The United Arab Emirates is one of many tourist locations that provides a diverse range of attractions. Once you arrive in the UAE, you will feel as if you have entered another universe.
While Dubai is the most well-known of the seven emirates for its variety, the UAE’s capital city should not be overlooked. There are really some magnificent and eye-catching places to visit in Abu Dhabi. It is not just the UAE’s capital, but also a culturally and historically significant city.
It is the second-most populated metropolis and the largest city when compared with the other six emirates. Abu Dhabi is also home to a variety of attractions ranging from mosques to amusement parks.
Apart from that, the nicest thing about Abu Dhabi is that it offers a variety of free activities. This is just one of the numerous reasons why choosing Abu Dhabi over Dubai is so unique and special.
When we want to get the most out of a place, our wallets may not be able to support us every time. So what you should do next? Start browsing for exciting free activities to do every now and then.
Following are some of the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi for free.
This mosque was constructed at the request of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan between 1996 and 2007, is by far the most popular of Abu Dhabi’s attractions, and it’s easy to see why.
This mosque, which has 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, and a white and gold exterior, is one of the world’s biggest mosques. In addition, this is one of just two mosques in the UAE that welcome non-Muslim visitors.
This implies that people from all around the world are welcome to experience this attraction for free.
Admission is free every day of the week and during such days, walk-in tours are available at various times. The mosque is located close to the three bridges that connect Abu Dhabi to the rest of the UAE.
Emirates Palace, like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, is the benchmark for luxury accommodation in Abu Dhabi. This enormous resort claims to provide “beyond 5-star luxury” to its guests, who include royals and dignitaries.
However, you do not need to be a guest to see what all the hype is about. You are invited to visit the palace at any time of day for no charge. But if they are entertaining official delegations, access may be restricted. You are also welcome to stay in Emirates Palace, although, you can expect to pay a high price.
This palace is also one of the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi, occupying approximately 250 acres of shoreline along the Corniche and stretching more than half a mile from wing to wing.
More than 100 domes adorn the structure’s interiors, which are decorated with gold and crystals. More than 1,000 chandeliers and exquisite hand-knotted carpets contribute to the luxury of the inside, while palm trees, verdant gardens, and bubbling fountains provide an oasis feel outside the hotel.
There are many places to visit in Abu Dhabi like museums, palaces, malls, oases and much more. But what about forts?
Built-in the late 1800s, Al Jahili is Al Ain’s largest mud-brick structure, and it has recently been renovated for public viewing. It was built as the headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, a force responsible for safeguarding the region’s palm trees and maintaining peace among the many tribes who originally inhabited the area.
The fort’s battlements and watchtowers, which encircle a wide courtyard that frequently serves as a background for outdoor performances, remain open to visitors today.
Al Jahili Fort is open to the public on all days except Monday and admission to the fort is free of cost.
When the sweltering Arabian heat gets to you, head to the Al Ain Oasis for some relief. It spans about 3,000 acres in downtown Al Ain and is best renowned for its nearly 150,000 date palms. These tall trees are part of plantations that continue to feed the famous regional snack to Abu Dhabi.
In the meanwhile, you’ll get to see how the traditional irrigation technique known as “falaj” is still utilised to irrigate different types (mango, orange, banana, and fig) of trees. Also, keep an eye out for the ruins of an old mosque and fortress as you go about.
Recent tourists regard the oasis as a pleasant area to visit, while some complain that finding your way can be difficult. It is located next to the Palace Museum.
It is free of cost and is open to tourists at all hours of the day and night. Almost every bus route in Al Ain makes a stop at one of the Oasis’ eight entrances.
This museum is located on the western end of the Al Ain Oasis and gives tourists an insight into the life of the UAE’s founder and first president. Built-in 1910, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his family lived here when he was the ruler.
As they roam through the palace’s courtyards, gardens, and sleeping chambers, visitors may discover more about the “Father of the Nation.” You’ll also get a look inside the conference rooms where Sheikh Zayed had meetings with dignitaries and other visitors.
If you are in Al Ain then Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum is worth visiting. It is open all week with specific timings and is free of charge. Some visitors who have been to the palace say that it takes around an hour if there is no tour guide with you.
Heritage Village is one of the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi if you are interested in its history. It is located across the Dhow Harbour from the Corniche, which is a recreation of the old fishing village that formerly stood here.
You’ll go through Bedouin tents and wooden huts holding workshops where you can observe weaving and metal-working demonstrations while viewing this living museum.
