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Stopover in Abu Dhabi

The emirate of Abu Dhabi is the perfect stopover on your flight to Australia or New Zealand. Break the long flight into pleasant stages and get to know a completely new culture at the same time. Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world and the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), located on the Persian Gulf.

The emirate is often overshadowed by Dubai - but it has at least as much charm, luxury and sights to offer. Experience the exciting contrast between tradition and modernity.

When you visit Abu Dhabi you will need time to admire the fabulous Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the incredibly spectacular Presidential Palace, the modern towers, the particularly large shopping centres such as the Marina Malls and the countless entertainment options. Even though the official language is Arabic, most residents here speak English, which makes your short stay much easier.

Let our tips inspire you to experience a perfect stopover in Abu Dhabi. Enjoy the famous Arabic hospitality and experience how this is so much more than just a chance to stretch your legs between flights. The emirate of Abu Dhabi is also considered to be very safe for travellers.

Visit the mosque at dusk to see the beautiful reflections
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Best travel time

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a desert climate, so it is hot and the air is dry most of the year. A visit in summer is therefore not recommended, as temperatures can then reach 41 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is therefore from October to April. During this time, the temperatures are perfect for long, pleasant days on the beach and warm evenings outdoors.

Our tip: if you don't cope well with very high temperatures you should aim for a flight in January as this is the coolest month in the emirate.

During your stopover, you can combine the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as they are only about an hour apart. Enjoy the Arabian hospitality in both these stunning cities.

The hotels of Abu Dhabi are exceptional
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Choose between traditional and modern accommodation
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Flights and arrival in Abu Dhabi

Your holiday begins on the plane: relax on your stopover flight with Etihad. The airline will take you safely and comfortably to your destination - regardless of class. Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, whose hub is located at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Most passengers flying to Abu Dhabi will therefore arrive with Etihad Airways. Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is located 30 kilometres from Abu Dhabi city centre.

The drive to the Corniche takes just over 30 minutes, while the drive to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque or Yas Island takes only about 15 minutes. You can easily get to the city centre by bus, rental car or taxi, straight from the airport. For more information on airlines and flights, click here.

Sunset over the the Sheikh Zayed Mosque
The modern Etihad Towers look impressive in the sunset

Sights and activities

Whether you are seeking culture, relaxation or luxurious shopping experiences, the city of Abu Dhabi has something for everyone to make your stopover unforgettable. The Marina Mall is the leading shopping destination in Abu Dhabi and it's so big you may even have to plan your visit. It offers the latest in fashion, leisure and entertainment brands arranged over five floors, all on one island.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is Abu Dhabi's most famous attraction and for good reason - it is simply breathtaking. With its white marble walls, 82 ornate domes and reflecting pools of water in the courtyard, it is often described as the most beautiful mosque in the world. It is also one of the largest mosques in the world and houses the largest carpet and the third largest chandelier in the world.

It is definitely worth taking a stroll at sunset. And a night, the mosque is beautifully illuminated and offers great photo opportunities. Opposite the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the Wahat al Karama Park - from here you have a magnificent view of the mosque.

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Impressive architecture

In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, you will find a stunning variety of architecture, ranging from historical and traditional to ultra-modern. During your stopover, you should definitely pay a visit to the Etihad Towers. The five futuristic skyscrapers have been redefining the emirate's skyline since 2006 and are home to an exclusive hotel and numerous restaurants and boutiques.

Another architectural highlight is the Emirates Palace Hotel. This luxury hotel sets new standards in opulence. The construction of the hotel cost 3 billion dollars, making it one of the most expensive hotels ever built. The architectural style is reminiscent of traditional Islamic architecture. Treat yourself to a 24-carat gold cappuccino here or stroll around the grounds and admire the beautiful marble and gold accents.

Abu Dhabi's cultural landmark is the magnificent Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace. The palace is the seat of the cabinet and supreme court of the United Arab Emirates. From the outside, the gold-ornamented roof domes and the magnificent gardens are impressive. You can also take a look inside on guided tours. Every evening at 7:30 pm, a free light and sound show is projected onto the walls of the palace.

Qasr Al Watan is a working Presidential Palace and a cultural landmark
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The Founder's Memorial is a monumental public artwork with gardens
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Desert adventure

A must-do during your stopover is a visit to the Rub al-Khali Desert, which is just an hour from the city centre and is the world's largest sand desert. On a desert safari, you can take in the sandy expanses of this impressive place on the back of a camel or in an off-road vehicle.

The evening hours are especially enjoyable, as the temperatures are pleasant and you can marvel at a magical sunset. A stop at the Liwa Oasis is also highly recommended.

The Rub al-Khali Desert is the largest sand desert in the world (here is beautiful Rafza jamal again)
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The desert fort of Qasr Al Muwaiji has a beautiful courtyard
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A true oasis: the mangroves

Besides the desert, there is another natural wonder that you must not miss on your trip. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can admire a unique ecosystem in the nearby Mangrove National Park. Turtles, flamingos, manatees and numerous species of fish and birds cavort among the mangrove trees.

Here you can take a kayak tour or try your hand at stand-up paddling. At Jubail Mangrove Park, built in 2020, you can walk along kilometres of boardwalks and explore the green area.

Enjoy kayaking peacefully in the Mangrove National Park
The mangrove forest is the ideal place to escape the bustling city
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Louvre Abu Dhabi and other museums

Opened in 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first of its kind to open outside France. The museum is located on Saadiyat Island, just a 10-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city centre. The collections here are very impressive and include civilisations from all over the world, from ancient times to the present.

You can also admire works by Monet, da Vinci and Van Gogh here. The museum itself consists of a series of white buildings reminiscent of an Arab medina and is itself a work of art surrounded by the sea. Natural light filters through the latticework of the roof, creating a beautiful illusion inside.

We also recommend that you visit the Heritage Village during your stay. In this museum village, you will take a journey back in time to classical Arabia before the oil boom. You will learn more about history while visiting a souk, a mosque and a desert camp.

The roof of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi is a work of art in itself
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Saadhiyat Island and Planetarium, outside the Louvre
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Yas Island

Yas Island, a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city centre, offers attractions for young and old such as Ferrari World, Warner Brothers World or the Yas Waterworld water park. Car enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies will get their money's worth in the emirate of Abu Dhabi: Ferrari World is home to the world's fastest roller coaster. You can even drive a race car yourself on the grounds of the annual Formula 1.

If you prefer something more leisurely, you can also relax on the numerous beaches on Yas Island or go shopping in the Yas Mall. The nearby Yas Marina also offers a nice atmosphere in the evening with various nightlife options.

Get off road in the 4WD desert adventure
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Watch Formula 1 at the exciting Yas Island Marina circuit
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The beautiful Corniche seafront is a great place to grab a bite to eat, shop or enjoy the sunset. Walk along the shores of Dhow Harbour or rent a bike to explore the area and catch a glimpse of Abu Dhabi's impressive skyline. There are also many charming cafés and restaurants here that are waiting for you to try them out.

Ferrari World on Yas Island has the fastest roller coaster in the world
© Victor Malyushev / Unsplash
Take a stroll along the Corniche seafront
© Anshul Hari / Unsplash

Entry requirements regarding Covid-19

Details and information on the current regulations for a trip to Abu Dhabi can be found here.

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