People travel for many different reasons. Some consider it a chance to relax, while many think it’s a good means to “escape” their busy lives. Others visit foreign places for self-discovery or to cultivate interpersonal relationships.
Statistics show that many people choose Abu Dhabi as a travel destination, regardless of the goals they set out for their trips. In 2019 alone, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital welcomed roughly 11.35 million visitors – a 10.5% increase from the previous year.
If you’re planning an excursion to Abu Dhabi to enrich your life, consider these top three most popular destinations in Abu Dhabi.
1. Qasr Al Watan
Opened to the public in March 2019, Qasr Al Watan is the official presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates. While still serving its official purpose, the palace now welcomes hundreds of visitors to its 380,000-acre grounds almost every day and is one of the best cultural destinations in Abu Dhabi.
The Palace of the Nation’s magnificent architecture is one of the primary reasons people go there. However, the place is more than just a tourist spot. The building also serves as the venue for the Council of Ministers and Federal Supreme Council meetings, and several other historic conventions with foreign leaders.
What to See
An Abu Dhabi palace booking grants you access to some of Qasr Al Watan’s most culturally enriching areas, such as:
- The Great Hall: This 10,000-square-meter (107,639 square-foot) space made of marble and gold is one of the best spots in the palace. The details in its design, enhanced by complex geometric textures, made The Great Hall a breathtaking scene every visitor would want to enjoy.
- Presidential Gifts: This showcases the diplomatic gifts the UAE received in the past decades. Besides the aesthetic value of the displays, the exhibition also offers insight into the process and cultural considerations in diplomatic gift selection.
- House of Knowledge: Located in the east wing of the presidential palace, this area holds some of the nation’s rarest artifacts, manuscripts, and books, including religious texts from the Bible and the Quran. This is also where you’ll find a collection of the ancient geographic maps of the Arabic region.
- Qasr Al Watan Library: Home to more than 50,000 books documenting the culture and history of the country, the Qasr Al Watan Library’s goal is to share and preserve centuries-worth of Arabian knowledge. Because of this, it is considered one of the most important libraries in the UAE.
Besides what’s inside the palace, you can also get the chance to witness the Palace in Motion. This captivating nighttime show lights up the place for 15 minutes in the evening, from Thursday to Saturday.
How to Get To Qasr Al Watan
Qasr Al Watan is located in Ras al Akhdar, commonly referred to as the West Corniche.
From the main Corniche, walk to the end of the beach road. Pass the Founders Memorial, with the Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers on your right and left, respectively.
As you reach the end of the road, you’ll see a grand entrance reserved only for VIPs. Go to the smaller door on the right side of the gate where you’ll be directed to visitor parking. Present your tickets and ride a shuttle to the palace grounds.
You can visit Qasr Al Watan between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily but always check for announcements on the schedule because the place is closed when used for official business.
2. The Corniche
Considered one of the most popular destinations in Abu Dhabi, The Corniche is a road extending across eight kilometers of a carefully manicured waterfront.
Running along the northwestern coast of the UAE capital, it has various areas designated for different activities, including:
- Cycle and pedestrian pathways
- Children’s play areas
- Restaurants and cafés
- The Corniche Beach
The Corniche is an ideal destination for families and becomes quite busy during the winter months.
What to See
The Corniche is accessible to guests all day long. However, the beach is only open from 6 a.m. until sunset.
If you decide to visit the two-kilometer beach, choose the perfect spot for you among the three sections it’s divided into:
- Gate 4: This free-entry area is most popular among individuals and larger groups.
- Gate 2: Fenced and equipped with a quiet zone, this area is the best spot for families and children. You’ll also find changing rooms and showers here, along with cabanas, sun loungers, and umbrellas for rent.
- Gate 3: Like Gate 2, this part of the beach is shielded from view and has access to the beach amenities mentioned earlier. It is an excellent choice for children and families and has an on-duty lifeguard until sundown.
How to get to The Corniche
You can get to The Corniche from anywhere in Abu Dhabi, but Al Bateen, Al Khalidiya, and Al Zahiyah (the tourist club area) are the nearest places to it.
On a car, input F8FR+93 Abu Dhabi on your virtual map or navigation system to get directions. You can also take a bus on the following routes:
3. The Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi exhibits a whopping 600 artworks within its light-filled modern architecture – a true haven for art enthusiasts. The first Louvre outside France, the structure itself is designed to work in perfect harmony with the desert surroundings, making it a popular destination for Abu Dhabi travelers with an eye for beauty.
What to See
Situated in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the Louvre leaves onlookers in awe with just a glance, thanks to its unique architecture and placement.
Designed as a “museum city” by the sea, Louvre Abu Dhabi was inspired by low-lying Arab settlements and the Medina and is made more special with a modern touch.
Besides the structure itself, you’ll also find various exhibitions and galleries that can make your tour of Abu Dhabi more enriching. These are carefully curated and placed in three wings in the Louvre:
- Wing 1: Composed of three galleries, this wing houses artwork and artifacts from early human civilizations. It is also home to some masterpieces from ancient empires in Arabia, China, and Africa.
- Wing 2: This is where you’ll find pieces from universal religions worldwide. This wing also features various masterpieces reflecting Asian trade routes used throughout history.
- Wing 3: Unlike the first two wings with three galleries, this area has four, each showcasing inspiring pieces from various periods, including the ancient Chinese, Napoleon, and Columbus eras. It also has several items from famous trade routes people used globally.
How to Get To The Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is open between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. from Tuesday through Sunday. You can reach the museum through the following:
- By car: From Dubai, take the Yas Island/ Saadiyat Island exit to Sheikh Khalifa Highway E12. Drive along Yas Highway until you reach the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, following road signs to Louvre Abu Dhabi.
- By bus: Take the public bus bound for route 94.
Explore More Destinations in Abu Dhabi
There’s a lot of things to do in Abu Dhabi. Besides the cultural destinations mentioned here, you can also try indoor wall climbing and other adventurous activities that offer enrichment beyond a temporary escape from a busy life. Explore more and have the best vacation today in the UAE capital.