19 Best activities in Abu Dhabi in Summer 2021

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Located on the isle of the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi is a true paradise for tourists and residents with its record-breaking attractions, adventure-sport destinations and ultra-modern shopping plazas. Enjoying the stunning architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, feeling the adrenaline rush at Ferrari World and surfing at Yas Waterworld are just a few of the activities the capital can offer. From May 2021 Abu Dhabi updated the green list for quarantine-free travel, which is exciting news for tourists worldwide. So we decided to share a compilation of must-visit destinations where you can discover all sides of multi-faceted Abu Dhabi.

Facts about Abu Dhabi

There are some facts about the UAE capital that are enough to blow your mind and make you want to visit Abu Dhabi as soon as possible. Let's see what other interesting facts we discovered as well as the capital being the world's largest emirate and owning the world's biggest concentrated solar power station.

  1. Abu Dhabi is home to one of the world's most sustainable urban communities due for completion in 2030 - Masdar City. It is the world's first zero-carbon city, which is aimed at applying real-world solutions of energy and water efficiency, zero-carbon transport and reduced waste generation for a greener lifestyle.

  2. Despite having the largest oil and natural resources in the country, Abu Dhabi successfully develops non-oil streams of revenue focusing on a knowledge-driven economy. Over the next few years, the government will invest AED 22B (USD 6B) into building museums, as well as expanding sectors such as media, gaming, music, cultural heritage, architecture and arts. The emirate directs its sources on low carbon and alternative energy technologies for a sustainable and environmentally friendly city.

  3. Abu Dhabi accounts for 70% of the UAE's gross domestic product, with the other 6 emirates accounting for the remaining 30%, with the capital alone contributing over 50% of the total. There are 4 free economic zones with tax-free policies and more than 1,000 skyscrapers, which only proves the desire of Abu Dhabi to overtake Dubai.

  4. For the fifth consecutive year in the Numbeo Quality of Life Index, Abu Dhabi has been named the world's safest city, with a score of 88.46%, ahead of 431 other cities.

  5. According to archeological findings, the first civilization in the UAE, Umm An-Nar Culture, lived along the coast of Abu Dhabi 3000 B.C. The area was practically empty, but fast forward to today and Abu Dhabi is one of the fastest-growing and wealthiest cities in the world.

  6. Initially, Abu Dhabi had a planned population of 40,000 under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed by Japanese architect Dr. Takahashi in 1967, but as time passed, the city population increased to the current 1.48 million residents.

  7. Before oil discovery, Abu Dhabi was known for its well-developed pearl industry in the Persian Gulf. Without oxygen tanks, pearl divers had to dive up to 30 times per day where they received a portion of the season's earnings as a salary.

  8. The largest jeep on Earth is to be found in Abu Dhabi. It is a fully functional replica of a World War II-era Jeep Willys, commissioned by Sheikh bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. The jeep is too big to even get inside the Emirates National Auto Museum, so instead, it is propped in four wooden supports outside.

  9. In Abu Dhabi, building construction is at its highest level, where only the best developers and specialists are involved. Here lies the most expensive hotel in the world - the Emirates Palace, inside of which the walls and ceiling are decorated with gold leaf, weighing a total of 80 kg. The second unique building is the "falling" Capital Gate Tower with an angle of inclination of 18 °, which exceeds the inclination of the Leaning Tower of Pisa by 14 °. And of course, the W Abu Dhabi Hotel, formerly known as the Yas Hotel, consists of 12-story hotel towers equipped with an LED system that individually illuminates all 5,389 windows and updates the color and brightness of each 20 times per second creating an unbelievable spectacle.

  10. The Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace Hotel were just some of the city's landmarks that were used during filming locations for the movies; Fast and Furious 7 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

What to Do in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is full of vibrant educational and historical events. Whether you plan to visit Abu Dhabi for a stopover or a longer stay, the Emirate has plenty to offer, from kayaking around the Louvre to the world's fastest roller coaster.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first Louvre Museum to be opened outside of Paris and the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula. The permanent collection inside the museum features over 120 masterpieces, including The Virgin and Child by Francesco Traini, The Bohemian by Edouard Manet and Pasha and Bedouin by Roger Fenton. The latest acquisitions from the French museums include works by Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir, and Bonnard. Louvre Abu Dhabi offers different activities for adults, including kayaking around the museum, sunrise kayaking and yoga under the dome. From June 18 2021 the Children's Museum at Louvre is back with a new exhibition 'Emotions! The new art adventure' is free for children.

The annual membership costs AED 473 (USD 129) and features unlimited yearly access for you and one guest as well as entry to partner institutions in France, including Musée du Louvre, Musée d'Orsay, Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac and Centre Pompidou. Members can enjoy up to a 15% discount on F&B and retail as well as a 20% discount on yoga and kayaking.

