48 Hours in Abu Dhabi - What To Do on a Layover

Flying somewhere on Etihad Airways? There’s a good chance your route will include a stopover in their main hub, Abu Dhabi. Originally used as a layover city for International tourists, Abu Dhabi has literally sprung out of the desert and is now a destination on its own right. From desert safaris to the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi has so much to offer for the inquisitive traveller. 


And better yet - with a free stopover for 2 days in Abu Dhabi inclusive of hotel from Etihad Airways, why not extend your long layover to 48-hours in Abu Dhabi? Check out our 48-hour itinerary to make full use of your bonus holiday in this enchanting Arabic city: 


Day 1: Grand Mosques and Royal Palaces 


9am Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque 



The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. As a place of great religious significance to the people of the United Arab Emirates, it is not hard to see why it has since become a very popular place for tourists to visit. One might say it is arguably the grandest Mosque in the world! 


To protect the grand white Marble facade and intricate mosaic tilework, some sections have been roped off to protect the artwork. Visitors must stick to the outside hallways around the courtyard and the roped off photo areas. However, it is still a beautiful place to visit for pictures for the gram. 


Tip: The best time to visit the grand mosque is first thing in the morning before most tourists arrive. Alternatively during the hotter months (April - October), you might want to visit after sunset. Since it is a place of religious significance, traditional Islamic garments are required for both men and women and are free to rent.  


12pm Visit the Emirates Palace Hotel 



If you’ve ever thought about visiting the Sultan’s Palace in the Disney movie Aladdin, then the Emirate Palace is the place to go! The Emirate Palace is a lavish 5-star luxury hotel that is a great spot for lunch or afternoon tea and a wander around the impressive hotel grounds. 


Head to Le cafe where you can try their signature delicacy - the 23K Gold Sprinkled Camel Burger. Yes, you heard right! Camel meat is a delicacy in Abu Dhabi and its taste is described as gamey, with a deep, dark flavor somewhere between beef and mutton. Decked out with 23K gold sprinkles on top of the meat patty, you should definitely try it if you dare!


Photo by Emirates Palace via Facebook

3pm Visit the UAE Presidential Palace 



After many years of construction, the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi has recently opened to tourists! The Emiratis of UAE take the notion of grandeur to the next level with this newly constructed palace. Tourists may visit the Qasr Al Watan wing of the Presidential Palace and the garden. 


From the main entrance, tourists are driven by bus to the Qsar Al Watan wing and are allowed to wander around on their or join one of the tours that run every 30 minutes. Inside the palace, you’ll see the cavernous main hall with intricate tilework, gold trim and elaborate chandeliers. There’s also a banquet room, an Islamic library as well as several other smaller rooms showcasing paintings and an explanation of the UAE rulers and hierarchy and treasured artefacts of Arabian craftsmanship. 


5pm Swim at a beach club 


With many of the emirate’s world class hotels offering their own beachfront facilities, Abu Dhabi’s public and club beaches offer visitors and residents alike a different way of escaping the city, soaking up some rays and enjoying the shimmering turquoise waters.


Visit the luxurious Saadiyat Beach Club, which caters to the most discerning of beachgoers. As well as an outdoor pool surrounded by cabanas, Saadiyat Beach Club has a workout room, spa facilities that include a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and plunge pool, and a private beach! While relaxing on the sand you might catch a glimpse of dolphins playing offshore, or even spot the Hawksbill turtles which nest in the area. 



If you want to soak up the sun but don’t fancy paying top dollar, opt for Saadiyat Public Beach instead. Although it has fewer amenities, it’s just as nice as the beach at Saadiyat Beach Club. If you want to do more than just lounge around, there are yoga classes and eco-friendly water sports on offer. 


8pm Dine in style 


Once night falls, and you’ve had a chance to wash the sand off, it's time to think about dinner. Rising majestically in the skyline are the ultra-modern Etihad Towers. Amongst other things, this five-tower, mixed-use complex is home to the prestigious Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel. With a wealth of dining options from a dizzying array of international cuisines to offer, you’ll definitely be able to find something that you’ll enjoy here! 



Find time for a pre-dinner drink at Observation Deck at 300. Located on the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, it’s Abu Dhabi’s highest vantage point - so it’s the best place to see the city skyline. 


Day 2: Culture and Desert Life 


9am Wander around the Louvre, Abu Dhabi 



The Louvre at Abu Dhabi offers a walk through history, with sculptures, paintings and artefacts dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians to the 21st Century. The architecture of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is also a feature in itself and it’s well worth a wander around the grounds even if just to marvel at the spectacular helix dome roof. 


12pm Explore the Heritage Village And Have Lunch Nearby 




Next stop is Heritage Village across the causeway on nearby Marina Mall island. Though small, this recreated village illuminates early life in the Emirates. Take time to explore the village and imagine how the Arabs in the olden days used to live - back when the main occupations include date farmer, pearl diver, and camel trader! 


If you’re feeling peckish, head over to the nearby Marina Mall island! It is a city fave with more than a dozen dining outlets. We recommend the eclectic Shakespeare & Co and its huge menu that includes scrumptious saj (Arabic flatbread) “pizzas”. 

3pm Go on a Sunset Desert Safari 



One of the most popular things to do in Abu Dhabi is a desert safari through the sand dunes. Watch the sun dip below the sand dunes and then be treated to camel riding and an evening of traditional Arabic-style BBQ dinner and belly dancing. Trust us when we say dune bashing in Abu Dhabi is so much fun with some of the largest dunes in the country, alongside drivers who are very experienced at handling a 4WD in the sand. 


Feeling inspired to visit the Middle East?  Etihad Airways offers a FREE 2 night stay when you stopover at Abu Dhabi, for ANY fare choice and ANY fare class, for outbound OR inbound stopovers! The best part? You can book this AMAZING deal and travel from now til 30th November 2020 from Mayflower Holidays by calling us at 03-9232 1888 or enquiring at cs@mayflower-group.com .