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10 Free Places To Visit In Abu Dhabi Travelers Should Go

Free places to visit in Abu Dhabi - Skyscrapers and resorts, with many free attractions to explore.


Abu Dhabi is a city known for its fancy hotels and expensive things to do. Luckily, there are many free places to visit in Abu Dhabi without spending too much or, most of the time, nothing at all. And I’m here to tell you all about them, share my experiences, and give you some tips.

So, if you’re planning a trip and want to save some money, don’t worry. From beautiful mosques and old forts to beaches and lively markets, Abu Dhabi has something for everyone to enjoy without having to spend a lot of cash.

Cultural and Historical Attractions

Abu Dhabi in the Middle East is a city steeped in history and tradition, and there’s no better way to experience it than by visiting some of its iconic heritage sites. Here are some free cultural and historical attractions you can visit in Abu Dhabi:

1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Free places to visit in Abu Dhabi - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque illuminated at dusk with white domes and minarets.

First on our list of must-visit free places to visit in Abu Dhabi is the iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This architectural marvel will leave you in awe with its 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, and 24-carat gold-plated chandeliers.

The intricate floral designs inlaid with semi-precious stones like amethyst and lapis lazuli are simply breathtaking. It’s no wonder this mosque can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers.

LocationSheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursSat-Thu: 9am-10pm, Fri: 4:30pm-10pm
Guided ToursFree daily tours from 10am-11am (except Fridays)
Visitor GuidelinesDress modestly, remove shoes, women must wear headscarf (provided)
TipsVisit during sunset for stunning golden hour photos, bring a refillable water bottle, and wear comfortable walking shoes
FacilitiesGift shop, cafeteria, restrooms, ablution areas

2. Qasr Al Hosn

Next, we have Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi dating back to the 18th century. This historic fort has played an important role in the city’s development. Qasr Al Hosn serves as a royal residence, a government building, and now a museum. And guess what? Admission is completely free.

LocationRashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 10am-7pm
HighlightsOldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, city history museum, interactive displays
TipsDon’t miss the short film about the fort’s history, and be sure to explore the traditional majlis (sitting room) for a taste of Emirati hospitality
FacilitiesGift shop, cafe, restrooms

As you explore the fort, you’ll come across fascinating exhibits that showcase its role in protecting the city and its transformation into a modern metropolis. From ancient artifacts to interactive displays, there’s so much to discover. 

Pro tip: Try to learn about the traditional majlis (sitting room) and experience a taste of Emirati hospitality.

3. Heritage Village

If you want to experience traditional Emirati life for free, you must visit the Heritage Village. This free attraction to visit in Abu Dhabi is an authentic replica of a traditional oasis village, complete with palm frond huts, a campfire, and even a falaj irrigation system.

Observe Traditional Crafts

One of the best things about the Heritage Village is the opportunity to observe local artisans practicing traditional crafts. From weaving and pottery to metalwork and glassblowing, you’ll get to see these age-old skills in action. I was fascinated by the intricate designs and the level of skill and patience required to create such beautiful pieces.

LocationNear Marina Mall, Corniche Breakwater, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursSat-Thu: 9am-4pm, Fri: 3:30pm-9:30pm
HighlightsFree entry, traditional crafts, local artisans, pearl diving history
TipsChat with friendly artisans, try weaving or pottery
FacilitiesRestrooms, gift shop, small cafe

Explore the Traditional Souk

Another highlight of the Heritage Village is the traditional souk, where you can browse a variety of handicrafts, spices, and souvenirs. Try your best to haggle with the friendly vendors and learn more about the different products they offer. It’s a great place to pick up some authentic gifts for friends and family back home.

4. Founder’s Memorial

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, illuminated at dusk with stunning white domes and minarets, is a magnificent and free place to visit.

Last on our list of free cultural and historical attractions is the Founder’s Memorial. This stunning monument pays tribute to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan—United Arab Emirates founding father. The memorial’s centerpiece is a breathtaking 30-meter-high art installation called The Constellation.

The Constellation

The Constellation is made up of 1,327 geometric shapes that create a dynamic portrait of Sheikh Zayed. As you walk around the memorial, the shapes seem to shift and change, offering different perspectives of the leader’s likeness. It’s a truly mesmerizing sight, especially at night when the installation is beautifully illuminated.

