There are few cities where we genuinely believe that the hop-on-hop-off tourist bus makes sense these days with traffic congestion and cheaper alternative transport methods.
However, credit where it is due, Abu Dhabi is definitely one of those places we would suggest the hop-on-hop-off bus concept makes perfect sense for tourists.
The city of Abu Dhabi is very spread out and lacks a comprehensive public transport system that is user-friendly and easily accessible for tourists.
The UAE capital city has some stunning buildings and fabulous cultural sites to visit, but getting a taxi or Uber in between each not only involves needing data on your phone or waiting in taxi queues, but it can also add up to a lot of extra dirhams in your travel budget.
The Abu Dhabi Big Bus Tour can take a lot of this hassle out of the way for your stopover or a short trip to Abu Dhabi, where you’d like to see as much as possible.
Here’s exactly what to expect with Big Bus Tours in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dubai Tour – Big Bus Itinerary for Abu Dhabi
There are two routes operated by Big Bus in Abu Dhabi.
- City Tour – Red Route
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque– Green Route
As you would expect in Abu Dhabi, all buses are air-conditioned downstairs, and they offer an open rooftop, too, perfect for visiting in winter.
All tours in Abu Dhabi are with pre-recorded commentary, not live commentary, and are available in a wide range of languages with a headset provided.
Abu Dhabi City Tour – Big Bus Red Route
Taking in the top attractions on Abu Dhabi Island (yes, the city itself is actually an island separated from mainland UAE! Find more Abu Dhabi facts you should know before visiting here), here’s what you need to know about this main tourist bus route in Abu Dhabi.
Big Bus Red Route Timings
- First bus 9:00 AM
- Last bus departs 5:00 PM
Big Bus Red Route Key Stops
Commencing from Abu Dhabi Mall, the top spots we recommend you get off Big Bus to enjoy:
- Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island – a must for art lovers or the culturally interested. The building itself is amazing, and the meticulously designed collection is well worth a stop. Allow at least 2 hours. Entry fees apply, closed Mondays.
- Abu Dhabi Heritage Village – a small volunteer-run organisation that sits on the Marina Breakwater. A taster for Bedouin life and fabulous views over to the city. If you time it right, you can catch handicraft displays and even photo opportunities with a falcon. Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour. Entry is FREE.
- Founders Memorial – a photo moment, although you can catch this from the right side of the bus without disembarking. No entry fee.
- Emirates Palace – only worth the stop if you’re excited by the glitz and glam of Abu Dhabi – garden entry free. You can time it right for a meal or stop for your gold flake tea. This is also the stopping point to cross the road for Observation Deck at 300 in Etihad Towers for amazing city views and teas – entry fee applies.
- Qasr Al Watan Presidential Place – this one is a must to get off and visit inside as you won’t get much just from the road. Allow yourself 1.5 to 2 hours here exploring the stunning Qasr Al Watan – entry fee applies, additional for guided tours, or available with your Deluxe ticket.
- Qasr Al Hosn – recently reopened, this restored fort is the city’s culture and history centre (arguably the better of the two if you’re deciding between a stop here or the Heritage Village) – entry fees applies.
- The Galleria – one of the city’s glitziest malls on Al Maryah Island is a great way to finish off your day with city views and dinner choices aplenty along the waterfront.
If there’s no immediate bus and the weather is cool enough, you can walk from the Founders Memorial to Emirates Palace, Qasr al Watan and the Observation Deck, though this will take a fair part of your day.
Check out how many Abu Dhabi attractions are actually FREE
Big Bus Green Route – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
You can interchange to the Green Route at Abu Dhabi Mall stop after completing the Red Route, or tackle the Green Route as a separate day (you will need to if you get off at the mentioned stops on day 1!)
Slightly altered from pre-COVID days, this route now ONLY covers the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (not Yas Island as it used to).
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – what more can we say! Simply stunning in every way and the number one most visited destination in the country. Make sure you bring with you appropriate attire to meet the Mosque dress code – Entry is free, and there are free tour options, no free-booking needed
Green Route Timing
The Green Route Tour operates daily from
- Abu Dhabi Mall at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 4:00 PM
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM and 5:30 PM
How to book your Big Bus ticket for Abu Dhabi
There are options if you book directly through Big Bus for:
- Classic Tickets – 1-day Flexible Ticket
- Premium Tickets – 2-day ticket offering more flexibility and a Grand Mosque Tour
- Deluxe Tickets – 5-days to use and includes tours of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Presidential Palace.
- Abu Dhabi & Dubai – combine two classic tickets and save, plus a shuttle service between the cities
These range from around $70 USD to $130 USD for adults. Kids $48 USD to $86 USD
There are several ticket resellers (that we frequently use ourselves) with whom you can also book your Big Bus tickets through, along with other top Abu Dhabi attraction tickets and tours, try:
It can work out cheaper to book your Big Bus tickets with the company directly in advance for an instant 10% online saving compared to booking at the ticket counter Abu Dhabi Mall).
Taking the Dubai Big Bus tour too? See how you transfer between Abu Dhabi and Dubai here or use the shuttle included with your Big Bus 2-city ticket
Are There Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus alternatives in Abu Dhabi?
At present, Big Bus is the only paid tour operator offering a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus service with commentary.
- There is, however, a free shuttle service you may want to consider if you have booked your tickets with Visit Abu Dhabi – learn more about this shuttle service here.
- There is also a “Cultural Express” coach that runs from Dubai daily, stopping only at Louvre Abu Dhbai and Qasr Al Watan.
Should you wish to book a smaller group tour with more personalised commentary and service, you could try one of these Abu Dhabi operators:
If you’re heading on to Dubai next, we suggest you pop over here for our guide to day trips to Dubai, or if you’ll be staying in Dubai for a while, check out our partner website www.dubaitravelplanner.com
Before you go… Important things to consider planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack as well as top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Check the most up-to-date COVID entry rules for Abu Dhabi.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our hotel or tour recommendation links.Abu Dhabi Travel Planner