Abu Dhabi Transport – How To Get Around In Abu Dhabi

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner

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 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, light rail, or public ferry system.

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 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 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.

You can find our complete guide to Abu Dhabi taxis here.

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.

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.

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).

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 at this stage connected to the Abu Dhabi toll system.

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.

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.

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

  • 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

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.

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.
A rack of careem bikes being used in Abu Dhabi

How to Get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai

Public Transport Abu Dhabi to Dubai

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

The Dubai Intercity bus leaves from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station, so from the airport, you would need to catch the A1 from the airport first into Downtown.

  • The cost is AED 25AED each way, and they run every 20 to 30 minutes.
Intercity buses parked at Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station

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.

If you have arrived at 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).

AUH Express

A new option which is now available for arrivals into Dubai is the AUH Express. This bus service operates from arrivals at AUH and drops passengers at Ibn Battuta in Dubai. From there, passengers can interconnect with local Dubai bus services and the Metro (during operating hours).

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!

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

  • Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!

Take me back to the Abu Dhabi Travel Blog

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

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