If you’re thinking about visiting Abu Dhabi or have a stopover planned in the capital, here’s some top tips by our expert Paawan Arora from Delhi, who’s the guest service manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
How would you describe Abu Dhabi to first time visitors?
Abu Dhabi, the capital city of UAE, is an ideal gateway to this amazing country and the Gulf region in general. It has a wonderful blend of history, traditions, heritage along with modern outlook, cosmopolitan lifestyle and urban infrastructure.
What can visitors expect ?
Visit Abu Dhabi and one can experience the warmth, generosity and festivities from all around the Emirate. There are traditional souks to upscale shopping malls, beaches to lavish palaces, camel racing to the F1 Grand Prix, dune bashing to luxury yachts, museums to night clubs and open-air cinemas – this destination welcomes all travellers and visitors with open arms and hearts. Aswell as the F1 Grand Prix, there are many other world class events and festivals such as the Abu Dhabi Food Festival, Zayed Heritage Festival, Abu Dhabi Art and the Qasr Al Hosn Festival. (Read more on Visit Abu Dhabi.)
What do you think are the top five al fresco attractions/sights/experiences that are must dos for visitors to Abu Dhabi?
- An evening desert safari to experience dune bashing and dining at a Bedouin Camp
- Cruising around the Arabian gulf either on Captain Tony’s Abra or Yellow Boats, speedboat or the Jalboot Sea Ferry
- Day trip to Al Ain to see the Jebel Hafeet Mountains, Al Ain Zoo and the Camel Market.
- A visit to the traditional fish market, dates market and the Carpet Souk in the Mina area.
- Visiting the Yas Marina Circuit, either to go behind the scenes on a venue tour or to drive a Formula 1 race car, or to simply to bike around the 5.5km circuit rated as one of the world’s best F1 tracks.
Which attraction/ place/ venue do you think is Abu Dhabi’s best, and why?
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is undoubtedly Abu Dhabi’s most attractive and engaging venue for visitors and worshippers. It showcases the vision, passion and love that Late His Highness Sheikh Zayed had for the UAE and its residents. I highly recommend the visitors to join one of the daily guided tours at the Grand Mosque organised by the visitor services to learn more about this architectural masterpiece and its unique elements.
What would be your top recommendations for a fun family day out?
The most ideal destination for a family day out would be a visit to the Yas Island which offers world-class attractions like Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World, Yas Mall, Yas Marina Circuit and the Yas Beach. Another place for the kids and families to enjoy would be the Zayed Sports City – Tennis, Soccer, Table-Tennis, Bowling, Cycling, Ice-skating, Paintball, etc all offered under one roof with state of the art facilities.
What do you think is Abu Dhabi’s best kept secret?
The city’s best kept secret is the breakwater area – ocean walkways near Abu Dhabi Corniche, perfect for a romantic stroll, overlooking the ocean and it offers maximum visibility of the city which is particularly nice at night. Marina Mall, The Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi Sailing Club, Abu Dhabi Theater, The Hookah Lounge and UAE’s tallest flagpole are some of the key attractions of this area. I recommend either walking or biking in this area to explore all these sites.
Which do you think is the most stand-out shopping experience in Abu Dhabi and why?
Yas Mall is the Abu Dhabi’s leading destination for retail and entertainment. Conveniently located on the Yas Island, the mall has almost 400 international fashion and dinning outlets, a 20-screen cinema, region’s largest family fun zone and a spacious social hub, known as the Town Centre – popular for special events and festivals.
Which malls do you recommend to visitors to the city and why?
Apart from the Yas Mall the city has a great selection of shopping malls and souks. Marina Mall – for its unique location, The Avenue – for exclusive and upclass shopping experience, World Trade Center Souk and Mall – contemporary designs inspired by traditional architecture in a historic location, Galleria Mall – Designer brands and bespoke experiences– both fashion and dining.
Which spas do you think are the best for those looking to unwind after an active day in the city?
Talise Spa at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, a luxurious retreat experience, offering a new generation of treatments that transport you to a healing, serene state of mind and body.
What would be your top recommendations for place to view Abu Dhabi’s sunset?
The Observation Deck at 300 at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers offers mesmerizing views of the setting sun, in the backdrop of the Presidential Palace and The Emirates Palace. This experience can be enhanced with “Tea at The Towers,” voted the best Afternoon tea in Abu Dhabi for 2016.
Which bar/nightlife venue do you think would be the best for visitors?
- Ray’s Bar at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers – Innovative cocktails along with a refreshing beverage and Asian influenced tapas menu are enhanced by DJ sets and stunning views from Level 62.
- Cooper’s – One of the most popular British bars in town offering everything you need for a great night out.
- McGettigan’s – Irish bar offers a jam packed line up of fun events, promotions, superb value deals, live music, resident DJ and extensive sports coverage every day of the weekFor couples looking for a romantic dining experience, which venues would you recommend and why?
Brasserie Angélique – timeless romance in elegant, sophisticated ambience. A multi-award winning French restaurant of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
- Ray’s Grill at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, enjoy panoramic views whilst dining on the 63rd floor of the hotel.
- Cipriani – From the terrace overlooking Yas Marina and the Viceroy to the homemade pasta dishes, this is a good place to head if you’re looking to impress your other half.