Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two of the most visited cities in the UAE. Abu Dhabi is the country’s capital as well as the largest emirate, while Dubai is the second largest and probably the most popular of all seven emirates in the UAE. Located at a distance of just two hours’ drive, each of these cities is distinct but charming and sophisticated in its own right. So, if you are looking to cover the top attractions and experiences of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi on your UAE trip, be sure to check out this comprehensive list.
Top Things To Do In Dubai
1. Visit Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall
It is difficult to compile the list of top things to do in Dubai without including these attractions. Towering at a height of about 828 meters in Downtown Dubai, it is the world’s tallest man-made structure. One of the best ways to gain access to this structure is via purchasing your entry tickets to At the Top observation decks on 124th or 148th levels. It is inclusive of an exhilaratingly speedy elevator ride which transports to one of the city’s highest viewpoints.
As for the Dubai Mall, it is one of the world’s biggest malls. Placed next to Burj Khalifa, it is so vast that pre-planning is a must to discover this mall. Shop at its 1200 plus outlets (including the flagship stores of some of the renowned brands), dine as you go with over 200 cafes and restaurants, and check out its top amusement and edutainment venues such as Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, KidZania Dubai, Ekart Zabeel, and Hysteria Dubai Mall.
Finally, don’t leave Downtown Dubai without watching the timeless Dubai Fountain Show. This choreographed spectacle set on Burj Lake, against the backdrop of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, is an attraction of par excellence. It is a free attraction, but you can watch it from an exclusive viewpoint with an abra ride along the lake or by heading to Dubai Fountain Boardwalk. You can also walk into the restaurants that directly overlook Dubai Fountain.
2. Explore Palm Jumeirah
This iconic man-made island with its intricate palm tree design needs no introduction. From helicopter ride and sea plane tour to the adventurous ever sky diving session, there are several ways to catch its grandeur in full display. If you are looking for a cost-effective alternative to catch this sight, make your way to the View at the Palm Jumeirah. Located at the 52nd level of Palm Tower, this observation deck is one of the newest Dubai attractions.
Palm Jumeirah is not just famed for its breathtaking design; it is equally known for its glitzy architecture and cool leisure choices, mainly Boardwalk, Atlantis, The Palm Resort, Aquaventure Water Park and Lost World Chamber Aquarium.
3. Desert Safari
What is a trip to the desert city without visiting the desert itself? So, don’t miss out going on a desert safari while in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. This guided activity introduces you to the spellbinding beauty and serenity of the region’s pristine desert landscape on a 4X4 dune bash as well as other activities like camel ride, quad biking, dune buggy rental etc. Dependent on whether you choose morning or evening desert activities, you will get to relish BBQ dining, watch traditional performances like Belly Dance and Tanura, and even participate in henna tattooing, Shisha smoking, and falconry, among other cultural experiences.
4. Dhow Cruise
A relaxed sail aboard a traditional dhow (along Dubai’s water) is one of the best ways to take in the region’s city skyline from a refreshing standpoint. Lasting for about two hours, this cruise in a refurbished vessel (that was once used for pearl farming and fishing) sails you down Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina. Subject to your cruise choice, it is further complete with a lavish buffet meal plus traditional entertainment shows including Tanura performance.
5. Enjoy a Day at Dubai’s Theme Parks
Given the city’s reputation as the Middle East’s Theme Park capital, it is unimaginable to wind up a Dubai holiday without visiting its amazing theme parks. Whether you are a theme park fanatic or not, make sure that you make a trip to the snow-themed Ski Dubai – it is certain to blow you away with its chilly ambience and cool facilities made available for skiing, sledging, snowboarding etc. Are you a video game enthusiast? Hub Zero is your go-to place!
Another must-experience for theme park lovers is the largest of its kind IMG Worlds of Adventure. Now if you’re after a vacation completely themed around theme parks, you can’t go wrong by making your way to Dubai Parks and Resorts. It is the first of its kind in the region, with multiple accommodation options, a dedicated retail and dining section, and most of all, four parks such as Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, and LEGOLAND Water Park.
Top Things To Do In Abu Dhabi
1. Marvel at Sheikh Zayed Mosque
If you think that Sheikh Zayed Mosque is just a place of worship, it is much more than that! It is a vision in white – an architectural grandeur that stands as a symbol of purity, spirituality and openness. After all, it is open to all including non-Muslims. Named after the UAE’s late president – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, it is popularly called Grand Mosque. Entry here is free; be sure to visit here and immerse yourself in its sheer vastness, tranquility, and of course enormous beauty.
2. See Abu Dhabi from Observation Deck at 300
This observation deck within the second tower of Etihad Towers, at Level 74 Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, may not be as high as that of ones inside Burj Khalifa. But, it certainly offers one of the best vantage points to take in the panoramic 360 degree views of Abu Dhabi’s city skyline.
3. Have Absolute Fun at Yas Island
Abu Dhabi too has its share of fun-and-thrill-packed attractions. What’s more? It has an entire man-made island dedicated to adventure and amusement. Visit Yas Island to experience it for yourself! It is home to the world’s first Ferrari theme park with some fantastic rides and attractions including the fastest of its kind Formula Rossa. For super-hero and cartoon based rides, drop into Warner Bros Abu Dhabi.
Want to experience amusement and adventure with a twist? There is the brand-new CLYMB Abu Dhabi, featuring the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall and the largest indoor skydiving flight chamber. More exciting experiences await here for all age groups and preferences, such as KidZania Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuit, and Yas Water World.
4. Hang Out at Abu Dhabi Corniche
This is one of the unmissable things to do in Abu Dhabi. Be it to spend a relaxed evening or plan an action-packed outing, the scenic Corniche that extends along the city’s shoreline caters to every interest. Enjoy bicycle ride, play football / volleyball, or take in the exuberant waters on a thrilling speed boat cruise or a laid-back sunset cruise. Apart from these, the Corniche area hosts some of the city’s most striking landmarks including Emirates Palace, the Founder’s Memorial and Qasr Al Watan to name a few.
5. Revisit the Emirati Past at Qasr Al Hosn
Once a royal residence and then the seat of government, this long-standing structure has now been converted into a museum. Made up of the 18th century Inner Fort and the Outer Palace (dating back to 1940s), it is, however, more than a place to check out some historical objects; it is a place to ponder just how far this city has come to establish itself as a well-known, global destination. Subject to your ticket choice, you also get to enjoy access to its intriguing sections such as Cultural Foundation and Bait Al Gahwa where you can learn about the secrets of preparing perfect Arabic coffee.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are year-round places with ample sunlight all through the year. But what these cities have to offer are just beyond sun and sands. There is an astonishing amount of things to see and do here. No matter you are here for its uber stylish sights, perfect leisure choices, incredible shopping, or inspiring history and culture, you can be rest assured that these charming Arabian cities will never let your expectations down.
SEE ALSO: 7 of the World’s Best Motorcycle Rides
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