Exotic destinations such as Abu Dhabi might put a dent into your savings account, but there are still ways to keep your travel expenses low. Start by planning a vacation during the off season, as the peak season always results in a price jump. Choose one of the many cheap Abu Dhabi hotels, then hunt for the free museums and tourist attractions scattered around the city. There are many free sites you can visit and their variety will suite any type of traveler.
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Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
This popular tourist spot is the perfect choice to start your Abu Dhabi tour. Located next to the Corniche and Marina Mall, the Heritage Village welcomes tourists to explore its mock souk, its recreated Bedouin encampment, or the many workshops where you can see how pots, traditional weaving, and glass making are done.
UAE University Natural History Museum
The UAE University is home to the Natural History Museum, which charges no admission fees. Find your way to Al Ain and discover the rocks, minierals, flora, and fauna collections of this museum. Make sure you time your visit right, as the museum is only open Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Al Ain Oasis
While you are still in Al Ain, head over to the Al Ain Oasis. This natural haven is spread over 3,000 acres and still has working farms, after no less than three millennia of farming. Make sure you get a good look at the falaj, an ancient yet still functioning irrigation system.
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If you want to see a mosque that can easily accommodate over 40,000 worshipers, then head to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It stands on the equivalent of five football fields. Allow yourself to be mesmerized by the reflective pools, the four minarets that are a little over 100 meters, and the semi-precious stones — lapis lazuli, red agate, mother of pearl, and the beautiful marble — that adorn the building.
Paradise Hanging Gardens
If you love the outdoors, then the Paradise Hanging Gardens are a must-see. This park is home to an impressive collection of about ten million flowers, an Eiffel Tower replica, and a little under 300 hanging baskets. Apparently, that’s more hanging baskets than anywhere else in the world, as the Paradise Hanging Gardens hold the Guinness World Record.
Women’s Handicraft Centre
This museum run by the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association is the place to go to discover local arts and crafts. You will not only see the exhibits, but also get a chance to learn how to weave, make Arabian oils or handmade souvenirs, or work with silver thread.
The National Auto Museum
Although some consider it kitschy, this museum is the place to go to see unique cars, such as a giant Land Rover. Much cheaper than a trip to Ferrari World, the National Auto Museum admission is usually free of charge, but you might run into someone at the door who asks for a small donation. Still less expensive than a trip to Yas Island.
It might not be Abu Dhabi’s tallest mountain, but it’s certainly impressive. The road all the way to the top of Jebel Hafeet makes for either a picturesque drive or a daring walking adventure.