Abu Dhabi's best nightlife

We've scoured the capital to find the best parties, clubs, DJs, gigs and more. But who will be crowned as the best of the best at our Music and Nightlife Awards? Discuss this article

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You don’t need us to tell you that the nightlife scene in the UAE’s capital is one of the best in the region. From the massive gigs that run every year alongside the F1 (by far the best of any racing city) to the constant stream of huge international DJs, and a collection of ladies’ nights that far outdoes Dubai’s, there’s something happening every night of the week.

It’s because of this that 2017 has been the toughest shortlist we have ever had to put together. We have spent an entire year dedicatedly reviewing concerts, DJ sets, club nights and more, all to try and narrow them down to the best of the best, of the best.

So, Abu Dhabi, do us a favour by putting all our hard work to use. Get on your dancing shoes and head to these 81 nights out.

You know you want to.

Best Live Music Venue

In the basement of one of the city’s oldest hotels, this down-to-earth pub is a lively spot thanks to daily deals and the excellent music from one of Abu Dhabi’s best-loved house bands, The International Playboys.
Open daily noon-4am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi (02 616 6132).

Jazz Bar & Dining
This intimate venue has an excellent menu of bar snacks, and a fantastic, soulful live band, DNA. Simple, sleek and cosy.
Open Sun-Wed 7pm-2am, Thu-Fri 7pm-3am. Hilton Abu Dhabi (02 692 4247).

The funky house band, Uptown, are one of the main reasons that a night spent here is so excellent. The atmosphere is lively, and the perfectly crisp pizzas don’t hurt, either.
Open Sun-Sat 11.30am-1am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 444 7752).

Jazz N’ Fizz
Despite this bar’s name, its range of music is much wider, going from jazz to Arabic and acoustic. There are plenty of deals on every night of the week, too, so a night here is as affordable as it is enjoyable.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche (02 813 7777).

McGettigan’s AUH
McGettigan’s is already one of Abu Dhabi’s favourite pubs, and not least because of the cracking live music it puts on. There’s a guaranteed lively atmosphere any night of the week, especially when the bands are playing.
Open daily noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Channel Street (02 652 4333).

PJ O’Reilly’s Irish Pub
A charming, no-frills Irish pub where you should head to hear house band Sweet Chilli Jam belt out crowd-pleasing rock classics almost every night of the week. A cosy and wallet-friendly place to spend a casual weekday evening.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi (800 101 101).

Porters English Pub
This British pub is a much-loved institution of the city. It’s huge, spread out over several rooms and levels, and when the house band – Beat Elite – is playing, it’s an invariably lively place to spend an evening.
Open Mon-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Sat 3pm-3am, Sun 4pm-2am. Grand Millennium Al Wahda (02 495 3936).

Rock Bottom Café
This place gets packed on weekends when people pour in to hear the live band play crowd-pleasing covers, before dancing away the rest of the night to the live DJ.
Open daily noon-3.30am. Al Diar Capital Hotel (02 678 7700).

The Tavern
Donovan and Lani – the South African duo who play six nights a week down at The Tavern – are primarily a cover band with a repertoire spanning Glenn Miller to Rihanna and everything in between. It’s a casual and cosy spot where you can simply sit back and enjoy the music.
Open Fri-Wed noon-2am, Thu noon-2.30am. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort (02 677 3333).

Trader Vic’s
Trader Vic’s is getting on a bit, but this bright, tiki-themed bar is as loveable as it ever has been, and its spirited Cuban band is without doubt one of the best things about it.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi (02 304 8086).

Best Lounge Bar

Asia de Cuba
Chic and modern, indoors at Asia de Cuba is the perfect place to cool off while still enjoying Latin music and some party vibes. Outside, the terrace offers a beachy atmosphere that manages to transport you out of the city. No wonder it’s popular.
Open daily noon-2am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers (02 699 3333).

Barfly by Buddha-Bar

Cosy up in style at the glass mosaic bar and chill to great tunes surrounded by décor in colours that make us happy. The food is on point, and there’s nearly always a crowd.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu 6pm-3am, Fri 12.30pm-2am. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 404 1951).