Note: be sure to purchase your ticket online through the website of Louvre Abu Dhabi before the visit.

Entrance fee: AED 32 (USD 9) for adults 18+; under 18, UAE senior nationals and residents 60+ go free.

Where: Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Cultural District

Jubail Mangrove Park

Opened in 2020, Jubail Mangrove Park is one of the most sought-after destinations in Abu Dhabi. The stunning park is the first self-contained educational, nature and leisure hub of its kind in the emirate. There is a range of various activities available such as a guided walking tour, kayaking, yoga and e-canoe tours. Turtles, gazelle, crabs, flamingos and herons can all be observed in Jubail Mangrove Park. For those who would like to stay longer, there are now glamping pods on the island at the Pura Eco retreat.

Note: be sure to book your visit beforehand on the official website of Jubail Mangrove Park.

Where: Jubail Island, located between Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.

Entrance fee: children (7-17) – AED 10 (USD 3), adults – AED 15 (USD 4).

Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit opened in 2009 and is the most expensive F1 circuit ever built, costing over AED 3.7B, USD 1B. Interestingly, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the only Formula 1 race to take place at dusk, starting at 5:10 pm local time. One of the most prominent features of Yas Marina Circuit is the W Hotel, the first-ever hotel to be built over an F1 circuit. Besides holding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and motorsports events, the circuit offers the ultimate driving experiences such as Drive the Ferrari 458 GT, Formula Yas Bike Track Days, Yas Kartzone and Formula 3000 Yas among many others. It is worth noting that during the whole summer of 2021 there is a 20% discount available on a number of driving experiences. The entrance itself is free and further activities can be booked through the website of Yas Marina Circuit.

Yas Island launched a special promotion for family summer vacations with inclusive access to any of Yas Theme Park for every night's stay on the island. Yas Islands Parks Hopper & Kids Go Free Package allows children to have unlimited free access to Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World and Yas Waterworld; one child for every paying adult. You can book a package at any Yas Island Hotel on the official website of Yas Island. Children below the age of 12 can stay and play for free when sharing the same room with their parents. The promotion is valid for both residents and non-residents. The package provides room upgrades, as well as 15-20% discounts for spa treatments and F&B.

Where: Yas Island

Entertainment

Yas Waterworld

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, the UAE's first mega waterpark, offers a one-of-a-kind experience of an adventure reminiscent of Emirati pearl diving for AED 149 (USD 40). It is suitable for anyone over the age of 8 years old and offers a chance to dive down in an underwater tank and collect three oysters with pearls. During the one-hour experience, guests will be accompanied by two trained diving instructors, so this activity is completely safe. The UAE's first-ever underwater VR experience is also available at Yas Waterworld for AED 75 (USD 20). Visitors can travel to four different worlds of exciting water adventures from drift diving to gliding over waterfalls. Yas Waterworld offers entertainment for the whole family with 40 different slides, including the world's longest extreme water coaster; Falcon's Falaj.

Note:
Yas Waterworld is closed on Sundays until June 30, 2021.

Entrance fee: from AED 270 (USD 74).

Now there is now an exclusive entrance fee discount offer for all vaccinated residents and non-residents valid until June 30, 2021. The discounted price is AED 199,5 (USD 55).

Where: Yas Island.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is one of the world-famous unique attractions in Abu Dhabi as it is the first Ferrari-branded theme park ever. There are several record-breaking rides including the breathtaking Formula Rossa, reaching a peak speed of 250 km/hr in just 4.9 seconds as well as Flying Aces, the highest roller coaster in the world. Moreover, you can watch a movie showcasing the career highlights of the racing legend Michael Schumacher. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has the original Formula 1 car which helped the champion to win his first title in 2000, which is a must-see.

Entrance fee: from AED 295 (USD 80).

Note: Ferrari World is closed on Sundays and Mondays until June 30, 2021.

Where: Yas Island.

Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi

Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi is another record-breaking destination, named the world's biggest indoor theme park by the Guinness World Records. It spreads across 1.65 million sq. ft with 29 state-of-the-art rides, interactive family-friendly attractions, live entertainment, exclusive stores and a range of eateries. Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi is divided into six zones: Warner Bros. Plaza, Bedrock, Dynamite Glutch, Cartoon Junction, Gotham City and Metropolis. The theme park made Time magazine's list of the "World's Greatest Places to Visit" in 2018, and won the "Middle East's Leading Tourism Destination" award at the 2020 World Travel Awards, making Yas Island one of the world's top 10 vacation and entertainment destinations.

Entrance Fee: from AED 295 (USD 80).

Note
: You can purchase an annual pass for the starting price of AED 895, USD 245. It gives access to Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World and Yas Waterworld and exclusive discounts on shopping, dining and paid experiences in all three parks.

Where: Yas Island.

Fun

Emirates Park Zoo & Resort

Located in Al Bahia, Emirates Park Zoo is home to over 1,700 animals including white tigers, a Siberian bear, lions, cheetahs and zebras. It offers a unique Giraffe Experience which is similar to what you can find in Giraffe Manor, the world-famous boutique hotel in Kenya. For AED 1,575 or USD 430 you can enjoy a two-hour breakfast with giraffes at a private purpose-built cave. Sharing your breakfast with a parrot (AED 103, USD 28) or why not have brunch with a leopard? (AED 150, USD 43). All this is possible at the Emirates Park Zoo & Resort. A complimentary private tour and pictures from the amazing experience are included. There are 12 different tours available for visitors as well as zones where you can feed ducks, monkeys, hippos, goats, farm animals and elephants. Animal education courses are also available as well as countless children's activities. You can purchase an annual membership at the zoo for AED 399, USD 110, which provides unlimited zoo admission and various discounts from 15% to 50% on other services. For wildlife staycations, there are 28 chalets available for booking that is situated inside the grounds zoo as well.

Tickets should be purchased during the opening hours of the Service Center or online at any time.

Where: 12th Street, Al Bahia, at the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.

Entrance fee: from AED 30 (USD 8).

CLYMB Abu Dhabi

Easily accessible through Yas Mall, CLYMB Abu Dhabi is a unique indoor attraction providing the ultimate skydiving and climbing experience. It is home to five climbing walls which range in height, including the world's tallest called; The Summit which is 141 ft. Moreover, CLYMB Abu Dhabi features the world's biggest indoor skydiving flight chamber with 16 high-end fans in the room instead of the regular four. The attractions are suitable for everyone aged 4 and above, from beginners to advanced. Visitors may watch others conquering The Summit from free viewing platforms flying through the wind tunnel.

Where: Yas Island.

Entrance fee: from AED 120 (USD 33).

Food

Observation Deck at 300

Located on the 74th floor, this observation deck offers the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi. A circular 360-degree panorama viewing platform allows visitors to see breathtaking views on the Emirates Palace Hotel, Marina Abu Dhabi and Heritage Village. It is no wonder that high tea on the deck is very popular among tourists and locals. You can choose from exotic tea blends, freshly ground coffee, or signature mocktails, as well as enjoy freshly-baked scones, homemade pastries, mouthwatering cakes and gourmet sandwiches whilst taking in the view. The 5-star service adds a new luxurious twist to the traditional afternoon tea.

Where: Conrad, Etihad Towers.

Price: AED 250,(USD 68).

Stratos Abu Dhabi

Stratos is known for being the only revolving lounge and bar in the capital, perched at the very top of the five-star Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. It offers a breathtaking panorama view of the whole city through its large panoramic windows. A well-stocked cocktail bar and Mediterranean dishes with a special twist are served throughout the evening. The hotel recently launched Tippling Tea which is based on the scene from the Lewis Carroll novel "Alice in Wonderland". It comes with a selection of teas, a 'tipple' of your choice, savory éclairs and fresh scones for the starting price of AED 99, USD 27.

Where: Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, 26th floor.

Le Petit Chef

Le Petit Chef takes visitors on a 3D visual 900-minute journey from France to Arabia, India, China and the Himalayas. It is a mixture of an interactive dining experience and an immersive unique 3D theater as the world's smallest chef (58 mm) 'prepares' the guests' food in front of them, often with comedic results. Expect to be wowed as your plate becomes a part of the visual show with the thumb-sized chef right in front of you. There is an option of choosing from Le Petit Chef Classic which also has a vegetarian menu, Le Petit Chef Grandioso with elevated versions of classic dishes and Le Petit Chef Junior for children.

Where: Ray's Grill at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, 63rd floor.

Price: from AED 295 (USD 80).

On Weekend

Yas Waterworld Neon Nights

Neon Nights takes place at Yas Waterworld every Friday until August 27, 2021. The waterpark will transform into an electrifying wonderland with amazing live entertainment, glow-in-the-dark attractions, rides and slides. The park will be open for extended hours from 10 am to 10 pm and after sunset, visitors can splash around in the dark and float in the UAEs only neon river. The hydro-jet Show and Silent Disco are just a few of the exciting shows organized during Neon Nights. Splash Squad at Amwaj Beach offers theme-inspired activities as well like the dark tic-tac-tor, Jenga, hula hoop and life-sized connect four.

Where: Yas Island.

Entrance fee: from AED 270 (USD 74).

