Everything you need to know to get around Dubai
Dubai is a gigantic city that requires numerous trips to be visited, it is impossible to imagine visiting it exclusively on foot. How to get around Dubai is one of the most frequent questions I receive and one of the first I asked myself before going there, so I wrote this guide in which you I accompany you on the discovery of all the means of transport in the city and you will also find useful information on the most convenient way to get around Dubai and avoid confusion.
For a long time, Dubai was a city built and designed for cars. The huge roads, the locals’ love for cars and the very low cost of fuel (€0.65 per litre) have practically made cars the main means of getting around.
But things have changed and today tourists can move around Dubai without any need to rent a car (in fact, it would be more of a nuisance than anything else).
Dubai’s public transport system is quite new and excellent. The metro, trams and buses allow you to move around the city quite easily. If you prefer to travel by taxi, they are everywhere and are also quite cheap.
The ways to get around Dubai so they are numerous, in this guide we will take a look at all the main public transport options available in Dubai and you will discover everything you need to know to best organize your trips around the city.
First time in Dubai? Read the post on 20 things to see in Dubai and what to see in Dubai in 3 and 5 days. Since you will most likely want togo up the Burj Khalifa be sure to read the article about Burj Khalifa tickets
Don’t know which neighborhood to sleep in? Read the post on where to stay in Dubai where I analyze the pros and cons of the main neighborhoods where you can sleep. (where you will find useful information on the sites with the best prices).
How to get from Dubai airport to your hotel
To get from Dubai airport to the hotel you can take the metro or, for convenience since you don’t know the city yet and will most likely have to walk to the hotel from the nearest metro station (and you can walk a lot), I recommend organizing a .€30 which costs around transfer like this
The cost varies depending on the area of Dubai where you are staying, if you sleep in Dubai Marina for example you will pay something more than in Burj Khalifa or Bur Dubai.
In case you want to take the metro, remember that it closes at 11pm and that it necessarily requires the Nol Card (which I write about below), paper tickets are not sold.
Getting around Dubai with taxis and Uber
Taxis are probably the most efficient way to get around Dubai. Taxis are everywhere in the city and can be stopped on the street, called by phone or even booked via the application RTA Smart Taxi. Uber also works well, which costs a little more but unlike taxis it has a confirmed cost before getting on and therefore ideal in case of traffic
Dubai taxi faresdepend on distance, time of day and traffic but generally prices are quite low .
Licensed taxis are brown with red or pink roofs; taxis with pink roofs are driven by women and intended only for women and families.
You may have long waiting times for a taxi during rush hour, typically between 3.30pm and 5.30pm and it often happens that, especially during these hours, taxi drivers deny you a ride for short journeys.
The majority of taxis in Dubai a> accepts payment by debit or credit card but make sure before boarding.
If you want to pay in cash, also make sure you have small denomination banknotes because it could happen that the taxi driver doesn’t have change.
What to know: Many hotels can organize transport to and from the airport, but this service is generally more expensive than if you booked yourself.
I advise you to consider booking a taxi online which definitely costs a lot less, even by 40% or to opt for a taxi on the street (less suitable if you have to leave very early in the morning early or if where you are there aren’t many taxis around).
Dubai public transport (Metro, bus, tram, monorail, water buses) and the Nol Card
Using public transport is certainly the cheapest way to get around Dubai. But even in this case you must know which means to take and which to choose.
To use public transport in Dubai, the Nol Card which can be purchased at the Metro stations is mandatory. Remember to touch the reader with your card when entering and exiting the vehicle. Public transport in Dubai is operated by RTA.
What is the Nol Card and why do you need it
The NOL card is a smart card that allows Dubai commuters to use various RTA transport modes with a single card. With its ‘touch and go’ feature, you simply tap the card on the reader when entering and exiting metro, tram, bus and Waterbus stations. The system automatically charges the correct fee to your card. If you don’t have a season ticket and pay per trip, remember that the credit must be added to the card before getting on the vehicle.
NOL cards will give you access to the following services in Dubai:
- Water buses
- RTA paid parking
- Dubai Water Bus
There are 4 types of NOL cards available:
- Red Ticket – The NOL red Ticket costs AED 2 and can be loaded with a maximum of 10 single trips whose cost varies depending on the stops made. The red NOL card can only be used on one type of transportation at a time (e.g. only on the subway, only on the bus). Perfect if you know that you won’t use the means of transport every day and you only want to pay by the day
- Silver – The Silver card allows you to travel on all means of transport (unlike the red ticket) and can be loaded up to AED 5000. The card costs AED 25 and includes a credit of AED 19. It also allows you to buy the 7-day pass which costs AED110 and gives you unlimited access to all transport. Perfect if you know that you will use the means of transport every day (this is the one I opted for)
- Gold – The Gold card is similar to the Silver card except that it allows access to privileged Gold class cabins on the Dubai Metro and trams which have more comfortable seats and are generally less crowded. It costs AED
- Blue – The Blue card, or the Nol Personal Card, is similar to the Silver card and includes discounts for students and seniors on the subway and free travel for disabled people. It is available for locals only.
