Your Perfect Day in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a very popular stopover connection for many travellers, and so it was for us on our way to Mauritius. This time, instead of just taking a short 3-hour break like we always do, we went further and took a full 20-hour long stopover. So the main question was - what can you really manage to do in Abu Dhabi in just 20 hours?

Majestic Etihad towers

Since we had less than a day at our disposal, we had to do some planning. We arranged a safari desert tour in advance which picked us up at the airport and drove straight towards the desert. This way we didn’t have to take a taxi from the airport as well.

road through the desert

A safari desert tour is something you won’t want to miss. The tour starts with the Land Cruiser heading straight for the desert dunes.

Adventerous Jeep safari in the desert

The experience is quite wild, you go violently up, down and sideways through the desert. If you are prone to travel sickness, we suggest taking a pill beforehand.

Camels in desert UAE

Then, in the middle of the desert, they bring you to a small village where you can ride a camel, rest in a tent and, the best part, try sand-boarding. Basically it’s the same thing as snowboarding, only on sand.

Desert in Abu Dabhi

Abu Dhabi riding a camel

Sandboarding in the desert of UAE

There are no lifts so you need to walk up the dunes, which is quite hard and the sand is really hot.

Sand boarding

Sand boarding experience

Then, once you start going down, the friction is so intense that you can barely move at all. I’m a professional snowboarder so, of course, for me it was way too slow, not to mention controlling the board which is practically impossible. 

Falling while sandboarding in Abu Dhabi

This was purely to have some fun. Which we did :)

Panorama in desert Abu Dhabi

Once you’re done with sand-boarding, you head back through the desert for another crazy ride. The whole trip takes about 4 hours and finishes in the centre of Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque panomara

Our next stop was the famous Sheikh Zayed Mosque. This is basically the first thing everyone advises you to visit in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque interior

Amazing Steikh Zayed Mosque pools

I've never been a fan of these kinds of places but, I have to admit, I was stunned by its beauty.

Steikh Zayed Mosque

Entrance is totally free, but there is a special dress code, especially for women. However, they will provide you with special clothes if you don’t meet the requirements. Of course there are some rules, for example, you can’t hold hands with your partner. Taking photos is totally fine though.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque - wonder of the world

This place is really worth visiting.

In Abu Dhabi Sign

After the mosque, we decided to explore the city a little more. Since it was August, the temperature was about 46C so walking was a pretty bad idea. Fortunately, taxis are very easy to find and they have air conditioning.

Abu Dhabi is pretty large so we ended up driving around the city and, whenever we saw something interesting, we just told our taxi driver to stop and wait for us while we took some photos and had a look around.

Romantic view on Abu Dhabi

It was almost lunch time and we were starting to feel a bit drained. We made a beeline for another popular place in Abu Dhabi - Observation Deck at 300, where we had our afternoon tea reservation.

Visiting observation deck 300 in Abu Dhabi

Breathtaking view from Etihad towers

The Observation Deck is located 300 metres up, on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah Hotel. It is the ideal place to discover Abu Dhabi’s splendid skyline, or simply enjoy afternoon tea gazing out over the unique, panoramic views of the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Fast7 car jump scene
Scene from the "Fast7" movie.

Majestic Etihad towers

It all took place in one of the latest and highest skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi; the ones where the recent “Fast and Furious 7” movie took place. The views are just spectacular. This is exactly what you need after an exhausting day in the desert and on the streets.

Gorgeous Emirates palace

After a relaxing tea experience we still had time for our final destination - the Emirates Palace - the most luxurious hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Emirates palace gold walls

The hotel is located just across the street from the Emirate Towers so we had about a 5-minute walk ahead of us, but even so we decided to take a taxi. People don’t walk anywhere in Abu Dhabi and you get used to it pretty quickly.

Unprecedented opulence in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is what Emirates Palace is all about.

The walls are covered in pure gold, and you get a great view of the Etihad Towers in the distance which also look amazing.

Luxury Emirates palace interior

So after a few hours of enjoying pure luxury at Emirates Palace, we headed back to the airport. The one place we didn’t visit was the famous Ferrari World – the world’s largest indoor theme park. But, to visit this place, you need a whole day so it wasn’t an option for us on this trip.

As you can see, 20 hours is more than enough to see most of the popular places in Abu Dhabi and even have some fun in the desert outside it. I think we certainly made the most of our time and, without any doubts, had the busiest, most fun and intense flight connection of our lives.

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Written by

I’ve been travelling ever since a was a child but my first large trip was at the age of 13 when I was sent to live for a couple months to London. This trip has changed me and ever since I just want to see more and more of our beautiful world. Every trip gives me new emotions, charge and strength to keep going further.

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