abu dhbai old bus station

Abu Dhabi Transport – Getting Around Abu Dhabi

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

Abu Dhabi is a relatively easy city to navigate, although there are not as many public transport options as you might find in neighbouring Dubai.

The easiest way for tourists to get around if they only have a short time to explore the capital 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.


Abu Dhabi Public Transport

Abu Dhabi’s public transport system consists of taxis and buses. Abu Dhabi has no Metro, though they are introducing tram and ferry options to make it easier to get around in Abu Dhabi. Let’s take a closer look at each type of transport in Abu Dhbai

Abu Dhabi Taxies – Regulated by TransAD

Taxies are often considered the best way for visitors to get around Abu Dhabi. 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 taxis 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 taxis are relatively affordable, and most drivers (but not all!) are fairly knowledgeable about the street system. Though often there is a 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 AED 5 and AED 1.82 per kilometre (higher charges at night). A minimum fare of AED 15 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 taxis, particularly in the evenings when finding cabs lined up at a rank can be harder.

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 (Google) | Careem (App Store)

You can also use Uber via the Uber App (Google) | Click here for App Store. 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 taxis that operates only from Abu Dhabi Airport. These taxis 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 central bus station is the Abu Dhabi Bus Station in Al Wadha, the corner of 11th Street and Muroor Road.

We recommend you download the DARB app for real-time public transport information in Abu Dhabi (Google Play) | Find it here on the App Store.

The Abu Dhabi bus system is cheap to use, with most inner-city fares only costing AED 2 per journey.

However, you will need to get a  Hafilat smart card, for AED 5 AED (or AED 10 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 to be charged the correct fare.

Not that the Dubai Nol card can be used on the Dubai to Abu Dhabi Intercity bus service, but it cannot be used on local bus services in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station
The distinctive green roof of the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station

Introduced as an experiment in mid-2018, and it looks like they’re here to stay are DOT Links buses. These are 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.

ART Tram

New in 2023! After a few mystery spottings across the city, a new trackless tram system was officially been launched!

The Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) service, which was been tested on Yas Island, will initially run a 14-stop route from Reem Mall on Reem Island to Rixos Marina, adjacent to Marina Mall Abu Dhabi.

The rail-less, airconditioned service will be limited to weekends to begin with, running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM and on the hour. The journey will take 1 hour and 15 minutes. Timings can be found on the Darbi App (Download on Google Play | App Store).

We understand that it is presently going to be free to use this new public transport service.

Visit Abu Dhabi Free Shuttle Buses

Launched in 2021, this complimentary bus service operates between key Abu Dhabi tourist attractions and hotels in the capital. There’s no need to pre-register; simply wait at the designated stops along the route and scan a QR code upon entry to register your trip.

This is a fabulous cost-saving measure if the journey fits your timetable. Services are not super regular, though, so consider this in your planning – Grab the current timetable here.


Driving in Abu Dhabi

The driving standard in Abu Dhabi has vastly improved over the past decade; roads are clearly marked, and 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 (albeit you’ll see many breaching these rules, and nothing seems to be done about it).

traffic on the main highway to and from Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Car Hire in Abu Dhabi

There are many car hire companies to choose from, operating from Abu Dhabi International Airport. Many shopping malls and hotels across the city also offer branches of popular rental companies.

To hire a car in Abu Dhabi, you will need a driver’s licence from your home country written in English or Arabic. Having an International Driver’s Permit is not compulsory unless your license is not issued in one of these two languages.

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; they became active in January 2021, charging AED 4 AED per journey.

If you are hiring a car, the toll will go through your hire car company; there is no physical toll booth option. You are charged only when driving at peak times 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (Monday to Saturday; Sundays and Public Holidays are free).

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 connected to the Abu Dhabi toll system at this stage.

Any rental car you pick up in the UAE should already be registered for DARB – but do confirm this with your rental company and any administrative fee they may charge you if you pass through a DARB toll gate in Abu Dhabi.


Abu Dhabi Airport Transport to City

Abu Dhabi’s Zayed International Airport AUH is 24 kilometres from the city centre. There are a few transport options.

Note that the much awaited new airport, Abu Dhabi Terminal A opened from 1 November 2023.

The services and images below are all from Terminals 1-3; we will update this section for the guide once the new airport terminal is fully operational and we’ve seen all the transport services in action!

