Planning a Trip
Getting There & Departing
By Plane -- Etihad (tel. 888/838-4423 in the U.S., or 6/505-8000; www.etihadairways.com), the outstanding national airline, flies nonstop to Abu Dhabi from JFK airport in New York. The flight takes a little more than 12 hours. Other airlines flying into Abu Dhabi include British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2/622-5777; www.british-airways.com); Emirates Airlines (tel. 800/777-3999 in the U.S., or 2/575-7474; www.emirates.com); and Northwest/KLM (tel. 800/225-2525 in the U.S., or 2/632-3280; www.klm.com).
By Car -- You'll need a valid international driving license issued by the country where your national driving license is from to operate a car in the UAE (visitors are not allowed to use their national driving license here). Abu Dhabi lies 166km (103 miles) from Dubai, a roughly 2-hour drive from Dubai on the Sheikh Zayed Highway, depending on how fast you travel. Although the highway is well-paved and marked, watch out for other drivers often traveling at very high speeds. Rental-car agents in Abu Dhabi include Avis (tel. 800/331-1212 in the U.S. and Canada, or 2/621-8400; www.avis.com); Budget (tel. 800/527-0700 in the U.S., or 2/633-4200; www.budget.com); Hertz (tel. 800/654-3001 in the U.S., or 2/672-0060; www.hertz.com); and Thrifty (tel. 800/367-2277 in the U.S., or 2/634-5663; www.thrifty.com).
Abu Dhabi's Tourism Authority (tel. 2/444-0444; visitabudhabi.ae) is part of a ministry, and does not typically serve the public. Check the website for visitor information.
The capital of the UAE is an island city connected by bridges to the mainland and surrounded by the Arabian Gulf. It's designed on a grid system built around a central "T," with the Corniche running along the coast and the Airport Road traversing the length of the island. Streets that parallel the Corniche (which is the same as 1st St.) have odd numbers, and those that parallel the Airport Road (the same as 2nd St.) have even numbers. The city's main tourist areas are as follows: Al Ras Al Akhdar, at the northwestern tip; the nearby Breakwater, an area of reclaimed land connected by a causeway to the west Corniche; Corniche West; Corniche East and central Abu Dhabi; Al Meena and the so-called Tourist Club area, at the island's northeastern tip; and finally the southern end of the island, which includes the areas of Al Matar, Al Maqtaa, and Al Safarat.