Last year, we traveled to the Maldives for our 5-year wedding anniversary, and on the way back we had the pleasure of staying for a couple nights in Abu Dhabi. It was a short time, but we covered a lot of ground! If you find yourself visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time or with a limited length-of-stay, this is a great guide to the highlights. As usual, I’ll be outlining where we ate, stayed, and played!
Where We Stayed
We ended up in Abu Dhabi on a stopover from our trip to the Maldives. It’s a part of the world we had never seen before, and we were excited to experience it as part of our trip. Rob booked our stay at the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi located on Maryah Island. It was a quick 15-minute taxi ride from the airport, and the experience was exactly what you’d expect from a 5-star hotel. The check-in process was smooth and effortless, and we were escorted to the elevator and sent up to our room.
It was spacious and luxurious. The bed was extremely comfortable and we were thankful for that after skipping several time zones on our way there. There was a full wall of windows in the bedroom area with room darkening curtains to help us catch some extra zzz’s. The bathroom had heated floors, a recessed shower, two separate sinks, and massive soaking tub.
Where We Ate
Because our stay was so short in the city, we ended up eating most of our meals near the hotel. Upon our arrival, we decided to eat a late lunch at Cafe Milano located in Four Seasons Abu Dhabi. It was delightful and our server made the experience very enjoyable. We enjoyed the pasta, pizza, salad, wine, and bread over the course of a few hours. If you end up staying at the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi or find yourself near the hotel, it’s definitely worth stopping by.
Where We Played
The Louvre Abu Dhabi
We’ve all heard of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, but did you know there is another one in Abu Dhabi? The Louvre Abu Dhabi might be smaller than its original counterpart, but it is an architectural marvel in its own unique way. The exhibits are very different, in that they compare Eastern and Western Art through the ages, which is something I’d never really seen before. I’m not an art expert by any means, but I could definitely appreciate the exhibits they had to offer. The entry fee is very reasonable, and it’s the perfect activity when it’s 120 degrees Fahrenheit outside like it was when we visited in May. (Yay for visiting the desert in the summer, haha.)
There are several exhibits included with the normal ticket price, and there’s a children’s museum as well. You can buy tickets online or at the front desk when you arrive. We walked through the entire museum in about 3 hours, but we aren’t art fanatics and did a lot of skimming. You could easily spend all day here if you wanted to.
The Galleria Mall
The next stop was the Galleria Mall located right next to our hotel. This was no ordinary mall, however. It is the largest in the city, featuring over 400 stores spanning several stories. The mall has everything from Zara and H&M to Versace and Chanel. It also contains the country’s largest movie theater including the only IMAX experience in the UAE! I went in with a mission to find something appropriate to wear to the mosque later that day.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Visiting the mosque was one of the highlights of our trip to Abu Dhabi. It is a must-see if you’re spending any time there at all. The mosque is, by far, one of the most immaculate places we’ve ever visited. I’d highly recommend going early in the morning or late in the evening for the best views. We went in the evening, and it timed out perfectly for us to witness a prayer just as the sun was setting. The entire experience was so beautiful, and something I’m so thankful to have witnessed.
It’s free to enter the mosque, but it’s VERY important to wear proper attire when visiting. The rules are very strict and no entry will be permitted if they are not followed. Men and women should be dressed modestly, and women are required to cover their hair while inside the mosque. You can read more about the specifics of what you can and can’t wear in the visitor’s guide here.
You can easily do the Mosque and the Louvre Abu Dhabi in one day like we did, or spread them out over a couple days if you have more time. Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city and the people are very kind. There is a surprisingly large number of expats that make up the city population, so you’ll meet people from all over the world when you visit.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read my posts. I hope this one is helpful to any of you traveling through the Middle East any time soon! Have you been to Abu Dhabi? Have any recommendations for people visiting? I’d love to know in the comments below.