LE DESTINAZIONI

Le Destinazioni

Guide pratiche e dettagliatissime su Paesi, città e destinazioni. Cosa vedere, quanto stare, in quale quartiere prenotare l'albergo, come spostarsi, che tempo fa. I miei suggerimenti su come organizzarti e tanti links utili dove cercare info aggiornate. Da stampare e portare in viaggio.

I VIAGGI

I Grandi Viaggi

Veri e propri programmi di viaggio spiegati in dettaglio, giorno per giorno, con tutte le informazioni ed i links che occorrono per poter prenotare, da solo e sul web, alberghi, trasferimenti e voli interni.

IL CLIMA

Quando Andare

Il tempo che potresti trovare, Paese per Paese, regione per regione, quasi mese per mese. Quando è meglio andare e quando è più saggio starsene a casa. I links dove controllare forecasts ed averages di temperatura e piovosità.

LA SALUTE IN VIAGGIO

La salute e le malattie in viaggio.

Sei in partenza per un viaggio? Sei preoccupato per malaria, febbre gialla e dengue e cerchi informazioni su vaccinazioni e profilassi? L’attenzione sulla malattie e sulla salute in viaggio e di conseguenza l’informazione aggiornata sulla situazione sanitaria nel Paese che si intende visitare è un vero e proprio must per qualsiasi viaggiatore.

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

Sei un viaggiatore? Ti piace scrivere? Vuoi pubblicare il tuo racconto di viaggio su questo blog? Mandaci il tuo resoconto di viaggio, lo pubblicheremo volentieri, potrà essere utile a tutti i lettori.

PASSAPORTI E VISTI

Passaporti e visti

Le informazioni su passaporti e visti, formalità valutarie e doganali, ambasciate e consolati, l'ESTA, il Timatic Web e gli ultimi avvisi per il viaggiatore

The Best Abu Dhabi Guided Tours and Desert Safaris

Best Guided Tours, Desert Safaris and Guided Day Trips from Abu Dhabi

Your super detailed guide to the very best guided tours, desert safaris and guided day trips in Abu Dhabi with my reviews and all pros and cons of each tour. What are the best guided tours in Abu Dhabi? What is the best desert safari experience you can book to explore the desert around Abu Dhabi? Are you looking for an excursion by private car and a personal guide or do you wish to join a group tour? Guided tours of Abu Dhabi include visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Corniche, the Emirates Palace and the option to see Yas Island Circuit and Ferrari World. 4WD desert safaris, camel safaris and desert tours including dinner and an excursion to the far and less visited Liwa Oasis. Excursions from Abu Dhabi to visit Dubai in one day: where you go, what you visit and how the tour is organised. A comparison and detailed description of the best private and group excursions, safaris and guided day trips in Abu Dhabi with direct links to book online by credit card.

A Guide to the Best City Tours, Desert Safaris and Day-Trips in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi Skyline, United Arab Emirates

Photo Credit: Kyle Taylor

What are the Best Abu Dhabi Guided Tours and Desert Safaris?

Do you wish to visit Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque on a guided tour? Are you looking for a private car and a personal guide? Are you travelling alone and would like to join a group tour?  You do not know which desert safari to book to see the sand dunes of the desert? You are in Abu Dhabi and looking for a group day tour to Dubai?

  • I have selected tens (maybe hundreds) of guided tours and desert safaris from Abu Dhabi organised by locally based travel suppliers and sold online, and have chosen 3 different tours. These are not the only ones you can book but in my opinion they are among the best and most complete guided day tours and safaris available on the market.  
  • All tours are described below, in a very detailed way, with full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and all the cons and all the important things you need to know before choosing.  Have a look and see if there is a tour you like.
  • You can book all these tours easily by credit card through Get Your Guide and Viator, the two biggest travel companies specialising in selling tours and activities online. Viator is part of the TripAdvisor family and Get Your Guide gives you the benefit of a customer service reachable by phone 24/7 in all the main western languages. For the great majority of tours you get instant confirmation, while for some, tour confirmation is subject to availability and will be given within 48 hours of your booking.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Guided Tour, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Guided Tour, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Photo Credit: edward stojakovic

