Explore downtown Abu Dhabi, the city’s energetic cultural hub, home to high-end shopping and boutique hotels, all just minutes from the capital’s main attractions.
Whether you’re here on business or to soak up the sunshine along with the city’s rich culture, downtown Abu Dhabi has something for all visitors. Marvel at the stunning façade of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and uncover Arabian history at Qasr Al Watan, the presidential palace.
In downtown Abu Dhabi, you’ve got the best of the city’s views. From the iconic Abu Dhabi skyline to the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf glittering under the sun. Finish your day at the boardwalk on Corniche Beach to make the most of these views or reserve an outdoor table at one of the many five-star restaurants.
Feel the sand beneath your toes on the sugary-white sands of Corniche Beach and make a splash in the refreshing ocean waves.
From the busy streets of downtown Abu Dhabi to the towering skyscrapers along the city’s skyline, Abu Dhabi is a thriving business hub with every expected luxury of the city.
Peruse all of your favourite high-end retailers at WTC Mall and browse the vibrant stalls selling homegrown produce at the local souq.
Soak up the rich culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi right in the heart of Downtown – from Qasr Al Hosn to Heritage Village.
Abu Dhabi is steeped in rich history and culture, much of which can be discovered along downtown Abu Dhabi’s streets.
The Qasr Al Hosn is a mighty fortress and an iconic structure in the city. Dating back to 1760, it’s one of the oldest buildings in the nation. Its original purpose was to serve as a watchtower for local pearl traders but later expanded to become a village for some 5,000 people. Abu Dhabi’s continuous progress in a variety of industries is evident in the further expansion of the fort, which can be admired from beyond the walls or on a guided tour through the site’s many winding corridors.
Nature might not spring to mind when you think of a large, metropolitan city, but downtown Abu Dhabi has plenty of scenic pockets.
The Corniche stretches along the waterfront and is just a short walk from WTC Mall. This is where you’ll find Lake Park, with scenic waterside walks and landscaped gardens. Stop here for a rest and you’ll be gifted exquisite views of Abu Dhabi’s spectacular skyline and the cobalt waters of the ocean.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to enjoy a picnic or simply soak up the sunshine, look no further than Urban Park. This small green space faces Abu Dhabi Beach and is the perfect setting for a relaxing afternoon.
You’re in prime position for luxury shopping when in downtown Abu Dhabi.
WTC Mall is just off Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, opposite Etihad Square, and is where you’ll find all the best high-street brands. Pick up some new fashion pieces or refresh your make-up with quality products. There’s also plenty of dining opportunities throughout the mall, including coffee, burgers and fried chicken.
The Souq is not to be missed, and you can get there via the first-floor bridge of the mall. Find traditional souvenirs, spices and trinkets in this indoor market, designed to resemble the historic Arabian marketplaces of old.
Abu Dhabi boasts glorious sunshine all year-round, making it a wonderful city to spend time outdoors in.
You’ll find family-friendly activities aplenty at downtown Abu Dhabi beach. The turquoise waters are calm enough for first-time paddlers, while there is plenty of space to set up and relax across the golden sands.
Make the most of the sun loungers and parasols available so you can take a shaded rest whenever you want. You can also quench your thirst and grab a bite to eat at one of the beach cafes.
Where to stay
Downtown Abu Dhabi doesn’t lack for much, including luxury stays. When you stay in Downtown, you’re in the perfect position for exploring the best of Abu Dhabi while staying in one of the city’s most luxurious hotels.
It’s just a 25-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport into the heart of downtown Abu Dhabi.
Book an Etihad transfer before you fly to be driven straight to your hotel from the airport as soon as you land. You can also flag a taxi with ease outside the arrivals hall at the airport, or use a taxi app.
If you’re renting a car so you can explore downtown Abu Dhabi at your own pace, you can usually collect from the airport. From there, it’s a simple journey. Get on to Al Tirhal Street and merge onto Abu Dhabi Road from the roundabout. Continue on Abu Dhabi – Al Ain Road and take the exit to Khalifa Park. Then take Shakhblout Bin Sultan Street and follow the slip road to 15th Street in the heart of Downtown.
