What to do
- Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque - This easily makes my list of top sights I have ever seen. We spent hours just wandering around, totally blown away at this incredible building. The interior is just as drop-dead gorgeous as the exterior, seriously that chandelier will blow your mind. We went the first night we got to town, and then went back the next day so that we could see it in the daytime too. I can't recommend this enough. It was magical both times, but both experiences were so different. Also, you must be covered to your wrists, and to your ankles, ladies! Wrapping a scarf around your arms is not enough (hence the sweater for me!). If you don't have proper attire, they have abayas that you can borrow.
- Emirates Palace - This is actually just a hotel, but it is definitely worth a drop by, and if you told me that some king lived in there, I would totally believe it.
- Observation Deck at 300 - Go to the top of Jumeirah Tower to get a stunning view of all of the buildings rising up over the beach. This is the best way to see the whole city, and you can have high tea up here too!
- Saadiyat Island - I am so excited about what is happening on Saadiyat Island right now. Granted, you are going to see a lot of construction going on right now, but they are building this up to be the cultural center of the Middle East. They are building both a Guggenheim and the first outpost of the Louvre, both of which should be completed by next year. The buildings are both going to be SO stunning (designed by Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel, respectively) and I can only dream of what they will be filled with. There are also gorgeous beach resorts out there, where we spent most of our trip lounging.
Where to stay
- St. Regis Abu Dhabi - We stayed here for the first part of our trip when we wanted to stay on the main beach in the middle of town and see more of the sights. It was luxurious and wonderful, and I LOVED the setting of the beach with the two huge towers rising up behind you. Both the pool and hot tub were huge, and it provided a great place to hang and relax, while also being conveniently location to some of the sights we wanted to see. The beach offered a beautiful view of the sunset over Emirates Palace.
- Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi - This is where we went for our stay out on Saadiyat Island, and it was the perfect resort escape, with my favorite bathtub of any hotel I have ever stayed at and a stunning pool and beach where we could see the Louvre being built in the distance! And they had a pretty great chicken tikka masala that I ordered more than once... We used some free Hyatt nights here that we got from opening the Chase Hyatt card, and with rates starting at over $700 per night, I would say getting that card and spending $1,000 on it was definitely worth it.