The lounge might be the least talked about of the triple concept, which also includes the terrace and restaurant, but it’s not to be overlooked. It’s a suave little night-time gem with excellent mixed drinks.
Open Sat-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu-Fri 6pm-3am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

Caramel Restaurant & Lounge
In caramel tones and with cuboid lighting features, this place has a distinct interior. For such a stylish spot, it’s not always as busy as it should be, though that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting.
Open Sat-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu-Fri 6pm-3am. The Collection, Saadiyat Island (02 678 3344).

Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
Sleek modernity is juxtaposed with old-world opulence at this small bar, but it’s perfect for cosy drinks, whether you’re dining at the restaurant or not.
Open daily 3pm-1.30am. Emirates Palace Hotel (02 690 7999).

Iris Yas Island
This is the place for bright young revellers to hang out. Perch at the indoor lounge bar and practise your selfie poses, and definitely dress to impress.
Open daily 6m-3am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (055 160 5636).

Li Jiang
Sociable high-set seating makes this South-East Asian a good spot for a giggle, and they serve some great finger food.
Open daily, 4pm-1am. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 818 8282).

Skylite Rooftop Lounge
A high-end bar with low-key vibes set in an architecturally-unique roof canopy.
Open daily 6pm-2am. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (02 656 0600).

There’s little not to love about these dramatic copper and teal surroundings. Indian-inspired and individual, it also offers some very creative mixed beverages.
Open Sun-Wed noon-1am; Thu-Sat noon-2am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Mall (02 672 8888).

Zuma Abu Dhabi
Everyone already loves the restaurant, yet the chic, casual bar is also a venue in itself not to be missed.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Best Outdoor Nightspot

Asia de Cuba

One of the most stunning beachside settings in the capital, Asia de Cuba’s outdoor deck stretches right down to the sand. Modern, whimsical décor, intimate little cabanas set down on the beach and toe-tapping Latin music mean this spot makes our list.
Open daily noon-2am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers (02 699 3333).

We love the mellow vibe of this loungey outdoor space where you can recline on comfy cushions and, every Thursday, chill out at the Reggae Sundowner sessions. Every other evening, it’s the kind of place to enjoy a quiet, relaxing al fresco evening.
Open daily 9am-midnight. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort (02 677 3333).

Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
The Balearic island import delivers international DJs weekend after weekend. Fridays offer huge party vibes, while the Saturday brunches are a more laid-back affair. Whether you want to dance until 3am or just laze on a sunlounger to house beats, Blue Marlin usually does the trick.
Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel & Resort (056 113 3400).

The expansive outdoor area of this sleek lounge is ideal at any time of day or night. It may not have panoramic views, but the trendy courtyard area is surrounded by twinkling towers. It has a sophisticated, modern garden setting with an eclectic mixed beverage menu to boot.
Open Sun-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. The Hub, The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

The downstairs restaurant is known for its impeccable seafood menu, but the rooftop terrace is not somewhere to be overlooked. It offers brilliant sea views and an awesome soundtrack of house beats from resident DJs Marridessi and Cristiana.
Open daily noon-1am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Nation Towers (02 611 0909).

Iris Yas Island
Almost anything that comes out of Beirut’s trendy nightlife scene is bound to be a hit, and Iris has been unwaveringly popular since it arrived at Yas Marina. Its outdoor terrace has stunning views, and it keeps things fresh with international DJs and themed nights, like the new Bring It All Back ladies’ night.
Open daily 6pm-3am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (055 160 5636).


Sweeping city views in all directions come with a party atmosphere at this rooftop lounge bar. Prices aren’t too steep, and the dance floor gets packed at weekends. Combined with some of the best views of any bar around, what more do you need?
Open Sat-Wed 5pm-2am, Thu-Fri 5pm-3am. Aloft Abu Dhabi (02 654 5138).

Skylite Rooftop Lounge
The glowing, caged roof of the iconic Yas Viceroy hotel conceals a slick, sophisticated lounge where you can settle into a cosy booth or hang out by the bar. It’s far more laid-back than its five-star hotel location would suggest, too. Perfect for a chilled-out al fresco evening.
Open daily 8pm-2am. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (02 656 0000).


