Abu Dhabi isn’t as vastly spread out as Dubai, but still stretches over a considerable area – even the city centre’s main sights are too widely scattered to be comfortably walkable (it’s 8km from the Emirates Palace on the southwest side of the centre to the Abu Dhabi Mall on the opposite flank). Fortunately there are plenty of inexpensive city taxis available to ferry you around the city, as well as for longer trips out to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (15km from the centre) and beyond.
The city is actually built on an island, connected to the mainland by three bridges: (from north to south) Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Al Maqtaa Bridge and Mussafah Bridge. These bridges connect in turn to the three main roads across the island: Al Salam Street, Al Maktoum Street and Al Khaleej al Arabi Street. Memorize this basic layout, and you’ll hopefully not go too far wrong.
Route-finding and orientation are generally straightforward thanks to the city’s fairly regular grid plan, although potential confusion is provided by the city’s street names. All major roads have both a number and a name (or sometimes two). Odd-numbered roads run up and down the island, starting with the Corniche Road (1st Street); even-numbered roads run across the island. Names are more complicated. Most major roads have a modern Arabic name, although different parts of the same street may have different names (the city-centre 5th Street, for example, is known as Al Nasr Street at one end and Hamdan bin Mohammed Street – or just Hamdan Street – at the other). A few old pre-independence names also remain in occasional use (7th Street, for example: officially Sheikh Zayed the First Street but also known as Electra Street; or 9th Street, officially Al Falah Road but also occasionally referred to as Old Passport Road). Road signs generally show a mix of numbers and modern names.