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A beginner's guide to Abu Dhabi

The home of Khalifa Park, Sheikh Zayed Mosque and Yas Island (the location for the world-renowned Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit) Abu Dhabi has gained a reputation for doing things on a big and extravagant scale.

Far more than simply the backdrop to a Sex and the City-style adventure, Abu Dhabi is a glamorous location that offers up pockets of the luxurious, scenic and, at times, fascinatingly bizarre.

This is a destination where you can go quad biking in the desert, indulge in serious retail therapy or lounge on the beach at the Corniche. It’s a place where falcons have their own passports, where camel beauty contests take place, and where a powerful sense of culture and tradition resides. For holidays that really do wow and amaze, there are few destinations that rival Abu Dhabi.

What to do
If you want a true taste of the Middle East, this is the place to visit. Carving out a name for itself as a cultural hub, Abu Dhabi boasts rich customs and traditions that are infused into every pore of this Emirate. You’ll find beaches here that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean; picturesque waterways that creep around the buildings like an Arabian Venice; grandiose architecture that will truly take your breath away.

While you’ll still be able to find the grand shopping malls and gourmet cuisine that have made this place famous as a Dubai alternative, there’s more of an importance placed on culture here and retaining a traditional Abu Dhabi. This is seen especially in the development taking place on Saadiyat Island, where the vast 2030 project is set to see museums, galleries and boutique retail thrive.

But, for now, there’s plenty to experience. Go on a culinary tour of Abu Dhabi – seeking out the real deal when it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine is well worth it. Make the most of the fascinating heritage here and explore the architecture and landmarks. Or simply shop and relax on the beach – Abu Dhabi caters to it all.

Where to stay
If you’re looking for a great value getaway that still harbours the sense of style and luxury that Abu Dhabi is known for, Beach Rotana is a great choice. Offering up a slice of private beach, numerous restaurants and direct access to Abu Dhabi Mall, it is ideal for an unforgettable city break. For All-Inclusive holidays that offer complete indulgence, Al Raha Beach Hotel is ideal – with a private beach, on-site spa and luxurious rooms, this is a sophisticated property.

Iconic and extravagant, Emirates Palace is one of the most recognisable and opulent hotels in Abu Dhabi. If you’d rather head to this stunning destination for some downtime on the beaches, then a stay at the St Regis Saadiyat Island or Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel will be perfect for you.

How to get there
If you’re travelling from London or Manchester, you can get a direct flight to Abu Dhabi International Airport – you’ll be hitting the soft sugary sands in around seven hours. There’s also the option of an indirect flight via Doha or Muscat, with varying stopover times.

Whether you’re new to the treasures of Abu Dhabi or returning to experience them all over again, there’s always something exciting and beautiful to enjoy here. Explore the real Abu Dhabi as well as the spectacular modern developments – a mesmerising playground of old and new.

 

Article written by Kirsty Schofield.


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