48 hours in Abu Dhabi – A 2 day Itinerary

An oasis – A lustrous city with pools of greenery and water, a blend of urban nature. This is… Abu Dhabi.

modern arabic City Abu Dhabi  Landscape and cityscape panorama

In 48 hours you’ll see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, ride on the fastest roller coaster in the Middle East, go to a grand Waterworld, visit Yas Island, marvel at the Middle Eastern Louvre, see the etihad towers, relax on the Corniche beach and go on the ultimate desert safari.

Let’s not waste any more time describing this paradise… Hop on a virtual plane with this 2 day itinerary for Abu Dhabi.

Where to Stay in Abu Dhabi for 2 days

Hotels in Downtown Abu Dhabi are best for travelers who look for convenience. It offers a mix of business, residential, and entertainment options and is close to iconic landmarks like the Emirates Palace, Corniche Beach, and the Abu Dhabi Mall.

Downtown Abu Dhabi provides easy access to cultural attractions, shopping centers, restaurants, and nightlife.

For a leisurely holiday, Saadiyat island will suit you. Located just off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is a cultural and leisure destination.

It features world-class museums, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Saadiyat Island also offers luxury resorts, golf courses, and beautiful beaches, making it an ideal place for a tranquil and more luxurious stay.

For the thrill seeker, base yourself at Yas island. You’ll learn more about Yas island and it’s blood pressure raising qualities later on in this article.

Al Maryah Island is a modern and upscale business and lifestyle district. It is known for its high-end shopping at The Galleria mall, waterfront dining options, and luxury hotels.

Al Maryah Island is also home to Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the city’s international financial center. This option is catered towards business travelers.

For a relaxed, cultural experience, immerse yourself in Al Ain. It is a popular tourist destination located about 160 kilometers East of Abu Dhabi.

It is known for its rich history, traditional souks, archaeological sites, and natural attractions like Jebel Hafeet, the highest peak in the Emirates.

The beautiful private white beach belonging to Emirates Palace Hotel, a luxurious 7 star hotel with its own marina and helipad. Summer holidays concept. Luxury and comfort lifestyle.

Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi for 2 days

Abu Dhabi experiences high temperatures and high humidity during the summer months, from June to September.

The temperatures can reach up to 40°C (104°F) or higher, coupled with high humidity, which can make outdoor activities uncomfortable. If you don’t mind the heat, then you can travel to Abu Dhabi any time throughout the year.

However, if you’re used to a cooler climate, the best time to visit Abu Dhabi is during the winter months, from November to March.

This period offers the most pleasant weather with average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). The days are mostly sunny, and the evenings are cooler, making it comfortable for outdoor activities and exploration.

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Overview Of 2 Days In Abu Dhabi Itinerary

Day 1 in Abu Dhabi

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • Ferrari World 
  • Yas Waterworld
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi 

Day 2 in Abu Dhabi

  • Yas Island
  • Etihad Towers 
  • Corniche Beach 
  • Ultimate Desert Experience 
Saadiyat island, UAE - Luxury beachfront hotel, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Day 1 in in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi is a highly religious city, and what better way to start off your Abu Dhabi itinerary than with a peaceful morning visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the most prominent landmarks and cultural treasures in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Named after the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the UAE, the mosque is a stunning display of Islamic architecture and craftsmanship.

The construction of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque began in 1996 and was completed in 2007. It combines architectural styles from various Islamic civilizations, including Persian, Mughal, and Moorish influences.

The mosque is a symbol of cultural diversity and unity, as artisans and materials from around the world were brought together to create this architectural marvel.

The mosque’s exterior is breathtaking, featuring intricate Islamic geometric designs, delicate carvings, and reflective pools that create a serene ambiance.

The main prayer hall is adorned with one of the world’s largest hand-knotted carpets, covering an area of more than 5,600 square meters. The chandeliers, made with millions of Swarovski crystals, add a touch of grandeur to the interior. This is opulence at its finest. 

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is not only a place of worship but also a center for cultural and educational activities. Visitors of all faiths are welcome to explore the mosque and learn about Islamic culture and traditions.

Guided tours are available, providing insights into the mosque’s history, architecture, and the values it represents. Even if you’re not religious, you should definitely consider visiting anyway.

There are a couple of things you’ll need to remember when you visit though. You are required to dress modestly when entering the mosque.

Women must cover their hair with a headscarf and wear loose-fitting, ankle-length clothing. Abayas (traditional black robes) are available for women who need to borrow them. Men should wear long trousers and avoid sleeveless shirts.

Sunrise is a grand time to visit as the lights deflect in shards off the minarets and domes.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at dusk (Abu-Dhabi UAE)

Ferrari World

Keep your eyes peeled for Charles Le Clerc and Carlos Sainz at Ferrari World… They might be too quick for you though 😉

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is an exhilarating theme park located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

As the first Ferrari-branded theme park in the world, it offers an immersive experience that combines the excitement of amusement rides with the glamor and speed associated with the iconic Ferrari brand and Formula 1 sport.

The park covers an area of approximately 86,000 square meters and is housed under a striking red roof, resembling the classic double-curve body of a Ferrari GT car. It boasts a range of thrilling attractions and entertainment options for visitors of all ages.

One of the main highlights of Ferrari World is Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster. Inspired by Formula One racing, this adrenaline-pumping ride accelerates from 0 to 240 kilometers per hour in just a few seconds, providing an intense rush of speed and excitement. Feeling like Max Verstappen yet?

For those seeking a more family-friendly experience, there are numerous other rides and attractions to enjoy.

From high-speed simulators and interactive experiences that showcase the Ferrari story to junior driving schools where children can learn the basics of safe driving, there’s something for everyone. You’ll leave with a kid begging you to get them into karting. 

Beyond the thrilling rides and attractions, Ferrari World hosts live shows, cultural performances, and seasonal events that add to the overall entertainment experience. Visitors can witness impressive displays of acrobatics, and musical performances.

For those who are more impressed by the mechanics of the cars, the park features a gallery that showcases Ferrari’s iconic cars, providing a glimpse into the history and evolution of these luxury vehicles.

F1 fan or not, this is an exhilarating place to visit.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Interior of indoor amusement park Ferrari World. It is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and is the Middle East's Leading Theme Park.

Yas Waterworld 

Keeping those adrenaline levels raised, you’ll head to Abu Dhabi’s Waterworld.

Yas Waterworld is a popular water park located on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It covers an area of 37 acres and offers more than 40 exhilarating rides, slides, and attractions, making it a must-visit destination for water park enthusiasts.

Yas Waterworld offers a range of attractions that cater to all ages and thrill levels. The park’s centerpiece is the Bandit Bomber, an interactive water roller coaster that takes guests on a thrilling journey through the park, including through waterfalls and past special effects.

Visitors can also enjoy a variety of water slides, including Liwa Loop, the world’s first looping waterslide, and Jebel Drop, a high-speed slide with a vertical drop. Are your palms sweating yet? 

The park also features several family-friendly attractions that cater towards the little guys, such as the Amwaj Wave Pool, a giant wave pool that creates waves of up to three meters high, and Marah Fortress.

An interactive play area with slides, water guns, and a giant bucket that tips over and soaks visitors. Children can also enjoy the Tot’s Playground, an area designed specifically for younger children.

Yas Waterworld embraces Emirati culture and history through its theming and attractions. Visitors can explore the park’s attractions, such as the Pearl Diving Experience, where guests can experience the traditional Emirati practice of pearl diving, and the Falcon’s Falaj, a water coaster that takes guests on a journey through the desert.

Yas Island/UAE  - Yas waterworld at Yas Island, Abu dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi 

To finish off your day and reduce those cortisol levels you’ll make your way to the Emirates version of Paris’ Louvre.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is a world-renowned art and civilization museum located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The museum stands as an architectural masterpiece and cultural landmark, offering a unique blend of art, history, and cross-cultural exchange. That’s one thing about Abu Dhabi that you’ll notice, it loves international influence. You’ll see pieces of the world throughout your stay.

Designed by acclaimed architect Jean Nouvel, the museum’s architecture is one that questions the parameters of architectural ability. The distinctive feature of the museum is its iconic dome, which appears to float above the building like a giant canopy.

The dome consists of a complex geometric pattern of interwoven metal and glass, known as the “rain of light,” creating a mesmerizing effect as sunlight filters through. The design of the museum reflects the traditional Arab medina (walled city) and embraces the concept of light and shadow.

The art collection features pieces such as Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronnière,” Vincent van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait,” and Jacques-Louis David’s “Napoleon Crossing the Alps.” The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase international collaborations and explore specific themes or artists in-depth.

End the day at the Louvre’s restaurant which is located on a waterfront site, surrounded by the opal waters of the Arabian Gulf. The museum’s outdoor areas feature landscaped gardens, reflecting pools, and shaded promenades. From here, you’ll also get to see the Abu Dhabi skyline shine at dusk dawns.

Abu Dhabi, UAE - A spectacular and unique  exterior of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum with dome and sea lagoon, opened on the Saadiyat island

Day 2 in Abu Dhabi

Yas Island 

Today, you’ll return to Yas island because there’s so much more to explore than Ferrari world.

Aim to spend an hour at each site. It’ll be cutting it fine, but this is just a raster if each part of the island. Alternatively, you can choose one area of the island to visit for the morning. 

World Abu Dhabi is an indoor theme park that brings beloved characters and stories from Warner Bros. to life, offering immersive attractions and entertainment based on popular films and cartoons.

The Yas Marina Circuit is a state-of-the-art Formula One racetrack that hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious events on the motorsport calendar.

The circuit offers thrilling driving experiences, allowing visitors to race around the track in high-performance vehicles.

