Abu Dhabi’s recognition as a tourist destination has increased recently, and we all now know the reasons behind it. With it’s brilliant blue sky, Emirati culture, luxury hotels and exciting theme parks, this is a city that will please even the most shrewd traveller. From exotic safaris to fascinating mosques, here are five great reasons to visit Abu Dhabi.
A stay at the Anantara Eastern Mangroves
Just a short drive from Abu Dhabi airport and city centre is the city’s most stylish hotel, the Anantara Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa. Set along a stretch of protected mangroves that settle above immaculate blue waters, this stunning waterway will make you experience the best sunsets in the city. The inside of the hotel is just as extravagant, with gleaming chandeliers, Arabian style arches, grand halls and opulent decor.
There are 222 rooms, all of which brag views of mangrove or cityscape, huge bathrooms and rain showers, sofas and a desk. The state-of-the-art gym is mammoth, but best of all is the Anantara spa. You can choose from a selection of indulgent treatments, but if in doubt go for the hammam. Pamper yourself with this combination of Turkish and Middle Eastern element with a session that includes a sauna and steam, exfoliation, a clay mask, head massage, foam massage and body polish.
Dine at Pachaylen
This is Abu Dhabi’s best restaurant, and would definitely not disappoint you. From the moment you enter the restaurant you’ll know this is a dining experience out of the ordinary. Decorated with curtains, gilded bronze screens and rich golds and purples, this space not only looks ravishing but also showcases a sense of regality.
This is not a case of style of substance, however, as the food is no less special. With a focus on Thai food, the menu is packed with flare and flavour. Butterfly shaped chicken and pea dumplings, lamb specialities and massaman curry with shallots are a part of the delights that one can enjoy. Make sure to leave room for dessert, as the coconut sticky rice pudding and sweet mango is hard to resist.
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
You can’t visit the UAE and visit a mosque, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is easily the largest and most outstanding mosque in the country. Rising dramatically from immaculate manicured gardens, the architecture here will leave you astounded. Greek marble walls are tinted with sparkling gemstones like lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst and mother-of-pearl, forming subtle floral designs on the pillars.
It took more than a decade to complete the construction which began in 1996. The chandeliers at the mosque are made up of millions of Swarovski crystals giving the perfect shine and glow. The carpet in the prayer hall is the largest single piece of handmade carpet in the world. People from all religions can visit the mosque but all you need is to dress and behave respectfully.
A day out at Ferrari World
If you consider yourself a thrillseeker then Abu Dhabi is the place for you. Abu dhabi offers the world’s only Ferrari-branded theme park, with a host of exciting Ferrari-themed rides and attractions including the most famous Formula Rosa, the fastest roller coaster in the world which offers a real F1 experience.
Other attractions include 4 D family adventures, car exhibitions, the flume ride that takes you through a V12 engine, a state-of-the-art simulator that gives you the feeling of driving a Ferrari and live shows.
A safari on Sir Bani Yas Island
Abu Dhabi is an archipelago of natural islands, one of which is Sir Bani Yas Island, a thriving flora and fauna oasis in the middle of the desert. Known for its wildlife, Sir Bani Yas is home to over 10,000 animals, including cheetahs, giraffes and hyenas roaming freely in the vicinity.
The island offers its own luxurious resort and is worth spending a few days here. Nature lovers would love the boutique Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara and could also enjoy some close shots of the animals while they are here.