Luxury Escapes Guide to Abu Dhabi

One of the Middle East’s most intriguing gems, Abu Dhabi offers impressive skyline vistas, a plethora of cultural treasures, and stunning natural beauty.

An epicentre of culture and innovation, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ vibrant, forward-thinking capital city, is full of surprises. One of the Middle East’s most intriguing gems, Abu Dhabi offers impressive skyline vistas, a plethora of cultural treasures, and stunning natural beauty.

Here, a captivating blend of pioneering modernity and authentic traditions awaits. Whether you like to pack your days with as many experiences as possible, or prefer a more relaxed itinerary, you can find your own pace in Abu Dhabi with ease – it’s all for the taking in this inspiring city.

Nestled along the shoreline of the Arabian Gulf and set amid endless sand dunes, this capital doesn’t shy away from breaking records of all kinds, home to the world’s largest hand-loomed carpet, the fastest rollercoaster and the highest-ever high tea.

For adrenaline junkies, Yas Island is a must. Fuel your need for speed at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, slip and slide around Yas Waterworld, or tackle the world’s tallest indoor skydiving flight chamber at CLYMB Abu Dhabi.

An appreciation for history, art and traditional Emirati culture is at the core of the city, best explored at the architecturally iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, or the historic Qasr Al Hosn fort. Or immerse yourself in the capital’s natural beauty, relaxing on white sand beaches, navigating the stunning desert dunes in a 4x4, or leisurely kayaking through the lush mangroves.

Abu Dhabi Escapes

Experience the United Arab Emirates' capital

Things to see and do

Admire world-class art at Louvre Abu Dhabi

Just minutes from the bustling downtown, visit Saadiyat Island’s growing Cultural District and be blown away Louvre Abu Dhabi, the region’s first universal museum. Home to fascinating artefacts and moving artworks, Louvre Abu Dhabi offers 12 galleries spanning from ancient times to the present day. Spend an afternoon immersing yourself in stories of human creativity and surprising cultural connections as you admire the museum’s collection of more than 600 masterpieces, or visit one of the regular temporary exhibitions which feature loans from institutions around the world. The building’s Arabian-inspired architecture is a treasure itself – roam under the iconic dome while enjoying ocean views.

Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

If there’s one thing you must experience while in Abu Dhabi, it’s the beauty of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the city’s premier attractions. This stunning place of worship is a gleaming symbol of peace and hope, right in the heart of the city. Come to pray or take a tour and admire the architectural splendour on display in one of the world’s most impressive religious buildings, home to the world’s largest handmade carpet.

Put the pedal to the metal at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

Fuel your adrenaline and gear up for a joyride like no other at Abu Dhabi’s own Ferrari World, located on the exciting hub of Yas Island. Pack your day full of record-breaking, exhilarating experiences on the 40-plus action-packed attractions, including the world’s fastest roller coaster and highest loop ride. Car lovers will relish the chance to get up close and personal with iconic Ferrari models and even live out their Formula One dream with a one-on-one driving session.

Wander the futuristic streets of Masdar City

Catch an exciting glimpse of the future while exploring the eco-conscious Masdar City. With its own community of residents utilising the most innovative sustainability practices, this ever-evolving project has been described as a ‘green print’ for how we could eventually live. Admire the fast-growing clean-tech cluster, business-free zone and lively restaurants, shops, and public parks. Before you leave, peek at the upcoming plans for Masdar, and see what’s to come for these green neighbourhoods and beyond.

Jump aboard a thrilling desert safari

Get to the heart of the real Abu Dhabi with a thrilling tour of the surrounding desert regions. With a plethora of sandy destinations at your disposal, from Jebel Hafit Desert Park and Liwa to the dramatic Empty Quarter, thrill seekers can explore the seemingly never-ending dunes by 4x4, atop a sandboard, or on a camel trek. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with unique wildlife, sample local delicacies, and learn about the early settlers of Arabia by immersing yourself in the traditional desert way of life, camping beneath the stars.

Explore Abu Dhabi’s rich history at Qasr Al Watan

Put this at the top of your to-see list: Qasr Al Watan, the UAE’s Presidential Palace, is a masterpiece of visual beauty and political significance. This architectural jewel beautifully encapsulates the UAE spirit, welcoming visitors to explore its marbled halls and interactive exhibitions that tell the story of the United Arab Emirates’ journey. Stay past sunset and be treated to the incredible light and sound show that takes place each evening.

Get wet and wild at Yas Waterworld

Dedicated to entertainment and adventure, it’s not surprising that Yas Island is home to the region’s best water park. For an exhilarating day of slippery thrills and family fun, push yourself to the limits on the high-speed water coasters, zoom down slides, float along the river, or relax in one of many splash pools. With more than 40 attractions to try out, as well as rest and refuel stations on offer, Yas Waterworld is the perfect day out.

Explore Jebel Hafit Desert Park

Experience glorious sunrises and sunsets atop Abu Dhabi’s highest peak, the majestic Jebel Hafit. Standing approximately 4,000 feet tall, this natural limestone mountain is the centrepiece of the sprawling Jebel Hafit Desert Park in the Al Ain region, just a 90-minute drive from downtown. Hike to the top, or take in its majesty on a walk or bike ride around the park, and learn about the history of the region while exploring the remains of 5,000-year-old tombs. Make a weekend of it and camp or “glamp” under the luminous starry sky.

Shop ‘til you drop at Yas Mall

If your idea of a day well spent involves finding fashion gems and indulging in delicious food, then Yas Mall has it all and more. Situated on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping mall is bursting with a huge array of shops, restaurants and attractions offering the best in fashion, cuisine, and unique experiences. Find much-loved brands like Nike, Adidas, Chanel and Tommy Hilfiger alongside indoor sky diving, an IMAX cinema, and a range of other entertainment attractions for the entire family to enjoy.

