One of the advantages of renting a car in Dubai is that you can go wherever you want, whenever you want. So a day trip to Abu Dhabi is easy to do, and in our opinion, a must visit. From Dubai, it's about an hour and a half drive to Abu Dhabi. Just like Dubai, Abu Dhabi was huge skyscrapers right next to the water with restaurants and cafes lined up next to the beach. We didn't stay overnight, although I wish we did.
Our first stop was the Sheik Zayed Mosque, the mosques of all mosques. It was truly an amazing sight. The mosque is completely white with pools and gardens surrounding its magnificence. We walked around, but it was overwhelming with all the tourists visiting. Honestly, we should’ve come earlier, but with the hour and half drive drive from Dubai and the jet leg, we couldn’t get there earlier than 10 AM. Parking is free, and you will get attire to cover yourself, also free. The mosque is closed on Friday mornings, so plan accordingly.
The mosque also has seven large chandeliers made up of millions of Swarovski Crystals, and flower designs covering the walls the walls to the entrance. The carpets in the grand room is considered to be the largest carpet in the world made by the Iran's Carpet Company. Each design in this masterpiece has so much detail, it's mind blowing. There are couple of good spots to take the photos, but keep in mind that you are not allowed to step into the center court (although Instagram posts prove some people get away with it), nor to take photos sitting down. You basically walk around this big mosque, barefoot, so staying in shade on this white marble, is not such a bad thing.
We were extremely fortunate to be able to see the recently opened museum. The exterior was great for taking photos, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t take a solid 30 minutes before actually entering the museum. The Paris and Abu Dhabi Louvres are separate museums but are linked by a thirty-year branding and training agreement. UAE paid $525 million to be associated with the Louvre name, and an additional $747 million in exchange for art loans, special exhibitions and management advice. We are very happy they did, as we really, really loved this museum. Be sure to buy tickets online($20) to avoid the long lines- there are several times we were so happy to have done that, and online reviews indicate people who haven't done it have had a frustrating experience getting in.
The museum is perfect in size, as it takes you app. 2-3 hours to take it all in. What we loved, other than the breathtaking architecture, was the way it compared different regions of the world throughout the same time period. Several impressionists, little modern art, a wonderful comparison of attires of 17th century noblemen from England and China, and an extremely interesting chandelier sculpture called "Fountain of Light, are just few of our favorites. This is one of our favorite museums ever, because of its splendid architecture, emphasis on comparison of civilizations from East and West, and small size which makes exploring it quite enjoyable.