Tour of Abu Dhabi in Half Day

This is the perfect tour if you are in Abu Dhabi. You only have one morning at your disposal and without spending too much money would like to visit the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque located far from the city center with a guide. The tour includes a visit to a fish and date market and a visit to the not as significant Heritage Village. While travelling you can admire the Corniche, take a look at the famous Emirates Palace from the outside and view the Etihad Towers. Sometimes the tour reaches the Formula 1 circuit at Yas Island. This is the very best of Abu Dhabi in half a day.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: departure and return to your hotel in Abu Dhabi.
  • Duration: from 4 to 5 hours, departure in the morning between 8 and 9, please be ready half an hour before the pick-up time written on your voucher.
  • Guide: in English and German.
  • Characteristics: group tour with other participants. The local supplier is Desert Rose Tourism.
  • Price: is per person, it includes pick-up/drop-off at your hotel and guided city tour, select your preferred language guide.
  • Pros: in a city where there is no subway, and where getting from one point to another means having to take a taxi, here you are picked up at your hotel, taken to the Mosque located far from the center and then brought back to your hotel. You don’t need to do anything or think about how to get there.
  • Cons: for what you pay there are none!
  • Good to know: to enter Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque you must be dressed accordingly, this means no transparent (see through) clothing, no shorts and skirts, no sleeveless shirts, no clothing with profanity, obviously no tight clothing, no swimwear and no beachwear. Usually this is not a big problem for women, for the very simple reason that all girls and women receive a djellaba to cover themselves at the entrance gate; boys and men, however, must pay attention as  they are not given anything, so they must be dressed correctly before arriving, including long trousers and short-sleeved shirt, otherwise they have to stay outside. On Fridays visiting hours are more restricted than other days of the week, during Ramadan SZGM is usually closed to visitors on Friday, and also during some specific islamic holidays.
  • Recommended: this is a good tour if you have very limited time and if in half a day you want to visit not only the imposing Great Mosque but at the same time do an orientation tour that gives you a general idea of Abu Dhabi.
  • How about visiting the Abu Dhabi Louvre? If you are in Abu Dhabi and want to visit one of the newest museum in all the Middle East you can book the Viator | Louvre Abu Dhabi Entrance Ticket with Transfers from Abu Dhabi service. You get private transportation to and from your hotel plus the museum entrance ticket; the guide is not included, but this is not an oversight, for two reasons. First, the museum’s architecture is worth seeing, almost more than the exhibits themselves. Second, you can rent a super cheap audio guide at the entrance. As an alternative, if you want to save money (a lot of money!) buy your skip-the-line priority museum entrance ticket in advance with GetYourGuide | Louvre Abu Dhabi: Skip-the-Line Tickets and go to the museum by taxi. Remember, if things have not changed, Abu Dhabi Louvre is closed on Monday.
  • Video: all Abu Dhabi’s biggest attractions including Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, the Corniche and the large avenues of the UAE capital in high resolution, images are courtesy of daintellekt.

