Traditional Markets and Souks to Visit in Abu Dhabi

The ever-popular fish market in central Abu Dhabi
The ever-popular fish market in central Abu Dhabi | © Bob Klannukarn/Flickr
Jessica Harn

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, has a lot to offer for those who want to explore the country beyond the glitter of Dubai. With a more local vibe, relaxed atmosphere and cultural highlights, Abu Dhabi is quickly becoming a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to this region of the world. If you are going to Abu Dhabi, here are the best traditional markets and souks to visit to get to know this small corner of the world a little bit better:

1. Mina Zayed Fish Souk

Market

One of the most well-known souks among both tourists and locals alike, this is your chance to get up and close to Abu Dhabi’s thriving fishing industry and watch local fishermen and merchants at work. Although vibrant and colourful, be warned that the smell is very potent, to say the least!

The merchants at the Abu Dhabi fish market are famous for being friendly and willing to teach visitors about fishing or sea life in the UAE | © tara hunt/Flickr

2. Abu Dhabi Carpet Souk

Arguably one of the most beautiful markets in the city, this is the place to go to either buy or simply be mesmerized by the dazzling and vibrant displays of beautiful carpets. Here you can find handmade carpets from Iran and Afghanistan, Arabic designed cushions and mats and intricate Islamic prayer mats.

3. Madinat Zayed Gold Souk

The UAE loves its gold, and where better to get a taste of the local culture than at the biggest Gold Souk in the capital? Here you can find store after store filled with gold jewellery, diamonds and gemstones fit for a king!

4. Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Souk

Market

This is the place to go to experience a farmers market—Emirati style. This is one of the most bustling and colourful markets in the city, selling everything from fresh tropical fruits, local vegetables and dried fruits and nuts—be sure to arrive hungry as you can taste anything you want!

The best thing about this market is that you can taste everything! | © Abdulla Al Muhairi/Flickr

5. Souk Al Zafarana

Loved because of its mix of both traditional and modern, this marketplace sells everything from traditional Emirati crafts to modern clothing at a discounted price. It’s the perfect place to do a little souvenir shopping, as this marketplace also has everything from Abu Dhabi-themed trinkets, Arabic coffee, henna and Emirati incense.

6. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Flea Market

Market, Middle Eastern

Although only held around four times a year, this flea market is one of Abu Dhabi’s favourites among families and young couples. Here you’ll be able to do all your vintage market shopping—with an Emirati flair.

7. Abu Dhabi Central Market

Market

Traditional spices at the Central Market
© Dr. Norbert Heidenbiuth/Flickr
Set up to recreate a traditional Emirati village, this marketplace is the perfect way to spend a long afternoon in Abu Dhabi. Selling everything from traditional crafts to Emirati foods, you’ll have a hard time leaving this souk empty-handed!

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