a close up of a Hafilat public transport card in Abu Dhabi

Hafilat – The Abu Dhabi Bus Card Explained

by Abu Dhabi Travel Planner Team

We usually shy away from recommending Hafilat and public buses in Abu Dhabi to most tourists as they’re not always the most practical way of getting around the city. Still, we know many hardy travellers prefer to use public buses where possible.

This post is part of our series on transportation in Abu Dhabi; to learn more about all forms of public transport, taxies, tolls, hire cars and more make sure to head over to our Abu Dhabi Transport Guide

Abu Dhabi certainly does its best to make the journey comfortable. The bus fleet is modern and clean and has air conditioning, as do many of the bus stops around the city. The routes and the timetable can, however, be a little frustrating as they do not necessarily line up with where you want to be and when as a tourist.

Nonetheless, let’s delve into the details of how you use the Abu Dhabi bus system and, most importantly, Hafilat, the smart payment method for Abu Dhabi Buses.

Suburban bus services in Abu Dhbai a fleet of modern buses

The Abu Dhabi Bus System

The bus network stretches across the city and covers most residential areas. There are many stops, and journey times can be quite long as a result.

Click here for complete details of the Abu Dhabi bus routes and up-to-date timetables.

What is Hafilat? Abu Dhabi Bus Card

Hafilat is a prepaid ‘smart’ transport card that can be used on Abu Dhabi buses. You tap on and off when using a bus to be charged correctly. You must tap the card when you enter the bus, or you may face a fine if caught by the ticket inspector.

Hafilat is only for use in Abu Dhabi. It is not transferable to other emirates in the UAE. In Dubai, a similar card known as the Nol card can be used to pay for public transport.

close up view of a personalised Hafilat car in abu dhabi

Cost of Bus Fares in Abu Dhabi

  • A local trip inside the city is AED 2 per journey
  • Suburban trips are AED 2 then + AED 0.05 per km
  • Intercity Trips (Regional areas of Abu Dhabi Emirates – AED 10 + 0.1 per kilometre

You can also get weekly and monthly passes, as well as student, senior citizen and people of determination passes.

TypeCostWhat You Get
WeeklyAED 30Unlimited local for 7 days
MonthlyAED 80Unlimited local trip 30 days
StudentAED 500 One Year
Senior CitizenFreeOver 55 – valid 1 year
People of DeterminationFreeWith Ounak or POD card – Valid 1 year

Where Can I Buy a Hafilat Bus Card in Abu Dhabi?

There are ticket vending machines in many locations in Abu Dhabi emirate, though certainly not at every bus stop, therefore it makes it a little challenging for short-term visitors to the city.

The Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station in Al Wadha is your best starting point. Machines are also located in:

  • Abu Dhabi International Airport
  • Bani Yas Bus Station
  • Mussafah Bus Station
  • Shahama Bus Station
  • Al Ain Bus Station
  • Al Sila Bus Station
  • Liwa Bus Station
  • Ghayathi Bus Station
  • Madinat Zayed Bus Station
  • Lulu Hypermarket Al Wadha, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.
A Hafilat card machine in Abu Dhabi to buy your Abu Dhabi bus tickets
Where to get your bus card Abu Dhabi – look for these larger Hafilat dispensing machines

Recharging Your Hafilat Card

When your Hafilat balance runs low, you can recharge at:

  • Ticket Vending Machines
  • Hafilat Machines or online if you have a debit or credit card using this link.

You can buy an anonymous card for AED 10 that does not have any of your personal details attached, or for extra security, should your card be lost or stolen, you can get a personalised card from customer happiness centres in Abu Dhabi for AED 5. This ensures any credit on your card should it be lost.

Note if your card is not used for more than one year, the balance will expire. You can check directly with DARB what balance you have left by entering your card serial number here.

A Hafilat recharging machine
Hafilat card recharge machine

More FAQ on Hafilat and Abu Dhabi Bus Passes

Can I use Nol in Abu Dhabi?

Nol is the public transport card for Dubai. You can use it to catch the intercity bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, but you cannot use it on the Abu Dhabi public transport network.

How can I check my Hafilat balance?

To check for Hafliat card balance, you can go to the ITC government website and check balance or create yourself an online account.

You can also check on a Hafilat recharge machine before topping up. The map below is the current locations (as at 2024) of Hafilat ticket vending machines (grey) and recharge machines (Red) – map courtesy of DARBI map viewer – click here to zoom inMap of where to find Hafilat recharge machines and locations that disepense Hafilat cards

Can you still pay cash for buses in Abu Dhabi?

No. Buses do not accept cash in Abu Dhabi. You will need a Hafilat card before boarding your first bus.

Do buses stop at night?

Buses run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but some services are not as frequent at night time.

Can I use Hafilat for the bus to Dubai?

Yes, regional and intercity buses, including Routes 100, 101 and 102 Abu Dhabi to Dubai can be paid for using Hafilat.

Alternative Transport For Tourists

The alternatives to the public bus system in Abu Dhabi might be a lot more convenient for tourists but can add up to a lot more in terms of cost if you’re staying in the city for a while. You could also consider:

  • The Visit Abu Dhabi Free Shuttle; this is available if you book attraction tickets through the tourism authorities’ official website Visit Abu Dhabi
  • The Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus; this is substantially more expensive than local buses, but you get free commentary, and the bus stops once an hour at the key tourist locations. It does work out cheaper than taking a taxi if you use it wisely.
  • Taxies or Careem; this is by far the easiest way of getting from A to B in Abu Dhabi. Taxis cost 1.82 AED per km, plus a 4 AED flag fall fee (5 AED if booked online). The minimum fare is 12 AED.
  • Bikes For Hire in Abu Dhabi – you may see a number of green bikes dotted around the city; these can be hired if you download the online app. If you plan on doing this, however, make sure you bring a helmet!
  • eScooters are an increasingly popular alternative to bikes for making short commutes in the city.
  • Hiring A Car and Self-Drive – if you’re a family or in a small group, this could work out cost-effective. Much of the city works on a grid system, and the traffic isn’t nearly as manic as in Dubai; most confident drivers would be fine to tackle Abu Dhabi’s roads!
traffic on the main highway to and from Abu Dhabi and Dubai
Driving in Abu Dhabi can be a manageable way of getting between key attractions and beyond the city

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


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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.

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