The dramatic setting of Tamba continues outside, where you can sink into plush lounge seats surrounded by glowing lanterns, making it a stunning spot for sunset drinks.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, Thu-Fri noon-2am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).

Yas Beach
This beachside spot has sea views and beachy breezes aplenty, while a DJ booth keeps the party going into the night. Underground EDM night Boogie Box just started running their events here, too.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri 10am-9pm. Yas Island (056 242 0435).

Pub of the Year

Belgian Café, InterContinental Abu Dhabi
The original Belgian Café in the capital is still holding its own thanks to authentic hops on tap, national dishes and regular theme nights.
Open Sun-Tue 4pm-1am, Wed-Sat 4pm-2am. InterContinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud St (02 666 6888).

Belgian Café, Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi, Yas Island
Step back in time at this 1920s-inspired café, which serves up a slice of Belgium through its extensive menu and wide selection of native hops.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island (02 656 2407).

Enjoy the best Bavarian food and drink in Abu Dhabi at this warm and welcoming spot offering German gastronomy alongside a large and hearty choice of hops.
Open daily noon-1am. Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi (02 697 9000).

Captain’s Arms
This traditional tavern has been serving up a taste of England for nearly 20 years, with customers happy to savour the lively atmosphere, both indoors and outside in the pleasant village garden.
Open Sat-Wed noon-1am, noon-3am, Le Méridien Abu Dhabi, Tourist Club Area (02 644 0348).


With plenty of good pub food and screens to watch sport, plus live DJ sets and a marathon 12-hour happy hour every day, Cooper’s has long been a favourite capital haunt.
Open daily noon-2.30am. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi (02 657 3333).

Plot a course for this popular pub, featuring an array of international bites and drinks, plus a dedicated menu for the kids, served up in a laid-back and friendly setting.
Open Sun-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Sat noon-2am. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 681 1900).

McGettigan’s AUH
This Emerald Isle-inspired watering-hole is great for a catch-up with friends while watching the sporting action unfold on a number of screens.
Open daily noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel (02 652 4333).

PJ O’Reilly’s Irish pub
A great place to unwind any day of the week, PJs offers up plenty of “craic”, including regular live music from a house band.
Open Sat-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (800 101 101).

Porters English Pub
This buzzing two-level pub provides a host of Brit-style bites, a regular quiz and live music from a resident band, plus some generous happy hour offerings.
Open Sun-Wed 4pm-2am, Thu-Sat 3pm-3am. Grand Millennium Al Wahda (02 495 3936).

The Sportsman’s Arms
Nestled in the International Tennis Centre, it’s no surprise this Boston-inspired venue serves up plenty of live sport. An upbeat ambience, hearty meals and craft hops hit the spot.
Open daily 7am-11.30am, noon-2am. Zayed Sports City (02 447 1066).

Bar of the Year

Asia De Cuba
A chic beachfront spot that always delivers an electric atmosphere. Chill out in the cabana-style seating area looking out onto the sands or enjoy the buzz by the island bar.
Open daily noon-2am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, The St.Regis Abu Dhabi, Corniche (02 699 3333).

Barfly by Buddha-Bar
Great by day, this vibrant Venetian Village venue comes alive at night, with wonderful waterside views, a dynamic atmosphere and great live sets from DJs.
Open Sun-Wed 6pm-2am, Thu 6pm-3am, Fri 4pm-3am, Sat 4pm-1am. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi, Al Maqtaa (02 404 1952).

Go on a Latin American adventure at this swanky spot that boasts indoor and outdoor bars, serves imaginative mixed drinks and plays funky lounge beats.
Sun-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 666 8066).

Iris Yas Island
One of the trendiest bars in the city in the busy Yas Marina stretch, Iris is loud and proud with DJs turning up the volume throughout the night to make for a great atmosphere for the classy clientele.
Open daily 6pm-3am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (055 160 5636).

Ray’s Bar
A sleek and sophisticated bar up high on the 62nd floor of the glittering Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. Soak in awesome skyline views while live DJs kick the evening’s entertainment up a notch.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers (02 811 5666).

