Credit to Dulce Pop Bonini

As Winter Draws Near, Here’s How to Explore Abu Dhabi

Now that the weather is no longer an obstacle to experiencing the Abu Dhabi outdoors, it is time to make the most of what the city has to offer. Here are some fun places in the city, my friends and I have found and started to explore.

Nov 7, 2022

Ever since I arrived on campus, I have found it a more challenging task than expected to find something weather appropriate to do during the weekends in Abu Dhabi. Long gone are the days before my arrival when I would map out how walkable the UAE capital was through Google Maps. The intense summer heat set me up for a rude awakening.
As someone who grew up climbing a mountain every weekend in all types of weather back home, it was hard to subject myself to the air conditioned indoor lifestyle over the hottest months of the year. Honestly, I am still not used to this lifestyle. However, now that the weather is no longer an obstacle to experiencing the outdoors and one can breathe outside without the support of the fans and air conditioning, I am starting to planout city outings once more. Here are some fun places in the city I — and my friends — have found and started to explore.
As one of the largest parks in Abu Dhabi, this is the perfect place for all nature-deprived people (like myself). If you do not enjoy strolling around aimlessly, there are several attractions within the park that can make your stroll appear less aimless — a botanic garden, a shade house with exotic plants and an animal barn are just a few of them. If you are looking for an escape from the glass and concrete city jungle, this is a true city oasis. However, because this is a popular family park, you can expect it to be more crowded than many other outdoor places.
This one is a treat for all the busy people on campus. Mamsha al Saadiyat is a wonderful beach front a few minutes away from campus on Saadiyat Island. The many modern restaurants and cafes at this destination can comfortably become your workplace for a few hours if you have a lot of work you cannot run away from. Even if you do decide to study here, make time for a relaxing walk and to bask in the fresh beach air on Mamsha al Saadiyat.
The time of year has come to experience the best of Abu Dhabi: the coastline with its pristine, clear blue waters. Many students have expressed their disappointment in the expensive entry fees at most beaches in the city. To the rescue comes Al Bahar Beach, a public beach with various free and paid activities, including an aqua bounce castle for all the kids at heart (this attraction, however, has a fee of 155 AED for the whole day). The Al Sahil Beaches also offer a free admission mixed beach as part of the Corniche coastline complex, but even its paid gates are accessible for only 10 AED. For a more “local” feel, I recommend going to the free-entry Al Bateen public beach, where you should take some snacks with you to supplement the few food trucks on site. This is a good location for a picnic day.
This beachfront is its own world. It is one of the newest additions to the “beach collection” of Abu Dhabi City and offers various activities for sporty and adventurous people. A 10km bike track (with bike rental offered on the spot), a skate park, beach volleyball, kayaking, and kite surfing are a few of the activities that Hudayriat island provides to adrenaline seeking souls.
Just one stop away from campus with bus 170, Manarat Al Saadiyat is the perfect place to go for an artsy day out. A gallery, but also a public art workshop, both the indoor and outdoor spaces at Manarat Al Saadiyat are multifunctional and always home something new. Check out the space’s latest program on their website before you go to see what they are currently featuring and to sign up for the latest workshop or events, like the daily Ceramics and Sculpture drop in studio or the sound healing classes offered weekly starting from Nov. 28. Manarat Al Saadiyat is currently preparing for a new large scale “Art Abu Dhabi” exhibition, which is to open Nov. 16, 2022. For a nice dinner outing with friends, or date night, try Larte, the outdoor Italian restaurant at Manarat.
Another location perfect for a more sophisticated outing, the Cultural Foundation is mostly an event venue and gallery, but can also be the perfect background for your next Instagram post. The park right outside the Foundation’s Headquarters is a stunning architectural feat which can impress even the least artsy minds. Visit their website to get involved in some of the events held there, such as artist Fouad Mimi’s “Two trees in Harmony” exhibition on the natural world and the Fossilized Flowers workshop on Nov. 17 where you can learn the art of preservation.
If you’d like to find other opportunities for getting off campus and exploring the outdoors, you might want to check out Travel Abu Dhabi or Visit Abu Dhabi for more locations in the city.
Yana Peeva is Deputy Columns Editor. Email her at
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