Want to explore the emirate, try a new sport or eat on the cheap? Then we’ve got 49 ways for you to love life in the capital without blowing all of your budget

Sports and Leisure

Borrow a bike

Abu Dhabi’s Cyacle Bikeshare scheme lets you explore the capital on a bicycle for Dhs20 per day, or Dhs50 for three days. The initiative started with docking stations on Yas Island and Al Reef but has recently expanded to Reem and Saadiyat Islands and the Corniche.
Various locations including Corniche, Masdar City and Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. Dhs20 to Dhs50. Tel: (800) 292253. bikeshare.ae

Tame the dragons

The Capital Dragons, Abu Dhabi’s dragon boat racing team, are on the lookout for recruits – the first three training sessions are free.
Abu Dhabi Sailing And Yacht Club, Breakwater, Abu Dhabi, first three sessions free. Tel: (050) 7230966. Taxi: near Marina Mall. capitaldragons.weebly.com

Hit the water with SUP

Local adventure company Noukhada hold SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) classes at the Eastern Mangroves Marina. It’s a great full-body workout that also boosts core strength.
Eastern Mangroves Marina, Salam Street, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs50. Tel: (02) 5581889. Taxi: Eastern Mangroves Promenade. noukhada.ae

Try a Haddins class

Haddins is one of Abu Dhabi’s most well known gym chains and throughout April you can try one of their classes at the reduced price of Dhs40.
Various locations across Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 9.30am to 3.30pm, Dhs40. Tel: (02) 4034233. haddins.com

Glide across ice

Get some exercise by going ice skating. The price at Zayed Sports City includes boot hire.
Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 10pm, Dhs45 to Dhs50. Tel: (02) 4034222. Taxi: Zayed Sports City. zsc.ae

R&R on Yas Beach

Head to Yas Island’s beach – it’ll only set you back Dhs50 and under-12s get in for free.
Yas Beach, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 7pm, Dhs50. Tel: (056) 2420435. Taxi: Yas Beach. yasbeach.ae

Join a running club

Abu Dhabi Striders are one of the more active clubs in the capital and host weekly runs downtown and off-island.
Various locations including Yas Links, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, free. Taxi: Yas Links, Yas Island. abudhabistriders.com

Check out a new canal

Take a stroll down the new canal on Reem Island. It opens this month, is 2.4km long, is home to 450 trees and covers an area of 46,000sqm.
Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, free. Taxi: Reem Island, near Shams. alreemisland.info

Sunbathe on Saadiyat

The 40m-long Saadiyat public beach is a great place to spot dolphins and has more than 100 loungers.
Saadiyat Public Beach, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, 8am to 8pm, Dhs25. Taxi: Saadiyat Beach. bakeuae.com

Learn water polo

You can try water polo with Abu Dhabi’s Hammerheads every Wednesday evening. There’s just one rule: you have to be able to swim if you want to take part.
Armed Forces Officers’ Club, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, Wed 8.30pm to 10.30pm, Dhs50. Tel: (056) 1605363. Taxi: Armed Forces Officers’ Club on Khaleej Al Arabi Street. afoc.mil.ae

Try Muay Thai

Learn how to fight in the traditional Thai way at the Muay Thai And Capoeira Sports Club, one of Abu Dhabi’s oldest and most respected institutions. First class is free.
National Cinema Building, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, timings vary, first class free. Tel: (050) 9017528. Taxi: Najda Street. abudhabimuaythai.com 

Watch live football

The Arabian Gulf League concludes early next month, and currently there are two Abu Dhabi teams in the top three in the league table – Al Ain lie in third place, while Al Jazira are top with just five games to go. Entry to most games is free, so check out the league’s website for all of April’s fixtures. Al Ain also take on Al Wahda in a local derby on April 29.


Bag a bargain at a flea market

The legendary flea market takes place once again at the Sheraton Corniche this month. It’s your chance to bag a bargain, as old clothing, books, DVDs, toys and more are sold on stalls by fellow Abu Dhabians, with some of the proceeds going to charity.
April 22
Sheraton Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, Sat 9am to 2pm, free. Tel: (02) 6970272. Taxi: Corniche. sheratonabudhabihotel.com

Buy cheap tunes

If you want to get some new music but don’t want to fork out on iTunes vouchers, you can go retro at Al Balad Audio Cassettes, a shop in Madinat Zayed that sells old audio casettes and CDs. The store has been open 30 years and sells cassettes for Dhs10 and discs for Dhs30.
Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 6333311. Taxi: Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre

Children’s Activities

Animals at Al Ain Zoo

The garden city’s zoo has nicely positioned itself as a safari park in recent years. Head here to see lions, hippos, oryx and giraffes.
Al Ain Zoo, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 8pm, Dhs30. Tel. (03) 7992000. Taxi: Al Ain Zoo. alainzoo.ae

Teach children yoga

YogaOne, a new studio in the capital, holds children’s classes that focus on relaxing and forging a love of yoga as opposed to working on tough asanas.
Al Dhabi Compound, Salam Street, Abu Dhabi, Dhs50. Tel: (055) 7164845. Taxi: near Al Seef Village Mall. yogaone.ae

Visit a farm

Meet the animals at Bahya Sanctuary during the second Saturday of every month. The farm has seven dogs, two ponies, five donkeys and three porcupines.
Bahya Sanctuary, Al Bahya, Abu Dhabi, 3pm to 5pm, free. Tel: (056) 6127914. Taxi: Al Bahya. 

Meet bears and tigers

Emirates Park Zoo is home to two white tigers, a 300kg Siberian bear, lions and cheetahs. The park also uses ‘misting’ tech to lower temperatures during summer.
Emirates Park Zoo, Al Bahia, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Wed 9am to 8pm, Thur to Sat 9am to 9pm, Dhs25. Tel: (02) 5633100. Taxi: Emirates Park Zoo. facebook.com/emiratespark

Be a bowling kingpin

The lanes at Zayed Sports City come with a pedigree – they hosted the 1994, 2014 and 2015 World Bowling Championships.
Zayed Sports City, Al Madina Al Riyadiya, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 1am, Dhs15. Tel: (02) 4034200. Taxi: Sports City. zsc.ae

Explore a retro park

Hili Fun City has been open since 1985 and is still a family favourite – and it’s dirt cheap. Inside you’ll find merry-go-rounds and bumper cars.
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Mon to Thur 4pm to 10pm, Fri and Sat noon to 10pm, Dhs30 Mon and Tue. Tel: (03) 7845542. Taxi: near Hili Mall. hilifuncity.ae

Go for a splash

Lazy rivers, a waterslide park, a balloon station and a surf machine (for under-11s) await at Murjan Splash Park.
Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi, daily 11am to 6pm, Dhs45. Tel: (052) 4085232. Taxi: Khalifa Park. murjansplashpark.weebly.com

Train an aqua baby

Abu Dhabi’s The Room fitness club holds baby swimming lessons at the Hiltonia Beach Club for a bargain Dhs45.
Hilton Abu Dhabi, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 6924203. Taxi: Hilton Corniche. abudhabi.hilton.com, theroom.ae

Art and culture

Be a bookworm

Stick your nose in a book or two at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The fair will include a display of poetry honouring the life of the late Emirati poet Ahmed Rashid Thani.
April 26 to May 2
Adnec, Al Safraat, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 10pm, free entry. Tel: (02) 5995276. Taxi: Adnec. adbookfair.com

Lots of art at NYU

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, _Lines_ (installation view), 1995
But We Cannot See Them is a new exhibition focusing on visual artists, writers and filmmakers including Hassan Sharif, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Jos Clevers and more. The works were created between 1988 and 2008.
Until May 25
NYUAD Arts Center, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Mon to Sat noon to 8pm, free. Tel: (02) 6284000. Taxi: NYUAD. nyuad-artgallery.org

See Lest We Forget

Explore Emirati history with Lest We Forget, an exhibition of weapons, jewellery and henna.
Until August 27
Warehouse421, Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi, Tue to Sun 10am to 8pm, free. Taxi: Warehouse421 next to COOP in Mina Zayed. warehouse421.ae, lwf.ae

Celebrate World Heritage Day

Al Ain marks World Heritage Day with a series of workshops, talks and seminars to celebrate Emirati culture.
April 20 to 21
Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Thur and Fri 5pm to late, free. Tel: (03) 7517755. Taxi: Al Ain Palace Museum

Examine old fossils

The UAE University’s Natural History Museum is the place to visit to journey back in time and check out some 1,200 samples including 250 fossils from the region.
UAE University, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 8am to 3pm, free. Tel: (03) 7673333. Taxi: UAE University. uaeu.ac.ae

Stroke a saluki

Visit The Saluki Centre to learn more about the dogs and meet one in the kennels.
The Saluki Centre, behind Falcon Hospital, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 9am to 2pm, free. Tel. (02) 5755330. Taxi: Saluki Centre, near the airport. 

Visit a new art hub

Abu Dhabi Art Hub has opened a new gallery space in the heart of the city. As well as exhibitions, you can stock up on art supplies.
World Trade Center Mall, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 7pm, free. Tel: (02) 5515005. Taxi: World Trade Center Mall. adah.ae

Head to Heritage Village

Abu Dhabi’s oasis village is run by the Emirates Heritage Club and inside you’ll find a museum, animal enclosures and workshops where you can see traditional skills in action, like metal work, weaving and pottery.
a Heritage Village, Breakwater, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 5pm, Fri 3.30pm to 9pm, free. Tel: (02) 6814455. Taxi: Heritage Village, near Marina Mall. torath.ae

Ride an abra

Check out the capital on a water taxi. There are two routes available for Dhs50 or less. The yellow route starts at the Eastern Mangroves Marina and heads to the Souq Qaryat Al Beri, with stops at the Ritz-Carlton and Fairmont hotels. The red route is Dhs20 and visits the hotels by the creek, including the Shangri-La and Fairmont Bab Al Bahr.
Various locations including Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Khor Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, Dhs20 to Dhs50. Tel: (02) 5581670. Taxi: Souk Qaryat Al Beri, next to Shangri-La. facebook.com/qaryatalberi, captaintonys.ae

See the city up high

Abu Dhabi’s huge Ferris wheel down by Marina Mall gives you a bird’s eye view of the city and has 42 capsules.
Marina Mall, Breakwater, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Wed 10am to 11pm, Dhs50. Tel: (02) 6812310. Taxi: Marina Mall. visitabudhabi.ae, marinamall.ae

Admire cool motors

The private collection of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan features supersized and modified motors, including a handful of classic cars and military vehicles.
E65 Road to Liwa Oasis, Western Region, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 5.30pm, Dhs50. Tel: (055) 7492155. Taxi: south of Abu Dhabi, Hamim Road, off E11 in Al Gharbia. enam.ae

Attend a movie night

The Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan By Rotana’s movie nights are back on this month. The films shown are chosen by a public vote via the hotel’s Facebook page and the screenings take place every Monday night.
Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan By Rotana, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, Mon 8pm, free. Tel: (02) 6570111. Taxi: Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan By Rotana, near Corniche. rotana.com

Watch Kid Koala live

This event happens in May, but tickets are free and sign-up opens April 26, so we recommend you get in now. Kid Koala is a Montreal-based scratch DJ and the man behind graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall. It’s a futuristic story of a headphone wearing robot who falls in love, told with puppets.
May 11 and 12
NYUAD Arts Center, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Thur 8pm, Fri 4pm, free but prior registration required. Tel: (02) 6284000. Taxi: NYUAD. nyuad-artscenter.org

Guggenheim preview

You can see what will be exhibited in the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi at new exhibition The Creative Act. It features more than 25 works of modern art from 18 international artists.
Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to 8pm, free. Tel: (02) 6575800. Taxi: Manarat Al Saadiyat. saadiyatculturaldistrict.ae

Take in a collage

UAE artists are exhibiting collages at the Al Qattara Arts Centre this month.
Until May 18
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 8am to 9pm, Fri 4pm to 9pm free. Tel: (03) 7118225. Taxi: near Al Ain Sports Club. visitabudhabi.ae

Wander Wathba Wetland Reserve

You might be surprised to learn Abu Dhabi has its own wetland reserve. The site offers walking trails and there’s a chance you’ll spot flamingos.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Baniyas City, Abu Dhabi. September to April, Thur and Sat, 8am to 2pm. Taxi: Wathba Weland Reserve, off the E30 near Mafraq Industrial Are. ead.ae/al-wathba-wetland-2/

