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Abu Dhabi Corniche


Page update - Oct 11, 2022

Some travel guides call the Corniche waterfront and beach as "The main attraction of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi". Up to 50,000 tourists visit Corniche every month, and that's just the visitors to the paid beaches or events that are counted, and it's impossible to estimate the tourists who just walk by.

We don't agree with this statement, because Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Ferrari World park are much more famous in the world and receive many more visitors. But that doesn't reduce all the goodness of the Corniche promenade, nor doesn't cancel the positive vibe of the local beaches and entertainment.

On this page, we will tell you the most interesting things about this place.

What is a corniche?

The word "corniche" refers to a road on the side of a mountain or cliff, where the road is elevated on one side and lowered on the other. The word comes from the French "route a corniche", translated as "road on a ledge".

There are dozens of corniche roads in the world, and even in the UAE there are several roads with this name: Buhaira Corniche in Sharjah, Deira Corniche and Jumeirah Corniche in Dubai, Corniche Promenade in Abu Dhabi which we talk about on this page. It is an interesting fact that all these roads are called by the word "corniche", but none of them are on a mountainside, and in fact they are not corniches. Apparently, the Arabs like the word itself very much, so they use it on every occasion.

Where is it located and how to get there

The Corniche Waterfront is located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, on the coast, in the northwest of the city of Abu Dhabi. The waterfront is 5 miles (8 kilometers) long from the Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi Corniche Hotel (at the west) to the Old Fish Market (at the east).

The cheapest way to get there is by bus. The fare is only 2 UAE dirhams. For the current exchange rates, see our page "What's the money in the Arab Emirates".

In 2020, there were big changes to the bus routes in Abu Dhabi. Now (year 2022) there are 17 different routes stopping near the waterfront (previously there were only 3). These are routes: 5, 7, 9, 11, 21, 22, 23, 26, 33, 34, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71, 161, 175. If any of them stop near your hotel, use them. Do not hesitate to ask at the hotel reception which buses stop nearby.

Buses 5, 7, 9, 11, 22, 26, 34, 63, 65, 67, 69, 71 will take you to Al Marina Island to the Marina Mall from where it is a 20 minute walk to the Corniche promenade.

See the map with points of interest and the location of bus stops near. Click on the map to enlarge to full screen.

If the bus is not available, you will have to take a cab. The cost depends on the distance from the hotel to the waterfront - can range from 12 to 100 dirhams. You can read about the current taxi fares in our review "Taxis in the UAE - prices in Abu Dhabi". If you rent a car, there is parking for 1,100 cars near the waterfront, the parking price is 10 dirhams.

Excursions

Most of Abu Dhabi sightseeing tours drive along the Corniche promenade, showing it to tourists from the windows of the bus, but do not stop. If you want to visit the local entertainment and enjoy the beach, you have to go on your own.



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Operation hours

The waterfront itself is open 24 hours. Some waterfront restaurants are open until 4 am or around the clock.

The beach is open to visitors from 7 am to midnight. The paid parts of the beach are open from 7 am to 10 pm. You can swim from 7 am until sunset.

A bit of history

Before the beginning of the "oil era" in the history of the UAE, pearl fishermen lived there.

In the 60s, with the beginning of oil production, the area was given for the construction of hotels to accommodate businessmen and officials visiting the country. At the time, the located at the waterfront Sheraton, Al Ain Palace, and Hilton hotels were the tallest buildings in the city. The hotels were located directly beside the sea, there was no promenade then.

In 2002, the authorities of Abu Dhabi decided to "take away from the sea" part of the territory, to arrange the promenade and beaches. LANDinc (Toronto, Canada) and Parsons International were engaged in the project. About 125 acres (50 hectares) of land were backfilled. In 2003 and 2004, they paved the road, arranged the beaches, and planted gardens.

It amazes many tourists, the whole Abu Dhabi Corniche waterfront is a man-made creation.

Corniche beach

Corniche beach received the Blue Flag in April 2011 and hasn't lost it since.

The public beach part is divided into 5 zones.

- The Family Beach Section is for families, women and children, no single men allowed there. This part of the beach is chargeable and fenced off with fence with an entrance fee of 10 dirhams for adults, 5 dirhams for children (under 12 years);

- West Plaza area - public beach, free for all;

- Al Sahil beach - free for all, price of admission - 10 dirhams for adult, 5 dirhams for child (under 12 years old);

- East Plaza Beach - public beach, free for all;

- Western Extension beach - public beach, free for all.

The beaches are managed by BAKE company, and they charge for the entrance, towels, and umbrellas. A towel rental is 10 dirhams, umbrellas and sun loungers are 25 dirhams. If you don't want to pay, you can lie directly on the sand or on your own towel, it is not forbidden.

The beaches have over 600 sun beds, 27 cabins for changing clothes, and showers. The use of showers and cabins is free of charge. BAKE has set up several stores with beach supplies and beverages.

The bottom of the Corniche beach is shallow, for adults up to their chests, but for swimmers it will be uncomfortable. After 130 feet (40 meters) from the shore is a fence of buoys. Swimming farther away, where the deeper, it will not work. Lifeguards are on duty on the beach constantly.

The beach is equipped with small gardens with palm trees, flowers, and lawns. The beach is very beautiful.

To Corniche beach with maximum comfort

If you want to relax on the Corniche beach with chic, you can pay admission to the "beach club", there are two.

The Nation Riviera Club at the St Regis Abu Dhabi offers a day pass to the hotel's private beach, pool, restaurant, and gym on weekdays for AED 160 per person and AED 265 per couple; on weekends for AED 230 per person and AED 345 per couple.

