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February 21, 2018 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm heading to Abu Dhabi for the last two weeks of March for work. What are your recommendations for things to see/do and restaurants not to be missed.

Pretty much what it says on the tin. I'm an experienced traveler looking for ways to fill my down time in Abu Dhabi in March. I've got some ideas of the big attractions not to be missed, but am curious about other quirky stuff to do and places to eat (inexpensively, though I am open to splurges).

Are camel races do-able by taxi and running in March? Do you have a spa recommendation that won't break the bank? What would you advise someone who loves flea markets to do in Abu Dhabi?
posted by eulily to Travel & Transportation around Abu Dhabi, UAE (7 answers total)
Maybe it is already on your "big attractions list", but the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the most wondrous buildings in the world and is in the "must do" category. If you are of a mind, you can do car racing in an Aston Martin at the F1 Yas Marina Circuit. Again, maybe on your big attractions list already. I had three or four days there at a work conference but was never brave enough to do some of things you are planning. Good luck on your trip.
posted by vac2003 at 12:34 PM on February 21, 2018

Where are you staying?
posted by uberchet at 1:02 PM on February 21, 2018

I had a long layover there and was so sad it was the one day of the week the brand new Louvre was closed! It looks phenomenal.

And yes, the mosque is outstanding. (Also home to the world's largest....carpet!) I went for the last hour it was open and it was nearly empty and so peaceful. It's also spectacularly lit up at night. They'll give you an abaya at the door so you'll meet the dress code, so no need to fret over whether your modest dress is modest enough.
posted by adiabat at 1:05 PM on February 21, 2018

Thanks so far! I’m staying on the Corniche and planning Louvre and mosque for sure. Hadn’t considered exotic cars!
posted by eulily at 3:14 PM on February 21, 2018

if you like flea markets, you might like the World Trade Centre (WTC) souk, though it is not a traditional souk, it is all indoors and a hybrid of a mall and a souk. it is just off the Corniche. I still go there to get spices and scarves for gifts and it is worth a wander around. if you are looking for more traditional souks and you have the time during your stay in Abu Dhabi, you could take a day trip to Dubai and wander through the old souks (more info here). buses between Abu Dhabi and Dubai are comfortable, frequent, and cheap.

for spas, check Groupon for deals on spas in 4- and 5-star hotels - there are incredible deals to be had. depending on what you want to get done at a spa, I can recommend a few. if you're looking for a massage/facial/luxury-type pampering, I can recommend Zayna Spa in the Grand Millennium hotel. they're not cheap but they're definitely less expensive than other hotel spas. if you're looking for manicure/pedicure, less fancy massages, or just a nice standard salon, I highly recommend Tips 'n Toes. I haven't been to their locations in the city but have been to other branches and have had consistently good service at them.

camel races should still be happening in March, though I would probably try going the first Friday you are here just to play it safe. I think the season wraps up in early April but I could be wrong. you might want to check with your hotel concierge as they might know. a taxi from the Corniche to the race track in Al Wathba will probably run you about 120 dhs or so ($32 USD), perhaps even more, and it would be tricky to get a taxi back so if you decide to go ask your taxi driver about pick up at a fixed time or get his mobile number if you have a usable phone with you. if you are able to go to the camel races/if they're happening, you will have a blast. it is one of the best experiences! make sure you get to the track by/around 7 AM as everything happens very early and things are typically over by about 9 AM. if you get there late (8:30 AM or later), you might see trainers doing practice runs but the races will probably be finished.

the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an absolute must-visit. if you go for the 4:45 PM tour, you will be able to do the guided tour (takes about an hour, it's free, and it's fantastic) and get pictures of the Mosque during daylight and during sunset. allow yourself enough time to get there, get an abaya (provided free to female visitors), and find the tour starting spot. if you arrive by 4:15 you should be fine. the taxi driver should know where to drop you off.

depending on where you are staying along the Corniche, if you are closer to the Marina Mall end, there is a 24 hours Spinney's supermarket there that could be helpful for buying hotel snacks and grabbing cheap meals (they have pre-made sandwiches and salads and a little bakery). I can't think of any cheap restaurants as most cheap places tend to be fast food, but shawarma is very cheap and falafel sandwiches are even cheaper. there are loads of shawarma/falafel places around the Corniche. if there is a particular kind of food you're looking for, send me a message and I'll let you know where to find it. if you want to eat delicious Arabic food, try Karam Al Shams on Airport Road, near Cafe Arabia. Cafe Arabia is itself a lovely restaurant (the setting is great) though they have changed their menu recently and I haven't been in a while so can't vouch for it. if you want a great burger, try Salt, located within Umm Al Emarat park (taxi drivers might still refer to it as Mushrif Park). if you want a really great, kinda fancy breakfast, try Tasha's in Al Bateen (not far from the Corniche) - though Tasha's might be a bit expensive.

if you need any other information feel free to send me a message. I live in Abu Dhabi and I'm happy to help. (I would offer to take you to the camel races but I won't be around for the second half of March. I hope you have the best time!)
posted by gursky at 5:48 PM on February 21, 2018

I just wanted to say your title is an excellent reference. It's been a long time since I've heard that song.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 6:01 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Quick update to thank you for the recs. I’m wrapping up my two weeks and loved the city.
posted by eulily at 10:13 AM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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