Long overshadowed by flashier Dubai, Abu Dhabi is finally coming into its own as a major tourist destination. The capital of the United Arab Emirates blends astounding modern architecture and outstanding museums, world-class sports, and desert oasis adventures.
What We Love
Ferrari World: Much like the supercars on which it's based, this massive indoor theme park features fast rides, Italian style, and lots of Scuderia Red.
Saadiyat Island: Okay, it's still in the works. But you've gotta love the idea that both the Louvre and the Guggenheim are creating satellite museums in Abu Dhabi.
Best Known For
Dune Bashing: The fabled Empty Quarter that lies inland from Abu Dhabi offers plenty of scope for discovering the desert via 4x4 vehicles, quad bikes, and camel trekking.
Emirates Palace: The world's most lavish hotel truly is fit for a prince — and is still worth a peek even if you can't afford to stay there overnight. At the very least quaff a cocktail in the Caviar Bar, sip afternoon high tea at Le Café, or sample the sumptuous Middle Eastern food of Mezlai.
Shop for Cruises
Who It's Best For
Sports Fans: From the Formula One Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, the local calendar is filled with world-class sports — and you may even get a chance to play at one of the venues when events are not in progress.
Desert Enthusiasts: Between Liwa and Al Ain oases, Abu Dhabi offers the best and easiest desert access — and the greatest array of activities — anywhere on the vast Arabian Peninsula.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Yep, It's Hot: Temperatures have soared past 125 degrees Fahrenheit in recent years, and triple digits are the daytime norm throughout the summer. The best times to visit are late fall, winter, and early spring.
Building Never Stops: Urban Abu Dhabi is a never-ending construction zone that creates noise pollution and traffic delays.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.