The ultimate area guide to Abu Dhabi

New to the city? Here’s what you need to know about where to go


Whether you’ve been in Abu Dhabi for a while or are new to the emirate, getting to know a city can take time.

However, getting to grips with Abu Dhabi is great fun, and while you won’t know everything overnight you’ll soon know your Al Bateen from your Yas Island and your Mussafah from your Mushrif.

Here’s your rough guide to the main areas of the city.

And if you’re out and about and in doubt, get Google maps out.

Al Maryah Island
Al Maryah Island has a lot going on with top hotels like Four Seasons Abu Dhabi and Rosewood Abu Dhabi and some of the city’s best restaurants including COYA, Dai Pai Dong, Zuma and more.

The destination is also an emerging business centre and is home to the city’s newest co-working hub WeWork.

The island is also home to luxury shopping destination The Galleria Al Maryah Island which has opened a new extension in September 2019 offering more shops, dining destinations and the city’s first IMAX cinema.

There’s plenty to do and see so why not pay a visit?

Al Zahiya
Formerly known as the Tourist Club Area, this is one of the oldest parts of the city and it’s great to explore.

It’s home to numerous restaurants, shops, bars and is a popular residential zone for many expats as well.

Looking to shop? There is Abu Dhabi Mall and if you need a staycay then popular hotels Beach Rotana and Le Méridien Abu Dhabi are on hand, too.

A redevelopment project to modernise the roads and transport links was also recently completed, so it’s a good time to check it out.

Al Bateen
Al Bateen is a popular destination and was traditionally one of the city’s main fishing ports.

The area is also home to top hotels including the InterContinental Abu Dhabi, Royal M Hotel and Resort Abu Dhabi, and the Abu Dhabi EDITION, as well as Al Bateen Beach.

There are also plenty of great restaurants to visit in the area including Ozo, Switch, Waterlemon, and tashas.

Plus, walking around Al Bateen Marina is a nice way to enjoy the cooler weather and see the city skyline from a new perspective.

You probably already know the Corniche, or at least you should do.

Know those pictures of the city skyline that you see everywhere? That’s the Corniche, the long waterfront stretch of the city that runs all the way from Mina Zayed in the East to Emirates Palace in the West.

There are loads of tourist attractions including Emirates Palace, Qasr Al Watan, The Founder’s Memorial and the Heritage Village.

Looking to book a stay? Take your pick from the likes of Sofitel Abu Dhabi, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Radisson Blu Hotel and Resort Abu Dhabi Corniche, Bal Al Qasr Hotel and Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi to name a few.

The free public beach is one the most popular attractions and Al Bahar, a waterfront attraction that features a range of restaurants, cafes, shops and sea-based water park AquaFun.

If shopping is what you’re after then there’s Nation Towers, and just across the water there’s also Marina Mall.

There’s a lot going on at the Corniche.

If you want to experience the true essence of the city head downtown. Yu’ll be in the middle of crowds of people from all over the world.

There are thousands of shops, cafes, and restaurants, and it's where you’ll get a great deal on everything from fabric and electronics to shawarma and chai.

There are modern structures to marvel at including the impressive World Trade Center towers as well as the city’s oldest standing structure Qasr Al Hosn, which is also home to the Cultural Foundation.

In terms of shopping there are loads of small shops to pick and choose from throughout the area, however, if it’s a mall you’re after then there’s The Mall at World Trade Center, Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, Al Wahda Mall and Khalidiyah Mall to name a few.

Where do you even start? Have fun.

Khalifa City
There’s more to this residential area than just houses, as it may seem at first glance.

The huge Al Forsan International Sports Resort offers visitors the chance to try go karting, wakeboarding and a wide-range of others sports and activities throughout the year.

The adjacent Marriott Hotel Al Forsan, Abu Dhabi is also a great spot for a staycay and is home to a variety of bars and restaurants.

Abu Dhabi Cricket is also located in the area where local and international competitions are held throughout the year at the stadium.

On the outskirts of Khalifa City at Sas Al Nakhl you’ll also find the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa and Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Speaking of close-by… Next up is Masdar City.

Masdar City
Abu Dhabi’s very own small sustainable city is quite the place.

There’s the little matter of the underground automatic driverless cars that link the different parts of the area and a few restaurants including Barbacoa, Jim’s Kitchen Table and Skinny Genie, hidden away among the impressive architecture.

There’s also a public park that features a children's playground, food trucks, a music wall, a cycle track and art installations themed on sustainability – plus another amazing installation could be on the way.

Keeping with the sustainable vibe a new green mall My City Centre has opened and is home to the only Carrefour in the city that has banned plastic bags.

Pretty cool.

Located a half hour drive from Downtown Abu Dhabi, Musaffah is a destination you’ll visit a few times during your stay in the capital.

The industrial area is home to a huge amount or garages that service and repair vehicles, as well Musaffah port and many other factories and businesses.

You’ll most likely visit Musaffah if you’ve got car troubles or need a service, as there are countless garages for every brand imaginable.

There is more to the area than a host of workshops and industry however. Dalma Mall is one of the biggest in the city and has a huge range of shops, a cinema, entertainment zones and restaurants to offer visitors.

This central neighbourhood is home to many residents in the capital but also boasts a number of attractions too.

Looking to shop? Mushrif Mall remains one of the capital’s popular shopping destination and is home to a number of retail outlets, restaurants and attractions.

Located in the district is one of the city’s largest and most popular public parks, Umm Al Emarat Park.

The green space features a number of attractions including a small zoo, children’s garden, botanical garden, a huge lawn and regular events and activities from markets to yoga.

Reem Island
Located just passed Al Maryah Island, Reem Island is home to a huge number of people.

Looking to shop? Boutik Mall is located at the foot of Sun and Sky Towers and the massive Reem Mall, which will be home to the world’s largest snow park,is being built and is expected to open its doors late in 2020.

There’s loads of leisure opportunities too and with Reem Central Park there a lots of places to eat, play and unwind.

A new development, The Makers District, is also being constructed and will provide another leisure and residential zone on the island.

Saadiyat Island
The city’s cultural district will be home to some awe-inspiring museums and already boasts Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat so far.

Residential areas are also being added and with Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and NYU Abu Dhabi (plus the impressive NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center) it’s also popular among students in the city.

Some of the most high-end hotels are also located on the island including St. Regis Saadiyat island Resort, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island, Saadiyat Rotana Resort and Villas and Rixos Saadiyat Island.

With one of the best public beaches in the city and Saadiyat Beach Club there’s plenty of places to top up your tan and unwind.

Want to tee off? The Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is ready and waiting, too.

If a day trip to Zaya Nurai Island is what you’re after, Saadiyat is also where you catch the boat for a trip to the luxury destination.

A number of exciting projects are still to come in the island including Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum.

Watch this space.

Yas Island
Inarguably the most popular tourist destination in the city, Yas Island has a lot going on.

In terms of entertainment there’s Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, Yas Links golf course and CLYMB, set to be home to the world’s largest indoor climbing wall, is also on the way early in 2020.

There’s also the world-famous Yas Marina Circuit that hosts the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the city’s (current) largest shopping centre Yas Mall.

A host of hotels also feature on the Island including the iconic Yas Hotel, Crowne Plaza Yas Island, Radisson Blu, Yas Island Abu Dhabi and Yas Island Rotana.

Live music and other entertainment tend to be held on Yas Island at du Forum and du Arena, plus there’s an all-new arena coming to the Island soon.

To unwind you can visit Yas Beach, go for a bite and a beverage at Yas Marina or visit some of the best nightlife spots in the city including MAD on Yas Island, Filini Garden and IRIS.

See, there’s loads going on.

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