24 hours in Abu Dhabi

24 hours in Abu Dhabi

Roughly halfway along the 700-kilometre Persian Gulf coastline of the United Arab Emirates, you’ll find its capital city, Abu Dhabi, which shares its name with the Emirate in which it is located. Archaeological evidence indicates that human settlement on this site dates back to at least the third millennium BC, but the city itself has moved far beyond its roots of herding, fishing and pearl diving.

Now, with a thriving petroleum-driven economy, it’s pushing back the desert to create space for its 1.5 million inhabitants, and its constantly-changing skyline rivals any other 21st century city. Its location makes Abu Dhabi an ideal stopover for Europe-bound travellers and we recommend spending at least 24 hours in this fascinating destination: your visit might look like this.

9am: Start your day with a ride on the open-top, hop-on, hop-off Big Bus. It’s a great way to get your bearings, and your ticket includes numerous freebies – more on those later. They actually operate two different loops but if you’re short on time, we recommend the City Tour (red route) as it stops at main attractions within the city.

11am: If you start your Big Bus Tour at the Corniche end of the loop, you can hop off roughly halfway round at the jaw-dropping Sheikh Zayed Mosque. This beautiful marriage of art, culture and religion was completed in 2007 and its 82 gold-tipped white domes, intricately decorated interiors and 65,000 square foot, handmade.

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