Saadiyat Island is just across the water from downtown Abu Dhabi. Get there in as little as 30 minutes when you follow the E10 to the E12 and cross the DARB Toll Gate. At the roundabout, take the 3rd exit and drive into the heart of the island.
The theme parks and stadiums of Yas Island are around half an hour away from downtown Abu Dhabi. Head to Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan St/E10 and follow the signs towards Al Maha Street. Take exit 34B and follow signs on Al Maha Street towards Yas Island.
It takes about two-and-a-half hours’ drive to get to Sir Bani Yas Island from downtown Abu Dhabi. Take the E10 out of town and follow the E20 on to the E30. Then, get on to the E11 and continue until you reach Al Ruwais. You can board a ferry from here to reach the island.
Visit the largest mosque in the country and the city’s primary sacred place of worship. The mosque welcomes more than 40,000 people during Eid.
The presidential palace is a beacon of the UAE’s culture, which can be admired through its artistic structure.
Enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine with a view of Emirates Palace when you dine on the tropical-themed terrace.
If you are hoping to explore the grand halls of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, make sure you pre-book tours online to guarantee your experience.
Downtown streets are generally quieter during times of prayer, but the area gets busier in the afternoon and early evening.
Taxi or rental car is the best way to explore downtown Abu Dhabi. Prebook an Etihad airport transfer to arrive in style after your flight.
Downtown Abu Dhabi offers spectacular sunset views over the Arabian Gulf. The best place to take it in is the observation deck at Etihad Towers.
The mosque offers guests free entry between 9am and 10pm every day accept Friday mornings or during times of religious significance. Reserve your tour of the mosque in advance so you can be sure you’ll get to visit.
Yes, you can enjoy all the joys of a classic beach day at the Corniche, including swimming. However, visitors to Corniche Beach can only swim in the water between 6am and sunset hours as guided by local lifeguards.
The outside of the presidential palace is a wonder to behold, but it is inside where you will be truly mesmerised and discover much more of the UAE’s vibrant culture and heritage.
The Great Hall is ornately decorated and is a true testament to the artistic talent of Arabia. Not to be missed is the House of Knowledge, which boasts an extensive collection of texts and artifacts from the area’s past, including some of the country’s most important contributions to science and art.
Guests should also make time to explore the Hall of Presidential Gifts – a vast collection of items that are symbolic of the UAEs warm connections with other countries and cultures around the globe. Next, step into the official meeting room where the nation’s leaders gather to make diplomatic decisions to ensure the best for the country’s future.
Yes, there is a small fee to pay if you want to visit some sections of Corniche Beach, but it is worth it. The main section of the beach doesn’t have an admission fee, but separate areas reserved for families and female-only areas are the most popular.
Adults must pay AED 10 for entrance and AED 5 for children. If you are travelling with a child under 5, they are g AED 25.
Whether you’re visiting downtown Abu Dhabi with friends, family, or you’re a solo traveller, Corniche Beach is the best place to spend the morning soaking up the glorious Arabian sunshine.
The sand is bright white and the well-kept boardwalk is a great place to sit and watch the sunset. Let the kids go wild at the play area and test your skills on the volleyball court. Looking for an aquatic adventure? Rent a speedboat and grab your snorkelling gear so you can dive down deeper to meet the local wildlife.
As the afternoon draws in, the day can heat up. This is the perfect time to explore some of Abu Dhabi’s inside attractions.
Downtown Abu Dhabi is known for its luxurious shopping experiences. Head to the indoor Souq for a truly unique shopping experience amid stalls selling spice and Arabian-inspired trinkets. Collect a variety of colourful lanterns to hang in your home or a lavishly woven carpet to bring your living room to life.
While here, you can also snack on the freshest fruit and vegetables at Al Mina’s. Sink your teeth into juicy mangoes and ripe strawberries grown by local farmers. You can also stock up on a selection of sweet dates and dried fruits imported from across the Middle East to enjoy after your visit.
Arts & Culture
Dining & Nightlife
All imagery provided by © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi