The area immediately east of Sheikh Rashid Street (2nd Street) is the heart of downtown Abu Dhabi, and where you’ll find the city’s liveliest street life and densest concentration of cafés and shops. The parallel Hamdan Street and Sheikh Zayed the First Street are the two major thoroughfares, each lined with identikit office blocks stacked tightly together like Lego bricks.
Just south of the latter lies the Madinat Zayed Gold Centre, Abu Dhabi’s low-key equivalent to Dubai’s Gold Souk, with two floors of shops selling traditional and contemporary jewellery.
Hugging Abu Dhabi’s eastern waterfront – although the actual water is hidden away behind the buildings lining 10th Street – Al Zahiya (or the “Tourist Club Area”, as it was officially known until 2014) is one of downtown’s liveliest districts, home to the flash Abu Dhabi Mall as well as several upscale hotels including the landmark Beach Rotana. Looking east, there are fine views over to the ever-thickening pincushion of modernist skyscrapers on Al Maryah Island.