If you stay for a week and plan to use the transport every day I recommend you take the Silver package weekly pass which costs AED135 (the cost includes the Nol Card, AED 25, and also includes AED 19 credit)
If you prefer the Day pass, unlimited use of transport for one day, you can use the Red Ticket and pay for the day pass which costs AED20 per day (approximately €5).
Children under 5 years old travel for free.
The Dubai Metro
One of the best ways to get around Dubai is the metro which, unlike other metros in the world, runs mostly on the surface, giving you most of the time a panoramic view.
The Dubai Metro has only two lines (red and green) that travel mostly in straight lines through the city, so it may It may be necessary to take a taxi from the nearest metro station or, as I write in the post on where to stay in Dubai, find a hotel that is near a metro stop. You can also reach the center of Dubai from the airport by Metro (as long as you land on time before closing time) and the journey costs around 5 dollars.
The Dubai Metro has 2 lines, 49 stations and trains that run every 2-3 minutes.
- Red Line – Goes from Rashidiya (near Dubai International Airport) to UAE Exchange (formerly Jebel Ali) or Expo 2020 (so be careful which line you take first to get on the train). The red line has 29 stations.
- Green Line – Goes from Etisalat Metro Station to Al Qusais Creek in Al Jaddaf. The green line has 20 stations. Passengers can change lines and switch between them at Union or Bur Juman station.
- Mon-Thu: 5 AM – 1:15 AM
- Fri and Sat: 5 AM – 2:15 AM
- Sunday: 8 AM – 1:15 AM
- Frequency: Every 4-7 min
Payment method: NOL card
Cost: The cost of the metro journey depends on the stops that you will. The basic cost starts from 3 AED
Being the most popular means of transport, especially during rush hour, the metro is super crowded. Also remember that all metros have acar for women only (you will see the pink zone) which is usually the first or last car of the train. train.
Getting around Dubai by buses
Buses in Dubai have 119 lines (35 connecting to metro stations) covering 82% of the urban area in the Emirate of Dubai.
The buses are equipped with air conditioning, NOL card sensors at entry and exit points and easily accessible for disabled people. The bus stops are also equipped with air conditioning to keep you cool from the Dubai sun which is merciless in summer.
The buses are usually much less crowded than the metro but they take longer, they are not as frequent as the metro, so calculate the route first (you can do it here) and the drivers look more like Formula 1 drivers than bus drivers.
As with the Dubai Metro and other modes of transport operated by the RTA, you must use the NOL card and it is not possible to pay in counted or by card.
Generally you use buses if you stay in Jumeirah, to reach Al Arab (the famous sail in Dubai) and to go to places not served by the Metro.
- Times: Every day between 4.00 and 1.00am
- Payment method: NOL card
- Cost: One route starting from 3 AED
Getting around Dubai with trams
Dubai trams have been in operation since 2014 and run 14.5 kilometers along Al Sufouh Road, connecting Dubai Marina to Palm Jumeirah and Al Sufouh.
You can switch from the tram to the metro at Jumeirah Lakes Towers station and at Dubai Marina of the Dubai Metro Red Line. The tram is also connected to the Palm Jumeirah monorail.
The Dubai Tram is the third tram project in the world (and the only one outside Europe) powered by a shore power supply system. All trams are equipped with air conditioning, have the Gold carriage, provide free Wifi, disabled access and a women-only carriage.
- Hours: Mon-Sat: 6 AM – 1 AM – Sun: 9 AM – 1 AM
- Payment method: NOL card
- Cost: starting from 3 AED
The Dubai Monorail
Opened in 2009, the Dubai Monorail is the first monorail in the Middle East. The monorail runs along The Palm.
The Monorail is one of the best ways to get around the Palm Jumeirah. It will allow you to go from place to place, the monorail ends at the gigantic Atlantis hotel (one of the most famous in Dubai which also has one of the largest water parks in the Middle East. If you stay here,entry is free), guaranteeing an enchanting view. The ticket is paid separately and is not included in the NOL card.
