Abu Dhabi: Qasr Al Watan, Emirates Palace & Observation Deck at 300
March 20, 2020
Today I wanted to share with you my experience with visiting the capital of the United Arab Emirates – Abu Dhabi.
In this blog post, I’m going to focus on three of the must-see attractions in this beautiful city.
They are Qasr Al Watan (the Presidential Palace), the Emirates Palace and Observation Deck at 300.
The reason why I chose those three to be grouped in the same blog post is that they are literally right beside each other and you can visit them in one day.
Qasr Al Watan/the Presidential Palace
First of all, I wanted to say that I didn’t know the Presidential Palace was one of the main attractions in the capital city.
I did read quite a few blog posts about Abu Dhabi before I left and none of them mentioned it.
Either way, I am very excited we “stumbled” upon it as I absolutely love this building!!
There are no words to explain the astonishing beauty of it, especially the inside.
If you ever find yourself in Abu Dhabi, you absolutely must visit Qasr Al Watan.
Also, it is surrounded by water, making it extremely beautiful. Even at night, the building is illuminated on the outside so if you have a chance, pass by in the evening.
It is an incredible landmark, which offers a one-of-a-kind look at the unique Arab culture, history and heritage.
It shows the world their governing principles, knowledge and incredible architecture that make visiting this building a must.
The Great Hall in Qasr Al Watan
Our first stop was the visitor center. Here you can purchase your tickets and go through airport-style security.
Then you wait for a bus which takes you on a short ride from the visitor center to the actual palace.
The buses were very nice and came frequently. We decided to start by visiting the interior of the palace first.
Some of the must-see attractions there are the Presidential Banquet Room, the Qasr Al Watan Library, the Presidential Gifts Room and of course the stunning Great Hall.
The pictures just don’t do it justice!!
The amount of detail and unbelievable craftsmanship makes the Great Hall one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life.
My jaw was on the floor the entire time lol. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing!!! I probably took over a hundred pictures and videos of just the Great Hall.
Here are some videos I took of the Great Hall:
I mean look at this….it is mesmerizing
My friend actually had to drag me out because I just couldn’t leave.
In terms of time, I would say you will need about an hour to walk around the interior, which is basically a big hall with a bunch of different rooms open for visiting.
You can opt for a guided tour if you wish but we just walk around by ourselves.
The outside of the palace is mesmerizing. Make sure you walk around and take a lot of pictures of the stunning building and the surrounding areas. Here is a video of the courtyard area.
Once you’re done walking around you can hop back on the bus, which will drive you back to the visitor center.
It took us about 45 minutes to walk around the palace’s courtyard and gardens. I would say the entire experience took us about two hours.
There are food and drinks available at five different locations if you get hungry. Keep in mind that there is no Wi-Fi anywhere in the palace.
Overall, we had a great time in Qasr Al Watan.
If you want more information check out their official page.
The palace from the outside
The Emirates Palace
Despite its name, the Emirates Palace is actually a hotel. In fact, it is one of the most expensive hotels in the world.
It is located literally right beside the Presidential Palace.
There is a visitors parking at the Emirates Palace where you can park even if you don’t stay in the hotel.
You don’t have to book anything – no tour or restaurant reservation or high tea [some hotels or attractions you can only go inside if you have some sort of reservation].
There is no entry fee, you literally show up and walk around without any problem.
The inside is very beautiful – everything is made out of marble and looks gold plated. Take a look here.
The ceiling is actually covered in real gold leaves which is one of the reasons this hotel is so popular [and expensive]. It also features more than 1,000 Swarovski chandeliers throughout the whole building.
The lobby of the Emirates Palace
It won’t take you too long to see the interior as you can only walk around the main lobby, you’re not allowed to enter the residential part.
There are a couple of different cafes where you can get a snack and refuel on coffee – all visitors are welcome to take advantage of them.
The lobby area is particularly stunning and just like the Presidential Palace, pictures just don’t do it justice.
All the furniture, the walls, and decorations look extremely luxurious and high-class.
It also has a few displays of different carpets and other small exhibits.
The Emirates Palace also has its own beachfront for its residents only. It took us about 30 minutes to see the lobby and take pictures.
Emirates Palace from the outside
The outside area, the one with the stairs and the fountains, provides a great view of the hotel. Check out this video to see it.
An interesting fact is that the color of the building is inspired by the different shades of sand that are found all over the UAE.
You also get a stunning view of the famous Etihad Towers.
They are a complex of five buildings which consist of offices, apartments and a hotel. ***More on this below***
You may have seen the Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers in the movie Furious 7.
It took us no more than 15 minutes to take pictures on the outside, as a lot of it is reserved for residents only.
The Emirates Palace is also illuminated at night and definitely worth seeing.
It’s a pretty good, free attraction to enjoy in Abu Dhabi.
View of the Etihad Towers from the Emirates Palace
Observation Deck at 300
You are probably wondering, what the heck is Observation Deck at 300 but don’t worry, I am going to tell you right now.
It is an observation deck inside one of the Etihad Towers (Tower 2 to be exact), which is located right in front of the Emirates Palace.
The observation deck overlooks the entire Corniche Area (beach promenade), Qasr Al Watan and the Emirates Palace.
You can also see to the right the Marina Mall, the new Atlantis hotel (they are still building it) and the Heritage Village.
If you want to learn more about the Heritage Village and other attractions in Abu Dhabi, check out this article.
The observation deck provides amazing views of the whole area and it’s really worth it.
Again, I didn’t see this attraction mentioned in a lot of the blogs I read which is why I wanted to tell you about it.
It is located on the 74th floor of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. It is the highest vantage point in all of Abu Dhabi.
Me enjoying the view! Far-left you see Qasr Al Watan and right in front of me is the Emirates Palace.
The good news is that there is free valet parking so you would not have to worry about finding a parking spot in the clustered area that is the Etihad Towers.
It’s really important to remember that the entrance ticket is 95 dirhams, but you get a credit voucher for 55 dirhams and it can be redeemed in the café located on the 74th floor.
We asked if they can just charge us to go up but unfortunately, there is no way to separate the entrance ticket from the credit voucher.
Which means you need to pay the 95 dirhams no matter what. Having said that, the food and drinks that we bought in the café were absolutely amazing and totally worth it.
Probably one of the best foods I had on my entire trip [which lasted two weeks]. There is also an option to do high tea as well at the price of 250 dirhams.
Halloumi cheese sandwich, Alexandria tea, and raspberry-vanilla cake
From Observation Deck at 300 you can see so many beautiful buildings from a bird’s eye perspective, which makes you realize how enormous Qasr Al Watan and the Emirates Palace actually are.
For me, the great food and stunning view out of the windows made this experience one of the best in my entire trip.
It was also not very crowded as most observation decks usually are. The atmosphere was very calm and relaxing.
My friend that actually lives in Dubai and has been to Abu Dhabi many times said that she has never heard of Observation Deck at 300 and said that she’s definitely going to come back.
Lovely view and relaxing atmosphere
Well there you have it, Abu Dhabi: Qasr Al Watan, Emirates Palace and Observation Deck at 300.
Hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the amazing city of Abu Dhabi.
Like I mentioned earlier, the three attractions are literally five minutes away from each other.
That makes them a perfect combination to do in one day [which is why I have them in one blog post together].
We did not book in advance any of the entrance tickets and we had no problem getting in.
If you want to learn more about the Abu Dhabi history and culture, check out this blog post written by my friends at the Five Pax travel blog.
In the comments below let me know have you ever been to Abu Dhabi? If yes, have you ever heard of any of those three attractions?