The 10 most Instagrammable spots in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has something for everyone – luxury beach resorts, action-packed desert experiences, rich cultural heritage museums, as well as stunning spots for photographers, whether newbies or pros.
Want to turn your holiday moments into visual memories that you, and others, can enjoy? Here are ten places in and around the capital of the UAE where you’re guaranteed to capture envy-inducing Instagram shots.
The immaculate 2km-long Corniche Beach is not only one of the best places to soak up some of Abu Dhabi’s year-round sunshine, it’s also perfect for a city-meets-sea photograph. Picture it: You enjoying some downtime on a pristine beach, with stunning skyscrapers rising proudly in the background.
POSE: Walk along the shore towards the buildings, hand on hat, looking over your shoulder and out to sea.
PROP: A swimsuit, colourful sarong and glam wide-brimmed hat.
The St Regis Abu Dhabi
The super-luxurious hotel (@stregisabudhabi) offers plenty of places to photograph – think red-carpeted sweeping staircases and freestanding bathtubs with sea views, to name just two. But the best shots will be captured if you head up to the hotel’s higher floors, for the views of the turquoise waters surrounding Al Kasir Island, with the soon-to-open 39-floor Fairmont Marina looking like a contemporary castle from the Lost City of Atlantis in the distance.
POSE: Have your back to the camera with your side profile serenely gazing at the view.
PROP: If you’re a woman, a bold red dress with a smart handbag hanging from the shoulder nearest the camera. If you’re a man, you can’t go wrong with a sharp suit.
The Empty Quarter
With its majestic dunes and shimmering gold sand, there’s nothing quite as arresting as the sight of the Arabian desert − especially at sunset. For a desert safari adventure, with the Insta pics to prove it, head to Rub’ al Khali (the Empty Quarter) − the world's largest uninterrupted sand mass. It offers many chances for action shots, mesmerising landscapes, and selfies that show you’ve ‘been there, done that!’. While you’re in the area, book a night or two at the ultra-plush Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara (@anantaraqasralsarab).
POSE: Stand beside the 4x4 you’re dune-bashing in, or atop a dune with endless others stretching in the background as far as the eye can see. The desert is also great for that popular hand-holding pose, where the subject seems to be drawing the viewer into the desert setting. If you’re staying the night at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, capture covetable pics at your private pool, undulating golden dunes in the background.
PROP: White or black flowing clothes for contrast, and chic shades for sun protection.
The iconic landmark that is Emirates Palace boasts over ten dining options, and offers many opportunities for OTT posts that say, “I’ve arrived!” For an elegant al fresco high tea with sparkly Abu Dhabi city views, head to Le Café. Picture it: Sumptuous treats in foreground, fountains adding movement to the middle ground, and the shiny collection of Corniche skyscrapers in the background.
POSE: Let the food and views be the stars of the show, with just a well-manicured hand in the frame, looking ready to raise a cuppa.
PROP: The signature Palace Cappuccino with its 24-karat-gold sprinkles on top.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi (@louvreabudhabi) for an inspiring dose of art and culture at the first universal museum in the Arab World? Get pictorial proof! The stunning architectural marvel, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, is understandably a huge hit on social media. You’ll want to capture the structure’s futuristic dome, composed of 7,850 stars that filter light through perforations, creating a dazzling display called the ‘rain of light’.
POSE: Walk beneath the dome, looking up in silent awe. Stand on one of the incredible platforms that jut out into the sea to get some soothing water in the shot, too.
PROP: Do some research ahead of your visit so you can colour-coordinate your clothing to stand beside an epic artwork. For under the dome, go for an outfit in white, grey, silver or black.
The Mangrove Forests
If the #naturelover hashtag is a go-to for you, you’ll adore the photo ops on offer at Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity hotspots: the fascinating Mangrove National Park and the Jubail Mangrove Park (@jubail_mangrove_park), the first self-contained educational, nature and leisure destination of its kind in the emirate. Here you can take pictures of abundant greenery and marine and land creatures – think crabs, herons, flamingoes, gazelle and, if you’re lucky, dugong and dolphin – from resting nodes, viewpoints, floating platforms, boardwalks or kayaks.POSE: Kayaking shots are best taken from behind, but selfies are always a good idea. Top tip: images taken from the top down give you larger, more doe-like eyes, highlight your cheekbones and ditch the double chin. If you’re on a walkway, only give yourself one-third of the frame to really allow the beauty of nature to stand out.
PROP: A kayak and oars, or a pair of binoculars and sunhat.
Al Ain Oasis
With its still-operational traditional falaj (ancient irrigation system) and meandering pathways shaded beneath a thick canopy of over 147,000 date palms and other fruit trees, Al Ain Oasis – situated in Abu Dhabi’s garden city about a one-and-a-half-hour’s drive away from the capital − is the perfect place for some peaceful posing.
POSE: Stand beside the oasis’ ancient architecture, or beneath the palms filtering beautiful light through their leaves.
PROP: For a pop of warm colour complementing the old-world tones of the surroundings, wear a beautiful day dress if you’re a woman, or crisp linen shorts and a casual shirt if you’re a man.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This tourist draw-card is hands down THE most Instagrammable place in Abu Dhabi. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (@szgmc_ae), designed with architectural inspiration from several Islamic countries, features massive white domes, golden calligraphy inscriptions, turrets, chandeliers, glass mosaics and more. Sunset offers the best light, but the place gets busy. Early morning provides a less hurried posing experience. Top tip: to get the pics without the crowds, the gardens and balconies of the nearby Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi (@ritzcarltonabudhabi) have great views of the mosque. At the nearby Wahat Al Karama (@wahatalkarama), a body of water gives a magical reflection of the mosque by day and night.
POSE: You can’t stand in the main square. Stand facing the water in front of the mosque, with the stunning row of white columns behind you.
PROP: Take note of the dress code. Women will be provided with an abaya (loose-cover overgarment), but it’s best to wear a long-sleeved shirt and long trousers, or a long, loose-fitting skirt or dress with knees and shoulders covered. Men need to cover their knees too.
Qasr Al Hosn
This museum stands as the nation’s living memorial and a narrator of Abu Dhabi’s history. The oldest-standing structure in Abu Dhabi, the picturesque Qasr Al Hosn (@qasralhosn) is home to an original watchtower that makes for incredible photographs. At the same Al Hosn site, you’ll also find House of Artisans (@qasralhosn) and the Cultural Foundation (@abudhabicf), both of which offer incredible photo opportunities.
POSE: Qasr Al Hosn offers a great spot for a mysterious doorway shot, with you looking down as if unaware of the camera and the peaceful courtyard in the background. At House of Artisans, capture the beautiful hands of master craftswomen and men as they create vibrant and richly textured traditional works of art (always ask for permission before taking a photo), with the Cultural Foundation’s authentic architecture giving you endless choices for share-worthy shots.
PROP: A neutral-toned day outfit with matching sandals and handbag. Men? Neutral cotton or linen garments styled smart-casual, with sandals or chic trainers.