A one-way ticket costs AED 20 and a return ticket with unlimited travel for one day costs.30 AED
- Times: Every day from 9.00 to 22.00
- Payment methods: Cash, credit card
- Cost: from AED 20
Le Dubai Abras
The Dubai Abras are traditional Dubai boats , a mix of motor boats and rafts, which connect Bur Dubai with Deira by ferrying the Creek.
The abras have maintained their design and functionality for centuries, today becoming not only a means of transport but also a sort of tourist attraction.
There are also Abras that you can access with the Nol Card, the cost is 2 AED, but they have fixed opening hours and you may have to wait a long time, even half an hour.
If you just want to pass between the two banks it is more practical, faster and economical to use the 1 AED banks.
- Orari: Bur Dubai Abra Station a Deira Old Souk Abra Station: 6 AM – 12Midnight, Stazione Dubai Old Souk a Al Sabhkha Abra Station: 24×7
- Payment methods: Cash
- Cost: from AED 1 and AED 2 for public transport to be paid with Nol Card at the box office.
The Dubai Ferry – Getting around Dubai by ferry
Another nice way to get around Dubai is the Dubai Ferry, also operated by the RTA.
The Dubai Ferry currently operates from three terminals: Dubai Marina, Al Ghubaiba (Bur Dubai) and Dubai Canal Station.
There are two different ferry routes:
- The one from Dubai Marina, which only makes 4 stops and is a practical way to go from one side of the Marina to the other , despite not being the fastest. The ferry leaves every 15/20 minutes and costs 3, 5, 8 or 11 AED depending on the number of stops.
- The one that connects Al Ghubaiba (Bur Dubai) with Marina which takes about 2 hours and leaves only once a day (respectively from Marina and from Al Ghubaiba). The Al Ghubaiba-Marina route leaves at 1pm. While the Marina – Al Ghubaiba at 6pm. This route, despite being a public transport, was designed for tourists as it allows you to sail off the coast . The ferry is paid using the Nol Card, remember to be at the ferry stop at least 30 minutes before departure. In case of wind or rough seas the race may be cancelled. For this reason I advise you against leaving this activity to the last minute because it could be canceled last minute. Keep your distance with the times.
For more information on routes and departure times check here.
The ferry is indoors and has no outside seating, so if you want to take a tourist boat tour I recommend you consider the speed boat tour like this one and starts from Marina.€29 per person which in 90 minutes is a very nice tour and costs around
Hop-On Hop-Off bus
The Hop on Hop off is an exceptional way to get around Dubai and be able to see the main places of the city.
I like it very much and when I visit a big city for the first time I generally start on board these buses because they give me a general overview of the city.
The cost is quite high but if you buy the Dubai Pass, I recommend it because it saves a lot if you choose the right attractions, it is included in the cost and you will save a lot on the final cost.
The Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off is perfect for tourists because it not only facilitates the transportation issue, but also because it shows you the most important highlights of the city.
Dubai has two bus companies covering the city: Big Bus (starting from €59) and City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off (starting from €58 for one day).
Both companies have planned routes with a total of around 40 stops along the way.
Big Bus Dubai routes
Big Bus operates three lines in Dubai:
- Red Line – Dubai Mall (through which you can visit the Burj Khalifa), City Walk, Wafi, Burjuman, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Spice Souk, Dubai Museum, Gold Souk, Riviera and Deira City Centre.
- Green Line – Jumeirah public beach, Souk Madinat, Burj Al Arab, Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall. The panoramic tour is not to be missed!
- Linea Blu – Mall of the Emirates, Marina Walk, Marina Mall, Marina Promenade, The Beach, Bay Side, Tallest Block, Media City, Al Ittihad Park, e Atlantis The Palm.
The ticket starts from €59 for one day. You will find more options that include any extras (such as
To know the route and book click here.
City Sightseeing routes
City Sightseeing instead has two lines:
- Red Route Tour: Dubai Mall, Al Seef, Al Fahidi Historic Neighbourhood, Dubai Museum, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold & Spice Souk, Dubai Creek, Dubai Frame
- Blue Route Tour: Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat, Atlantis the Palm, Dubai Marina, JBR The Beach, Marina Promenade, Grosvenor House Dubai, Mina Seyahi, Mall of the Emirates
The ticket starts from €58 for one day. You will find more options that include any extras (such as
To know the route and book click here.
Rent a car in Dubai
Given the excellent organization of transport in Dubai I don’t think there is a need to rent a car. Public transport and taxis are sufficient.
If you want to visit Abu Dhabi in just one day it is also more convenient to book a one-day tour like this one, which includes all entrance fees and you don’t have to worry about parking, getting around the city or entering attractions.
But if you want to rent a car, the costs are very affordable, starting from €48 per day, which you can check on cheap car rentals which compares the costs of many rental operators and that based on my experience.