A trip to UAE is often met with skeptical thoughts, mostly because one thinks they will have to break their bank account to have a joyful leisure time in this Middle Eastern country. The cities of UAE such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are often stereotyped as posh cities with sophisticated lifestyles. It has always been portrayed as cities with unimaginable attractions, opulent fine dining restaurants, and posh and expensive 5-star hotel accommodations with a high standard of hospitality. Thus, it implants the idea in a traveler’s mind that you will have to live in a luxurious hotel and shell out a lot of money to visit larger-than-life attractions. It is time to shatter this misconception and make you believe that A UAE holiday such as a couple of days spent in Abu Dhabi need not burn a hole in your pocket. For budget-conscious travelers, there are many places to visit in Abu Dhabi that you can enjoy visiting if you know where to go and what to spend your hard-earned money on.
Few things to keep in mind while planning a budget holiday in Abu Dhabi
Don’t follow the usual – You don’t have to follow what other tourists are doing. Abu Dhabi has loads of brand-new state-of-the-art attractions such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Just because these are the most popular attractions, you don’t have to visit them all. You will be surprised to realize that Abu Dhabi has some experiences that are free or have mere nominal charges to visit. You can also pick and choose popular attractions and mix and match with low-cost and memorable experiences.
- The time of the year – It is essential for visitors to take into consideration when to travel to Abu Dhabi. Avoid peak season period because accommodation and attractions are priced high and you will find that the destination is overwhelmingly crowded. Instead, opt for shoulder season vacation when the weather is also pleasant to visit and the rates are also reasonably priced. The month of August is best for budget traveling in Abu Dhabi as this is the cheapest month when it comes to accommodation and flight prices.
- Choose 3-4 star hotels-Abu Dhabi exudes an aura of rich lifestyle and opulent ambiance. But it is not necessary that you have to experience the luxe life if you are traveling to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s high-end hotels and resorts do have an impeccable standard of leisure comfort and state-of-the-art facilities. But the low-budget hotels too offer a standard of hospitality and well-appointed rooms that you seldom find in other cities. The capital city of Abu Dhabi lives up to its gracious hospitality and makes sure that its guests have a memorable stay during their time spent in the emirate. You can find a wide range of reasonably priced 3 and 4-star hotels that do not compromise on the level of comfort and services. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism has recently launched the ‘Go Safe’ certification programme in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a great tool to sort through hotels that can offer the best level of hygiene and safety without compromising the price or comfort of the accommodation you need on your vacation.
- Travel like a local – Observe what a local resident of Abu Dhabi does and stick to their ways of lifestyle. There are plenty of places that offer lip-smacking Middle Eastern and other cultural cuisines that do not stress your wallet. On a budget holiday, it is best to forego all the posh restaurants and cafes and enjoy the simple pleasures of life just like the local common people in Abu Dhabi. Take public transportation such as bus and water taxis which are cheaper than taxis and are well-appointed, airconditioned for the comfort of travelers. Look at the city from a local’s perspective and you will find amazing ways to save your money and spend on enriching experiences. If you are an art lover, you would be wanting to eagerly visit Louvre Abu Dhabi but may be skeptical to add to your travel citing it is a bit expensive and doesn’t suit your budget. Then cut down on fancy hotels and posh restaurants so that you can enjoy your favorite attraction in Abu Dhabi and don’t feel disappointed about not able to visit it due to the budget crunch. It is better to splurge on experiences than on food, transportation, and accommodation while you are on a tight-budget holiday. A frugal plan and local’s outlook works impressively to offer a budget-conscious holiday plan not just in Abu Dhabi but anywhere in the world.
That being said, let’s put these tips to work and look at this sample budget-friendly holiday plan for 2-days in Abu Dhabi.
Day 1: As soon as arrive, check in to your hotel and refresh. Later head to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: This grand mosque in Abu Dhabi is a proud architectural and cultural marvel of the capital city. Blended in pristine white and gold hues, the mosque is said to be a fusion of Islamic architecture from Persian, Mughal, and Alexandrian influences. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in UAE and a not-to-miss attraction for those visiting Abu Dhabi.
- Location: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, 5th St, Abu Dhabi
- Entry Fee: Free of Cost
- Timings: Saturday till Thursday: 9 am till 10 pm
Once you have finished visiting this grand landmark of Abu Dhabi, head to Heritage Village.
Heritage Village: Located near Marina Mall, Heritage Village is an effort by Abu Dhabi to take you back to the humble bygone eras of the capital emirate. This quaint township with earthy tones is a reconstructed desert village that comprises elements of cultural and natural significance. Reflecting on the simple existence of the past, you can witness the Bedouin lifestyle of desert villages amid a green oasis teeming with palm and date trees. An ideal spot to get a glimpse into Abu Dhabi’s past years before modernism transformed UAE’s major cities.
- Location: Near Marina Mall, Corniche – Breakwater Road, Abu Dhabi
- Entry Fee: Free of Cost
- Timings: Daily 11 am to 11pm
Later enjoy long strolls at Corniche Road and other serene beaches of Abu Dhabi such as Al Hudayriat Beach and Al Bateen Public beach that are free to explore. Wind up your first day in Abu Dhabi with tranquil sunsets and a refreshing evening sea breeze in a laid-back ambiance.
