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Top Spots to Enjoy a Walk Around Abu Dhabi
Posted on Dec 09, 2013 by Luke James
With temperatures beginning to dip, there’s no better time to get out and explore all that Abu Dhabi has to offer. Whether you’ve lived here for years or are simply in town for a few days, we take a look at some of the best walks around Abu Dhabi to make sure you get the most of the city.
Get back to nature at the Al Ain Oasis
Distance: Spend as long as you want. You can easily wander the oasis for two to three hours.
This spectacular oasis is filled with palm plantations that offer a cool and shady respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The plantation is serviced by a 3,000 year old falaj irrigation system, delivering water from boreholes that provide sustenance to the plantations, many of which are still active farms.
The expansive oasis is spread over 1,200 hectares and houses over 147,000 date palms as well as a variety of birdlife such as Hoopoes and Bee Eaters. You can get into the oasis through any of the eight entrances, but be sure to keep a track of where you came from as it is easy to get lost in the expansive area. The best times to visit are between January and February when the date palms are in flower and Abu Dhabi is a little cooler, but the lush palms provide an escape from the heat all year round.
Admire the significant landmarks of Abu Dhabi
Distance: 3.2 kilometres
Starting at the Corniche, this walk is a great way to take in some of the most significant historical and cultural attractions in Abu Dhabi. Begin your tour at the Baynunah Hilton Hotel - an impressive 164-metre monument to the progressive architecture of Abu Dhabi - before wandering to the Investment Authority Tower. Completed in 2006, the building is one of the most impressive skyscrapers in the city and features a number of micro perforated ‘sails’ that furl and unfurl in keeping with the movement of the sun. Following the Corniche a little further, visitors can stop by the Lake Garden and admire the large man made lake and impressive sea views before heading to the Abu Dhabi Heritage Park. The park houses a considerable collection of statues and fountains emphasizing the storied history of the UAE.
On the easterly side of the gardens is the Cultural Foundation, comprised of the Institute of Culture and Art, the National Archives and the National Library, a cluster aiming to preserve and promote Emirati culture and heritage. One block east lies the Qasr Al Hosn, known as the White Palace. It’s the oldest stone building in the city and was once home of the Al Nahyan family, the first administrators of the region around 1795. Finally, to wrap up the tour, make sure to visit the Sheik Khalifa Mosque, roughly 100 metres down the street - a dazzling structure and one of the most impressive mosques in the region.
Have a wander through Khalifa Park
Distance: As long as you like, but you can see most of the park in around 3 kilometres
One of the city’s largest and most popular public spaces, Khalifa Park was built in 2007 and attracts more visitors than any other park in Abu Dhabi. The park is a favoured destination for families and those that are looking to relax; as with any outdoor area there are more crowds during the weekend, but throughout the week the park’s remote location means you’ll often feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
The park has an array of fountains and gardens across its grounds, and the lush, verdant grass and gentle slopes makes it easy to forget that you’re in the middle of the desert. The Khalifa Park Museum is on site as well and provides information and history about the area. As an added bonus the museum offers free bike hire (you just need to deposit an ID) in case you feel like swapping walking for a little pedal power.
Cruise the Corniche
Distance: Around 8 kilometres
No matter how hot, or what time of the year it is, thanks to the cooling seaside breeze, the Corniche always makes for a brilliant walk. It’s easy to see how the Corniche has firmly established itself as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Abu Dhabi. The stunningly blue waters of the Arab Gulf are on full display whilst the manicured waterfront, pedestrian paths and dedicated cycling tracks make it easy for everyone to enjoy.
The lengthy stretch of clean beach is perfect for swimmers looking to cool off under the watchful gaze of lifeguards, while a host of cafes, restaurants and refreshment points along the walk make it an ideal spot to kick back and watch the world go by, or simply settle in to watch the beautiful sunset.
Wander the site of the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Distance: Around 3 kilometers
Whilst not a walk in the strictest sense, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the must sees in Abu Dhabi and a walk throughout the grounds is one of the most spectacular you’re likely to do in Abu Dhabi. The largest and grandest mosque in the UAE, this mosque was built as a means of unifying the cultural diversity of the Muslim world. It is a breathtaking building and one that truly needs to be seen to be believed.
Visitors can wander the opulent halls, gaze at the beautiful marble and glass chandeliers or simply marvel at the sheer scale of the praying halls that can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers. It is a must visit for anyone living in or visiting Abu Dhabi, especially since it is one of the only in the United Arab Emirates to allow non-muslims to enter the space. The mosque is free to visit and also offers free guided tours.
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