LocationCorniche Road West, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 9am-10pm
HighlightsFree entry, The Constellation art installation, landscaped gardens
TipsVisit at night to see the installation illuminated
FacilitiesSanctuary Garden, gift shop, cafe, restrooms

Sanctuary Garden

The Founder’s Memorial also features a beautiful Sanctuary Garden. This serene space is filled with indigenous plants and trees, offering a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s the perfect place to sit and reflect on Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and the incredible progress the UAE has made under his leadership.

Parks and Green Spaces

A stunning palm tree-lined avenue in Abu Dhabi, one of the many free places to visit in the city.

In addition to its natural wonders, there are also free places to visit in Abu Dhabi which boasts several beautiful parks and green spaces where you can relax, picnic, and enjoy some fresh air. Here are a few of my favorites:

5. Umm Al Emarat Park

If you’re looking for a free green space to relax and unwind in Abu Dhabi, then you can’t go wrong with Umm Al Emarat Park. This sprawling park is one of the largest and oldest in Abu Dhabi, covering over 179,000 square meters. The moment you step inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a lush oasis.

Botanical Beauty

One of the highlights of Umm Al Emarat Park is the lovely botanical garden. Here, you’ll find an incredible collection of native and exotic plants from around the world, all beautifully arranged and meticulously maintained. I could spend hours wandering through the different sections, admiring the vibrant colors and unique flora.

LocationMushrif Area, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 8am-12am
HighlightsBotanical garden, animal barn, wisdom garden, children’s play area
FacilitiesRestaurants, cafes, prayer rooms, toilets
TipsPack a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon on the lush lawns, or rent a bike and explore the park’s winding paths

Animal Encounters and Wisdom Garden

Umm Al Emarat Park also features an animal barn where you can meet friendly creatures like camels, goats, and ponies. It’s a great spot for kids to learn about different animals and even pet some of the residents. Another must-see is the Wisdom Garden, which showcases a variety of medicinal plants and herbs used in traditional Emirati medicine.

6. Khalifa Park

Next up on our list of free parks and green spaces is Khalifa Park. This massive 500,000-square-meter park is located in the heart of Abu Dhabi and offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to play sports, enjoy a picnic, or simply relax in nature, Khalifa Park has you covered.

Gardens Galore

One of the best things about Khalifa Park is its incredible variety of gardens. From the fragrant Islamic Garden to the colorful Murjan Garden, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to admire.

Pro tip: Always make a beeline for the stunning Cactus Garden, which features over 40 different species of cacti and succulents from around the world.

LocationAl Salam Street, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 8am-10pm
HighlightsFree entry, gardens, sports courts, playgrounds, library
TipsCheck out the free events and performances at the amphitheater
FacilitiesRestaurants, cafes, prayer rooms, toilets, children’s play areas

Sports and Entertainment

Aside from its beautiful gardens, Khalifa Park also offers a range of free sports facilities, including basketball courts, tennis courts, and even a cricket pitch. Some playgrounds are scattered throughout the park, making it a great spot for families with kids.

And if you’re in the mood for some entertainment, be sure to check out the park’s open-air amphitheater. This park hosts regular free events and performances by different artists worldwide.

Beaches and Nature Spots

A serene sunset view at Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi, with a paved walkway, modern railings, palm trees, and calm waters.

Abu Dhabi isn’t just about history and culture—it’s also home to some incredible natural wonders and pristine beaches. Here are the most popular free beaches and nature spots you should visit in Abu Dhabi:

7. Corniche Beach

If you dream of pristine white sand and turquoise waters, look no further than Corniche Beach. This free public beach in Abu Dhabi stretches for a whopping 2 kilometers along the Abu Dhabi coastline.

Corniche Beach also offers a range of free water sports and activities. You can try your hand at beach volleyball, go for a paddle in a kayak, or even rent a stand-up paddleboard (for a small fee). There’s also a dedicated family area with plenty of shade and amenities for those with little ones in tow.

LocationCorniche Road, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 8am-8pm
Highlights2-kilometer stretch of white sand, turquoise waters, beach activities
FacilitiesChanging rooms, showers, toilets, beach umbrellas, sun loungers

As someone who has spent countless hours soaking up the sun at Corniche Beach, I have a few tips to share. Firstly, try to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat and crowds.

