The city of Abu Dhabi is the ideal start to an India cruise. Though deeply rooted in traditions and history, Abu Dhabi has quickly turned into a thriving capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a shining gem of the Arabian Gulf. Before you cruise from Abu Dhabi, you’ll be able to quickly get a feel for this dynamic city.
On an Abu Dhabi cruise, you’ll take in ornate sights like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the world. Marvel at its 82 pearly white domes and the stunning gold interwoven throughout the interior and exterior. Take a tour of the extravagant Louvre Abu Dhabi, then check out the Observation Deck at 300, where you can sip afternoon tea and enjoy 360-degree views of the entire skyline. Thrill seekers will love Abu Dhabi for adrenaline-rush attractions like the Formula Rossa roller coaster at Ferrari World, or the unforgettable water slides at Yas Island. When you’re craving nature, there’s always kayaking among the wildlife at Mangrove National Park or snorkeling at Corniche Beach.
Abu Dhabi is a cornerstone of the UAE, balancing a careful line of modern opulence and traditionalism, constantly at work to honor its past while forging a path as a futuristic hub for commerce and tourism. You’ll quickly discover there’s something for every type of traveler on an Abu Dhabi cruise.
Not only is the Sheikh Zayed one of the largest mosques in the world, it also houses the largest carpet in the world. Talk about record-breaking. The mosque introduces modern touches and design in a reverent, traditional setting. The walls are entirely marble, and the mosque is beautifully crafted. You’ll stand in awe of its scale and craftsmanship.
It’s a well-known fact that you can’t come to Abu Dhabi and miss its Louvre. Even though it only opened officially in 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has quickly earned a spot as a critical cultural attraction. Art lovers who adore the French original will find not only renowned French pieces but also art from the Middle East and all over the world. You’ll need a full day to even scratch the surface of this huge museum.
Other than Ferrari World, Yas Island is also home to Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, making the island one of the top leisure destinations for travelers looking for good old-fashioned fun. Yas Waterworld is one of the world’s highest-rated water parks, so bring the whole family for a splash. Concerts, festivals, and events are always happening on Yas Island, too.
If you’re curious about the history and founding of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), come to the Zayed National Museum, which honors the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Exhibits are inspired by the geography and culture of the Middle East and the UAE. History buffs shouldn’t miss an afternoon here.
Do you wonder what traditional villages and homes in Abu Dhabi looked like before the oil industry caused the city to boom? Well, Heritage Village is a reconstructed, open museum dedicated to the culture and roots of the Middle East. Perfect for kids and families, Heritage Village is a look back at another time in Abu Dhabi’s rich history.
The Observation Deck at 300 is Abu Dhabi’s highest point and promises spectacular views of the entire city from the top. This is a must-see for anyone who wants to see the city’s skyline from above. You can even book an afternoon high tea, where you’ll sip tea and enjoy light refreshments from the observation deck.
Emirates Palace is a beachfront hotel that lives up to the city’s reputation as a capital of luxury. Before boarding your cruise from Abu Dhabi, be sure to spend an afternoon strolling the grounds of this elaborate hotel. Sip a cappuccino topped with flakes of gold, or simply look up to take in the splendor.
The Souk Central Market is a definitive spot for shopping in Abu Dhabi. Here, travelers can buy spices, decorative fabrics, jewelry, and souvenirs. Stop for lunch or a coffee while you’re here. Prices are generally affordable, and though this souk is a reconstruction, it’s a way to experience a taste of local life in Abu Dhabi.
Clocking in at a speed of almost 150 miles per hour, Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World is the fastest rollercoaster in the world. It’s beautifully designed in the style of a Ferrari and a must-do for adrenaline junkies. You’ll be breathless by the end of the ride.
When you need a break from Abu Dhabi’s massive cityscape, surround yourself in a mangrove forest in Mangrove National Park. In this protected park, you can spot wildlife like herons and flamingos living in an undisturbed habitat. Grab a kayak or canoe and paddle off into the sunset.
