5 Ways to Spend a Weekend in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the type of place where there is always something new for you to do and explore. Even if you have lived here for years, there is no excuse for you to feel bored. However, if you do need some help thinking of new ideas for weekend activities, or are visiting the city for the first time, this article can help you.

From seeing the best concerts in Abu Dhabi to exploring the culinary offerings of the emirate, read on for five ways to spend a weekend in Abu Dhabi.

1. Take a desert tour

Whether you are a tourist or a local, there is no better way to spend a weekend in Abu Dhabi than by taking a desert tour. In fact, for many Abu Dhabi visitors, a desert tour is one of the highlights of their trip.

In the western part of Abu Dhabi is the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world. Here you can find plenty of options for exploring the Arabian desert, from a traditional camel trek to a wild dune-bashing excursion to a romantic balloon tour. Whatever style of desert tour you choose, Abu Dhabi is the ideal location for these types of adventure-filled weekend trips.

Not only will a desert tour provide you with a unique experience of Emirati culture, but you can also choose an itinerary that best fits your interests. You can include fun activities such as camel riding, quad-bike riding, and falconry.

Additionally, if you opt for an overnight desert tour, you will be able to watch exquisite belly dancing while enjoying local cuisine. For this reason, taking a desert tour is an essential Abu Dhabi weekend excursion and something that shouldn’t be missed.

2. Attend a (virtual) concert

No matter what time of year, each weekend, you are guaranteed to find a concert happening in one of the beautiful Abu Dhabi concert halls. Some of these venues include Du Arena, the largest outdoor venue in the Middle East that can host up to 40,000 people, the Forum, which is an indoor venue next to the F1 circuit, and Etihad Arena, the largest multi-purpose arena in the UAE. You also can’t overlook the offerings of smaller sites around the emirate and live performances in restaurants and related spaces.

If you are looking to go to a concert in Abu Dhabi, you want to make sure you find the best events. One of the best ways to do this is by utilizing social media as this is a fantastic way to stay up-to-date with venue schedules and learn about new events.

What’s more, as many concerts are shifting online due to the current health crisis, following venues, organizers, and musicians online will ensure that you don’t miss out on an exciting concert opportunity.

3. Stroll through the souks

In Arabic, the word souk means “marketplace,” and the souks of Abu Dhabi are well worth a visit due to their lively atmosphere and diverse assortment of goods.

Moreover, spending some time in the souks is a fantastic way to observe how those in the region traditionally did business. For example, in the early hours of the morning, you will be able to see the fishermen load their catch on to the quayside before getting ready for a full day of selling.

If you are gearing up for a shopping session in Abu Dhabi’s souks, you want to remember a couple of essential tips.

When purchasing items from the souks, it is customary to haggle before committing to a price. Start by suggesting 50 percent of the quoted price and then work from there to come to an agreement.

If, after haggling, you are still not satisfied with the vendor’s final offer, you can simply walk away. This may prompt the seller to call you back and agree to a lower price. Additionally, make sure you have cash with you, as this will help you lower the price.

4. Take advantage of outdoor adventures

Besides everything else it has to offer, Abu Dhabi is also brimming with outdoor adventures for you to take advantage of over the weekend.

Some of the options include visiting the Liwa Forts, which provide 360-degree views of the nearby date palm plantations and dunes, cycling around the track on Al Hudayriat Island, and exploring the Jebel Hafeet Tombs which are some of the oldest archaeological sites in the country.

Of course, you also want to experience a dhow cruise, the traditional vessel of merchants in the Arabian Gulf.

Due to their extended use in trading, these boats have played a significant role in the development of Abu Dhabi and the greater UAE.

When you spend an evening on a dhow cruise, you will be able to experience this traditional boat while also seeing various sights around the city. Plus, if it is a romantic weekend, you can opt for a special dhow cruise that includes entertainment and fantastic food.

5. Explore the city’s culinary offerings

Whether you are staying inside for the weekend or looking to get dressed up and splurge on an extravagant meal, you can be assured that there are plenty of culinary offerings in Abu Dhabi from which you can choose.

In fact, one of the best things about Abu Dhabi is the vast array of international cuisines that are readily available. Therefore, no matter what you are craving, you are guaranteed to find something that satisfies your palate.

You also need to try Emirati dishes such as harees (a porridge-like dish consisting of lamb and wheat), machboos (boiled red meat or chicken with spicy seasonings and lime), fattoush (a traditional salad combining vegetables, mint leaves, garlic, lemon and olive oil on top of pita bread), thereed (a slow-cooked lamb or goat stew with roasted vegetables).

Whether you live in the area or are visiting for the first time, there is plenty to keep you occupied during a weekend in Abu Dhabi. In fact, you may need more than just a weekend to enjoy all of these exciting excursions.

Are you a resident of Abu Dhabi, or are you considering planning a trip there soon? Do you have any additional recommendations on how to spend a weekend there?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!