Planning a trip to Abu Dhabi soon? Read on for a complete 3 days in Abu Dhabi itinerary including the best things to do, how to get there and around and where to stay.
This is a fairly packed 3 day Abu Dhabi itinerary so if you don’t have three full days to explore Abu Dhabi or enjoy exploring at a more relaxed pace check out this 2 days in Abu Dhabi itinerary.
And if you are planning on visiting Dubai as well check out this 3 days in Dubai itinerary.
Abu Dhabi 3 Day Itinerary
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Abu Dhabi Itinerary – Day 1
Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
If there is one attraction in Abu Dhabi not to miss, it is the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The famous mosque is known for its white façade and is an architectural masterpiece with 4 minarets, 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns, reflecting pools and a large courtyard with a floral mosaic.
This interior is just as spectacular and features 24-carat-gold gilded chandeliers, exquisite windows and the world’s largest hand-knitted carpet. It is one of the largest mosques in the world and can accommodate approximately 40,000 worshippers inside its walls.
The mosque observes a strict conservative dress code for visitors so you need to make sure your ankles, arms and head (for women) are covered or you will have to purchase something to wear at the store in the complex. The mosque used to lend abayas to women before the COVID pandemic, but that is not longer the case.
Tip: Make sure to sign up for the free guided tour given at the mosque every hour. In addition to learning more about history of the mosque, you will have access to parts of the mosque not given to other visitors. Here is a guide to visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with everything you need to know before your visit.
Try the Cappuccino at Emirates Palace
Emirates Palace is a stunning luxury hotel which is famous for its ornate design with walls and ceiling painted in real gold. Even if you cannot afford to stay here, it is worth a visit for a brief photo stop.
Tip: If you have some time to relax, make sure to try the hotel’s signature Palace Cappuccino at Le Café. The cappuccino is sprinkled with real gold (but edible) leaf. You can make reservations for Le Café here.
Enjoy Panoramic Views at Etihad Towers
Located across the Emirates Palace hotel, are the Etihad Towers, a complex of 5 opulent skyscrapers which were featured in the Fast & Furious 7 film. You can see the outside of the Towers from Emirates Palace but its observation deck is worth a quick visit for panoramic 360-degree views.
The Observation Deck at 300 is located on the 74th floor of Tower 2 (also home to a luxury hotel). You don’t need to spend a lot of time here but there are tables if you want to take a break and enjoy a light meal or beverage. You can also make a reservation for afternoon tea.
Tip: Check the weather forecast beforehand to make sure it is a clear day. The best time to visit is before sunset for beautiful views but this is the also the busiest time.
Enjoy Beach Time
Take a break and spend some time relaxing at the beach or hotel pool. Nearby Corniche Beach stretches for 2 kms. If you want to sip on a cocktail and munch on snacks, you may choose to visit Nation Riviera Beach Club, a part of St Regis Hotel (although there is steep entrance fee).
Saadiyat Beach is another fabulous beach in Abu Dhabi and it is less crowded and much prettier than Corniche beach.
Visit the Qasr Al Watan (Presidential Palace)
The beautiful Qasr Al Watan is part of the Presidential Palace compound of UAE. The palace is an architectural marvel and houses historical artifacts and other historical treasures. (You can get a discount if you purchase your admission ticket from Klook here).
Tip: The best time to visit Qasr Al Watan is about an hour or so before the Palace in Motion light and sound show which takes place at 6:30pm in the evening.
Stroll Along the Corniche
The evening is a great time for a stroll on the City Corniche, a pleasant waterfront with white sandy beaches, walking paths, children’s play areas, beach clubs as well as cafes and restaurants.
Abu Dhabi Itinerary – Day 2
On Day 2, visit Yas Island which has enough indoor and outdoor attractions to keep you busy the entire day.
Yas Island is home to several themed parks and other attractions including Ferrari World (a large indoor theme park and home of the lightening fast Formula Rossa roller coaster), Warner Bros. World, Yas Waterworld, Yas Marina Circuit and the large Yas Mall.
Tip: If you plan to visit more than one amusesement park in one day, you can purchase a pass to save money on admission fees.
Below are the top attractions on Yas Island:
Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina circuit has hosted the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. Motorsports fans can enjoy a unique opportunity to drive on these famous tracks!
Ferrari World is a indoor theme park housed in an iconic F1 racing-car shaped main building. The first Ferrari-branded theme park is home to high-adrenaline rides (such as Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster), state-of-the-art simulators and a museum with racing memorabilia. There are also family-friendly attractions, stories and a selection of restaurants.
Spread over 37 acres, Yas Waterworld is a large water park offering water adventures with more than 40 rip-roaring rides, slithering slides, and amazing experiences at different thrill levels catering for the whole family.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest indoor theme park and features characters from Warner Bros.’s franchises, such as Looney Tunes, DC Comics, Hanna-Barbera, and more.
Abu Dhabi Itinerary – Day 3
On Day 3 in Abu Dhabi, visit a museum and/or take join a desert safari tour.
Spend Time at the Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a must see attraction for art lovers. The museum is a good place to spend a few hours mid-day to avoid the strong sun. (You can get a small discount if you purchase your admission ticket from Klook here).
TIP: Keep in mind that the Louvre is closed on Mondays when planning your day to day itinerary.
Take a Desert Safari
A desert safari tour is a fun activity for adventure lovers. Enjoy adrenaline-pumping activities like exploring the desert in a 4×4 Land Cruiser and dune bashing. You can also try out sandboarding and a short camel ride.
Depending on your schedule, choose between early morning safari or an evening safari. Evening safaris include a visit to a Bedouin desert camp where you can enjoy a Tanoura dance and belly dance performance while indulging in a barbecue dinner.
Getting to Abu Dhabi
Flights into Abu Dhabi arrive at Abu Dhabi International Airport. You can also fly into Dubai which is about a 60-90 minute drive to Abu Dhabi.
Getting to Abu Dhabi from Dubai
There are several options for getting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi:
It might be easier to rent a car and drive to Abu Dhabi especially if visiting with kids. You can keep your rental car to get around Abu Dhabi.
The cheapest (but showest) way to visit from Dubai is to take the bus from either Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai (for those staying in old Dubai) or Ibn Battuta Metro Station (for those staying in the new part of the city).
You can also take a taxi (approximate cost is $55-75 USD), rideshare or book a private transfer.
There also several guided day tours from Dubai for those that prefer to base themselves in Dubai.
Getting Around Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is not very walkable as many of the top tourist attractions are spread out plus it can get very hot in the summer. I recommend using taxis as they are more convenient, plentiful and pretty affordable. You can also use Uber and Careem ridesharing apps but fares are more expensive that taxis. For those that prefer public transportation, there is no metro rail in Abu Dhabi but the city is well connected by bus.
If you want to avoid figuring out how to get around you can also sign up for a Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off tour.
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi
There are two main areas to stay in Abu Dhabi with the most accomodation options.
Corniche: This is the liveliest and most happening area to stay in and is in close proximity to most attractions. You will find a large range of accomodation from from luxury beach resorts to budget stays.
- Emirates Palace: If you are looking for a luxury hotel, this iconic but pricey hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Abu Dhabi. Many of the suites are furnished in gold and marble and you can even try its famous gold cappuccino sprinkled in real 24 carat gold flakes. Amenities include a private beach, pools (one for adults and one for children), fitness center, spa, tennis court, free wi-fi, and more. Click here to see latest prices and click here to read reviews.
- Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers (formerly Jumeirah at Etihad Towers): Although a 5 star hotel, this is a more affordable option and gets great reviews. Amenities include free wi-fi, infinity pool and free parking. Guests also get free admission to the Observation Deck at 300. Click here to see latest prices and click here to read reviews and click here to see latest prices.
- InterContinental Abu Dhabi, an IHG Hotel: This is a midprice option for those that want to be in the Corniche Area. In addition to swimming pools guests have access to a private beach. Click here to see latest prices and click here to read reviews.
Yas Island: This is a convenient area for those that want to be close to the Yas Island attractions. Here are the top hotels in Yas Island:
- W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island (formerly Yas Viceroy). W Abu Dhabi has a great location near Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld and offers views of the racetrack for those that want to see the Grand Prix. Amenities included free wi-fi, pool, spa and free parking. Click here to see latest prices and click here to read reviews.
- Centro Yas Island Abu Dhabi by Rotana. One of the more affordable options in Yas Island this is a good value hotel with a pool, free-wifi and free parking. Click here to see latest prices and click here to read reviews.
Have you visited Abu Dhabi? If so what would you recommend first time visitors see and do if they only have three days in Abu Dhabi?