The Coolest Neighborhoods to Stay in Abu Dhabi

The iconic skyline of Abu Dhabi
The iconic skyline of Abu Dhabi | © Gilles Messian / Flickr
Jessica Harn

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is often overshadowed by its more glitzy sister city of Dubai to the north. However, the capital is a favorite among locals in the UAE because of its traditional culture, family-friendly atmosphere, and delicious food scene. While Dubai is compact and tightly surrounds the Burj Khalifa, Abu Dhabi is more spread out and home to a colorful variety of different neighborhoods—here are the most captivating ones to visit.

1. Saadiyat Island


One of themost luxurious neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is the place to go for large villa complexes, five-star hotels, and romantic beachfronts. Even if you can’t afford to stay here, this is one of the most fascinating areas of Abu Dhabi to check out for an insight into how the richest of the country live their lives.

Just one of the many picture-perfect views in the neighborhood of Saadiyat Island | © andresmh / Flickr

2. Al Reem Island

Close to the Corniche, Al Reem Island is home to Abu Dhabi’s financial district. With the bustle and commerce of any financial hub, Al Reem Island beats as the heart of commercial Abu Dhabi, and residents and tourists alike are flocking to this growing neighborhood to experience some of the most futuristic views of the country.

3. Al Raha

As one of the more high-end residential areas, Al Raha is the place to go for a look at authentic Emirati villas and lovely houses. There is something beautifully extravagant but simple about the villas built in this country, and this neighborhood is one of the best places to see this type of simplistic beauty.

5. Al Reef

Best appreciated because of its classic urban-lifestyle ambiance, Al Reef is ideal for those who just want to explore the city life of Abu Dhabi. With both the perfect balance of classy townhouses and elegant hotels, this neighborhood has an endless supply of public parks, health clubs, window shopping, and restaurants to keep anyone busy for the weekend.

6. Khalidiya

One of the most lively and largest neighborhoods of Abu Dhabi, mainly because of its large Western expat community, Khalidiya is both close to downtown and the Corniche. Due to its location, there is an endless supply of the best cafés, people-watching boulevards, and tasty food stalls to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters!

7. Al Maryah Island

Located northeast of the city center, Al Maryah Island is one of the newest areas of Abu Dhabi. Quickly growing into the city’s second and more modern city center, this area offers some of the hottest shopping and the latest technology, with the downtown Sowwah Square now home to the new stock exchange of Abu Dhabi.

Night view of Al Maryah Island | © Gilles Messian / Flickr

8. Al Zahiyah and Al Markaziyah

Otherwise known as the Tourist Club Area, these locales are situated right alongside the Corniche and are among the most popular residential areas for those who want to live in a lively city atmosphere. Tourists flock to this area as well, due to its limitless array of restaurants, shopping malls, wide boulevards, and colorful nightlife scene.

9. Al Karamah

Best known because of its large expat community, this is the neighborhood to go to for the best international food and big gym facilities. It’s extremely family-friendly as well. Al Karamah brings in hoards of people from all across Abu Dhabi during the weekend for its international food shopping and restaurants, complete with everything from traditional English foods to the best Pakistani curry in town.

10. Khalifa City

A bit outside of the downtown area of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa City is an up-and-coming new neighborhood, with growing numbers of residents rushing to move here. With quiet parks, large and beautiful houses, and a growing number of boutique shops and restaurants, this is one of the hottest neighborhoods to visit!

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