Kayak through Abu Dhabi’s famous mangroves

Get up close and personal with the unique wildlife and natural beauty of Abu Dhabi by taking a leisurely row through Mangrove National Park. This lush stretch of mangrove forest is one of the most popular kayaking spots in the UAE, perfect for nature enthusiasts. Head out onto the water and experience the incredible salt marshes and mudflats as you travel down the fast-flowing water channels.

Top places to eat and drink


There’s so much to love about Zuma, from the considered Japanese menu served by passionate waitstaff, to the organic space expertly designed to cultivate a warm and welcoming environment. Immerse yourself in a deliciously authentic dining experience with waterfront views at one of Abu Dhabi’s most exciting gastronomic destinations. There’s a variety of ways to enjoy Zuma’s vibrant flavours and ambience, as you treat yourself to an elevated brunch, savour freshly made sushi at the bar, indulge in a sizzling robata experience, or simply dine from the classic à la carte menu.

Observation Deck at 300

There’s nothing quite like tea and scones 300 metres in the sky. Make your way up to the 74th floor in the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, find yourself a comfortable seat and admire the expansive views of the city from Abu Dhabi’s highest vantage point at the Observation Deck at 300. In addition to the impressive bird’s-eye views of the glittering capital, the venue is also famous for its delectable afternoon high tea. Choose from a selection of gourmet tea blends and aromatic coffee, served alongside an array of bite-sized sweet and savory treats.


Find the perfect blend of tried-and-true classic Italian bites and modern design at Cipriani. Bought to Abu Dhabi by the family behind the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice, the menu is full of signature dishes and contemporary flair. If you’re lucky you can secure a table on the terrace, overlooking the glorious Yas Marina. So sit back and enjoy the signature seasonal combinations of the freshest meats, produce and seafood, all wrapped up in a warm and welcoming vibe.


Boasting a prestigious spot in Abu Dhabi’s inaugural Michelin Guide, modern Chinese fine dining haven, Hakkasan, is a must-visit when staying in the capital. The carved wooden interiors, coupled with the stunning blue glass bar, reflect the beauty of the Arabian Gulf and complement the splendour of the restaurant’s setting within the Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental hotel. Treat your tastebuds to the acclaimed menu of dim sum sharing platters, seafood soups and high-grade wagyu. The locals recommend booking quickly as the spectacular views, authentic ambience and life-changing dishes are in high demand.


Take your senses on Peruvian-inspired journey at COYA Abu Dhabi and indulge in the delectable flavours, vibrant sights, melodic sounds and aromatic scents of Latin America. Fusing traditional Peruvian flavours with standout ingredients and classic methods found in Japanese, Chinese and Spanish cooking, COYA cultivates a rare fusion menu that elevates the already incredible ambiance. As you dine on fresh ceviche, sit back and enjoy the exquisite rhythms produced by the restaurant’s revolving door of live performers


Overlooking the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf is Sontaya, a vibrant Thai restaurant serving glorious Southeast Asian cuisine. Meaning ‘sunset’ in Thai, Sontaya is an ode to the striking sunsets admired daily by patrons. Explore the talented chef’s impressive menu packed full of delectable dishes, from succulent dumplings and spicy soups to fresh seafood and vegetarian treats. For the romantics, indulge in a candlelit dinner accompanied by the calming ambience of crashing waves.

The Lighthouse Yas Bay Waterfront

The Lighthouse restaurant and concept store is a multi-faceted destination dedicated to food, art and culture. Indulge in Mediterranean flavours through a menu of fresh, thoughtfully prepared dishes using high-quality, seasonal ingredients. With impressive waterfront views overlooking Yas Bay and a bright and welcoming atmosphere, this is the perfect space for sampling culinary delights, enjoying great company and perusing unique art and hand-picked products.

Lux moments

Savour gold-flecked high tea at Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental

Have your cake and eat it too with a gold-infused high tea at Le Café. Part of the legendary Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental, this al fresco eatery offers the perfect viewpoint to soak up the grandeur of this palatial hotel. Indulge in a luxurious dining experience while overlooking the lush, manicured gardens and fountain. While the menu boasts delectable treats of all kinds, we recommend trying the famous Palace Chocolate Cake and upgrading your regular cup of joe to a signature Palace Cappuccino – finished with a generous sprinkling of 23-carat gold flakes.

Enjoy a massage in the desert

Bask in the beauty of a sand dune sunset while receiving a massage at the spa of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara. Enjoy a scenic buggy ride through the world’s largest uninterrupted stretch of sand to this private pampering retreat and get ready for rejuvenation of all kinds. Choose from a variety of healing spa treatments or embark on a signature Anantara wellness programme, with options including desert fusion massages, anti-aging face treatments, jacuzzi sessions and yoga classes.

Discover rare grape and grain at the underground La Cava

Housed in the chic Rosewood Abu Dhabi, the La Cava cellar offers an indulgent evening fit for a true sommelier. This intimate underground space features wall-to-wall shelves of over 1,000 premium grape labels ready to be sampled, and a unique walk-in cigar room with an impressive collection of rare grains. Sip your way through the generous selection of fine drops and perfect the experience with a delectable dish from the in-house menu, which is tailored to complement the beverages.

Experience private luxury at Zaya Nurai Island

Reserve your guest pass to the exclusive Nurai Island and indulge in a full day of relaxation. Just a 15-minute boat ride from Abu Dhabi, this ocean gem is home to the private Zaya Nurai Island Resort boasting fine dining destinations, a world-class spa, beach club, and an array of exciting experiences, both inland and on the water. Kick your feet up and enjoy magnificent ocean views and beachfront luxury with this little slice of paradise, perfect for an immersive seaside experience.