Yas Marina Circuit & Ferrari World#11 in Best Things To Do in Abu Dhabi
Fans of racing will feel at home in Abu Dhabi. While those more interested in Abu Dhabi's heritage make their way to the camel race tracks near Al Ain, travelers with a need for speed need only look to the Yas Marina Circuit for their fill of fast cars. One of the world's most technologically innovative racing venues, the Yas Marina Circuit hosts Grand Prix and Formula 1 races, but when the professionals aren't burning rubber, visitors are welcome to test out the track. Here, you have your choice of racing a variety of vehicles, including go-karts, Mercedes-Benz vehicles and even Aston Martins.
If you're not all that interested in getting behind the wheel, you can explore the facility on a tour. Guides will take you all around the track from the pit garages to the media center to the grandstand. "This was a great behind the scenes tour," one TripAdvisor user said. "Our guide […] was really friendly and informative and it was great to see such an amazing track at close quarters." And if you happen to be in town on a race day, recent visitors highly recommend snagging seats. For the best rates, consider purchasing tickets online in advance on the Yas Marina Circuit website.
You'll find the Yas Marina Circuit on the southern tip of Yas Island about 20 miles east of Abu Dhabi city. You can catch the 190 or 195 bus from Zayid Sport City on the southeastern edge of Abu Dhabi city (near the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque) to Yas Island; from there you can take the free Yas Express shuttle to the racetrack. Guided tours of the Yas Marina Circuit are offered Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m. (Note that during Ramadan tours are only offered in the afternoons.) Tours cost 120 AED (around $33 USD) for adults and 60 AED (roughly $17 USD) for children ages 3 to 12; kids under 3 can participate for free. The cost of testing out the track varies depending on the type of car you choose: A few laps in a go-kart will cost 110 AED (around $30 USD) for adults, while a turn behind the wheel of an Aston Martin starts at 1,500 AED (about $400 USD).
If you've got kids in tow, consider spending a few hours at Ferrari World, located just north of the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island. This amusement park — inspired by the luxury Italian car brand — is home to the world's fastest rollercoaster: The Formula Rossa travels up to 150 miles per hour. The young (and young at heart) will also get a kick out of the Speed of Magic, a 4-D simulator that takes riders through jungles and around a volcano. Ferrari World is home to a total of 19 different attractions, though some recent travelers warn that they're not always open. The park welcomes visitors every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is based on height: General entry for those taller than 1.3 meters (around 4.3 feet) is 240 AED (around $65 USD), and for those under 1.3 meters, the price is 195 AED (roughly $53 USD). To learn more about Ferrari World, visit the park's website.
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#1 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Constructed between 1996 and 2007 at the request of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is by far the most popular of Abu Dhabi's sights, and it's easy to see why. One of the largest mosques in the world, this house of worship features 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns and a white and gold facade. What's more, this is one of only two mosques in the UAE open to non-Muslim tourists. That means that visitors from all around the globe can walk across the world's largest hand-woven rug, gaze up at one of the world's largest chandeliers and admire the fusion of Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman architectural styles, representing three different Islamic dynasties.
Although it's not Abu Dhabi's oldest attraction, those who have visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque say that a stop here is a must for those who want a better understanding of the city's religious identity. The site is one of the world's most significant examples of contemporary Islamic architecture. You are welcome to explore the mosque on your own, but many travelers recommend tagging along on one of the free guided tours; tours take between 45 minutes and an hour and can be reserved in advance, or you can simply show up and wait for the next scheduled English tour. "Our guide was outstanding; no religion, just amazing facts and with his commentary we understood the incredible engineering, art [and] workmanship that make this so very special," according to one TripAdvisor user. Previous visitors highly recommend touring the mosque in the evening when the sunset reflects off the marble courtyard.
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