For the exact price list, go to: nationrivierabeachclub.com/offers

The West Bay Club (aka Hiltonia Beach Club) offers private beach access for AED 150 on weekdays and AED 250 on weekends. Their special offer is that ladies pay AED 150 even on weekends.



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Entertainment

You can ride the Corniche by bicycle as there are several bike rentals along the waterfront. The main one is at the west, across from the The West Bay Club. The range of bikes is very wide, there are mountain and city models. You can even get a special bike for women wearing an abaya.

The rental price is quite high - 30 dirhams per hour for an adult, 20 dirhams for a child. Renting a bike for 12 hours at a time is 250 dirhams. Honestly, it's a lot easier to take a cab for that kind of money.

Aqua Fun Abu Dhabi (aka AquaDhabi) is a floating water park. That is, there are inflatable children's slides, trampolines, and an obstacle course right on the water. The entire structure forms the phrase "I (heart) AD" ("I love Abu Dhabi"), if you look from above. The price is 125 dirhams for the whole day.

Unfortunately, AquaDhabi is closed as of this page update (October 2022). It is not clear when it will open. Or maybe it won't open at all. If you VERY much want to know if it's open (because you're reading this page after October 2022). Then visit their official website aquadhabi.ae and try to buy tickets online. If the tickets are available, then it's open.

The Family Water Park is the most interesting place for kids. Some websites and travel guides call this place a water park, which is not quite right. We are used to the word "water park" to mean a set of water slides. In the Family Water Park there are no slides, but there are many fountains, between which and under the jets of which you can walk and run.

In addition to the Family Water Park, there are several children's playgrounds on the waterfront.

Picnics are allowed on the lawns near the waterfront, but making fire is prohibited.

In the middle of the boardwalk is a large outdoor plaza called Plaza Area, where events are held.

During the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, this is where the F1 FanZone is held. The big screen shows a live broadcast of the race and organizes contests for children. During the race, the festival Yasalam (translated from Arabic as "Wow!") is held. There are concerts and entertainment for the guests of the festival and it's all free.

And now an extremely interesting fact! There are UAE Army parades on the Corniche waterfront! The first parade took place on March 2, 2017.

Columns of soldiers marched along the waterfront, and they showed military equipment nearby in the square. By the way, it is very interesting to see the equipment, because no country in the world has such a large "zoo" of military equipment - from French Leclerc tanks to MIM-104 Patriot from the US.

During the parade, it is interesting to see military cavalry units on horses and camels. The UAE army still has them, although it is not planned to use these troops en masse.

At the end of March, the Mother of the Nation Festival is held under the patronage of Her Majesty Shaikha Fatima bint-Mubarak. The festival lasts 10 days with entertainment for children: bungee jumping, concerts, master classes, swimming pools and other attractions. Admission is charged.



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Skyscrapers

You can clearly see the skyscrapers of the Downtown area from the Corniche promenade.

The most interesting are the Etihad Towers, which have become one of the "calling cards" of the city and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. In the highest tower on the 74th floor at a height of 985 feet (300 meters) is the Observation Deck at 300. See these towers in the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge. Read our detailed review "Observation Deck at 300".

It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the waterfront to the Etihad skyscrapers. Ticket price: 95 dirhams, 55 of which can be spent in a local cafe. Opening hours: from 10 am to 8 pm.

Next to the waterfront is the skyscraper ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company). It is even higher than the tallest Etihad tower, the height of ADNOC is 1,122 feet (342 meters). The skyscraper looks amazing, solid black glass windows in a white frame.

There are two other interesting skyscrapers right on the Corniche waterfront. The two Nations Towers cost USD 435 million. The highest aerial bridge in the world at a height of 665 feet (202.5 meters) runs between them. The towers are 880 and 765 feet (268 and 233 meters) high.

One of these towers is the Abu Dhabi Suite of the St Regis hotel, which has its own movie theater, fitness center, spa, and majlis. The price of accommodation in the most expensive suite is USD 25,000 per night, don't try to find it on the Internet, you can't book such a room with the help of common websites (booking.com and others).

Where to eat

There are many restaurants, cafes, and eateries along the promenade. There's something for every taste and wallet, from hot dogs to Italian, Japanese, and traditional Arab cuisine.

If you want to eat cheap, then look for the 6th street (6 Street). Walk along it from the waterfront, and you will find McDonalds on the right hand in 500 feet (150 meters). Another 100 meters later is the supermarket. How to eat inexpensively in the UAE, we have discussed in detail in the review "How much money to take in the UAE".

Tips for tourists

- Near the Corniche waterfront (across the canal) is Al Marina Island, where there are many interesting places. The main attraction of the island is the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village. There is also a large flagpole, Ferris wheel and Marina Mall on Al Marina Island. It's a 15-minute walk from the Corniche promenade to the island, or a 12-dirham cab ride;

- There will be a lot of walking, so make sure you have worn loose-fitting shoes and clothes to suit the weather. We told you about this in the reviews "What to take to the UAE" and "Weather in the UAE by month";

- Near the waterfront, west of the Radisson Blu Hotel you can see another interesting attraction in Abu Dhabi - the Emirates Palace Hotel;

- Many of the cafes and stores on the promenade do not accept dollars or euros and only sell for dirhams. Do not forget to change your money, read our review "Currency exchange in the UAE".

Have a nice walk around Abu Dhabi, and read our interesting pages about the UAE (see the list of the pages below).

TIPS

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IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

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