Abu Dhabi has been dubbed the ‘richest city in the world’ which might put more frugal travellers off paying this destination a visit. It’s true that you really will have to keep your eye on the purse strings if you’re to last more than a day or two here, though, if you eat cheap, sleep smart and save your money for some awesome activities, you’re sure to have an experience you’ll never forget in this fascinating capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Shopping is often the order of the day for many of the high society that congregate here each holiday season, but there’s much more to Abu Dhabi than designer outlets and expansive malls! Steer clear of shopper’s paradise and splash your cash on some of these awesome sights and activities instead:
Yas Island: A personal highlight, head over to Yas Island (unfortunately there’s a $70 USD entry fee) and enjoy Ferrari World, home of the fastest rollercoaster in the world. Yas Island is still a work in progress but with the F1 circuit, Warner Bros Theme Park and a huge water park under construction this place will keep you busy for days.
Qasr al-Husn fort: Abu Dhabi’s oldest building, this awesome white palace housed the former Government. Strictly speaking, the fort does not accept visitors but if you give the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation a call, you can organize an informal tour without too much stress (a top travellers tip, that one!)
Sheikh Zayed Mosque: One of the largest in the world and open to non-Muslims every morning, Saturday-Thursday – this mosque won’t fail to take your breath away. That combined with the free entry and access by low-cost public transport makes this a real hit with the backpacking crowd.
Corniche: Walking along the waterfront, which stretches along the entire city, is an activity in itself. Morning and evening are your only realistic times to give this a bash as midday temperatures can reach a sweltering 48 degrees Celsius! If you’re watching the pennies this might not be the best place to eat as whilst the food is fantastic, it can be a little pricey.
If you do have some cash to splash during your visit to Abu Dhabi, then you might want to indulge in one of these amazing experiences:
Desert Safari: These excursions are popular with tourists in destinations throughout the UAE and Abu Dhabi is no different. You basically hit the sand dunes as fast as you can in a modified 4X4 (don’t worry, you won’t be doing the driving), there’s not much else to it really other than to sit back hold tight and enjoy the ride.
Helicopter Tours: From the impressive Marina Mall you can book short trips on private helicopters. We can’t claim to have done this but you can often see groups of wealthy looking tourists leave the helicopter with smiles on their faces and we imagine a bird’s eye view of this city would be an awesome thing.
Just to leave you on a positive note, here are a couple of great outings that you can truly manage on a budget, however tight. Just turn-up and sample the atmosphere, this is arguably Abu Dhabi at its finest:
Al Ain camel market: If you have access to a car or are adventurous enough to tackle public transport, the Al Ain camel market is a drive to the south of the city. Manic vendors, breeders and buyers are going ballistic all day here, be sure to charge your camera as there’ll be plenty of phot opportunities..
Abu Dhabi’s souks: Cheap and authentic, Abu Dhabi is packed with local markets known as souks. The hustle and bustle of the Middle East emanates from ever nook and cranny throughout the seemingly endless labyrinth of stalls and you don’t even have to put your hand in your pocket to experience them, bargain.
Sheesha cafes: Lay off the booze, share some sheesha in the city centre and your evening’s activities are taken care of. You get a chance to feel the genuine ambience of the city all without the grand expense.
There you have it guys – Abu Dhabi offer’s a lot more than many sources give it credit for. So ignore the naysayers and give it a bash, it will be an experience like no other! Happy travels!
Book flights to Abu Dhabi with netflights.com!