Sightseeing is one of the best ways to tour Abu Dhabi’s wonders. Showcasing an exciting display of amazing feats of architecture and design, it’s one of the most unique and impressive places in the world.
Home to the UAE’s largest place of worship, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the internationally acclaimed Louvre Abu Dhabi, this charismatic capital has an abundance of big and bold buildings to see.
Sightseeing trips in Abu Dhabi make it possible to see them all, from the glistening golden domes of Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Abu Dhabi to the innovative Masdar City, a planned sustainable community.
Make sure you find time to see all the amazing sights of the UAE capital – whatever your reason for travel. Sightseeing tours can provide a tantalising taste of grand Abu Dhabi on foot, by bus and even by water.
Some of the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi are clustered in key regions, so they’re easy to reach on foot – including at the capital centre, where Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Zayed Sports City are located.
Capital Gate is one of the most notable buildings in this region. Also known as the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, the best place to view this iconic structure is from nearby Al Multaqa Street.
Another key neighbourhood for walking tours is the Corniche, where the city’s futuristic side is found. Start at Etihad Towers and visit the Observation Deck at 300 for panoramic views of the city.
Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Marina – where government buildings such as the UAE Presidential Palace and Qasr Al Watan Library are located – is less than an hour’s stroll from the Corniche.
Sightseeing cruises make it possible to encounter Abu Dhabi from a prime position on the glittering Arabian Gulf.
Captain Tony’s is an eco-conscious operator which offers close-up sightseeing tours from the Yas Marina, Eastern Mangroves Marina and Souk Qaryat Al Beri, which is close to central Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
There’s an excursion for every type of sightseeing, whether you prefer to discover Abu Dhabi’s natural mangroves, famous racetracks or high-rise skyline.
Take a sightseeing cruise in the brightness of day, or at sunset – when skyscrapers become illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights.
The sunset sightseeing tour offers guests a taste of Emirati culture, too. It circumnavigates Samaliyah Island, where a traditional Emirati village has been constructed on the beachfront.
Craft your own sightseeing itinerary across the entire breadth of Abu Dhabi, with a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.
Popular providers, such as Big Bus, offer open-top drives – you’ll have the best seats in the house through Abu Dhabi’s many diverse districts and the flexibility to hop on and off as you please.
This city may be known for sparkling 21st-century structures – such as iconic Etihad Towers – but many of the best sights in Abu Dhabi are also deeply historic, such as Qasr Al Hosn. The oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi has adorned this land since 1761.
Sightseeing bus trips allow you to experience the best of both along the Corniche and on action-packed Yas Island. The hop-on-hop off bus also stops at key locations, including Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.
Abu Dhabi’s sightseeing locations are plentiful. There’s a huge number of intricate buildings to marvel at, skylines to photograph or art museums to explore. Add the following unmissable locations to your itinerary.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the capital’s ultimate must-see. Getting there is simple in a car or taxi – it’s a ten-minute drive on Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street from the central business district. The E10 connects the airport, Corniche and Yas Island to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is as famous for its architecture as its art. See the unforgettable dome by driving to the cultural district – the E12 provides the most direct route from the Corniche in the west and Yas Island from the east.
Etihad Towers, home to Observation Deck at 300, is located close to the governmental district of Al Ras Al Akhdar. Follow signs for the Corniche, then join the one-way system beginning at Corniche West Street.
Snapping shots of incredible buildings may be standard procedure on some sightseeing tours, but in Abu Dhabi, photographing certain spaces can cause offence and is banned.
Avoid clicking the shutter near government buildings, such as Qasr Al Watan, as well as semi-governmental offices. At Qasr Al Watan, there’s a gift store stocked with quality mementos, which are a great alternative to photographs.
Awe-inspiring Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental Abu Dhabi, however, which is now a luxury hotel, can be photographed – but you should still be careful to avoid filming or capturing images of guests. This is also true at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Abu Dhabi is a large and bustling city spread across more than 200 islands. As such, even if you’re travelling by bus boat or taxi, a day of sightseeing is likely to involve several hours on your feet.
Some of the larger attractions, such as Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre Abu Dhabi, take more than an hour to fully explore.
It’s fine to wear open-toed shoes in Abu Dhabi, but trainers or other smart shoes are also common.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open to visitors Saturday to Thursday, from 9am until 10pm.
This is the only mosque in the city that’s open to tourists, but on Friday mornings access is restricted to worshippers only. During the month of Ramadan, visiting hours are reduced, with the mosque closing to tourists at 2pm.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque stands among the most popular sights in Abu Dhabi, with 6.6 million visitors in 2019 alone. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is also popular, drawing more than a million visits in its debut year.
The theme parks of Yas Island are also incredibly popular, especially supercar-themed Ferrari World™ Abu Dhabi. Qasr Al Hosn is among the most-visited cultural sites, magnetising more than 100,000 visitors during its annual heritage festival.
Many attractions in Abu Dhabi are wheelchair accessible. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Yas Mall both have wheelchair accessible facilities, and many other attractions are partially accessible.
For up-to-the-minute guidance, call or check the attraction's website ahead of your visit.
Begin your Abu Dhabi sightseeing itinerary with a tour of the cosmopolitan buildings on a hop-on, hop-off bus.
Big Bus’s red route passes close to the World Trade Center Abu Dhabi and Etihad Towers, while the longer green route passes the circular Aldar Headquarters building.
Alternatively, take a cruise for a more distanced view – Captain Tony’s excursions set sail at 9am, before the sun’s heat has reached its peak.
Dine on the Corniche, where Arabian flavours and Western bites are fused together in a choice of restaurants. Then, fill an afternoon with cultural experiences at Heritage Village and Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Look out for the outline of Masdar City on the way – here, you can look towards the sharp and sustainable future of city living.
Finally, in the cool of evening, visit the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – a grand, opulent monument celebrating centuries of Islamic excellence.
You’ll already have witnessed a unique assembly of artistic treasures at Abu Dhabi’s best art museum. Here, architectural influences are drawn from Egypt, the Mughal dynasty and Pakistan.
It’s a pure white, marble-floored wonder adorned with details such as gold glass mosaics. Early evening is the best time to experience this place at its most peaceful.
Touring Abu Dhabi makes it possible to see a range of sights. Find out more about the types of tours on offer, from excursions to self-guided tours.
Gaze at the city’s sensational skyline from the Arabian Gulf and inland waterways. From lush natural escapes to cultural venues, boat tours are packed with magical surprises.
See the pristine beaches on horseback, canter through the suburbs and embrace the UAE’s outdoor essence on a horseback ride. A unique and beautiful way to enjoy the city.