Kayaking Tours for Juniors at Louvre Abu Dhabi

On Fridays and Saturdays at 8 am kids can go on a special tour around the stunning museum-city Louvre Abu Dhabi. This is undoubtedly a unique way to experience the culture and art culture of the UAE, as well as learn about the museum's architecture from a new perspective. The Louvre teamed up with adventure experience company Sea Hawk to bring such an exciting tour to the public. It is worth noting that only children aged 6-12 can participate in this activity.

Where: Saadiyat Island Cultural District.

Price: AED 126 (USD 35) for 1 adult and 1 child goes free.

Brunch in the Clouds

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi organizes a series of spectacular dining experiences twice a month on Fridays. The lavish occasion is held in the highest-suspended suite in the world, spanning across the 48th and 49th floors of the luxury hotel in the Nation Towers. Just 50 diners can participate in the mouth-watering feast. It starts in the hotel lobby, where guests are escorted by butlers to a private lift, riding straight up to the 12,000 sq ft suite. Brunch is open only to patrons over the age of 21 and offers a variety of sophisticated treats in the caviar-ice bar or the dedicated oyster, cheese and dessert rooms.

Where: St. Regis Abu Dhabi near Abu Dhabi Corniche and Marina Mall.

Price: from AED 345 (USD 94) per person.

Top-5 Free Places

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The main attraction in Abu Dhabi is open to visitors for free. Constructed over the course of 11 years, the stunning building covers an area of more than 13 million sq ft and can accommodate around 41,000 people at the same time. As we have already mentioned, it is home to the largest hand-knotted rug in the world. Furthermore, one of the largest chandeliers used in a mosque can also be found in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, with a unique lighting system of 22 towers designed to reflect the moon phases.

Where: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, 5th St.

Cultural Foundation

It is the UAE's first cultural center dedicated to creating and appreciating Emirati art and literature. At the time of its opening in 1981, it was home to the first National Library, along with a performance auditorium and an exhibition center. Currently, the center hosts a variety of events, including art exhibits, lectures, concerts and movies and art workshop classes. No prior booking is needed and entrance to the exhibitions is free.

Where: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street.

Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is one of the most luxurious and most expensive hotels in the world. The main palace building stretches over 3,300 ft from wing to wing, with its gardens covering an area of almost 11 million sq ft. Emirate Palace houses 1000 Swarovski chandeliers, 8000 palm trees and a central dome crafted with gold, mother of pearls and crystals. It is free to visit the grand lobby of the huge hotel and all the exhibitions there. Emirates Palace is in the top 10 most Instagrammable locations in Abu Dhabi, so do not miss a chance to take a picture inside!

Where: West end of Corniche (W Corniche Rd).

Arabian Saluki Center

Arabian Saluki Center provides an opportunity to get a close look at hunting dogs essential for the traditional Bedouin heritage. Although Saluki dogs are still trained to hunt, nowadays they are more familiar with beauty contests and races with prize money up to AED 400K, USD 109K. Dog lovers can cuddle a prized puppy and some lucky visitors, which arrive first, can watch the elegant hounds in action during their outdoor exercise sessions.

Where: near Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, Al Shakmkhah.

Heritage Village

In Abu Dhabi Heritage Village one can check out what the emirate was like before it became a modern fast-growing city. There are many huts and cottages which demonstrate the traditional skills of spinning, weaving, pottery and glass-blowing. You will find there a traditional souk, mosque and a historic encampment among other attractions. If there is one place in Abu Dhabi that can really take you back in time, then it is here at the Heritage Village.

Where: the Corniche Breakwater in Abu Dhabi, near Marina Mall.

Upcoming Attractions

Abu Dhabi has been catching up with Dubai in terms of developing a number of attractions and additions to add to its portfolio of leisure and entertainment hubs during 2021. These include one of the largest snow parks in the world; Snow Abu Dhabi (currently several attractions are in the testing phase) and the world's first Warner Bros.-themed hotel right next to the operating Warner Bros. World theme park. One of the most anticipated developments of this year is Al Qana, currently 95% complete. This will be home to the largest standalone cinema in Abu Dhabi, over 95 restaurants, a turtle rehabilitation center, a massive social center and outdoor fitness zones. Its main feature is the National Aquarium, the biggest one in the Middle East, with 10 experiential zones. In total, there will be around 300 species of reptiles, arachnids, amphibians, fish and birds as well as live underwater shows and a massive walk-through underwater tunnel.

Highlights

  1. Over the course of 54 years, the population of Abu Dhabi has grown over27 times the original population and offers its visitors and residents a number of unique never-before-seen activities in the Middle East, including breakfast with giraffes and an underwater virtual reality experience.

  2. Currently, Abu Dhabi is working on establishing itself as a non-oil economy and a more sustainable city.

  3. The Heritage Village and Arabian Saluki Center are a perfect choice for those wishing to immerse themselves in the history of Abu Dhabi.

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