-kilometer area of land, the beach was extended after successful reclamation from the sea. This paradise of blue sea has a stunning skyline as its backdrop, making it the most scenic place to visit in Abu Dhabi.
The recreational activities along Corniche’s promenade make this area extremely appealing for tourists traveling with kids. Its beautiful beaches also provide a beautiful place for you to relax thanks to the numerous sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent.
The bike-share station provides a great way to explore the vast promenade. If you don’t like cycling, take a stroll on one of the many paths. Both paths lead you to Corniche’s stunning garden with its beautiful fountains and flawless landscaping.
Corniche is abuzz during the night. This is because locals prefer coming out at night to avoid the hot sun during the day. A visit to one of the many shisha cafes, and you get to indulge in a bit of the town’s local culture.
If traveling with kids, you don’t have to worry about entertaining them; the beach has play areas for young and older kids. The volleyball courts and skateboard parks should keep them busy. And if you are worried about your safety, you don’t have to. The beach has lifeguards manning the area round-the-clock.
- Best Hotels (Luxury): The St. Regis Abu Dhabi • Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel
- Best Great Value / Affordable Hotels: Oryx Hotel • Khalidiya Hotel
Want to indulge in a bit of Arabic culture? Visit Saadiyat Island. The beach resort has museums, clubs, beaches, and lots of other exciting venues to explore. Saadiyat Cultural District notably boasts aesthetic expressions of different civilizations and cultures.
Museums like the Zayed National Museum and Louvre are found on this island. At Zayed National Museum you get to travel back in time to witness the transformation UAE has gone through over the years. Also, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi cultural attraction is in the offing and is expected to showcase global contemporary culture.
Its beach combines luxury, exclusivity, and tranquility in one place. You get to engage in a range of fun activities, including beach yoga classes, sailing, and windsurfing.
If you are a golf enthusiast, visit Saadiyat’s Beach Golf Club. This 72-par golf course has tee boxes for professionals and amateurs. Pros can play within a 7784-yard area while beginners can make the first stroke within a 5290-yard area.
The island also has a designated wildlife area for keeping Hawksbill Turtles. The area has an elevated boardwalk that prevents tourists from disturbing the turtles. Apart from the high-end hotels, Saadiyat Island has a good selection of rental apartments for weekend getaways.
- Best Hotels (Luxury): Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas • Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island – Ultra All Inclusive
5. Desert of Abu Dhabi
Your stay isn’t complete without visiting Abu Dhabi’s vast desert area. The Empty Quarter is particularly noticeable due to its large sand mass, believed to be the same size as France. Arrange for a day, afternoon, or night trip to Abu Dhabi’s desert to explore the glittering golden sands while witnessing the bright sunrise.
The first place you want to explore during your trip is Rub Al Khali. Also known as the Empty Quarter, the area makes up to two-thirds of the desert. It boasts dramatic landscapes and has an oasis with a vast palm plantation. The Empty Quarter is also the gateway to the massive expanse of the uninterrupted sand mass called Rub Al Khali. This area has stunning landscapes and large sand dunes that will take your breath away.
Your next stop should be at Al Khaznah, which is tucked in between Al Ain oasis and Abu Dhabi city. The area also boasts massive dunes and incredibly long sand valley that beckon you to engage into fun activities like quad biking, dune bashing, and sandboarding.
A morning trip into the desert will have you enjoying the golden land under the shining sun while an evening trip provides an authentic feel of the desert environment. Most tourists prefer camping under the desert sky but if looking for more formal accommodation, here are some places to consider.
Best Places to Stay in Abu Dhabi
There are so many great places to stay in Abu Dhabi UAE, but we have three places that we can certainly recommend. Here we’re going to recommend you our favorite luxury hotel, mid-range hotel, and budget friendly property.
Best Luxury Hotel in Abu Dhabi: Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island is one of the flashiest hotels in the city thanks to its distinct vertical exterior and a spectacular view of the dome-shaped Louvre museum. The hotel is constructed of 48 types of marble, the most notable being the glass and marble-laden lobby.
This 34-story hotel has three lounges, three restaurants, and bars. The famous Eclipse Terrace Lounge is located here beside a rooftop pool and is the best place to enjoy the sunset. If looking to try a bit of the Italian cuisines, visit the indoor-outdoor Café Milano.
Best Mid Range Hotel in Abu Dhabi: Park Inn by Radisson Yas Island
The Park Inn provides a stunning view of Yas Marina Circuit as it is located 2KM away from the white sands of Yas Beach. As such, you can take a walk to the enthralling Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld for a time of fun.
With its range of culinary options: Belgian, Mexican, and Italian cuisines, you are confident to explore varieties of International delicacies. Also, you will love Park Inn’s proximity to famous tourist attractions like Zayed Mosque (the largest mosque in the world) and the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Center. The hotel is also pretty close to a public transport facility (a kilometer away to Yas Express) if looking to explore the city on foot.
Best Cheap Hotel in Abu Dhabi: Al Diar Dana Hotel
Al Diar Dana Hotel is suitable for tourists who want to enjoy city life and preferential treatment on a budget. Its spacious suites provide a bird-eye view of the city at night. It has a range of entertainment and dining venues, including a hotel that offers an all-day-dining experience.
You will also love its convenient location, which is only a few minutes away from the shopping mall. Al Diar hotel is also easily accessible from Abu Dhabi International Airport (30-minute drive), Ferrari World (32-minute drive), and the International Exhibitions Center (20-minute drive).