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Abu Dhabi, the stunningly diverse capital of the United Arab Emirates — located on the Arabian Gulf — is on the fast-track to becoming one of the region’s most iconic destinations and, as one of the safest places to visit in the world and with so many incredible sights all within easy reach, it’s not hard to see why.

Upon arriving in Abu Dhabi it’s hard not to be blown away by the juxtaposition of sea, skyscrapers and sand dunes, it’s the ideal place for travellers who want it all, and want it now. In the space of a single day (or even hour) you can be transported from stunning natural islands to vast deserts, glittering cityscapes to shimmering oases and bustling souks and mega malls to pristine beaches. 

Whether you’re in Abu Dhabi for a day, a stopover or a longer stay, this is the ultimate itinerary for visitors to this amazing city on the sea.

Words by Saara Blom

City Style

Shopping in Abu Dhabi is practically an art, with so many options from traditional souks to high-end stores and modern malls that seem to go on forever it’s impossible to avoid snagging a bargain or a great souvenir.

Try Souk Al Safarana for a new take on a traditional Emirati marketplace before heading over to Yas Mall for the sharp contrast of 2.5 million square feet of modern retail, dining and entertainment all under one roof.

Lovers of actual art and culture will also be able to get their fix in this incredible city, with the spectacular Louvre Abu Dhabi, old forts like Qasr AL Hos, and the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

For family-friendly fun head over to Yas Island, offering a dizzying array of attractions. Yas Marina Circuit is home to the annual F1 Grand Prix and motorsports enthusiasts can take it to the next level with a visit to Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa, which reaches eye-watering speeds of 240 km/h.

If you need to cool off after all that adrenalin action, you can have a splash at Yas Waterworld, or treat your inner movie buff to some classic family fun at Warner Bros. World.

Stay: Emirates Palace Kempinski

Beach Bliss

If all that shopping and sightseeing has left you in desperate need of some chill-out time, you’re in luck: the city’s famed Corniche boasts 8 km of pristine waterfront including children’s play areas, numerous cafés, bars and restaurants and the cool, clear waters of Corniche Beach.

Beach-lovers should also check out both Yas and Saadiyat public beaches or — for a real taste of luxury — book a day in the uber-chic Saadiyat Beach Club, where your toughest choice will be whether to chill in a cabana alongside the massive 650sqm pool or park yourself in a sun lounger on the powder-white sand of the stunning natural beach.

Stay: Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas

Desert Dreaming

When the hustle and bustle of the city all gets a bit too much, it’s time to head out into the surrounding desert for some serenity among the silent dunes. In under an hour you can go from CBD to sand as far as the eye can see, and the lucky (or knowledgable) traveller might even stumble across one of the many natural oases in the region, some of which are home to flocks of flamingos, swaying palms, stunning desert blooms and more.

Thrill-seekers can still get their fix in the desert though, with 4WD safaris taking you “dune-bashing” up and down 300-metre-high dunes, or slightly more sedate camel rides for a more traditional take on desert transportation.

Desert: Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa

Flight Terms & Conditions: Flights must be booked with Luxury Escapes online or via our contact centre to be eligible for this offer.  Discount applied is per person for adults and children, infants are excluded for this offer.  Your purchase must be completed before 5pm 27th of November to be eligible. Cashback will be processed back to the same method of payment within 6 weeks of the campaign finishing.  This offer is only available to Australian based customers and must be used in conjunction with this package.

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