Secondly, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreens, a hat, and a beach umbrella for shade. And lastly, don’t forget to hydrate. There are several kiosks along the beach where you can grab a cold drink or snack.

8. Mangrove National Park

One of Abu Dhabi’s best-kept secrets is the Mangrove National Park, a breathtaking nature reserve just a short drive from the city center. This free attraction in Abu Dhabi is a must-visit for nature lovers and anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Lush Greenery and Diverse Wildlife

As you explore the park’s lush mangrove forests and winding waterways, you’ll feel like you’re in another world. The towering trees and dense foliage create a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

At the same time, the diverse wildlife adds an element of excitement and discovery. Keep your eyes peeled for herons, flamingos, and even the occasional dolphin.

LocationEastern Ring Road, Abu Dhabi
Opening HoursDaily: 8am-6:30pm
HighlightsFree entry, mangrove forests, diverse wildlife, kayaking
TipsBring binoculars for birdwatching, wear comfortable clothing
FacilitiesVisitor center, kayak rentals, restrooms, walking trails

Kayaking and Walking Trails

One of the best ways to explore Mangrove National Park is by kayak. You can rent one from the visitor center for a small fee, or you can bring your own and launch from the dedicated kayak trail.

As you paddle through the calm waters, you’ll have a unique perspective of the mangroves and the creatures that call them home. If you prefer to stay on land, there are also several walking trails that wind through the park, offering plenty of opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

9. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

A group of people in traditional clothing stands under a large, modern, rock-like structure at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, surrounded by a sandy landscape and grass.

Another hidden gem for nature lovers is the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, just 45 minutes outside the city center. This 5-square-kilometer park is home to an incredible diversity of bird life, including over 250 migratory species that stop over there on their long journeys.

LocationAl Wathba, Abu Dhabi (45 minutes from the city center)
Opening HoursThu-Sat: 8am-6pm (closed from June to August)
HighlightsWetlands, migratory birds, greater flamingos
Walking TrailsShort trail (1.5km, 30min) and long trail (3km, 1hr)
TipsVisit during the winter months (November to March) for the best chance of spotting flamingos, and bring plenty of water and snacks
FacilitiesVisitor center, restrooms, bird hides

But the real stars of the show are the greater flamingos, which can be seen in huge flocks wading through the shallow waters. I was lucky enough to visit during the winter months (November to March) when the flamingos were most abundant, and it was an unforgettable sight.

10. Walking Trails and Visitor Center

A wooden walkway winding through the lush greenery and wetlands of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve at sunset.

To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, be sure to explore the walking trails that wind through the wetlands. There are two options to choose from: a short 1.5km trail that takes about 30 minutes, and a longer 3km trail that takes around an hour.

Both offer plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and admire the unique wetland ecosystem. If you need a break from the sun, go to the visitor center to learn more about the reserve’s history and conservation efforts.

So, there you have it! Abu Dhabi, one of the top travel destinations, offers the best free attractions, from stunning mosques and historic forts to lush parks and beautiful beaches.

Can I Visit Emirates Palace for Free?

Yes, you can visit certain areas of Emirates Palace for free, such as the lobby, the gardens, and the beach. However, to access other parts of the hotel, you’ll need to either purchase a day pass, book a room as a guest, or join a guided tour. Keep in mind that even the free areas may have dress codes and behavior guidelines that visitors are expected to follow.

Is it Free to Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, it is completely free to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. However, due to its popularity, it’s highly recommended to book your visit in advance to ensure entry, especially if you’re interested in joining a guided tour. The mosque is open daily for visitors, with slightly reduced hours on Fridays for prayers. Remember to dress modestly and respectfully, with women required to wear headscarves (provided for free at the entrance).

What is the Best Free Zone for Businesses in the UAE?

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is widely considered one of the best free zones in the UAE and has been ranked as the top free zone in the world. It offers a range of benefits for businesses, including 100% ownership, tax exemptions, and a streamlined setup process. DMCC is particularly popular with companies in the commodities, trade, and technology sectors, thanks to its strategic location and world-class infrastructure. Other notable free zones in the UAE include Dubai Internet City, Abu Dhabi Global Market, and Jebel Ali Free Zone.

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