Dubai is the crown jewel of the desert kingdom of the UAE, shining like a beacon attracting tourists from all over the world. Yet, it is not the only tourist friendly city in the Emirates, its neighbor – Abu Dhabi is definitely making its mark on the tourist itinerary. If you are in Dubai for 4 days or more or are an expat eager to soak in the sights of UAE, then you must head out on an Abu Dhabi day trip from Dubai!
Why go for an Abu Dhabi day trip from Dubai?
Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as well as the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The city rivals Dubai in terms of infrastructure and economy and is fast catching up to a reputation of a world city.
A mere 90 miles away from Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the perfect getaway and suitable for day trips from Dubai. Not only is it extremely accessible, but also home to some of the most iconic attractions in the Middle East. It may not get as much limelight as Dubai does, but Abu Dhabi landmarks such as the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Emirates Palace, the modern racing circuit at Yas Marina or the exhilarating Ferrari World are unmatched.
So whether you are looking for a way to spend the weekend or explore the desert country, Abu Dhabi is where you need to head to!
Is there enough time in a day trip to experience Abu Dhabi?
An Abu Dhabi day trip is one of the most popular Dubai day trips and allows you to experience the culture and opulence of the United Arab Emirates. Situated 130 kilometers away from each other and connected by the Sheikh Zayed Road, the distance between the two can be covered comfortably in under two hours. From the Sheikh Zayed Mosque to Yas Island and Ferrari World, a day trip will help you experience everything Abu Dhabi has to offer. The other attractions of the city like the Emirates Palace Hotel, the Corniche, and the Heritage Village can all be covered within a day’s duration. All the attractions are within short distances of each other and with the fantastic road network, driving through the attractions is a breeze!
However, if you’re in Dubai for more than 4 days, then it makes sense to spend a night in Abu Dhabi and experience its offerings further on the next day. If you spend your first day sightseeing and visiting the cultural hotspots of the city, you can spend the night in the city and experience the Yas Island on the next day. With the exhilarating Ferrari World and the ever-enchanting Yas Waterworld calling Yas Island home, you can enjoy a day of fun and frolic at these two parks. If you aren’t visiting any other theme park in Dubai, then you should definitely not miss these two Yas Island theme parks.
What are the must-see attractions in Abu Dhabi?
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
The key word about this place is ‘Grand’! Everything about the mosque screams of magnificence. The gleaming white marble structure is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and a sight to behold! And a trip to Abu Dhabi is incomplete without a visit to the Sheik Zayed Mosque. The mosque has many unique elements that add up to its architectural beauty. But the exterior of the pristine white domes and imposing minarets itself is quite a sight.
The huge mosque has a capacity to accommodate almost 41,000 worshipers! It has the second largest chandelier in the world as well as the world’s largest carpet spanning a floor size of 5,627 sq mt! Even in the blazing hot sun of Abu Dhabi the marble mosque provides a surreal and cool environment. You can even visit the mosque at night when you can see the amazing play of light and shadow along the pillars and ponds of the mosque.
The Emirates Palace is a must see stop on your Abu Dhabi day tour from Dubai. The Palace is actually a 7 star hotel that is built along a private beach and is set amidst 85 hectares of verdant lawns and gardens. The best way to explore the Palace is by taking an Emirates Palace Show Around Tour. This way you can explore the extensive grounds as well as the stunning architecture of the Palace. The palace has 114 domes, the Grand Ballroom and palace auditorium.
A day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai will provide you with many photo ops but nothing like the Palace! The opulent brown architecture resembles the desert sands and is a perfect backdrop for your photographs. You can easily spend an hour at this spectacular location before heading on to the other sights of Abu Dhabi.
• Magical Abu Dhabi Tour from Dubai with Lunch at Emirates Palace
• Emirates Palace Show Around Tour
UAE Heritage Village
Before the skyscrapers and glass structures of Abu Dhabi came along, the desert was dotted with oases that were its lifelines. The Bedouin life was hardy and sparse on resources, which made the desert life unique and remarkable. The Heritage village provides travelers an insight into this desert life through the unique village setup.
The Village is a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village replete with goat hair tents and the falaj irrigation system. There are live workshops where you can see artisans demonstrate traditional skills like metalwork and pottery. It is an interesting experience and one that will add the cultural experience to your day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.
Desert Safari Experiences in Abu Dhabi
The iconic image of camels ambling along the desert dunes is what strikes you when you think of a desert! So, why not head to the desert for a camel safari for the quintessential desert experience? The desert right outside Abu Dhabi offers a plethora of activities for all kinds of travelers. The best way to include this in your day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai is by doing a Camel Trek. The entire activity takes less than an hour and takes you back to the era when camels were the main mode of transport in the desert.
The desert has more to offer if you extend the trip to Abu Dhabi by another day. You can catch the sunrise desert safari or spend the night out while on a desert safari to Liwa also known as the ‘Empty Quarter’! There is no shortage of exciting adventure activities too. These safaris usually include a session on dune bashing. Tucked comfortably in a 4x4, you will be driven across the desert on a roller-coaster ride over the dunes. You can also zoom across the slippery sand dunes in a powerful quad bike ride that will leave you dizzy with excitement!
Corniche is where the relaxation happens! There is nothing better to do at the end of a sightseeing trip than to put your feet up and relax, and let the day unwind amongst the comfort of the Corniche. If you are on an Abu Dhabi tour from Dubai then the promise of the vast ocean and the breeze coming in will excite you!
This waterfront is a public road lined with parks, walkways and cycle paths. It has a spectacular backdrop of the Abu Dhabi skyline and the blue waters in the front. In fact the Corniche beach is given the Blue Flag status which is an eco-label for beaches that guarantees safe and clean bathing water. If you are short on time then you can even take the Abu Dhabi sightseeing tour which will cover the Corniche, Heritage Village and Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
Fancy extending your day trip to Abu Dhabi by a day?
If you do not wish to rush through the major attractions, such as Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld at Yas Island, then you can extend your single day trip to Abu Dhabi by a day. You can easily spend a full day at both these attractions. Extending your trip by a day allows you to go for a relaxing city sightseeing tour on the first day and spend the second day at Yas Island's Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld.
You can double your fun and extend your trip to Abu Dhabi by planning a visit to the Yas Island. Yas is an island in Abu Dhabi region and has the Ferrari World as well as other attractions such as the Yas Marina Circuit and Yas Waterworld. If you do decide to spend an additional day in Dubai, then you can comfortably sightsee the city and all its landmarks on the first day and on the second day, visit Yas Island and enjoy a fun day out at Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World.
If you are planning for day trips from Dubai with your family then you have to include the Yas Waterworld theme park! It is one of the world’s top 10 water parks and is spread across 37 acres. The water park has 45 rides which includes the world’s first hydromagnetic tornado waterslide!
Families with young children especially wonder what to see in Abu Dhabi because it is often known only for shopping and leisure. However, this is one place where the entire family can have fun. You can simply book a Yas Waterworld Bronze Pass to get the best of the theme park!
The biggest attraction of Abu Dhabi region is the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, located right next to the Formula One track and home to the first Ferrari World Theme Park. A large number of tourists visiting Dubai can be seen setting a day aside to travel to Abu Dhabi to experience Ferrari World.
Once at Ferrari World, you will discover the extravagance of the Ferrari World which offers 25 thrilling rides. The most popular of them all is the Formula Rossa, the fastest roller-coaster in the world that will catapult you from 0-62mph in 2 seconds. A popular destination with car enthusiasts and speed freaks, the Ferrari World Theme Park is a must do on a day trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. If you can’t spend the entire day, you can take a quick look at the race track and click photographs for keep sake!
Are there any other day trips that I can take from Dubai?
Musandam Tour (Oman)
Musandam is an Omani territory within UAE and is often touted as the ‘Norway of Middle East’ for its beautiful scenery of fjords and cliffs. One of the most popular day trips from Dubai for expats, it offers a chance to escape to nature and is only 120 miles away from Dubai. The place has great wildlife and beaches filled with underwater wildlife like dolphins, turtles and manta ray. It’s also great for snorkeling!
• Musandam Tour from Dubai
• Khasab Musandam Dhow Tour from Dubai with Lunch & Transfers
Ras al-Khaimah is an Emirate in UAE and is home to the Ice Land Water Park. It is about 62 miles from Dubai making it one of the popular day trips from Dubai. The Ice Land Water Park is enormous and has more than 30 slides. There is a large Olympic sized pool and the world’s largest waterfall. It is definitely a destination for families with children. Ras al-Khaimah is also popular for its desert safaris.
If you are looking for offbeat day trips from Dubai then head to the Hajar Mountains. The mountains range from eastern UAE into Oman and are a picturesque location. The unique landscape provides panoramic views perfect for a road trip from Dubai. You can head to the Hatta Heritage Village which is about 95 miles away from Dubai making it a convenient day trip from Dubai. You can experience the traditional Hajar life as well as sight local wildlife like gazelles along the way.
• Hatta and Hajar Mountain Safari
That brings our Abu Dhabi day trip from Dubai question-answer guide to an end. We hope that you're now inspired to check Abu dhabi out on your trip to the UAE. If you have any other questions which you think we should address, or wish to know anything else about Abu Dhabi, do write to us in the comments and we shall help you out. Or, if you wish to learn more about Dubai instead, then check out our Dubai guide to get all your questions answered.