Day 2: On your second day in Abu Dhabi, you can spend your time at an amusement park. Abu Dhabi has garnered attention for its fascinating assortment of theme parks such as Yas Water World, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Each of these theme parks is unique and offer an assortment of thrill and adventures for all age groups. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Warner Bos. World Abu Dhabi is the first of its kind in the Middle East and Yas Water World is a water wonderland, ideal for those who want to beat the heat amid adventure and excitement. You can opt for any one of your favorite theme parks and enjoy fun-filled moments with your near and dear ones.
Here is an approximate comparison of prices of these attractions
Yas Water World Abu Dhabi: Approx. AED 250 per person for a Single Day Ticket
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi: Approx. AED 295 per person for a Single Day Ticket
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi: Approx. AED 295 per person for Single Day Ticket
The reason this itinerary works for budget-conscious Abu Dhabi visitors is that apart from the transportation and meal costs, you will not be spending much on day one. It is because you are visiting attractions that are free of cost. It, thus lets you enjoy a full-fledged fun day on day 2 with a trip to one of Abu Dhabi’s popular theme parks.
Affordable accommodation options
One of the main aspects of planning a budget holiday to Abu Dhabi is deciding the type of accommodation for your stay. Spend on experiences than on luxury stays and give up on unnecessary vanity that doesn’t suit your budget holiday. Mid-range hotels in Abu Dhabi are quite comfortable and clean as it is a requirement by the law for hotel operators not to compromise on the standard quality of comfort and hygiene.
Here are some hotels that are under AED 250 per person for a day:
- Emirates Plaza Hotel– Located in downtown Abu Dhabi near Al ZahiyahE13, this hotel is one of the best value for money stays in Abu Dhabi. The rooms are spacious and well-appointed for a comfortable stay.
- Premier Inn Abu Dhabi Capital Centre – Set opposite Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, this hotel is popular among family holidaymakers and offers various well-equipped amenities.
- Al Diar Mina Hotel- Located at Corniche Area, this modern hotel is one of Al DIar’s hotels in Abu Dhabi that are budget-friendly yet comfortable to stay.
- Ivory Hotel Apartments– Nestled in Tourist Club Area, these offer pocket-friendly studio apartments with basic facilities such as an attached kitchenette and bathrooms for those who would like a ‘home-away-from-home’ experience. All the rooms are elegant, furnished and offer a wide range of services of a hotel such as housekeeping, concierge and wake-up calls, call cab services, Wifi, and laundry services for a comfortable stay.
Cheap eats: Budget-friendly places to eat in Abu Dhabi
There are plenty of amazing dining spots and food outlets throughout the city where you can grab a bite. The city is famous for its Middle Eastern and International food scene. Skip the savvy restaurants and dining cafes and venture out on a local culinary experience. Some of the best restaurants that offer delicious, flavorsome food that is pocket-friendly are:
- Bu Tafish -This restaurant has multiple locations throughout the city and offers scrumptious seafood delicacies blended in Palestinian flavors. A great place for seafood lovers to enjoy a tasty meal.
- Dragon Bao Bao -Located at Al Markaziya, this Chinese cafeteria offers amazing Asian food with luscious portions that are worth the money spent. The menu is priced from AED 15 onwards.
- Bonne Anne – Try something different at this Ethiopian restaurant that brings you the flavors of Africa in form of rich Ethiopian coffee, beef stews, and spiced lentils. This restaurant is located in Tourist Club Area, Al Zahiyah.
- Kura Kura – Tuck into some lip-smacking biriyani, creamy and spicy chicken Chettinad at this Indian restaurant. Located at Al Nahyan, this restaurant offers some classic combinations of Indian dishes at really affordable prices.
Abu Dhabi is also a happening spot for the food truck ventures and you will find an assortment of these catering delicious snacks and desserts throughout the city. These are light on your wallet and often offer you meals that are grab-and-go but appetizing and fulfilling. The best spots to find these food trucks are at Khalifa City, Al Bateen Beach, and Al Hudayriat Beach where you can simply stop by and relish on shawarmas, burgers, and classic shots of expressos. Some of the popular food truck outlets to look out for are:
- Burger in Muscle at Wathba Sub Station
- Shot at Khalifa City
- Salt at Umm Al Emarat Park
- Street Bites near Marina Village
- Pizza Pie Factory at Khalifa City
Abu Dhabi is impressively beautiful. However, it is popular as the sister city of Dubai and a new face of modern UAE. Hence it is often assumed as an expensive city to visit. Don’t miss out on this magnificent destination because of the casual notion that Abu Dhabi may burn a hole in your wallet. If you research and plan your Abu Dhabi holiday and take a leaf out of local resident’s lifestyles, you can easily manage to spend a day or two in Abu Dhabi for under USD 1000. In fact, any destination can be expensive if you do not budget your holiday accordingly. Once you get a gist of how to travel frugal, you will realize that a holiday to Abu Dhabi does not have to cost a fortune. It is affordable and will be one of the best travel journeys you have experienced in your lifetime.