A lot of people visit the UAE and only stop in Dubai. If you have an extra day, it’s worth popping over to Abu Dhabi located about 90 minutes away by car. Having just come from Dubai, Abu Dhabi felt a lot smaller but was definitely still worth a visit. Here’s the perfect itinerary for one day in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s main attraction. The mosque was constructed between 1996 and 2007, and the mosque complex covers over 30 acres!

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The mosque is free to enter. There are also free guided tours throughout the day. The mosque is open Saturday-Thursday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm and Friday from 4:30 pm to 10:00 pm. If visiting during Ramadan, be sure to check for changes in visiting hours. The mosque has a strict dress code. For women, if you do not have appropriate attire, the mosque will provide an abaya for use. Check the official mosque website for the most up to date information.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Choose Your Own Adventure

You have several choices on how to spend your day in Abu Dhabi. Art lovers can check out the Louvre Abu Dhabi which is open every day except Monday. For thrill-seekers, you might want to check out Ferrari World, home of Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. We had just visited the Louvre in Paris, and I hate rollercoasters so Ferrari World was not at the top of my list. Instead, we chose to spend the day at the beach club at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi (review here).

St. Regis Beach Abu Dhabi

Dinner at Emriates Palace

Emirates Palace is quite the hotel. Even if you aren’t dining here, it’s worth visiting Emirates Palace as a tourist attraction.

Emirates Palace

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from…so many that the one we picked, Mezlai, was completely empty on a Friday night! I was surprised because we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the service was amazing. I’m hoping it was an issue of too much supply and not enough demand. Mezlai’s dining room is designed to look like a bedouin tent and serves dishes from the region.

Mezlai at Emirates Palace

If you don’t want to dine at Emirates Palace, you can grab a cappuccino decorated with flecks of 24 karat gold at Le Cafe.

Drinks at Ray’s Bar at Etihad Towers

After dinner, head to the 62nd floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers to have a drink at Ray’s Bar. The bar itself is nothing to write home about but you’ll mainly be visiting for the view.

 Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, the perfect itinerary for one day in Abu Dhabi. While there aren’t a ton of tourist attractions per se, Abu Dhabi has enough to fill your day with a variety of activities. Whether you have a long layover or are visiting from Dubai, spending one day in Abu Dhabi is certainly worth it.

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