Airport Taxi

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 AED 20 still applies for using this convenience. If you are with a group especially, opt for the larger luxury taxis 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 AED 45 AED ($12 USD), and the journey takes less than 10 minutes.
  • To Saadiyat Island, you should expect an airport taxi fare of around AED 70 AED ($19 USD), and the journey takes around 25 minutes.
  • To the Corniche, you should expect an airport taxi fare of around AED 90 AED ($24.50 USD), and the journey takes 30 to 40 minutes depending on if you arrive in peak hour.
Abu Dhabi Airport taxis - black mercedes

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

  • N2 to Al Zahiyah (overnight service)
  • A2 To Khalifa Street
  • A10 to MBZ City Bus Station
  • A15 to the Cargo Temrinal
  • A40 to the Al Shaham Bus Station
  • K4 to Khalifa City

Use the DARBI app (Google) | Darbi on App Store or check on the DARBI Website for the latest route planning information, as Abu Dhabi bus routes are frequently being updated and improved based on user demand and the changes that have come about from the new Zayed Airport opening. (NB, it is unfortunately far from one of the most intuitive and user-friendly apps!)


Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal to Abu Dhabi

A fleet of public taxis waits for scheduled arrivals at the cruise liner port at Mina Zayed.

An AED 20 port flag fall applies from here; you’ll pay regular taxi rates thereafter. 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 AED 50.


Other Abu Dhabi Transport

As a visitor, there are a few more modes of transport you could try:

  • Heading to Yas Bay? You might want to try the Yas Bay Water Taxi if you need to shuttle to and from the Al Raha Beach communities.
  • Visitors to Yas Island can use the free Yas Express shuttle services, which include stops at Yas Bay, W Hotel, the Yas Hotel Plaza, the theme parks, Yas Mall, Yas Marina, and the Yas Marina circuit. See the latest timetable for this service here.
  • Tourists may benefit from using the Big Bus Hop-on-hop-off service, which not only gets you from A to B for the city’s key attractions but includes commentary and further discounts.
  • Why not rent an eScooter to get around in Abu Dhabi? There are several apps you can choose with scooter stations in key locations around the city.
A rack of careem bikes being used in Abu Dhabi

How to Get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai & Other Emirates

Public Transport Abu Dhabi to Dubai

Currently, the only public transport from central Abu Dhabi to Dubai is Intercity Buses.

Dubai Intercity buses 100 & 101 leave from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station, so from the airport, you would need to catch a city service first into Downtown.

  • The cost is AED 25 each way
  • They run every 20 to 35 minutes
  • There are services to Ibn Battuta Station (the 101, around 100 minutes) and Al Ghubaiba Bus Station (the 100, around 130 minutes to the Bur Dubai area of the city)
Intercity buses parked at Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station

Connecting onwards to other Emirates, you are best getting yourself to Bur Dubai or Deira (take the 101 bus or the Metro once you’re in Dubai), where additional services leave to Sharjah, Ajman, RAK, UAQ and Fujairah.

If you are departing from Zayed International Airport Terminal A, you can pick up the Intercity Bus Service 102, which terminates in Ibn Battuta, Dubai. This also costs AED 25 one way, services are a bit more spread out but approximately 1 per horu.

AUH Express

A new option that is now available for arrivals into Dubai is the AUH Express. This bus service operates from arrivals at AUH, regardless of which airline you fly with, and drops passengers at Ibn Battuta in Dubai.

From there, passengers can interconnect with local Dubai bus services and the Metro (during operating hours). The AUH Express costs AED 35 one-way.

Tickets can be purchased at the airport when you arrive, or save yourself some hassle and pre-book tickets here:

Private Transfers to Dubai

With a group, you might find it more convenient to catch a metered taxi (approximately AED 250 – 350 to Dubai, depending on where you are dropped off) or use a pre-arranged hire car service.

Airline Bus to Dubai

If you have arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport with Etihad Economy and want to 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).

Etihad Rail

It has been recently announced that the rail connection across the UAE is now complete. However, there is still no opening date for public transportation by rail, nor where and how passenger rail services will work in the Emirates. It is fairly imminent, though, so watch this space!

Abu Dhabi to Oman

Want to head even further afield on your trip to Abu Dhabi? The capital city of Oman, Muscat, sits 500 kilometres to the south of Abu Dhabi. Connecting between the two capitals has just been made easier with the introduction of an intercity service operated by Mwsalat, connecting Abu Dhabi to Muscat, via Al Ain.

Alternatively, you could consider hiring your own car and road-tripping between the UAE and Oman. However, be mindful of land border crossing regulations and arrange the appropriate permissions to drive your car across the international border.


Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi

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