Abu Dhabi: Desert Safari with Dinner

Of all the excursions in the desert departing from Abu Dhabi this safari offers, probably, the best value. How the tour is carried out? In the mid-afternoon they came to pick you up at your hotel, about an hour drive by Land Cruiser to reach the first sand dunes, on the way you stop to visit a camel farm. Then enter into the desert, some dune bashing before approaching a desert bedouin camp (it’s a fake bedouin camp, obviously, do not expect to see the true bedouin, you are late of 30 years or more…) where you have a great buffet dinner with a show. Usually you can get on a camel to take a picture and experience henna painting, shisha pipe smoking and posing with a falco. For mid-evening you are back to you hotel in Abu Dhabi.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Abu Dhabi, be ready 30 minutes before the scheduled time written in your confirmation voucher.
  • Duration: 5 or 6 hours, departure from the hotel between 2.30pm and 4pm (exact pick-up time depends of the season and the location of your hotel), you will be back between 9pm and 10pm. 
  • Guide: English speaking driver/guide.  
  • Characteristics: this is a join tour with other people, usually maximum 6 passengers per 4WD. The local supplier is OceanAir Travels which is very well known in the UAE and very much appreciated on TripAdvisor, both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.  
  • Price: is per person, you can book even if you travel alone; it includes transportation by 4WD Land Cruiser, dune bashing among the sand dunes, sandboarding, a very short camel ride (a few minutes), falcon photos, shisha pipe, henna painting and barbeque buffet dinner at the desert camp with belly dance performances, unlimited mineral water and soft drinks.  
  • Pros: well, for a really very reasonable amount of money you are picked up at your hotel, taken into the desert, have a buffet dinner and taken back to your hotel, it is hard to ask for more.  
  • Cons: none, if you consider that dinner is included, value for money of this safari is great; then, of course, it is be a very touristic experience, but at least you know in advance.  
  • Good to know: as for all desert excursions from Abu Dhabi, and also for those from Dubai, do not expect to see great Sahara dunes hundreds of meters high. With a few exceptions the great majority of desert areas near Abu Dhabi and Dubai offer small and medium size dunes tens of meters high.  
  • Recommended: as a first desert experience for someone who never been into the desert before.  
  • If you prefer going by camel…: it’s an afternoon/evening tour lasting 5/7 hours, if you travel with children (but not very small children) and are a meditative person who likes to observe and take things at a slower pace then this is a very interesting option.  The slow rhythm of the camel’s stride allows you to take in details that escape you when you travel by 4WD. The tour includes transportation, camel safari and dinner. This is the link to book GetYourGuide | Abu Dhabi: Sunset Camel Trek & Barbecue Dinner; please bear in mind that the camel rides last about 30/40 minutes, and you sit on camel but you do not ride it, your guide walks in front leading the camel.
  • The morning option: starts between 7am and 8am and finishes back at the hotel at 1pm. Here is the link GetYourGuide | Abu Dhabi 4-Hour Morning Desert Safari with Camel Ride, it is recommended for those who are not interested in dinner or can only do the tour in the morning. This is a 4WD safari, camel ride for this tour only lasts 3 or 4 minutes.   
  • Do you want to see very big dunes? More than 200 kms from Abu Dhabi on the border with Saudi Arabia the Liwa Oasis dunes are the biggest dunes in all of the United Arab Emirates.  Of course, Moreeb Dunes have been ruined and totally transformed in a 4WD drivers’ playground, and will not be the highlight of your trip, but the surrounding landscape is still glorious and the last section of the road which is now completely paved, offers you great views. Here is the link to check the price Viator | Liwa Safari from Abu Dhabi, this is an expensive day trip, expect 3 hours travelling per way, minimum 4 people.   
  • Video: the full experience of a safari in the Abu Dhabi desert is in this video by Chad Thompson, so you know exactly what to expect, the camp where you have dinner and a show appears at 1:10 minute mark.

