Hi guys, welcome to my updated Abu Dhabi travel guide. After being in Abu Dhabi with Abu Dhabi Tourism earlier the year, I had the honor to return only half a year later to visit this beautiful place again for the opening of the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi. And honestly: it’s been one of my favorite projects in 2017! As Alex and I came back to Abu Dhabi for the third time, we already knew everything quite well and enjoyed the mixture of discovering new sights and going back to places we loved during our previous visits.
ABU DHABI – ATTRACTIONS
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the biggest one in the United Arab Emirates and was opened in 2007. I personally think it is one of the most beautiful buildings I ever got to visit! With its numerous columns and domes, the reflection pools and all of the colorfully ornamented white marble you could wander around it forever. We had a young woman as our personal cultural guide, which was amazing because she could give us a lot of details about the mosque’s architecture and design but also about the worshipping that takes place within its walls. If you ever come to Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque should definitely be on top of your of things to see list! It’s a must-not-miss destination!
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Opened on November the 11th, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has its name from Parisian one. Architect Jean Nouvel calls it his masterpiece, also due to the fact that it took quite a while to build it up, longer than actually planned. The exhibition shows a big variety of art from all over the world. The most amazing thing is that all these artpieces are placed up next to each other – as a unity of all nations and world religions. Another plus is the astonishing architecture: I loved how with the sun breaks through the building and creates wonderful light spots.
You simply cannot go to Abu Dhabi without a desert adventure! At least that’s how I feel! Even though I’ve been to the United Emirates a couple of times, I always have to return to the desert! Depending on how adventurous you are, there are quite a few fun options! I love dune bashing, a traditional buffet – But my favorite thing is very simple: watching sunsets in the desert! The sun changes the colors of the sand and even after sunset you can see some of the most amazing star-spattered skies.
Observation Deck at 300
While we stayed in the area next to the Grand Mosque out of view of the city’s skyscrapers, we went to the Observation Deck at 300 for afternoon tea one day. The observation deck is on the 74th floor of the Etihad Towers, which makes it the highest observation deck in Abu Dhabi and definitely worth the trip! While sipping a cup of tea or coffee or enjoying a snack you have the most amazing view on the skyscrapers next to you, the marina, the beach and both the Presidential Palace and the Emirates Palace (the first is a “proper” palace, the second one of the most luxurious hotels in the city – it’s probably not advised to knock on the wrong door when you booked a room at the Emirates ;)). The Etihad Towers are also close to the Corniche Beach where you can sit in the sand and enjoy the Abu Dhabi skyline at the same time.
ABU DHABI – HOTELS
Abu Dhabi clearly is home to some of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever stayed at. The range of different types of hotels is just stunning! You can get instant Maldives vibes at the Zaya Nurai Island resort, a unique desert experience at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, the best Mosque views at the Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri and the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canel or the most glamorous stay at the Emirates Palace. I did sooo much research before selecting my favorite hotels and even though there are countless options, the ones below are truly amazing in their own unique ways!
Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri:
Sooo much to love about the Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri! First of all the beautiful Mosque, the view at the beaches and around the pool area, the direct access to a little souk and boats which drive you along a small canal. Clearly one of my absolute favorites in Abu Dhabi (the evening has also been buffet is amazing! The dessert buffet is on another level ;)).
We only stayed one night at the Emirates Palace but I was in constant „aww“-mood. The sunset at the beach is so beautiful when the golden light covers the beautiful hotel building as well as the impressive skyscrapers in the back. We had dinner at the Le Vendome. The inside of the restaurant amazes by its classy but also oriental style, absolutely breathtaking! You can easily get goosebumps by just looking and wondering around the giant golden halls of the hotel. The interior is unbelievable and for the first time in my life I’ve even looked up the brand of the glasses and cutlery because every detail was so charming. 😉
Zaya Nurai Island Resort:
Maledive vibes in Abu Dhabi? When a small boat took us to the Zaya Nurai Island resort I couldn’t believe my eyes. Turquoise water, super stylish villas and all the details of a cool boutique resort. We only had one night at Zaya Nurai Island and it’s been unreal. We had a beautiful beach villa with private pool, super beautiful interior and cute bikes to cruise around the island. I loved the areas with swings and hammocks in the water and all colorful tippys at the beach.
The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal:
During our time in Abu Dhabi we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canel. It is located next to the Grand Canal with a beach access but it also has an amazing view on the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque that is its direct neighbor. We changed rooms once so that we could enjoy both views from the bed for one night. And one night we had the most beautiful sunset behind the mosque that we enjoyed in the hotel’s garden. I love the Ritz-Carlton hotels and we have stayed there before (for example on Tenerife last month: here). Once more we had a very enjoyable stay and I can only recommend it especially because of its location next to the mosque that is in my opinion the most beautiful sight in the city!
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
One of my definite highlights during my days in Abu Dhabi was a night at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. The resort is a 1,5h drive from the city right into the heart of the desert and there is literally nothing but sand and camels around it for miles and miles. I had seen pictures online before and it had been on my bucket list for quite a while! I stayed in one of their amazing rooms for one night with my sister and we had a huge window facing the dunes and a big terrace where we had a great Arabian lunch (that we had to protect fiercely from the birds who wanted to have there share). During the day the sand was so hot that you couldn’t really walk around but at night we went on a camel ride and watched the sun setting behind the sandy dunes. I looooove the way the colors of the sand change when the sun is setting and I can never get enough of it. Actually, my sister and I left behind our group having tea to climb the highest dune so that we would have a better view – quite a work out! However, those of you who follow my insta stories might have read about the traumatic camel experience I had in Jordan a couple of years ago when I was appointed a particularly feisty individual and I was really happy that I got along much better with my Arabian camel. 😉 I’m optimistic that this has whipped away my fear of camels for the future! ☺
I hope you enjoy my impressions from the trip! I hope they will remind me of the amazing time we had for a long while to come! xx Leonie