Whether you’re in Abu Dhabi on a one-day stopover or you have a day to spare, there are loads of cool things you can see and do. Abu Dhabi has the cultural richness that seems to be disappearing from Dubai. People still follow the old ways here, in this history-rich capital city of the UAE. Visit Abu Dhabi and learn how well old traditions can co-exist with modern sensibilities.
Abu Dhabi Skyline
Culture in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s culture is a combination of international influences and Arabia’s Islamic traditions. Islam governs the way people live here, including what they wear, eat, and drink. There’s a great tolerance of other cultures, and visitors are always hospitably received. Here are a few cultural guidelines to follow while you’re in Abu Dhabi:– Avoid bare shoulders, bare backs and short skirts.– Alcohol is allowed, but only in private nightclubs and bars.– Drinking and driving is a punishable offence, even if you’ve had only a tiny sip.– Public displays of affection are not allowed.– Always check before you photograph important buildings.
The culture of Abu Dhabi’s residents–
Muslims have to pray five times a day, every time when the call to prayer goes up.– Abu Dhabi promotes cultural and sporting events, such as camel racing, falconry, and dhow sailing.– Men wear the kandura, a full-length robe in white along with a white or red checkered headdress, known as a ghutra.– Important businessmen and sheikhs wear gold-trimmed robes during important events.– Women wear long and loose black abayas and cover their heads with a headscarf called sheyla.
One Day in Abu Dhabi Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Abu Dhabi.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a spectacular concoction made of glittering white marble, with dozens of fabulous domes and minarets. There are a million sparkling gold-plated chandeliers as well, reflecting golden light around the mosque. Plus, you get to see the world’s largest carpet. Note that the dress code is strictly enforced here; women are expected to cover their heads and wear the black abaya. Men should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, Author: Kyle Taylor, Source: Flickr
If you long for some nice panoramic views of Abu Dhabi, get to Etihad Towers, which are located across the street from the Emirates Palace Hotel. Be sure to enjoy “a lunch with a 360-degree view of Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf” at Ray’s Grill, a restaurant on the 63rd floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.
Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi
Just off of the Abu Dhabi Corniche and in front of the exquisite Emirates Palace is the magnificent Palace Marina. The marina gives access to deep waters, which is why the rich sheikhs berth their super-expensive 100-foot yachts here. Take a yellow boat ride along the Abu Dhabi coast and enjoy the coastline and the amazing yachts lined up in front of you.
Want a taste of pure luxury, Abu Dhabi style? Head out to the Emirates Palace Hotel and stroll the lobby and the public rooms. Get a look at the fancy super-expensive cars lined out in front – Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royce’s. The Emirates Palace even has an ATM plated with gold inside!
Emirates Palace Hotel
Ferrari World is just the thrill your heart desires, if you’re a Formula 1 fan. Get on the world’s fastest roller-coaster within the Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor amusement park. The park closes by 8 p.m., so get there early to enjoy looking at several Ferraris screaming down the F1 racing lanes.
Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
Want to get a feel of what Abu Dhabi was like before the oil boom? Get to the Heritage Village and observe how the tents are laid out. Watch local craftspeople peddle their craft. Observe the old-style buildings, explore the old souqs and discover Islamic traditions afresh.
Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi
The Corniche is Abu Dhabi’s signature waterfront boardwalk. It’s fun to walk along, looking at the city’s amazing skyline and famous landmarks. You’ll pass the Emirates Palace, the Manarat Al Saadiyat (arts and culture hub) and several other notable architectural wonders.
Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi, Author: Guilhem Vellut, Source: Flickr
If you want to shop for carpets, perfumes, spices or gold, head out to the Iranian Souq. This is a traditional Arab-style market which offers amazing value for money. You can bargain here, but keep an eye out for cheats. The souq is a collection of stalls, hot and humid and filled with the smell of glorious spices.
Qasr Al-Hosn Palace and Fort was the very first structure built in Abu Dhabi and the home to emirate’s ruling Al Nahyan family in the 1760s. Made of coral and sea stone, the Qasr al Hosn was once a commanding watchtower. The shells used in the walls break the sunlight into a myriad of colors – it’s a lovely sight.
Don’t forget to sign up for a wonderful safari in Abu Dhabi’s red sands desert! If you time it well, you can visit the desert in the evening, towards sunset. Watching the desert sunset will be the highlight of your trip. Enjoy all the desert sports you can – dune bashing, dune driving, sand boarding, camel riding and more.
Desert Safari, Abu Dhabi, Author: Kyle Taylor, Source: Flickr
– If you plan properly, you can take in all of the listed sights in Abu Dhabi in just one day and get back to your hotel or to the airport by nightfall. Abu Dhabi has much more to reveal than we can fit into this article, so be sure to do your homework and research the places you want to visit. Make the best of your visit to Abu Dhabi.
by Hadley Mendelsohn
We are officially in the dog days of summer, which means that we are basically puddles on legs. And though we may find ourselves melting into subway seats already slippery with another commuter’s sweat, our minds are away at sea. Since we’d so rather channel our inner mermaids in enchantings bodies of water (though we’d settle for being human in any body of water, really), we made ourselves comfortable by an AC unit and took a deep dive to discover beautiful places with the clearest water in the world.
From Malta to the Maldives, consider this travel bucket list of beguiling waters a curated siren song—if the siren was of the friendly variety, calling you to a destination that lives up to its breathtaking facade. If you want to hop aboard our mental vacation, or you want to plan an actual vacation, keep scrolling for 10 places with mesmerizing crystal-clear water. Ready to float away? Breezier locales with aquatic delights ahead.
Okay, wow. We would do pretty much anything if it meant diving through the computer screen to land in these tranquil waters. Located between Madagascar and Kenya, this string of islands is a real-life paradise. And though we came for the water, we’d stay for those otherworldly rocks.
More Places to Water Gaze: Busuanga Island, Philippines
Deep, moody greens punctured by vivid turquoise hues, bright sunlight, and jagged white rocks—we can’t think of a more blissful spot to be. Though Malta boasts a relaxed island pace, there’s also so much to do and see. The three islands, from biggest to smallest are Malta, Gozo, and Comino (go here to swim in the blue lagoon).
More Places to Water Gaze: Oludeniz, Turkey
In Lombok, Indonesia, pristine white sand beaches line the coast of this breathtaking island. Prepare for the best snorkeling expedition of your life. Though there’s much to do here, like exploring volcanoes and ancient ruins, we imagine it’d be pretty hard to leave this strip of sprawling pristine white sand that looks out onto the crystal-clear Indian Ocean.
More Places to Water Gaze: Koh Sumai, Thailand
Though Pakleni Islands translates directly to “Hell’s Islands,” we have no idea why. Maybe they were going for irony. When you aren’t frolicking in the dreamy water, you can explore the wooded forests and sleepy lagoons or go hang out in the bustling town centers.
More Places to Water Gaze: Porquerolles, France
For lakes, lakes, lakes and more lakes, head for a camping trip in British Colombia, Canada. After a challenging hike, cool off in the fresh springs and then fall asleep under the stars in the crisp mountain air.
More Places to Water Gaze: Laghi di Fusine, Italy
Blue on blue on blue. If we told you to close your eyes and imagine the most picturesque honeymoon retreat, you’d probably think of those over-the-water huts and the underwater realm of dazzling coral reefs at Madiavaru, Finolhu in the Maldives.
More Places to Water Gaze: Sua Trench, Samoa
No matter what time of year you visit Lake Tahoe and how many times you go, the beauty of the crystal-clear lake, mountains, and fresh air is always astounding. Hit the slopes in the winter for powder skiing and partake in water sports during the summer. Or go hiking and rock climbing if you’re more of a land person.
More Places to Water Gaze: Blue Lake, New Zealand
Climb along the rocky terrain and find yourself a private little corner of Mallorca to swim in. Get off the beaten path for quieter beaches or head to the bustling parts of the island for more lively, exciting beach vibes. When you have turned into a prune, head inland to the cobblestone street canopied in bright botanicals.
More Places to Water Gaze: Algarve, Portugal
This small island (it’s 3.5 miles long and just 1.5 miles wide) is painted in pastel buildings and golf carts, whimsical pale pink sand beaches, and lovely shades of topaz in every direction. So if you have a thing for color, this is where you should vacation next.
More Places to Water Gaze: San Blas, Panama
The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete is a sight to see. With cascading white mountains and fine sand beaches all around, there’s nothing not to love. Oh, and it’s the birthplace of Zeus.
More Places to Water Gaze: Paphos, Cyprus
By Lyndsey Matthews
Trains are one of the best ways to get around in the summer months, especially if you’re looking for a way to slow down and take it all in. But beyond skipping the road-trip traffic jams and long TSA lines, these scenic train rides also provide access to some of the world’s most beautiful views—often in places where cars can’t go. So, whether you’d like to ride the rails along Japan’s coastline or high up into the Canadian Rockies, here are our favorite trains around the world to take this summer.
© Photo by Chantal de Bruijne / Shutterstock.com
Route: Vancouver to Jasper or Banff, Canada
Starting in Vancouver, British Columbia, the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer offers multiple routes through the Canadian Rockies—and western Canada’s most spectacular scenery. The most popular one is The First Passage to the West, which takes passengers east to Kamloops up to Lake Louise and over to Banff, or you can go north to Jasper from Kamloops on the Journey Through the Clouds passage. To travel even farther north, the Rainforest to Gold Rush route takes passengers up through Whistler and into gold rush country in Quesnel before ending the train ride in Jasper. All packages include seats in a panoramic dome car and range from trips as short as two days to multi-week journeys with longer layovers in national parks along the way.
Book Now: From $1,247 all-inclusive, rockymountaineer.com
© Photo by Shutterstock
Route: Flam to Myrdal, NorwayAfter boarding this train at sea level near the Sognefjord in the village of Flam in southwest Norway, you’ll climb more than 2,800 feet in an hour to the Myrdal station in the mountains. Along the way, you’ll pass by numerous waterfalls and mountain towns and through a total of 20 tunnels. In the summer, trains depart 10 times per day from each station and tickets are sold for round-trip journeys (but keep in mind that the Myrdal station also connects to the Bergen-Oslo train line, if you’d like to continue to one of those cities).
Book Now: From NOK440 (US$50) round-trip, visitflam.com
© Photo by Shutterstock
The Gono Line
Route: Aomori to Akita, JapanThe JR East Japan’s Gono Line is a local railway that runs along the northwestern coast of Japan’s main island with views of the Sea of Japan on one side and the forested mountains of the Shirakami-Sanchi UNESCO World Heritage site on the other. Be sure to take one of the popular Resort Shirakami tourist trains that have snack bars and live music performances on board to go along with the striking views. The entire journey takes a little over five hours, but it includes short stops for sightseeing along the way.
Book Now: $182 for a five-day pass, eastjapanrail.com
© Photo by Shutterstock
White Pass and Yukon Railroad
Route: Skagway, Alaska to Carcross, Yukon
Construction on this narrow gauge railway started in 1898 to take ore from the mines beyond the summit of White Pass down to sea level in Skagway during the Klondike Gold Rush. Reopened in 1988 as a tourist train, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad operates shorter excursions today up to the summit as well as eight-hour day trips that go all the way over the border to Carcross in Yukon, Canada (remember to bring your passport!). Trains run from late spring until early fall, but summer is when the area’s natural beauty is at its best and the days are the longest.
Book Now: From $129 round-trip, wpyr.com
© Photo by Shutterstock
Route: Fort William to Mallaig, Scotland
You may recognize it as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies, but the Jacobite has been operating in the Scottish highlands long before J.K. Rowling wrote the books. After closing for winter, the Jacobite runs this year from April 22 until October 25, 2019. While this train ride is beautiful in the fall, too, summer is when the surrounding Highland hills along the route turn bright green and there’s an extra afternoon service added.
Book Now: From £37.75 (US$48) round-trip, westcoastrailways.co.uk
© Photo by Shutterstock
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Route: Durango to Silverton, Colorado
Completed in 1882, this historic train was originally built to bring gold and silver out of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. But passengers were quick to catch on to the beautiful views the train offered—views that remain unaccessible by cars today. Now solely a tourist train, vintage steam locomotives operate on the tracks year round, but they only take the full round-trip journey to the mining town of Silverton from Durango between May and October, making summer the best time to visit.
Book Now: From $94 round-trip, durangotrain.com
© Photo by Shutterstock
Schynige Platte Railway
Route: Wilderswil to Schynige Platte, Switzerland
Snow lasts late into the season in the Swiss Alps, so this train that takes travelers from the town of Wilderswil near Interlaken up to the Schynige Platte viewpoint only operates from June 8 to October 27, 2019. After the 52-minute train ride up the mountain is complete, you can explore the nearly 700 native plant species in the Botanical Alpine Garden while enjoying views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains. (Eurail pass holders are eligible to receive discounts on this railway.)
Book Now: From $85 round-trip, raileurope.com