Capital Gate, or the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, is a massive skyscraper in the city. Capital Gate tilts even more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, making it the Guiness World Record holder of the “World’s Furthest Leaning Tower”. Take photos in front of this unique landmark or catch some views of Abu Dhabi from the inside.
On an Abu Dhabi cruise, you’ll find food is a huge part of the experience here.
Address: Corniche Road West, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesAfter enjoying afternoon tea from the Observation Deck at 300, make dinner plans at Li Beirut, an upscale Lebanese restaurant cooking up classic zaatar, freshly made hummus and tabouleh, and lamb kebbeh. End the night with delicious pistachio ice cream.
Address: Al Bandar, Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesBefore you head to the attractions at Yas Island, you’ll need breakfast from Nolu’s Cafe, which specializes in essentials like egg and cheese bagels, avocado toast, and others. Try the Afghani eggs, which are two sunny-side up eggs with sauteed tomato and caramelized onion seasoned with coriander.
Address: The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesYou might not immediately think of Italian food while you’re in the heart of the UAE, but Villa Toscana brings Tuscany to Abu Dhabi. Located within the St. Regis Hotel, Villa Toscana’s handmade pastas and pizzas are distinctly delicious. From risotto with pumpkin and gorgonzola to the beef tenderloin with polenta, you’ll have an unforgettable Italian food experience here.
Jazz Bar & Dining
Address: Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesLive music every weekend is just one of the reasons why Jazz Bar & Dining captures the heart of visitors to the UAE. Seafood rules the menu, from shrimp cocktails to fresh salmon.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was founded by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1968. Sheikh Zayed became a critical figure, shaping Abu Dhabi into how we know it today. The region is rooted in thousands of years of Middle Eastern history and a rich tradition of Islam, so Abu Dhabi is home to many mosques and religious sites. Abu Dhabi’s meteoric rise into the metropolis it is today is largely thanks to the boom of the oil business in the mid-20th century, thrusting Abu Dhabi into the international spotlight. Today, its stunning skyscrapers, art museums, and many cultural attractions and landmarks make Abu Dhabi a great place to visit.
Port Zayed is the oldest port in all of the UAE. The center of Abu Dhabi is just three miles from the port, making it centrally located to Abu Dhabi’s major sites. When you’re headed to board a cruise from Abu Dhabi, you can take a bus or taxi to Port Zayed. The port is continually expanding and improving services, and you can check in or shop while at the terminal.
The buses in Abu Dhabi are inexpensive and thorough, especially if you have time to get used to the routes. You can also rent a car and get around the city that way, which is great for those who are already used to driving in urban settings. Of course, taxis are plentiful and inexpensive, and they’re always metered. Note that Abu Dhabi doesn’t have a metro system, but you can buy a card to use the bus system.
Shopping malls are common in Abu Dhabi, where shoppers can take in their fill of clothing stores, boutiques, jewelry stands, and trendy cafes. At the Yas Mall, you could explore for ages and not see everything. For luxury brands, head to Galleria Mall on Al Maryah Island. The souk is a staple of the Abu Dhabi shopping landscape, so be sure to stop in the World Trade Center Souk or the Carpet Souk for incredible goods, including gold, rugs and carpets, and stunning fabrics. When you’re hungry, there’s the open air fruit and vegetable market. After all, the medjool dates of Abu Dhabi are practically a dessert and are served in exciting ways, like dried or dipped in rich chocolate.
Though U.S. dollars are widely accepted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the official currency is called the Dirham, abbreviated as AED. Before you leave on a cruise from Abu Dhabi, you can exchange your currency at the cruise terminal, where the rates are exchanged more fairly than at the airport. Bargaining and haggling is acceptable at souks, or marketplaces, where you’ll want to be firm but relaxed as you negotiate with merchants. While in Abu Dhabi, most credit cards are accepted in restaurants and shops, like MasterCard and Visa. It’s common to tip 10% at a restaurant if there isn’t a service change already included in the bill. When tipping a taxi driver, it’s polite to round your fare up to the nearest AED.