A friend who moved from London to work in Abu Dhabi was kind enough to share his insider tips and recommendations to maximise our time there. I'm passing these on to you, with some tips of my own...
GRAND MOSQUE- As I mentioned in my previous post, this is an absolute must-see. It is best to attend the twilight tour so that you can catch this stunning architectural wonder in daylight and moonlight.
SAADIYAT BEACH CLUB - Located on the island of Saadiyat, this beautiful beach club is great fun, particularly if your accommodation doesn't have a pool or beach. It's quite pricy, but the pool is lined with stylish cabanas, and it has excellent cocktails too.
SAADIYAT PUBLIC BEACH - Miles of white sand and clear waters here. You can also hire a kayak and row over to a remote island, park up and have a sunbathe. It doesn't serve alcohol and there is no music but this is a great find.
YAS BEACH CLUB - Compared to Saadiyat this is more of a beachy beach club. It has a couple of bars, lounge music, delicious cocktails and shisha. A crowd favourite.
YAS MALL - If you really want to go to a mall in Abu Dhabi don't bother with any other than Yas Mall. Abu Dhabi Mall is quite dated, as are the other smaller ones. If you want designer stores, head to the Galleria in the Abu Dhabi Financial Centre where you'll also find a great view of the Abu Dhabi skyline and some good (international) food joints.
ROSEWOOD HOTEL - Located beside the Abu Dhabi Financial Centre complex this hotel has a couple of nice bars and Zuma, the Japanese restaurant, next door.
RAY'S BAR - This chilled out bar sits at the top of Etihad Towers and offers a happy hour 2-for-1 on Veuve champagne.
EMIRATES PALACE - A must-see converted royal palace which is now a hotel. Here you will find gold, gold and .... lots of gold. It's one of the most lavish spots to walk around. They have a Cuban cigar bar, and quite a few other nice restaurants including Hakkasan which has a really nice outdoor Japanese garden with views of Etihad Towers. Emirates Palace also has the (in)famous gold bar vending machine!
MONO - Situated next to the Burjeel Hospital, this was my pal's favourite local haunt in Abu Dhabi. No frills here, but great authentic Arabic food. It's always full of Emiratis rather than tourists. Note - local restaurants do not serve alcohol so be sure to try the lemon and mint drink.
CAFE ARABIA - Situated on 15th St, Airport Road, this is our top tip for breakfast. A converted villa filled with trinkets and Moroccan lamps. Make sure you try the shatsouka. Also a good venue for lunch.
PEARLS AND CAVIAR AT THE SHANGRI LA - This poolside bar overlooks the Grand Mosque. Particularly stunning by night.
YAS VICEROY HOTEL - Head to the Viceroy if you want to see the Grand Prix track and enjoy a few cocktails on the rooftop bar. It has a great Indian restaurant and a good place for Friday brunch - which, as a side note, is another must - make sure you book ahead as every hotel's brunch will be rammed.
YAS WATERWORLD - If you want to head to a waterpark try Yas Water World as it's less busy than the waterparks in Dubai. There is also Ferrari World nearby if the fastest rollercoaster in the world gets you going.