How to spend a layover in Abu Dhabi

From taking a sunset desert safari to visiting the Louvre, make the most of your layover


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High rise sophistication, rolling desert dunes and crystal-clear Gulf waters encapsulate Abu Dhabi, where almost everything is possible. With so many activities to squeeze in, spending a day or two in this thriving city is the perfect way to break up a long trip. From taking a sunset desert safari to getting your culture fix at the Louvre, here’s how to make the most of your layover.


Soak up art at The Louvre

Set within Saadiyat Island’s cultural district, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum of its kind in the UAE. Designed by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum is bordered by lagoons, features a striking domed roof, and showcases classic masterpieces and contemporary Arabic art, alongside highlights of the Middle East’s rich heritage. Running chronologically, each of the museum’s galleries tells the story of humanity in twelve chapters. Starting with ancient Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, the collections reach a crescendo with contemporary classics, such as Ai WeiWei’s Fountain of Light.

Unwind at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort

Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort overlooks stretches of white sandy beaches and sits behind rolling sand dunes, making it a perfect place to unwind. Guests can experience local tradition at the oval Grand Moroccan Hammam, a centuries-old cleansing ritual involving colour therapy and infusions. Our spa spans 2,700sqm, 15 treatment rooms, a sauna, hydrotherapy pools, steam room, salt room and Jacuzzi, and the four spa private villas enable guests to be pampered in their own space. To keep up their fitness goals, guests can head over to our exclusive Bodyism Wellness Centre, which is equipped with cardio and weight training equipment, as well as tailor-made nutrition expertise and physical, movement-centred experiences.

Grand Moroccan Hammam at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island


Experience the Corniche

The Abu Dhabi Corniche is an 8 kilometre stretch of shimmering waterfront, punctuated with pristine beaches, lively cafés, and manicured parks. Stroll or cycle along the promenade, soak in the sun at Corniche Beach, or grab an organic juice at Marl’s Organic. You’ll also find the dazzling Breakwater at the far western corner of Abu Dhabi Corniche, home to two of Abu Dhabi’s biggest attractions: Marina Mall and Heritage Village. Marina Mall is an entertainment complex that includes a bowling alley, ice rink and cineplex, as well as an array of designer brands in its shopping mall, while Heritage Village will transport you back to the UAE of the past thanks to its authentic reconstruction of a pre-oil-era enclave.

Eat delicious food

Eating a nutritious meal is vital to avoid travel fatigue, and Abu Dhabi has become a top culinary destination thanks to its melting pot of world flavours and chic restaurants with stunning panoramic views. At Tean, you’ll find grilled spiced meats and seafood dishes cooked the traditional Levantine way, from labban uomo (lamb shank with yoghurt sauce and pine nuts) to grilled Mediterranean octopus with Turkish tomato salad, pistachio, pomegranate and Turkish bread. Another superb place if you fancy classic coastal Italian recipes is Mare Mare restaurant, inspired by “Mamma’s home cooking.” One of its signature dishes is the exquisite scampi grigliati (chargrilled langoustine prawn with grilled vegetables and lemon sauce).

Food at Tean at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island


Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The majestic and ornate Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of Abu Dhabi’s star attractions and the UAE’s largest place of worship, big enough to accommodate 40,000 visitors. Embodying the best of Islamic design, it took twelve years to be built and has the world’s largest hand-woven carpet, dome and chandelier. It also features 82 domes of different sizes with pure white marble cladding and crescent-shaped finials decorated with gold-glass mosaic. Semi-precious stones such as amethyst, lapis lazuli and jasper are embedded into columns, delicate floral patterns in mother of pearl radiate from the walls, and six Faustig chandeliers made from twinkling Swarovski crystals and 24-carat galvanised gold hang from the ceiling. Abayas are provided for women and long trousers for men.

Embark on a Sunset Desert Safari

Abu Dhabi makes a superb point of departure for venturing out into the desert. The Empty Quarter is the world’s largest sand desert, crossing borders into Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, second only in size to the Sahara. It is also home to the world’s tallest sand dune, Tel Moreeb (meaning ‘Terrifying Mountain’) which is over 300 metres high. While it’s a two-hour drive from central Abu Dhabi, it’s also one of the world’s least visited regions, brimming with experiences you will never forget.
Empty Quarter in Abu Dhabi

Make the most of your layover in the thriving city of Abu Dhabi when you stay at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort.