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2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (42) - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

If you’re searching for the perfect 2 day Abu Dhabi itinerary, look no further! We explored Abu Dhabi in just 48 hours, but I can confirm that maximizing your time is essential.

My 2-day itinerary is designed to cover the top attractions, ensuring a fulfilling experience within a short visit. This feasible plan allows visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty and culture of Abu Dhabi without feeling too rushed.

Whether it’s the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the leisurely Corniche, or savoring local cuisine, this itinerary aims to capture the essence of the city.

From where to stay, what to eat, and the must-visit places, my travel guide and itinerary has you covered.

Let’s jump right in!

*If you only have one day in Abu Dhabi – read this post instead*

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (23) - Abu Dhabi skyline
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (3) - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

2 Day Abu Dhabi Itinerary Overview

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • Wahat Al Karama
  • Souq al Jami
  • Qasr Al Watan
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • The Corniche
  • Saadiyat Beach Club
  • Emirates Palace
  • Al Wathba Salt Lake/Long Salt Lake
  • Warner Brothers World, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld
  • Desert dunes
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (14) - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

How to get around Abu Dhabi

I found that the city offers various means of getting around, catering to the needs of tourists. The public transit system, consisting of buses and the modern, air-conditioned metro, provides easy access to major attractions and key areas of the city. Taxis are also readily available and offer a flexible way to navigate the city.

We opted to get around using an app called Careem. It’s similar to Uber or Grab. You’re able to see the car, driver, and price ahead of time. Throughout our 2 days in Abu Dhabi, we used Careem between almost every place we visited. The fares are affordable and we felt very safe on every ride!

For a more independent exploration, renting a car can be a viable option as well. With well-maintained roads and clear signage, driving in Abu Dhabi is relatively straightforward, and it allows for greater flexibility in managing your time effectively.

Day 1 in Abu Dhabi

Since our time in Abu Dhabi was quite short, we decided to squeeze in as much as possible during our visit!

Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

We heard before our trip that the mosque opens at 9:30 am, but both days we were there it opened at 10 am. We still got to the mall, which is where the entrance is, an hour early because we wanted to be the first people to enter. You can get your ticket for free here. If you’re interested in a free guided tour, you can book that as well. They don’t allow tripods inside and the dress code is quite strict. I bought an abaya at one of the shops outside, as you need to be fully covered (including your hair) as a woman.

*IMPORTANT NOTE – The mosque is closed on Fridays*

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (8) - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (13) - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Wander around Emirates Palace

A visit to the opulent Emirates Palace hotel is a must on any Abu Dhabi trip. Spend an hour or so marveling at its grandeur and elegance. You can enter certain parts of the hotel and walk around most of the grounds for free. If you’re looking for a fancy experience, head to Le Cafe in the lobby lounge and enjoy a coffee with 24-carat gold leaf sprinkled on top.

Lunch at Observation Deck at 300

Enjoy afternoon tea and a light lunch at the highest viewpoint in the city. On the 74th floor of the Conrad hotel, Observation Deck at 300 offers a unique birds eye perspective of Abu Dhabi. Make sure to reserve a table online, as they can get booked up in advance.

Walk along The Corniche

An 8 km walking path with beautiful views and the famous Corniche Beach.

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (26) - Emirates Palace view
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (28) - The Corniche

The Louvre Abu Dhabi

A stunning art museum (like the one in Paris) located on Saadiyat Island. The Louvre was so high on my must-do list, but unfortunately we went on a Monday and found out they’re closed every Monday. They’re open from 10 am every other day and tickets are $16/adult.

Wahat Al Karama for sunset

Aside from visiting the mosque, this was one of our favorite places we visited! It’s a viewpoint across the street from the mosque that gives the dreamiest sunset + mosque views. It is hands-down the best place to take photos and tripods are allowed, so make sure to arrive before sunset if you want the best photo spot!

Try local Emirati cuisine for dinner

We went to Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant and tried the chicken machboos with saffron rice and the charcoal chicken with bread. The food was delicious! Opt to sit on the floor cushions for a more traditional experience.

