Abu Dhabi is a relatively easy city to navigate, although there are not as many public transport options as you might find in neighboring Dubai. The easiest way for tourists to get around is by taxi, or joining an organized tour group or hop-on-hop-off bus service to get between the city’s top attractions.
We share with you here all your different transport options for getting around in Abu Dhabi
- First-time visitors may want to check out the Big Bus hop-on-hop-off bus service, perfect for getting between Abu Dhabi’s main tourist highlights.
- This personalised tour is also great for first-timers to see the highlights with a driver.
Abu Dhabi Public Transport
Abu Dhabi’s public transport systems consists of taxies and buses. There is no Metro, lightrail or public ferry system in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Taxies – Regulated by TransAD
Taxies are often considered the best way to get around Abu Dhabi for visitors. Although there are many different taxi companies, they are all regulated and booked via TransAD, you will recognise them from their silver colouring and yellow rooftops.
You can easily find taxies out the front of hotels and shopping malls, otherwise, it is advisable to download the Abu Dhabi taxi app. It can give you real-time information on where the nearest taxi is and plate and driver information while you wait (albeit as long term users we’d debate its accuracy!).
Alternatively, TransAD offers a call centre option on 600 53 53 53. They answer calls in English and Arabic.
Abu Dhabi’s taxies are relatively affordable, and most drivers (but not all!) are fairly knowledgeable on the street system. Though often the lack of an exact address – despite best efforts in recent years to name and number all the city’s roads – you are best giving your driver the nearest landmark to head to.
Expect to pay a flagfall of 5AED and 1.82AED per kilometre (higher charges at night). There’s a minimum fare of 15AED that must be paid regardless which can make short hops in the city quite expensive but might still beat walking in the peak of summer.
Uber & Careem in Abu Dhabi
Ridesharing apps, including Uber and Careem (now owned by Uber), operate in the capital. They are becoming increasingly popular to book, alongside taxies particularly in the evenings when it can be harder to find cabs lined up at a rank.
Careem offers a range of different cars including Economy Limo, Careem Kids (fitted with one child seat), Max & Careem Assist. You select your car type and the exact fare will be calculated via the Careem App.
You can also use Uber via the Uber App. As part of their terms of reintroduction to the Abu Dhabi market, their service is at a premium above regular taxies.
Airport Taxi Abu Dhabi
There is a special class of taxi that operates only from Abu Dhabi Airport. These taxies are Black Mercedes minivans, ideal for group travel. There is a 25 AED airport flagfall for catching these taxies – more below!
Abu Dhabi Public Buses
Abu Dhabi has a good network of public buses. The main bus station is Abu Dhabi Bus Station in Al Wadha, the corner of 7th Street and Muroor Road.
The Abu Dhabi bus system is cheap to use with most inner-city fares only costing 2AED. However, you will need to get a Hafilat smart card, for 5 AED (or 10AED if you do not want to use it anonymously). The cards can be purchased from some Lulu Supermarkets and Customer Care Centres. You must punch in and out with your Halifat card on each journey. You can learn more about the Halifat card here.
Not that the Dubai Nol card can be used on the Dubai to Abu Dhabi Intercity bus service, but cannot be used on local bus services.
DOT Link Buses
Introduced as an experiment in mid-2018 and it looks they’re here to stay are DOT Links buses, small minibuses that work for free on a “Hail & Ride” system in more remote parts of the city to get residents from outer areas to the nearest large bus station.
Four routes – M1, M2, M3 and M4 – serve stops such as Mazzyad Mall, Mussaffah Port, Dalma Mall, labour camps and the main Mussaffah terminal. New routes were added to Khalifa City in early 2019.
Driving in Abu Dhabi
The driving standard in Abu Dhabi has vastly improved over the past decade, roads are clearly marked, freeways and streets are wide and largely one way, but traffic does move fast. We only recommend self-driving in Abu Dhabi for confident drivers.
Vehicles in Abu Dhabi are left-hand drive (you drive on the right side of the road) and car seats for children under 4 in private vehicles were made compulsory on 1 July 2017.