Guided Day-Trip to Dubai from Abu Dhabi

If you are in Abu Dhabi and want to visit Dubai in a day trip, leaving in the morning and coming back in the late afternoon, this is a great tour. You leave your hotel in Abu Dhabi, travel for one hour and a half on a highway, reach Dubai and start exploring! The first stop is usually The Palm Jumeirah where you get an outside view of the spectacular Atlantis building. Then proceed to Jumeirah Beach for another photo stop, the iconic Burj Al Arab, the most famous 7-star hotel in the world. Now things change, Old Dubai awaits you, visit the Al Fahidi Historic District, take an abra ride across the Creek with a short walk inside Spice Souk and Gold Souk. The grand finale is the Dubai Mall to admire at ground level the famous Burj Khalifa, the highest tower on the planet and Khalifa Lake. At Dubai Mall you have free time to walk about, explore the thousands of shops and have lunch, then drive back to Abu Dhabi. The local supplier is OceanAir Travels, one of the best in UAE, reviews on TripAdvisor are excellent.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Abu Dhabi, as always please be ready 30 minutes before the planned pick-up time.  
  • Duration: between 8 and 9 hours, it depends on traffic, departure around 8.30am, back in Abu Dhabi for mid-afternoon.  
  • Guide: English speaking guide.  
  • Characteristics: this is a join tour together with other participants, you travel by minivan/small bus, at the update of this post tour departs daily except on Friday, check the link below to see if things have not changed.  
  • Price: includes transportation from and back to your Abu Dhabi hotel, guided tour of Dubai, entrance to Dubai Museum and Creek crossing aboard a traditional abra boat; lunch is not included, you can decide where to eat at the Dubai Mall, there are hundreds of cafes, fast food stalls and restaurants.  
  • Pros: the convenience of the pick-up and drop-off directly at your hotel, travel to Dubai, move extensively around the city, even crossing the Creek aboard the boat, then travel back to Abu Dhabi without having to think about arranging the logistic of transportation.  
  • Cons: do not expect an in-depth visit of Dubai, nor to reach the top of Burj Khalifa, this is a quick and fast day tour just to take a look at the most important sights in Dubai.  
  • Recommended: if your travel plans bring you to Abu Dhabi and you have never visited Dubai, and would like to visit the city on an easy guided day trip, without having to think about arranging transportation on your own and without spending too much money.  
  • Dubai with Burj Khalifa 124° Floor Observatory: if you are in Abu Dhabi and wish to do an orientation tour of Dubai and at the same time visit the world’s tallest building you can consider this tour; the price includes transportation from/to Abu Dhabi, a short tour of Dubai and entry to Burj Khalifa 124th observation deck, here is the link to book Viator | Dubai Tour Including Entrance to Burj Khalifa 124th Floor from Abu Dhabi
Dubai Day-Trip from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Day-Trip from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Photo Credit: Colin Capelle

Important!

  • I am not the organizer of these tours, I do not arrange any of the excursions and day trips you can read about in this blog. And I have never even taken part in them. To write all the guides published in the blog I travel independently arranging all transfers and all visits on my own. 
  • But not everybody likes or has the time to study and prepare where to go, what to visit, how to organise things and transportation in advance. So, I have researched and compared tens of guided tours sold by the two main online travel companies and have described the tours which I think are the best and the most complete. The results are the tours presented in this article.  
  • Before booking read the full description of the tour you like in the official page of Viator and GetYourGuide carefully, please check what is included and what is not, meeting points, times of departure and cancellation policies. If you have any queries or doubts, immediately contact Viator Customer Care or GetYourGuide Customer Service in order to receive assistance.
  • And, most importantly, the day before the tour, please reconfirm the pick-up time with the local supplier. You receive phone and email of local supplier of the tour immediately after your booking. Maybe your hotel can help.  
  • Read the reviews. If the majority of the reviews are positive that’s a good thing. And always check all the info you read here in the official page of each tour, things change and the official site provides the latest updates.
  • Does your travel plan take you to Dubai? Are you looking for a guided tour? Hopefully you might be interested in reading my technical reviews of the most complete and value for money day-trips and excursions in Dubai. The post The Best Dubai Desert Safaris and 4WD Tours offers you some idea of the better excursions to discover the sand dunes of Dubai, including desert tours by 4WD, ATV quad and buggy excursions, dinner safaris and camel rides into the dunes. For last, The Best Guided Tours to Abu Dhabi and Oman from Dubai include very detailed descriptions and pros and cons of both group and private day-tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and Oman, with all the information you need to book the very long but rewarding guided day tour with dhow cruise and snorkeling trip from Dubai to Khasab Fjiords in Oman Musandam Peninsula, with a real chance to see the dolphins in addition to swimming and snorkelling in the clear waters of the most spectacular area in all the Persian Gulf.

Last Update: May 17th 2019

Creative Commons 2.0 GenericFront cover photo credit: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Panorama, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates by Alberto Gonzalez Rovira. Photos come from Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution Licensed Photos. Please read here the Summary of the Legal Code. Terms of license are valid at the time of publishing this post.