Exploring the key sights and impressive attractions in Abu Dhabi for one whole day is totally possible! Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It’s just around 1.5-hours of drive from Dubai. Here we spent the morning to see the Formula 1 circuit at Yas Marina, had fun in Ferrari World theme park, admired the fantastic views of the city skyline at noon as we stopped at the marina, stayed for a while in the Emirates Palace Hotel, and finally were enchanted by the beauty of Sheikh Zayed Mosque at night.
This exclusive tour was arranged by Aerostar Travel and Tours. If you’re planning on taking an Abu Dhabi day trip, check out these places we visited and learn what you can expect from each.
Top 5 Places We Visited in Abu Dhabi for a Day Tour
1. Ferrari World
Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is designed for those with an appetite for G-force and velocity. Home to the world’s fastest roller coaster named Formula Rossa, this is the only place on earth where you can be blasted to 0-240km/ph in 4.9 seconds, just for fun! We have experienced riding high-adrenaline roller coasters in the past, but nothing could beat this one so far. If you don’t have vertigo, heart problems, and not scared to be blasted away, this is a must-try! Another breath-taking ride you can’t miss is Flying Aces.
For almost two hours, we walked around Ferrari World Theme Park and discovered its extravagance after seeing all 25 thrilling rides. Overall, our visit was excellent. This place is best for car enthusiasts and speed freaks. There’s plenty to see and do. Louie tried practicing his car racing skills in virtual reality mode where he “drove a Ferrari car” and navigated around a virtual track projected on a screen. It’s a motion platform simulator attraction featuring a driving course close to reality. So cool!
2. Yas Mall
Yas Mall is the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi, with a very nice and modern architecture. The great thing is that it’s connected to Ferrari World, so we did not need to walk far to find a good restaurant for lunch. The food court is well appointed, with lots of choices for fast food as well as restaurants dotted throughout the shopping complex.
With 400 of the world’s top fashion and food brands, a 20-screen cinema and the region’s largest family entertainment zone, Yas Mall is a marvelous indoor shopping mall for the whole family. There were lots of shops offering discounts at the time of our visit (almost 70%-90% off).
The Corniche forms a sweeping curve on the western side of the main Abu Dhabi island and is replete with cycle paths, fountains and park areas. Its crowning jewel is its public white sand beach. We had a quick stopover here and took some photos of the spectacular backdrop of the Abu Dhabi skyline and the blue waters in front. It’s such a relaxing view to look at with the breeze from the ocean and all, but we could not stay longer than 15 minutes because we just couldn’t take the sun’s heat.
4. Emirates Palace Hotel
Next, we drove to the Emirates Palace, where we spent an hour easily seeing golden things on the ground floor. The Emirates Palace Hotel is a luxury 7-star hotel built along a private beach and is set amidst 85 hectares of verdant lawns and gardens. It’s the world’s third most expensive hotel ever built. The construction costs were around $3B, only surpassed by The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas ($3.9B) and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore ($5.5B).
The Emirates Palace Hotel has 114 domes, the Grand Ballroom, and palace auditorium. The opulent brown architecture reflects the Abu Dhabi desert sands and it’s a perfect backdrop for photographs.
5. Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Grand Mosque)
Our last stop in Abu Dhabi was the Grand Mosque, which literally is “grand.” Everything about this mosque screams of magnificence. It’s the third largest mosque in the world, having the second largest chandelier in the world as well as the world’s largest carpet spanning a floor size of 5,627 square meters. From a distance, it already looked like a stunning landmark. From up close, the exterior consisting of intricate decors and pristine white domes with several unique elements looked even more endearing. Inside, the ambiance felt heavenly and noble.
I wore long sleeves and pants that day as required by our tour guide. When we got in, I found out that all women are required to wear abaya (loose-over robe dress) and cover our head. Rental of abaya is free, so there’s no need to worry if you think you’re dressed inappropriately. My problem was that the length didn’t fit me. I looked through almost all the available robe dresses hanged in the dressing room and learned that all length is the same. It was too long for me. I had to carry the dress to walk conveniently.
For men, long pants and shirts are fine. We were asked to take off our shoes for respect. It was uncomfortable since I’m not used to walking barefoot. All visitors must abide by the rules since it’s a place of worship after all.
In any case, the Grand Mosque was well worth the trip. Our tour guide recommended us to visit after 6pm and he was right. The white marble structure gleamed at night and this is when you can see the amazing play of light and shadow along the pillars and ponds of the mosque.