The Formula 1 season finale is a cause for celebration. As the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rolls into town, the championship could be on the line, and the teams and drivers are in the mood to party a season well done.
But for fans attending, a journey 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 ten highlights 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.
10 things for racing fans to do in Abu Dhabi
Emirates National Auto Museum
You’ll come for the Formula 1 cars, 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.
Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi
The thrilling spectacle of watching a Formula 1 race may get the adrenaline pumping through your veins, but if you want to feel a slice of that thrill (and have a lot of fun along the way), Abu Dhabi’s Warner Brothers World is one for you.
You might associate with the Warner Brothers Studio in London, which takes you behind the scenes of the Harry Potter sets. But Warner Brothers World brings its retro, classic cartoons to life. From The Flintstones and The Jetsons right through to Justice League, it’ll keep the little ones happy (but you’ll probably end up gleaning the most satisfaction).
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 spectators at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari World certainly provides the next best thing.
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.
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.
Shopping is a major draw in Dubai, with some of the world’s most glamorous shopping malls. Not far from the Yas Marina Circuit is the Yas Mall: 2.5millions 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.
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
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. While It 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 followed during visits, but it will be well worth it to discover this incredible building.
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.
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!
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.
Ready to book?