11 Reasons Why You Should Visit Abu Dhabi Over Dubai

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | © lam_chihang/Flickr
Thais Kelly

Most people when booking their trip to the UAE immediately pick Dubai as their destination. The city has made headlines worldwide as one of the best tourist destinations in the world. However, only an hour and a half away is Abu Dhabi, and visitors should definitely consider visiting this incredible city instead. Abu Dhabi has some of the most epic touristic attractions in the country and is possibly a better destination for tourists coming to the UAE.

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Abu Dhabi is the UAE’s Capital

Abu Dhabi is not only the country’s capital, but it also occupies approximately 80% of its territory. The city is also the home of the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In fact, all of the country’s presidents must be from the Al Nahyan family, which is from Abu Dhabi. This makes Abu Dhabi perhaps the most important city in the country politically, geographically and historically. When visiting the UAE, seeing – and even staying – in the capital is a must!

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque


Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Middle East
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
This is undoubtedly the most beautiful mosque in the UAE. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a sight to see, with pure marble walls decorated with gems, this construction truly is an architectural piece of art. The mosque welcomes visitors from all faiths – the only requirement is to dress and behave respectfully. This incredible mosque is perhaps the most beautiful place to visit in the UAE and it is of course located in Abu Dhabi, where the late Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the UAE was from. The mosque takes His Highness’ name as it was the Sheikh’s vision to build it.

Yas Waterworld

Amusement Park

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
© Sackerman519 / Flickr
Visiting the UAE during the summer and looking for ways to stay cool? Yas Waterworld offers visitors the ideal place to cool off while having a blast. This massive waterpark has fun rides and events for adults and children alike, making it the perfect family attraction for those visiting Abu Dhabi. The park is yet another great reason to visit the city, it offers a full day of activities and fun to fill visitors’ itineraries.

Seeing more of the local culture

Anyone who has been to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi will agree that the capital is much more traditional than the vastly more touristy city of Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, visitors will be more in touch with the local culture, being around locals much more often. This is the best place to see the Emirati costumes, garments and traditions. Whereas in Dubai one would most likely be surrounded by expats and other tourists, Abu Dhabi offers a more traditional experience.

Ferrari World

Amusement Park, Park

Interior of indoor amusement park Ferrari World
© Robert Hoetink / Alamy Stock Photo
Abu Dhabi is the perfect city for those looking for a thrill. Only in the capital can visitors have the unique experience of riding the fastest roller coaster in the world. Formula Rosa is located in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World and accelerates to 240km/hr in less than 5 seconds. This will guarantee to make anyone’s trip one to remember. For those more faint of heart, the indoor theme park still has several fun attractions, Ferrari expositions and even a simulator that gives you the feeling of driving a Ferrari.

Great concerts and events

Abu Dhabi has become known for amazing concerts. The capital has hosted some household names in music internationally such as Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Lionel Richie. Events such as Beats On The Beach have made Abu Dhabi the UAE’s most important hub for live music. The city has an event heavy calendar that includes music festivals, cultural happenings and sporting events, attracting people from all over the world.

Sir Bani Yas Island


Sir Bani Yas Island

A big part of Abu Dhabi is an archipelago of natural islands, one of those islands being Sir Bani Yas Island. This island located only 170km off the coast of Abu Dhabi is a true wildlife paradise in the middle of a region that is mostly known for its deserts. Sir Bani Yas Island has impressive fauna and flora, as well as unlikely animals such as cheetahs and hyenas. The natural beauty of the island is a must see for all nature lovers visiting the UAE, combining a luxurious resort experience with natural surroundings.

Sir Baniyas Island

Emirates Palace


Emirates Palace
© HannahWebb/Flickr

Emirates Palace

For those who are impressed by the Burj Al Arab, the Emirates Palace will be a true jaw-dropping sight. This hotel, better known as a palace, is definitely the most luxurious in the entire UAE. The hotel has gone down in history as the most expensive to ever be built, costing approximately $3 billion to construct. It is also the best spot in Abu Dhabi to sip on delicious cappuccino – with flakes of real gold! Yes, Le Cafe at the Emirates Palace offers visitors the chance to try a golden cappuccino, making this a must visit destination.

Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, +971 2 690 9000

Not as busy as Dubai

Anyone who has visited Dubai during peak season can confirm this – the city is packed! Seeing that this is a vastly popular tourist destination, people from all over the world fly to Dubai during the months of October-March in order to spend some time in the city. Airports are packed, hotels are super expensive and even just buying a ticket to go up the Burj Khalifa needs to be done months in advance. Abu Dhabi has attractions that are just as fun and exciting as Dubai, with much less hassle, making it a much better destination during peak season.

Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit
© Rob Alter/Flickr

Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi has made itself known worldwide for holding Formula 1 races. The capital has a state-of-the-art, luxurious racing circuit and some of the most famous races in the world have taken place here. Yas Marina Circuit is definitely an attraction to see – and maybe even race in. The circuit offers experiences for those who don’t want to spectate only, you can rent cars and actually race in the circuit. Definitely makes the trip to Abu Dhabi worth it!

Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, +971 2 659 9800

A more authentic trip

While everyone around is saying they have been to Dubai and seen Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, anyone who choose to visit Abu Dhabi will be able to share stories of a truly authentic and unusual holiday. Everyone who has been to the UAE has had the chance to see the Burj Al Arab, but not all got to contemplate the skyline from Fast and Furious 7. Choosing Abu Dhabi over Dubai will guarantee new and unique stories to share with those back home.

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