Car Hire in Abu Dhabi
There are many car hire companies to choose from, operating from Abu Dhabi International Airport and many shopping malls and hotels across the city offer branches of popular rental companies too.
To hire a car in Abu Dhabi, all you will need is a drivers licence from your home country written in English or Arabic.
Abu Dhabi Tolls
Note that electronic toll gates were added to the four main entry points onto the main Abu Dhabi island in October 2019, though not activated. They were touted to begin in January 2020, but to date, despite passing under the toll bridges there is still a grace period in operation where drivers are not charged.
If you are hiring a car, the toll will go through your hire car company there is no physical toll both option. You are charged only when driving at peak times 7 AM to 9 AM and 5 PM to 7 PM.
You can learn more about the tolls here – we will update when we know they are active [By Executive Council Decree all vehicles are exempt for paying tolls for the remainder of 2020].
NB – if you are driving to Dubai, tolls also operate in Dubai called Salik. If you are hiring a car in the UAE, it should come fitted with a Salik tag. They are not at this stage connected to the Abu Dhabi toll system.
Getting from Abu Dhabi Airport into the city
Abu Dhabi’s International Airport AUH sits around 24 kilometres from the city centre. There are a few transport options.
The regulated luxury airport taxi service that we mentioned above is by far the quickest and most convenient way to get from Abu Dhabi International Airport to anywhere in the city – albeit not the cheapest.
You can still get a regular taxi from the departures level, though an airport surcharge of 20AED still applies for convenience and if you are with a group especially, just opt for the larger luxury taxies immediately outside the terminal.
(Do not listen to any touts who may operate in the airport offering you a limousine – total rort even if they are considered legitimate operators!)
- To Yas Island, you should expect an airport taxi fare of around 45 AED ($12 USD) and the journey takes less than 10 minutes
- To Saadiyat Island, you should expect an airport taxi fare of around 70 AED ($19 USD) and the journey takes around 25 minutes
- To the Corniche, you should expect an airport taxi fare of around 90 AED ($24.50 USD) and the journey takes 30 to 40 minutes depending on if you arrive in peak hour.
The Abu Dhabi Taxi App has a fare calculator to help you judge how much you are going to pay. Note, unlike rideshare services you do not pay through the app, you still pay a taxi driver in cash/card. There is no problem in Abu Dhabi with taxi drivers using the meters correctly, they are highly regulated and monitored.
Abu Dhabi Airport Bus
The A1 bus service that operates from outside Terminal 1/3, on the lower level takes you to the Al Zahiyah City Air Terminal. It takes you via the main Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station (Cnr Muroor Rd and 11th), and goes all the way to the Old Fish Market on Al Nasr Street (Near NY University Abu Dhabi). It operates every 40 minutes and is 4 AED into town.
Other public bus services that operate from AUH include
- The 490 service to Al Ain Bus Station
- The 211 which services Mussafah Dalma Mall – AUH – Rabha Hospital
- A10 from Dalma Mall to
- The 240 which services Al Wathba Worker City – AUH – Al Rahba Hospital
- The X81 to Ruwais ADNOC
Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal to Abu Dhabi
A fleet of public taxies waits for scheduled arrivals into the cruise liner port at Mina Zayed.
A 20AED port flag fall applies, thereafter normal taxi rates. As an example, a journey from Mina Zayed Port to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque will take approximately 25 minutes, with an estimated each way fare of AED50.
How to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai
Currently, the only public transport from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is Intercity Buses.
The Dubai Intercity bus leaves from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station, so you would need to catch the A1 from the airport first. There are two Dubai services that leave from here. The cost is 25AED each way and they run between every 20 to 30 minutes.
With a group, you might find it more convenient to catch a taxi (approximately 250 – 300 AED to Dubai, depending on where you are dropped off), or use a pre-arranged hire car service.
If you have arrived into Abu Dhabi International Airport with Etihad economy and connect straight to Dubai you can arrange a seat on the Etihad Coach for free, which will take you to the Etihad Travel Mall (Downtown Dubai) – see timetable here.
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.
- 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: