So, do you think that checking out the best sights in Abu Dhabi is going to cost you a great deal? Wondering how to enjoy the city’s delights on a budget? Well, we’re here to tell you that only are the very best attractions utterly free, but that each of these free attractions is mind-blowingly attractive. Don’t believe us? Check out our top 5 attractions in Abu Dhabi that are totally free for you to enjoy for as long as you want.
1. Liwa Forts
The historic home of the ruling Nahyan family, Liwa Oasis is a beautifully cultivated date palm farm, on the very edge of the most impressive desert in the UAE. The dunes are simply huge here. Liwa is a great place to learn about Bedouin culture. The tallest dune in the UAE, the Moreeb or Tal Mireb dune is just a little distance away from the Bedouin settlements.
The Liwa tribes back in the day built forts out of mud bricks to protect their families. These forts are about 300 years old, and offer a great glimpse into the traditional building style of Bedouins in the old days. All in all, a trip to the Liwa Oasis will refresh you, body mind and soul, and give you much to think about.
2. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a soul-stirring monument to UAE’s founding President Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose resting place it is. The mosque cost Dhs. 2.5 billion to build, completely out of white Macedonian marble with a fabulous central courtyard that features 1,048 marble columns. Each column is decorated with marble panels, 20,000 in all, inlaid with red agate, amethyst, lapis lazuli, mother of pearl and bits of abalone shell. There are four minarets, each 107 metres tall.
The reflective pools around the mosque reflect the mosque’s grandeur faithfully, expanding the mosque’s profile. The mosque also has 82 domes that shine with a gilded translucence when the sun’s rays hit them. The flooring is made of coloured floral marble and mosaics. The coup de et is the magnificent chandelier in the main prayer hall, which is considered the world’s largest. Every chandelier is gilded with 24 carat gold in the mosque. The entire mosque occupies the size of five football fields and can accommodate 40,960 worshippers at any given point in time.
Take a tour to Abu Dhabi to check out the magnificence of the Sheikh Zayed Museum for yourself.
3. The Abu Dhabi Corniche
Consider this – 8 blissful kilometres of manicured waterfront to walk on, with the splendid view of sugar-sand Corniche Beach and the azure blue sea on one side and fabulous examples of architecture on the other. The Corniche has everything a community needs – children’s play areas, cafés, restaurants, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways.
The Corniche Beach is a lifeguarded beach park where kids can swim freely. You can rent all beach amenities here – beach umbrellas, towels and more. There are floating fences within 40 metres of the beach to ensure swimmers’ safety. It’s not for nothing that Abu Dhabi’s Corniche beachfront was awarded the much-coveted internationally renowned label for beaches and marinas – the Blue Flag status. This status indicates that the water is clean and safe for bathing.
The Corniche sees about 30,000 to 50,000 visitors each month; there are over 1,100 free parking spaces just a few minutes away from the beach as well. The best way to enjoy the length of the Corniche is via bicycle. Visit Abu Dhabi and stroll on the Corniche – it’s the place to see and to be seen.
4. Manarat Al Saadiyat
Manarat Al Saadiyat literally means ‘the place of enlightenment’. The Saadiyat Island is Abu Dhabi’s cultural nerve centre. Abu Dhabi’s art and culture centre has multiple gallery spaces where you can study famous collections from local and international artists. Regular exhibitions are hosted at Manarat Al Saadiyat, with globally sourced collections.
Visitors develop an awareness of the wide range of art and culture on offer at Abu Dhabi. While three galleries are dedicated to art, the fourth gallery offers an interactive experience of Saadiyat Island’s history and culture and how the island contributed to Abu Dhabi’s vision.
Manarat Al Saadiyat also features a central events space, a sales centre and acclaimed dining venue, the Fanr restaurant that can seat 250 diners al fresco in the courtyard or within the restaurant itself. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has recently opened its doors on the Saadiyat Island; do take a moment to appreciate the building’s rich architecture and also the upcoming Guggenheim Museum next door.
5. Al Ain
Al Ain is an oasis paradise that has been farmed for the last 3,000 years. It is one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a very popular tourist attraction. The 3000 acres of this cool paradise is a blissful spot in hot Abu Dhabi, a place where you can rest and enjoy the magnificent sights. Al Ain has its share of date farms even today; you can explore them and observe how dates are farmed.
A variety of dates is grown here and you can taste them and tell the difference. You can even purchase dates freshly farmed from the palm trees. An ancient irrigation system called a ‘falaj’ is the reason behind the cool, shady gardens. Observe how the falaj supplies fresh water to all 3000 acres of the farm.
Visit Al Ain in the mornings – it’s just an hour and half’s drive from Dubai. Al Ain contains many picturesque forts, such as the Al Jahili Fort, built in 1891 and the Al Qattara Fort which is now an arts centre and gallery. One of the best Abu Dhabi travel tips we can give you is to use your trip to study how these forts were built and what sort of fortifications were necessary to guard one’s family in those days.
Another of the UAE’s popular and unique attractions is the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, where you can relive the way things were before oil was found in the UAE. Here you’ll find people living in old Bedouin tents, wearing traditional robes and using traditional implements and structures such as the old wind tower.