There is also a restaurant on site, as well as several shops selling local crafts and spices. According to some visitors, it will take around 1 or 2 hours to tour the whole village. It is open to all the tourists every day and the admission is free of cost.
Traditional marketplaces and high-end megamalls abound in this affluent country, with the Marina Mall being one of Abu Dhabi’s most popular shopping destinations.
This massive retail complex, located in Heritage Village on the Breakwater in Abu Dhabi’s southwest corner, houses more than 400 stores, as well as a bowling alley, a movie theatre, an ice rink, and an amusement centre with arcade games and rides.
There are also a number of restaurants and cafés, as well as a large food court. The Marina Mall is open all week with specific timings of each day. However, individual stores, restaurants, and attractions inside the mall may have various hours of operation.
You don’t have to pay to enter the mall, but it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand in case something catches your eye. There are taxis and public buses available that can take you to the mall.
The Corniche is the horizontal portion of Abu Dhabi’s “T” shaped city. This is one of the most fun and enjoyable places to visit in Abu Dhabi while you are there. It also has a variety of popular hotels, restaurants and stores.
The Corniche, according to recent visitors, provides panoramic views of the Persian Gulf and the city skyline. There are also a number of rental places where you may get a set of wheels. Around five stations can be found along the Corniche where you may rent a bike for 30 AED per hour.
However, most visitors come to the Corniche to take advantage of its proximity to the city’s beaches. Corniche Beach offers a family-friendly ambience with volleyball nets, free concerts, ice cream stores, and much more.
Meanwhile, the city has recently established a public beach closer to the Corniche’s northern end, known as the Western Extension, which is available to the public and includes water sports areas (free of cost).
The Corniche is open at all hours of the day and night, while the beaches are only open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. You will also find lifeguards there but be mindful that during Ramadan, there are normally fewer guards on duty.
It is the highest peak in the emirate and the second-tallest mountain in the country, rising more than 4,000 feet out of the desert. It is on the border of UAE and Oman and about 15 miles south of Al Ain.
Jebel Hafeet has played an important part in Emirati history. Archaeologists have discovered more than 500 ancient burial sites in the Jebel Hafeet foothills, in addition to many famous fossil finds.
However, most visitors don’t come to this mountain for the history but because of the routes. Jebel Hafeet has one of the greatest driving routes in the world, according to many road trip fans.
The road winds up through the limestone of the mountain to the peak, where you’ll find the Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet hotel and stunning views of Al Ain and Oman. Moreover, many recent visitors suggest driving late in the day to catch a sunset from the peak.
Consider stopping in the Al Ain Camel Souk, located southeast of Jebel Hafeet near the Oman border in Meyzad, if you have some additional time after your journey to Jebel Hafeet.
This vibrant market is the UAE’s last traditional camel market. You can also get up close and personal with the famed “ships of the desert” and experience the camel trade as it has been for decades.
Those who have gone said they had a good time, while other people report the locals have been known to demand money in exchange for images of the camels. Also, it is recommended by visitors to dress modestly for both men and women.
Both Jebel Hafeet and the Camel Souk are located south of Al Ain on the emirate’s eastern border. You will need a car to get to both of them.
There will be signs directing you to the mountain route. You may drive to the peak of Jebel Hafeet at any time of day or night for free. You also won’t have to pay to tour the Camel Souk.
However, hours of operation vary based on the day and season, but you will experience a crowded scene if you are visiting early in the morning.
The actual meaning of its name, ‘oasis of dignity,’ is a perpetual homage to the slain troops of the United Arab Emirates. This monument is a great place to reflect on the courageous warriors who lost their lives, as it remembers all of them.
Wahat Al Karama is situated between the world-renowned Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the UAE Armed Forces Headquarters.
It consists of three structures:
The names of all the heroic combatants who gave their lives to safeguard the Arabs’ pride are engraved on the pavilion of honour.
The Etihad Modern Art Gallery, a vibrant but multi-functional art facility in the heart of Abu Dhabi, will melt your heart with its exclusive collection of modern art.
From the historical artworks of local painters on the walls to the galleries presenting great modern art by world-renowned artists, there is something for everyone here.
Keep an eye on the exhibitions schedule, as it features a number of contemporary art events where you may meet and view the work of various artists.
It is located on Al Huwelat Street and the entrance is free of cost. Its timings are from 10 am to 10 pm from Monday to Sunday (excluding only Friday).
If you’re in Abu Dhabi, don’t miss out on these experiences. The above are only a few of the many free activities available in Abu Dhabi. Once you’ve arrived in this lovely city, there are plenty of interesting things to see and do.