Check out our list of 10 things to do in Abu Dhabi during a trip to the Formula 1 Grand Prix including dinner cruises and quad bike tours

The Formula 1 season finale is a cause for celebration. As the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rolls into town, the championship will no longer be be on the line, but that isn’t stopping the fans in their thousands flocking to the UAE capital for a Grand Prix to remember.

A trip to the Emirates might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The race at Yas Marina brings racing fans to an incredible part of the world, where there are sights and attractions for families, couples and petrolheads alike.

We’ve picked our top ten highlights of things to do in Abu Dhabi, from the thrills of Ferrari World and the Sheikh’s incredible car collection, to water and amusement parks for the kids, and romantic dinner cruises for couples.

There are also some Abu Dhabi attractions that are free for Grand Prix ticket holders – find out which ones below!

10 things for racing fans to do in Abu Dhabi

Go inside the crazy car museum in Abu Dhabi

1. Emirates National Auto Museum

You’ll come for the Formula 1 cars, but stay for the world’s biggest off-road truck. The Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan’s collection of over 200 cars is on display at this national museum, and includes a rainbow Mercedes collection, a 50,000 tonne Dodge Power Wagon, and a Mercedes Monster Truck. In fact, there’s hardly a supercar in sight at this wacky, eclectic collection of cars.

Learn more about the Emirates National Auto Museum.

2. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

The thrilling spectacle of watching a Formula 1 race may get the adrenaline pumping, but if you want to feel that thrill away from the track (and have a lot of fun along the way), Abu Dhabi’s Warner Bros. World is the place for you.

You might already be familiar with the Warner Bros. Studio in London, which takes you behind the scenes of the Harry Potter sets. But Warner Bros. World in Abu Dhabi brings all the Warner Brothers classic cartoons we know and love to life. From The Flintstones and The Jetsons right through to Justice League, Warner Brothers World is the ideal spot if you’re looking for things to do in Ab Dhabi with kids.

Entrance is free on race weekends when you show your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ticket.

3. Ferrari World

Unless you’re one of the 20 drivers on the grid, there aren’t many places in the world that you’ll be able to feel the thrill and speed of driving a Formula 1 car. But for spectators at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari World certainly provides the next best thing.

Ferrari World, Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi
Ferrari World, with the Yas Marina circuit in shot

A sprawling theme park just a stone’s throw from the circuit, Ferrari World is all about getting the adrenaline pumping. The Formula Rossa rollercoaster hits 0 to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds, quicker than an F1 car which makes it the fastest ride on the planet. Turbo Track and Turbo Tower experiment with g-forces, and give thrill-seekers the experience of zero-gravity.

For those that want to get behind the wheel, the karting track and F1 simulators will put you in the driving seat. They even offer driving experiences around Yas Island in an actual Ferrari, and there’s a museum showcasing the greatest cars to have been produced in Maranello. 

Entrance is free on race weekends when you show your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ticket.

4. Yas Waterworld

Despite the race in Abu Dhabi taking place in December, temperatures soar to an average high of 26°C, but there are plenty of ways to keep cool before or after race weekend.

Yas Waterworld is one of the world’s biggest water parks, with 40 rides across its sprawling 37 acres. For any family travelling to the race with children in need of entertainment, you can’t go wrong.

Entrance is free on race weekends when you show your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ticket.

5. Shopping in Abu Dhabi: Yas Mall

Shopping is a major draw in Abu Dhabi, with some of the world’s most glamorous shopping malls. Not far from the Yas Marina Circuit is the Yas Mall: 2.5 million square feet of shopping bliss.

While it’s packed with home comforts and high street names you’ll recognise, there’s plenty of premium domestic brands to explore.

But, as everyone knows, the best part of a shopping trip is the eating. If you’re missing home, sure, there are McDonald’s, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. But you didn’t fly to Abu Dhabi for any old food you could get from Westfields. Head to Al fanar Restaurant & Café for Emirati fine dining, or Zadina for a gourmet Emirati delicacy, dates.

6. Observation Deck at 300

The beauty of holding a Formula 1 race in this part of the world is, well, just that: the beauty of Abu Dhabi.

Much of the city is located just off the mainland on a series of islands, with the cast Persian Gulf just to the north. While it provides a stunning view from anywhere in the city, there’s only one place to really bask in the landscape.

On the 74th floor of the Second Tower of the Conrad Hotel, you can pull up a seat and marvel at the stunning 360-degree views for a mocktail or an afternoon tea. If you’re hoping to return from Abu Dhabi with some epic selfies, you won’t beat the backdrop here.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center

7. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates, and really is one of the biggest in the world to be built in the 21st century. This stunning example of Islamic architecture has a capacity of 41,000 people, and is a key place for daily worship, and Friday prayers and prayers during the Eid period – when it regularly reaches capacity.

Tourists hoping to get a taste of the Emirati culture can visit the mosque for free, and take part in an hour-long guided tour of the facility.

There are several manners and practices that must be strictly observed during visits, but it will be well worth it to discover this incredible building.

8. Abu Dhabi Dhow Dinner Cruise

Emirati cuisine is focused on meat fish and rice, and you’ll find delicious lamb and mutton dishes throughout Abu Dhabi for a reasonable price. But if you’re after a special meal, climb about the Dhow Dinner Cruise. The double-decker traditional dhow tours along the Corniche Creek while you’re served grilled meats, fresh seafood and authentic dishes. For racing fans heading to Abu Dhabi as a couple, this could make for a perfect romantic final meal in the Emirates.

Book an Abu Dhabi Dhow Dinner Cruise.

A quad bike in the desert
Who could resist a ride through the desert like this?

9. Abu Dhabi Quad Bike Tour

How can anyone travel to the Emirati desert without fulfilling the temptation to get behind the wheel on the dunes? You can either climb on a quad bike, or get inside a dune buggy and explore the soft sands. Test the speeds of the souped-up carts in the most unique setting as the sun sets. Proper Lawrence of Arabia stuff!

A man looks up at Emirates Palace
Tour through the country with an insightful local.

10. Hiara Tours

If you want to delve deeper into the history of Abu Dhabi, sign up for an all-encompassing tour. A tour with a company like Hiara will provide a knowledgeable guide eager to deliver an authentic experience. You’ll eat in the locals’ favourite spots, discover the culture and traditions, and leave with a deeper understanding of this part of the world. But it’s recommended to book early, as Grand Prix weekend is likely to be a busy period for these companies.