Stars ’N’ Bars

Inspired by its famous Monte-Carlo counterpart, the nightspot has a colourful American vibe, with retro games, lots of neon and quirky bits of décor — not to mention the regular live music and marina views.
Open daily 11.30am-2am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).

Stills Bar & Brasserie
A classy venue with a downtown Manhattan feel and a cool outdoor area, while the bar is Abu Dhabi’s longest, at an impressive 26 metres.
Open daily 3pm-1am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi – Yas Island (02 656 3061).

Spice up your social plans with a trip to Tamba, where it’s worth staying after dinner to enjoy musical entertainment, plus there’s a well-stocked range of beverages derived from the subcontinent.
Sun-Thu noon-1am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Hub at the Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).

Y Bar
A moodily lit bar with a curved, exposed brick ceiling creates a striking and intimate atmosphere that’s perfect for a casual hangout, rounded off with some good music and a stack of international beverages.
Sat to Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Yas Island Rotana, Abu Dhabi (02 656 4000).

The renowned dining destination isn’t all about the food. Take a spot by the eye-catching wooden bar and tap into the knowledge of the bar staff while listening to chill-out tunes to set the scene for a relaxed but very sophisticated evening out.
Sat-Wed noon-1am, Fri-Sat noon-2am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 401 5900).

Club of the Year

Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
When it comes to international DJs at the decks, from Skream and Eats Everything to Davide Squillance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better club.
Open Fri-Sat 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel & Resort (056 113 3400).

MAD on Yas Island
This amphitheatre-style superclub goes all out with huge LED screens and massive live acts like Tinie Tempah and, more recently, Jason Derulo and Nelly. It’s one of those go-big-or-go-home types of place.
Open Tue and Thu-Fri 11pm-3am. Leisure Drive, Yas Island (055 834 6262).

Rock Bottom Café
If crowd-pleasing sing-along tunes and mainstream house hits are your jam, Rock Bottom is for you. It may not be glam, and you won’t find any velvet-roped VIP areas, but if you want a dance-all-night evening out, you can’t do much better.
Open daily noon-3.30am. Al Diar Capital Hotel (02 678 7700).

Another crowd-pleasing venue, Rush has epic views of the racetrack, a brilliant sound system and a weekly rotation of pumping club nights. R&B and hip-hop dominate most of them, and the venue gets packed out with a fun-loving crowd, especially at its Sugar Rush ladies’ night on a Monday.
Open daily 10.30pm-3.30am. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (055 780 0086).

Sax Lounge & Club
One of the more glamorous clubbing spots in the capital, but you don't need to get dressed up to get in. Its weekly themed nights range from urban to Arabic and beyond, and the atmosphere is nearly always buzzing.
Open Mon and Wed-Sat 11pm-3.30am. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi (02 674 1286).

Best New Nightlife Venue

Butcher & Still

We love the classy Chicago speakeasy vibe, the great views from the terrace and the secret room inspired by Al Capone’s hideout. And that’s before we’ve even got on to the exceptional food and creative beverages served here.
Open daily 4pm-2am. Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island (02 333 2700).

This Peruvian restaurant and lounge lives up to the hype. The décor and music is full of fun, the service is great and the expert bartenders really know their stuff.
Open Mon-Sat 12.30pm-11pm. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 306 7000).

A party destination, especially for urban and Arabic music fans, with impressive lighting and a fun-loving crowd. A night here will have you up and dancing in no time.
Open Mon-Sat 8.30pm-3.30am, Sun 8.30pm-12am. Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (054 444 7841).

A Mexican spot with music to make you feel nostalgic and a lovely outdoor terrace with an upbeat atmosphere.
Open daily 12pm-2am. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island (02 582 3639).

Puesta del Sol
This waterside bar is surrounded by twinkling views, shining water and palms covered in fairy lights. Don’t feel like sitting at the bar? Sit back and relax on beanbags to soak up the atmosphere.
Open daily 5pm-1am. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr (02 654 3238).

Sit out on the terrace with waterfront views or take a spot at the elegant bar at this classy Italian. As well as fine food, Roberto’s provides a mean selection of Italian mixed drinks.
Open daily noon-2am. Rosewood Abu Dhabi (02 627 9009).

This new sports bar is already packed most nights of the week, with a string of brilliant weekly food and beverage deals. The bar snacks really set this place apart, too.
Open Sat-Wed Noon-2am, Thu-Fri noon-3am. Marriott Hotel Downtown Abu Dhabi (02 304 7777).

Victor’s Bar & Restaurant
This new addition to the scene feels like a proper local. It’s large and open and usually busy on the weekend, when a great live band also plays. It’s a bar you’ll definitely want to revisit.
Open daily 12pm-3am. Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi (02 666 5508).

Sports Café
With its mahogany floors and deep green-studded seats, this could pass for a high-end gentlemen’s club. But this is a quality sports spot with big tellies pumping out the footie on the far wall, and it’s all the better for it.
Open daily 4pm-1am. Fairmont Bab Al Bahr (02 654 3333).

La Cala
This al fresco spot down at Ghantoot Marina is all clean whites, nautical colours and rustic worn wooden tables. A DJ plays cool Ibiza-esque club beats and there’s space to dance, though you’ll mostly just want to chill out and take stock.
Open Sun-Wed noon-10pm, Thu-Fri noon-4am, Sat noon-1am. Ghantoot Marina & Resort (050 151 8407).

Epic Club Nights

Boogie Box
A pioneering event on Abu Dhabi’s house and techno scene.
Various dates and locations. Check the Facebook page for latest updates, www.facebook.com/boogieboxrecords.

Fridays at Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE
Dance on the sand to some of the world’s biggest DJs, every week.
Fri 1pm-11pm. Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel & Resort (056 113 3400).

Liquid Rain Pool Party
Combine clubbing with a dip in the pool and the odd set from DJs like Jonas Blue. Check their Facebook page for details.
Mai Café, Aloft Abu Dhabi, www.facebook.com/AloftAbuDhabi (02 654 5193).

MAD Thursdays
The place to be on a Thursday night with a huge crowd, plus live one-off performances from stars including Tinie Tempah.
Thu 11pm-1am. MAD on Yas Island (055 834 6262).

The Mix
This party doesn’t kick off until after midnight, when you’ll find a soundtrack of R&B mixed with Arabic tunes.
Thu 10.30pm-3am. Rush, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (055 780 0086).

URBN Fridays
MAD’s second event of the weekend lives up to the first, with a party atmosphere and some urban hits.
Fri 11pm-1am. MAD on Yas Island (055 834 6262).

Top Ladies’ Nights

Barfly by Buddha-Bar
This buzzing night has great music and you'll end up staying longer than planned.
Wed 6pm-1am. Venetian Village, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 408 7201).

This is one of the hippest spots in town, so it stands to reason that its ladies’ night would be one of the best.
Mon 8pm-midnight. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center (02 666 8066).

A sea view and good beats that keep the young crowd dancing well into the night.
Tue 9pm-2am. Nation Riviera Beach Club, Th St. Regis Abu Dhabi (02 611 0909).

You'll struggle to find standing room on ladies’ night at this Abu Dhabi institution.
Wed 8pm-midnight. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi (02 657 3333).

Iris Yas Island
Grab a table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the marina, as this ladies’ night is best enjoyed al fresco.
Wed 6pm-1am. Yas Marina (055 160 5636).

Li Jiang
With a stunning setting and good tunes, this is a night that deserves to be busier than it normally is.
Tue 6pm-10pm. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (02 818 8282).

MAD on Yas Island
Dance away your mid-week blues at this perma-packed ladies’ night.
Tue 11.30pm-4am. Yas Island (055 834 6262).

McGettigan’s AUH
This lively Irish pub offers up live entertainment and two beverages.
Tue 6pm-10pm. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Channel Street, Al Raha (02 652 4333).

Mondays are nearly always busy here thanks to the slick tunes from DJs Kaboo and Cliff Townley.
Mon 10pm-1.30am. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (02 656 0600).

Simply one of the coolest places in town, you can’t go wrong with a ladies’ night here.
Thu 8pm-12am. The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 672 8888).

By Christopher Maxwell, Liz Cookman and Sofia Vyas
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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