Relax in an oasis

Al Ain Oasis is the garden city’s Unesco World Heritage site spread over 3,000 acres – and they have several events on during April, including movie screenings and a community market on April 7 and 8.
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 5pm, movies from 6pm, free to visit, movie prices TBC. Tel: (03) 7128523. Taxi: Al Ain Oasis, near Oasis Hospital and Al Ain Rotana. visitabudhabi.ae

Check out classic cars

Love motors? Head to Al Ain’s Classic Cars Museum. What started out as a small collection of vehicles in 2009 is now a huge exhibition of Rolls Royces, Land Rovers and more set in a 2,000sqm building.
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 1pm, 3pm to 8pm, Fri 4pm to 8pm, Dhs10. Tel: (050) 6231323. Taxi: near Jebel Hafeet and Ain Al Fida complex. alainclassiccarsmuseum.net

Food and drink

Tuck in at a new café

Tasha’s is a South African boutique café concept that has just opened in the capital for the first time. Check out their chilli hot chocolate for Dhs28.
Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, Thur and Fri 8am to 1am, Sat to Wed 8am to midnight, Dhs28. Tel: (02) 4450890. Taxi: Al Bateen. tashascafe.com

Buy veg at the Ripe Market

Photo credit: Wessa Arca
Pay the Mother Of the Nation Park entry fee of Dhs5 and you’ll still have Dhs45 left to get some fresh vegetables, teas or superfoods at the weekly Ripe Market.
Mother Of The Nation Park, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, Sat 3pm to 10pm, Dhs5 park entry. Tel: (04) 3157000. Taxi: Mushrif Park. ripeme.com

Eat at a dirt-cheap buffet

Head to Marigold restaurant at the Al Diar Dana Hotel in Al Zahiyah, where you can stuff your face silly for Dhs45.
Al Diar Dana Hotel, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 12.30pm to 4pm, 7pm to 10.30pm, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 6458000. Taxi: opposite Al Zahiyah Shopping Centre. aldiarhotels.com

Have a really, really big milkshake

The extravagant, OTT milkshakes at café Central Grounds are worth Dhs45 of your budget. The Mud Pot, for example, comes with a pile of chocolate brownies and fudge, while the Gingerbread Man comes with ginger cookies protruding from the top.
Marriott Hotel Downtown, Al Wahda, Abu Dhabi, daily 6am to midnight, Dhs45. Tel: (02) 3047430. Taxi: Marriott Downtown, near Al Wahda Mall. marriott.com

Eat an Indian brekkie

Kareem’s in Al Zahiyah serves an Indian breakfast buffet every Friday with 50 dishes on the menu, including dosa, rotis and bhaturas at the bargain price of Dhs40.
Ramada Hotel Abu Dhabi, Al Zahiyah, Abu Dhabi, Fri 7am to noon, Dhs40. Tel: (02) 4019004. Taxi: Ramada Hotel Abu Dhabi, just down the road from Mina Port. kareemsabudhabi.com

Get pampered

Learn to meditate

Inner Space Abu Dhabi regularly hosts beginners’ meditation classes. Check their website for timings. This month’s sessions include a problem-solving workshop called Obstacles Are Blessings In Disguise. Sessions are free, but contributions towards the running of the centre are welcomed.
April 15
Inner Space Abu Dhabi, Bain Al Jessrain, Abu Dhabi, free. Tel: (050) 5159646.Taxi: Inner Space, Co-Op Building, Bain Al Jessrain, opposite Gulf Pastry. innerspaceabudhabi.org

Try pre-natal yoga

Brightpoint Hospital holds pre-natal yoga for expectant mums once a week – if you’re planning on giving birth there, it’s free of charge, although you can still attend if you’re not registered there, and it’s cheap at Dhs50 per class.
a Al Ittihad, Abu Dhabi, Tue 6.45pm to 7.45pm, Sat 10.30am to 11.30am, Dhs50. Tel: (800) 7676. Taxi: opposite Al Jazira football stadium and Dusit Thani. brightpoint.ae

Glam up your nails

Saray Spa in Al Wahda charges just Dhs30 for an express mani or pedi.
Marriott Hotel Downtown, Al Wahda, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 10pm, Dhs30. Tel: (04) 3194630 Taxi: Marriott Downtown. marriott.com
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