Where to stay
For convenience, staying in one of the many hotels near the Corniche is likely to be the best bet, and there's generally a hotel to suit any budget.
Day One: Sandy fun
Morning: Stay close to the hotel and soak up some sun on the Corniche public beach in the morning. Many of the more exclusive hotels have their own beaches or, in the case of a hotel like Le Royal Meridien, will organise a shuttle bus to take you to somewhere like Saadiyat Beach.
Afternoon/ Evening: For the afternoon, organise a desert tour. They should pick you up from your hotel in the early to mid afternoon and whisk you off into the sand for dune bashing, camel farm visiting and an evening of traditional food and entertainment at the desert camp. Expect to be back by around 10pm wth a memory card full of great snaps.
Day Two: Shop, spa and sophisticaiton
Morning: Indulge in a spot of shopping at Marina Mall in the morning. Malls are generally quiet until later on in the day so will give you a good chance for a unhurried look around. The Heritage Village is nearby too, which gives a little insight into the traditional Bedouin culture of the local residents. Views from the Heritage Village back across to the city are great too and it's free to get in.
Afternoon: Relax at your hotel's pool and perhaps check into their spa for a massage of similar treatment in the afternoon. Some have great rooftop bars, like Azura at St.Regis Abu Dhabi, where you can catch a few sundowners, then get ready for a night out.
Evening: Jumeirah At Etihad Towers has some of the best rated restaurants in town, so head there for an evening of fine dining. Follow this up with some sophisticated drinks at the hotel's Ray's Bar on the 62nd floor for nightime views of the city.
Day Three: Culture vulture
Morning: Give yourself a reason to come back in the future by visiting Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island. Not only does it have regular art exhibitions, but the fantastic venue also has a detailed exhibition showing the coming culture attractions on the island, such as the Louvre and Guggenheim. The restaurant there, Fanr, is also worth stopping at for lunch. It shouldn't cost much more than Dhs.20 in a taxi from the Corniche.
Afternoon: You can supplement your lunch with some afternoon tea at the nearby St.Regis Saadiyat Island in the Drawing Room, followed by a quick look around its small shopping area, The Collection. For sunset, stop off at the Sheraton at the top end of the Corniche, on your way back. They organise sunset cruises that last for 60 minutes and cost Dhs.200 per person.
Evening: Finish your visit to Abu Dhabi by heading to the area known as 'between the bridges' where you'll find the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Traders and Shangri-La hotels with the Qaryat Al Beri modern souk joining the latter two. There's a whole range of restaurants in these venues, from Marco Pierre-White's Steakhouse at the Fairmont to the popular Sofra BLD buffet at the Shangri-La. Make sure you get outside to look across the water at the illuminated Grand Mosque and equally brightly lit Ritz-Carlton.
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