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (30) - Wahat Al Karama
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (15) - Wahat Al Karama

Day 2 in Abu Dhabi

Qasr Al Watan

The presidential palace of the UAE. Explore The Great Hall, House of Knowledge, Qasr Al Watan Library, and more! Tickets cost 65 AED (around $18 USD).

Choose one activity below depending on the kind of day you prefer –

Relax at Saadiyat Beach Club

This luxury beach club on Saadiyat Island offers a swimming pool, private beach, a gym, restaurants, cabanas, a beach bar and more. Check current prices for a day pass here. 

Adventure to Al Wathba Fossil Dunes & Long Salt Lake

We didn’t have time for this, but we definitely want to do a tour or rent a car and explore these places next time! If you opt for a half day tour, you can discover the fossil dunes, go sandboarding, take in the views at a gorgeous salt lake, and see flamingos at a wetland reserve.

Play at Warner Brothers World, Ferrari World, or Yas Waterworld

It’s no secret that Abu Dhabi has some awesome theme parks! You can buy a single day ticket for one park or a 2 park ticket and visit two of your favorite parks in a day.

*If you have a longer stay in Abu Dhabi, you can get a 3 park or 4 park ticket as well!*

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary - St. Regis

What + Where to eat in Abu Dhabi

Authentic Emirati dishes to try –

  • Aromatic Chicken Machboos – a traditional rice dish flavored with saffron and a blend of spices
  • Luqaimat – small sweet dumplings coated in date syrup
  • Shawarma – a popular street food made with succulent meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices nestled in fluffy Arabic bread

Must-try restaurants and cafes –

  • Sandwiches, salads, and afternoon tea at Observation Deck at 300
  • Local Emirati cuisine at Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant
  • Gold cappuccino at Emirates Palace
  • Japanese and sushi at Catch – St. Regis
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (32) - Emirati restaurant
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (33) - Emirati food

Where to stay in Abu Dhabi

There are countless luxurious and mid-range hotels in Abu Dhabi. We stayed in a 4 star hotel for free through the Etihad stopover program (more on that below).

  • Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri ($$) *we were able to stay here 2 nights for free through the Etihad stopover program*
  • Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi ($$$)
  • The St. Regis Abu Dhabi ($$$)
  • Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental ($$$$)
  • The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi ($$$$)
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (17) - Etihad stopover program hotel
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (18) - Etihad stopover program hotel

Travel tips for visiting Abu Dhabi

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is closed on Fridays!
  • Pack comfortable, breathable attire that covers the shoulders, arms, and legs, plus headscarf for women. For more on packing, check out my essential Abu Dhabi packing list!
  • Abu Dhabi can get incredibly hot. Make sure to pack sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • Be respectful by observing silence in religious sites, refraining from public displays of affection, and try your best to avoid consuming food or drinks in public during Ramadan.
  • While English is widely spoken, incorporating “hello,” “thank you,” and “please” in Arabic creates a warm and respectful exchange with the local community.
  • SIM Card: I always use the Airalo eSIM app when I travel. I bought 1GB for $4.50 and it was just enough for our time there.
  • Download the Abu Dhabi map on Google Maps, so you can save data while still being able to navigate your way around the city.
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (25) - Emirates Palace view
2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (24)

Etihad Stopover Program

The Etihad stopover program offers some incredible benefits! If you’re flying any route with Etihad Airways connecting through Abu Dhabi, you can opt for a 1-4 night free or heavily discounted stopover.

The deal includes complimentary hotel stays at select (3, 4, or 5 star) accommodations. If you choose a 5-star hotel, you may have to pay a small fee like $10 or $15 per person/night.

We flew from Madrid -> New Delhi, connecting in Abu Dhabi for a complimentary 2 nights in a 4-star hotel. The visa on arrival was also included. We booked ahead of time with my last name and flight booking code at this website.

Most of the hotels associated with the program are strategically located, providing easy access to the city’s main attractions, which enabled us to make the most of our 2-day Abu Dhabi itinerary!

*Depending on your passport, you may not be eligible for a visa on arrival. Make sure to double check ahead of time.*

2 day Abu Dhabi Itinerary (37) - airport

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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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