a guest post by Neha Singh
Most Abu Dhabi holidays don’t make it outside of these usual things such as Ferrari rides, photo ops at Emirates Palace and hanging out at Abu Dhabi Corniche. However, the reality is that Abu Dhabi is full of surprises with culture, nature, and history to cherish at its every turn. After all, it is the UAE’s capital as well as the largest city. So if you want to go beyond the city’stypical spots, just check out this guide on the top offbeat things to do in Abu Dhabi.
Delve Into The Emirati Past At Qasr Al Hosn
Abu Dhabi is now one of the world’s richest cities. But did you know that long back it was just a quaint fishing settlement? So how it transitioned to an amazing destination with the best of offerings? One of the best places to enlighten yourself about the region’s historical journey is to visit Qasr Hosn.
Dating back to the 18th century, this rustic structure had served as a royal residence, defensive structure and the seat of government, before it was turned into a museum. Besides taking in the arts and objects that have been collected from 6000 BC, you get to explore its diverse sections such as the House of Artisans and Bait Al Gahwa.
Unearth The Region’s Inspiring Culture At Heritage Village
For culture buffs, this is one of the ultimate places to visit in Abu Dhabi. It not only lets you glimpse into the traditional Emirati desert lifestyle but also participate in many exciting workshops that promise you a hands-on learning experience of the region’s culture.
So come here prepared to see craftsmen spinning yarn, weaving and doing pottery works, among others. You can further take home some finest quality herbs, organic soaps, and unique souvenirs, thanks to the spice shop within the village.
Discover Sheikh Zayed Mosque
It is one attraction in this place that appeals to all types of visitors. Named to honor the UAE’s late president – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this stunning masterpiece of Islamic art and architecture is so grand and vast that it is a definite see on any Abu Dhabi trip. In fact, it is more than a religious point of interest. Rightly so, it is opened to non-Muslims as well; just make sure that you wear an appropriate ankle-length dress which well covers your hair, arms and shoulders.
With a capacity to comfortably host 40,000 worshippers at a time, every nook and cranny of this mosque is designed down to the last detail. There are over 1000 columns, 80 plus domes, the longest hand-knotted carpet, and largest of its kind chandeliers (that is covered in 24k gold and enhanced by millions of brilliant Swarovski crystal), among others.
Take To The Heights With Clymb
When one thinks about Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, the first thing probably comes into mind is Ferrari World, Yas Marina Circuit, and Yas Water World. But it is not all about that- it is also home to the recently opened CLYMB Abu Dhabi.
It allows you to conquer heights with its top-notch options available for sky diving and climbing. It is completely set indoors and what makes it extra special is that it has to its credit the world’s largest sky diving flight chamber and the tallest climbing wall. So if you want to reach height while setting new records, don’t miss this place in Abu Dhabi.
Visit Jubail Mangrove Park
For the aficionados of nature and adventure, this new mangrove park in Abu Dhabi is hard to miss. Just about 25 minutes from the city centre, a visit here guarantees you a refreshing retreat from the usual city sights.
Sign up for a guided walking tour which allows for an up-close look at its marvelous ecosystem, along with the fascinating flora and fauna that inhabit it. Fun and thrill seekers should definitely go on a kayaking tour which is even ideal for kids above five years.
Pay A Visit To The Founder’s Memorial
This cultural landmark has been built as a tribute to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Get to know more about the late president, who is also the Father of the Nation, via a spectrum of inspiring stories, words, art works and cutting-edge multimedia presentations.
The focal point is the Constellation;a colossal artwork with more than 1300 geometric shapes that are supported by over 1000 cables, the outcome is the breathtaking 3D portrait of the late ruler. You get to stroll through its elegant Elevated Walkway and also enjoy a look at its varied sections including the Sanctuary.
Get Wild On A Wadi Adventure Trip
Want to forego the usual water park thrill? An ideal spot to visit is Wadi Adventure which is placed at the foot of the UAE’s second largest mountain (Jebel Hafeet) in Al Ain, about 90 kilometers from Abu Dhabi. It assures you of anunforgettable rendezvous with nature and water.
Join a heart-racing rafting trip, go on an amazing kayaking tour, or head out for more extreme and insane water activities such as surfing and wakeboarding.
An offbeat adventure trip can’t get any better than going for a desert safari Abu Dhabi. This guided excursion not only offers you a genuine dose of the fascinating Bedouin culture and heritage, but also lets you be part of many desert exclusive experiences.
Enjoy dune bash in a powerful 4X4 vehicle (like Land Cruiser or Hummer), hop on to the back of a friendly camel for a wobbly ride over desert sands, and try your hand in maneuvering quad bike, dune buggy, sandboarding etc. Subject to the morning or evening desert safari, you also get to relish BBQ dining, along with a wide range of activities and traditional performances like Shisha smoking, henna painting, belly dance and Tanura show.
There are many other options for desert safari in Abu Dhabi, since this is one of the most exciting activities in the country.
Track Down Abu Dhabi’s Wildlife
Abu Dhabi has to its credit one of the UAE’s ultimate wildlife attractions. Make your way to the Arabian Wildlife Park at Sir Bani Yas Island to experience it for yourself. A safe abode for over 15,000 rare and indigenous animals such as Arabian Oryx, cheetahs, gazelles and hyenas, this park enables you to see these creatures freely wandering in its natural habitat.
Take to the dedicated viewing platforms built all over the park to admire the animals from a close yet safe distance. You can also opt for a 4X4 safari ride across the park.
Shop Handicrafts at Women’s Handicraft Centre
Want to return with some authentic Emirati souvenirs or art object? You should certainly pay a trip to the Women’s Handicraft Centre, a creative endeavor established by the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association. It is in the form of a compact museum which has on display several inspiring local art and crafts. You also get to see first-hand the highly talented female artisans adeptly creating Talli works and weaving Saddu (that is included on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage), among others.
Most people visit Abu Dhabi as part of their Dubai holiday and it usually lasts for just a few hours or maximum an entire day. But with so much to see and do, it is well worth spending at least two days in Abu Dhabi. So next time when you plan for a Dubai or UAE trip, be sure to add Abu Dhabi and its offbeat delights in your travel program.
About the author:
Neha loves traveling, seeing different places, and learning about their history. She also likes adventure sports like skydiving, bungee jumping, and zip-lining. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, sketching, and chilling with her pet dog.
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Hi, we are Krasen and Ying Ying. Krasen is from Bulgaria, and Ying Ying is from China. We are passionate about geography and history, and we believe that the best way to experience it is by exploring the Earth in reality, not in a school, and not virtually.
So, we created this blog Journey Beyond the Horizon, where we share geographical knowledge, travel guides and tips how to experience it when you explore our planet, and a lot of inspiration.
And we wish you a happy journey, not just virtually, but most of all- in reality.