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One Day in Abu Dhabi - Wahat Al Karama

If you’re wondering how to spend one day in Abu Dhabi, you’ve come to the right place! We recently spent 2.5 days there and we’ve narrowed down the best things to do in one day.

Embracing the richness of culture and luxury travel, we’ll uncover the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, indulge in opulence at the Emirates Palace, and stroll along The Corniche.

With a perfect blend of art, relaxation, and breathtaking sunset views, my travel guide includes everything you need to explore the essence of the vibrant city in just a single day. Get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of this city and make the most of every moment.

One Day in Abu Dhabi (2)
One day in Abu Dhabi - downtown
One Day in Abu Dhabi (17)
One Day in Abu Dhabi (24)

Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

In my opinion, this is THE attraction in Abu Dhabi that cannot be missed! Even if you’re on a 4 or 5 hour layover tour.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, adorned with stunning marble details, grand domes, and tall minarets, showcases the beauty of modern Islamic architecture. Its immense size and beauty truly amazed us.

But more than just its appearance, the mosque represents unity, inviting people from all walks of life to enjoy its peaceful atmosphere. Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque not only gives a glimpse of Islamic heritage but also offers spiritual and cultural experience.

What you need to know

  • The mosque is open Saturday-Thursday, but is closed every Friday.
  • Tickets are free and you can get them here.
  • The dress code is very strict and you need to be covered up, including your hair for women.
  • You can buy a traditional abaya outside the entrance to the mosque (I bought mine at a little shop called Chitral for $20 USD).
  • Photography is allowed inside the mosque, but tripods are not permitted inside the mosque.
  • All visitors are required to pass through a security checkpoint before entering the mosque. If you bring something that’s not allowed in the mosque, they will hold it for you at the desk and give you a ticket to pick it up on your way out.
One day in Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One day in Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque 2

Wander around Emirates Palace

Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi is a symbol of luxury and elegance, showcasing the best of Arabian hospitality! Its stunning architecture, lavish interiors, and expansive grounds create a beautiful setting.

From the intricate designs to the spacious gardens and beach, every corner of Emirates Palace exudes sophistication. You can explore some areas for free, even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

We enjoyed wandering around and snapping photos for about an hour. Don’t forget to try the famous 24-carat gold flake coffee for an indulgent treat!

Whether you’re dining at exquisite restaurants, unwinding at the spa, or simply soaking in the surroundings, a visit to Emirates Palace is a must when in Abu Dhabi.

One day in Abu Dhabi - Emirates Palace
One Day in Abu Dhabi (23) - Emirates Palace

Take a stroll along The Corniche

Stretching along the city’s coast for 8 kilometers, The Corniche in Abu Dhabi offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and the city skyline. It’s an ideal spot for leisurely strolls, exercise, or picnics.

Visitors and locals often enjoy jogging or cycling along dedicated paths, unwinding on the sandy shores, or discovering restaurants with picturesque views (more on that below).

Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, The Corniche provides a perfect blend of natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

One Day in Abu Dhabi (25) - The Corniche
One Day in Abu Dhabi (25) - The Corniche 2

Lunch at The St. Regis

Nestled on The Corniche, Cabana Beach Bar & Grill at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi is a must-visit for lunch with an amazing view. This lovely restaurant not only delights with its tasty cuisine but also treats offers breathtaking vistas of the Arabian Gulf.

Their menu boasts a range of mouthwatering options, from sandwiches and salads to burgers and desserts. Whether you’re craving a light bite or a hearty meal, Cabana Beach Bar & Grill has delicious choices to satisfy every appetite.

One Day in Abu Dhabi (25) - St. Regis
One day in Abu Dhabi - St. Regis

Visit The Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi fuses art, history, and architecture, offering visitors an immersive journey. Situated on Saadiyat Island, this renowned museum houses a rich array of artworks spanning centuries and civilizations, from ancient to contemporary masterpieces.

Its striking design, highlighted by a captivating dome that diffuses sunlight to produce a mesmerizing “rain of light,” enhances the museum’s appeal. It’s a perfect spot for capturing breathtaking photographs!

Whether you’re a lover of art, a history aficionado, or an adventurous soul, a trip to The Louvre Abu Dhabi is enriching experience worth adding to your itinerary!

What you need to know

  • The museum is closed every Monday.
  • Admission for adults is around 60 AED ($16 USD).
  • They offer kayaking tours around the museum! Find more info and book online here.
  • There are two cafes, a restaurant, and a bar located on museum property.

Sunset at Wahat Al Karama

Wahat Al Karama ranked second on our list of favorite spots during our stay in Abu Dhabi. It’s a war memorial and monument that sits directly opposite the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The views from this site during sunset and nighttime are among the most breathtaking we’ve ever seen! If you enjoy photography, I highly recommend a visit here during sunset and after dark.

Don’t forget your tripod and aim to arrive early to capture the sun’s descent behind the mosque. The shallow pool in front of the seating area provides striking reflections of the mosque!

One Day in Abu Dhabi - Wahat Al Karama
One day in Abu Dhabi - Wahat Al Karama sunset

Dinner at Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant

Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant in Abu Dhabi offers a dining experience rooted in Emirati heritage and culture. The restaurant’s interior boasts woven carpets, plush cushions, and ambient lighting.

For those who prefer not to sit on the floor, tables and chairs are also available. Although, we particularly enjoyed the immersive experience of lounging on floor cushions during our meal.

The restaurant’s menu offers a diverse selection of Emirati dishes, all prepared with traditional ingredients and culinary techniques. Indulge in an array of Arabian mezze, succulent grilled meats, fragrant rice dishes, and freshly baked bread. We highly recommend ordering the chicken machboos with saffron rice and the charcoal-grilled chicken with bread!

One Day in Abu Dhabi (44) - dinner
One Day in Abu Dhabi (32) - dinner

Best time to visit Abu Dhabi

The months between November and April are optimal for visiting Abu Dhabi, offering the most favorable weather conditions. During this period, temperatures typically range from around 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). We visited in mid-March and experienced excellent weather!

In contrast, from June to September, Abu Dhabi endures sweltering temperatures, often exceeding 40°C (104°F), coupled with high humidity. If you choose to visit during the summer months, it’s essential to stay hydrated, seek shade, and minimize outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day.

Travel tips for Abu Dhabi

  • Use the app Careem to get around (it’s the UAE’s version of Uber) and is cheaper and more convenient than taxis!
  • Another reminder – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is closed on Fridays.
  • Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Use my What to Pack for Abu Dhabi blog post for a complete packing guide!
  • We used the Airalo eSIM app for data. I purchased 1GB for $4.50, which was  sufficient for our 2 day stay.
  • Make sure to download the Abu Dhabi map on Google Maps to conserve data while still having access to navigation throughout the city.

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Hi! I'm Carrie Salter, a travel blogger originally from the USA, but now traveling and living abroad full time. I share travel guides, travel tips, and inspiration from around the world!

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