Additionally, the Yas Marina Circuit features karting experiences, driving schools, and regular events that attract motorsport enthusiasts from around the world. Remember to pin this itinerary if you’re planning on visiting Abu Dhabi for the Formula One Grand Prix Finale. 

Naturally, Yas Island is surrounded by a pristine beach, where you can relax, swim and try out some water sports such as the sea bob and jet skis.

Yas Mall offers a premier retail experience. The mall is home to a vast range of international and regional brands, encompassing fashion, electronics, homeware, and more. You could also catch the latest movies at the multiplex cinema (as if you would possibly need any other entertainment).

Golf enthusiasts can indulge in a round of golf at Yas Links, an award-winning golf course on Yas Island.

Abu Dhabi - Hookah cafe on the beach of Sir Bani Yas island, Abu Dhabi Emirate.

Etihad Towers

At midday, you’ll slow tour gallivanting to a stroll as you explore the Etihad Towers.

The Etihad Towers are a prominent landmark and luxury complex located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This iconic development comprises of five towers that stand tall along the city’s skyline.

Designed by Australian architectural firm DBI Design, the Etihad Towers complex is a testament to modern architectural brilliance.

The towers feature sleek and futuristic designs, characterized by their distinct facades and soaring heights. Each tower has a unique shape. They’re anything but twins. 

Etihad Towers is home to some of Abu Dhabi’s most luxurious hotels, offering world-class hospitality and exquisite experiences.

The complex features a diverse range of restaurants and cafes, presenting a wide array of culinary experiences from around the world. Asian fusion? Got it. French classics? Got it. Spicy South American? Got it.

This is your chance to feel like a billionaire for a couple of hours and meander through the luxury boutique brands and stores. 

Situated on the 74th floor, the observation deck at tower 2 offers unobstructed views of Abu Dhabi’s skyline, coastline, and the Arabian Gulf. The observation deck also features a lounge and a café where guests can relax and appreciate the scenery.

It’s lunchtime, so take this opportunity to enjoy a light meal (because you’re in for a treat at dinner time). 

UAE, ABU DHABI -  View of modern multi-storey buildings from the Fountain Square in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Corniche Beach

Before you go on the ultimate desert safari, take a moment to chill out after the busy day you’ve had.

The Corniche beach stretches along the Corniche Road, a picturesque waterfront promenade that spans approximately 8 kilometers. Corniche Beach is known for its family-friendly atmosphere.

The beach provides designated areas for families, ensuring a safe and enjoyable environment for children to play and swim.

Lifeguards are stationed along the beach to ensure the safety of visitors, and there are facilities such as showers, toilets, and changing rooms available for public use.

Corniche beach is a place where you can relax, get a quick power nap in and hydrate your body. Float in the pale blue waters and let the salt soothe your soul. 

If you’d rather stay dry, take this opportunity to walk the promenade. 

sunny beach and cityscape in Abu Dhabi UAE

Ultimate Desert Safari

As your day comes to an end, there’s no better way to complete your last few hours in Abu Dhabi than with an immersive desert safari experience. Get ready to feel like Alladin.

One of the most thrilling aspects of the Ultimate Desert Safari is dune bashing. Experienced drivers take you on a high-speed off-road adventure, navigating through the golden sand dunes in powerful 4×4 vehicles.

The exhilarating ride involves driving up and down steep dunes, while red sand sprays behind you in clouds.

Experience the traditional mode of transport in the desert by riding a camel. These majestic creatures have long been an integral part of Emirati culture and are well adapted to the desert environment. 

If slow and steady isn’t your thing, you could try sand boarding. Which is like combining surfing and snowboarding but switching out the ice and water for sand. 

The Ultimate Desert Safari offers a glimpse into Bedouin culture with a visit to a traditional desert camp. Enjoy a warm Arabian welcome with traditional Arabic coffee and sticky dates.

Experience traditional activities like henna painting, falconry displays, and traditional music and dance performances such as belly dancing and Tanoura shows. You can also dress in traditional Arabic attire for memorable photographs. This is Arabian culture at its peak and should be added to any bucket list.

You could even spend your last night in the desert. Set up camp and feast on a wide variety of delicious Arabic dishes, grilled meats, and salads as the sun sets over the Arabian Peninsula.

The camp often offers live entertainment, including mesmerizing fire shows and captivating performances that showcase local music and dance traditions.

The dark, inky, clear skies make for the perfect stargazing conditions as well. Learn about the different constellations and hear fascinating stories about the Arabian night sky from knowledgeable guides.

car driving in Rub al Khali Desert at the Empty Quarter in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi is a place where you’ll never be left feeling bored. It has an overwhelming number of activities, sites and places to experience.

Thanks to its global influence, you’ll feel as though you’ve gone on a trip similar to that from Around The World in 80 Days (except you’re an overachiever and did it in less than 80 hours). If you can think it, Abu Dhabi has it. This is the Middle East’s utopia.

Recommended tours in Abu Dhabi

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  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

    View all posts https://www.tiktok.com/@travellingkng

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