Things to do in Abu Dhabi

With desert, beaches and over 200 islands within the emirate, there's plenty to do in Abu Dhabi. One of the most popular pastimes is island hopping from the entertainment playground of Yas Island to the cultural hub of Saadinyat, and over to the wildlife haven of Sir Bani Yas Island where you can spy cheetahs, ostriches, giraffes, gazelles and oryx.

Curiously, while there are free public beaches there are also beaches that charge admission for use, although the fee does include the use of amenities such as towels and sun loungers. Don't let this deter you from enjoying the warm waters as they are clean and clear and a respite from the searing summer heat. You can also make use of the waterways with a huge raft of off-shore activities from dhow cruises to diving and jet-skiing in the Gulf to kayaking in the mangroves.

Head out to the 300 metre-high sandy dunes of Liwa in the Western Region for desert safaris and dune bashing in 4WDs. Al Gharbia has what is considered to be the world's highest sand dune, Tel Moreeb, at over 300 metres and its 50-degree incline makes it a mecca for motor sport enthusiasts. More sedate options include the Arabian Nights Village in Al Ain and the Al Badeyah desert camp at Al Khaznah for an insight into traditional UAE culture.

If city pursuits are more your style, Abu Dhabi city offers a variety of traditional, cultural and entertainment options. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital offers a unique look at the UAE national symbol, or you can check out the 200-year-old Maqtaa Fort from the modern Maqtaa bridge. Shoppers can bag a bargain at mega malls and outlets or try their bargaining skills at modern markets and traditional souks. For more sights to see in Abu Dhabi, here's our top 5.

Yas Island

Home to the Yas Marina Circuit and the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as well as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island is not just a mecca for men and motorsports enthusiasts. The picturesque island is also an entertainment destination with theme parks and concert arenas.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

One of the largest mosques in the world, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is also a national gem and not just because of the precious stones, gilded 24ct gold embellishments and opulence within its dazzling white, multi-domed marble exterior.

Saadiyat Island

This stunning island off the coast of Abu Dhabi is set to be the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates with world-class museums, galleries and amenities upon its completion. It's also the site of the largest Guggenheim Museum and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Heritage Village

Take a step back in time to the pre-oil days of Abu Dhabi with this charming reconstruction of a Bedouin desert oasis village that's part open-air museum and part traditional souk complete with local artisans crafting authentic souvenirs.

Abu Dhabi Corniche

Fringed by skyscrapers, this 8 kilometres of paved promenade is Abu Dhabi's favourite place to enjoy the sunset, stroll along the waterfront and frolic in the 3 beach sections. The Corniche is also the site of numerous concerts and festivals throughout the year.