How to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi – overview of transport options

Abu Dhabi skyline and Etihad Towers

Just over an hour and a half by road from Dubai is the UAE’s capital – Abu Dhabi. Whilst there’s a separate post dedicated to what to see and do in the city to help you plan your trip, I thought I’d also do a post on the basics – how to get there.

There’s a variety of options available depending on preference, budget and time – here’s a few to consider when planning your visit…

The quick option: Taxi

This might seem a bit excessive but it’s a popular choice and you can see why when you consider that taxis in the UAE are really reasonable. You can expect to pay around AED 300-350 to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai and then around AED 200-250 for the return (I assume Abu Dhabi taxis are cheaper because everyone says it’s cheaper on the way back!!). This might seem quite steep (around £100 return), but if there’s 4 of you then £25 a head for a private ride there and back isn’t so bad. If you want to reduce the cost then consider getting the metro to the end of the line (UAE Exchange), and then catching a taxi from there. Note. As of March 2018 there is metro engineering work meaning that you’ll need to change at Jumeirah Lakes Towers metro station and get a bus to reach UAE Exchange so it might not be worth it at present.

  • Not such an expensive option if there’s a few of you
  • Convenience – especially if you get a taxi from your hotel
  • You can go straight to your first sightseeing location and you get to decide where this is
  • It is a pricer option compared to some of the other options
  • It’s metered which is good on the one hand, but the price can obviously vary

Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi

The flexible option: Self drive

If you are feeling like you want more independence then you could hire a car yourselves. We haven’t done this yet in Dubai, but it is relatively easy to do and petrol is of course cheap. You can drive with a UK licence too if you hire a rental car. If you have residency in the UAE (like us), then you will need to apply for a UAE driving licence and cannot just use your UK licence so that’s worth noting. UAE roads are interesting from my experience, so I would only really recommend if you are a confident driver. Driving is fast and switching lanes is frequent. Once you’re used to it I’m assured it’s not a problem (I’m still to be convinced!).

  • Freedom to travel when and where you want – useful in Abu Dhabi where sights are even more spread out than Dubai
  • Cheap – hire is relatively inexpensive, as is petrol
  • Adapting to UAE drivers and one way systems!!
  • Finding parking etc.  – although usually not a problem unless you are visiting on a holiday weekend

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The low stress option: Organised tour

Many hotels offer organised tours for the day to Abu Dhabi to see key sights such as the Mosque (which is stunning – more on that here!). This can be a great way to see the sights without having to worry about getting between places and arranging your own transportation. There’s also some great tours to be had from looking online through recommendations such as Trip Advisor. These tours often start early and are a full day so can be quite tiring but you fit in all the sights!

  • Hassle free in terms of arranging transport to and between sights
  • Good overview of the key sights usually in a day
  • For the pros you are obviously going to pay more than doing it yourself
  • You have to stick to a schedule and see places you might not necessarily have at the top of your list, although it’s a good overview

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque


The combined option: Big Bus Hop on Hop off bus

Another option to consider if you’re new to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and want to do both cities is the combined ticket to access Hop on Hop off buses in both cities. As well as access to the full tour buses in both cities, you will also be able to use the shuttle that the company run between the two cities (running everyday apart from Fridays). The cost is around £85 per person so it doesn’t come cheap but might be worth considering if you want to see the sites in both cities anyway. More information on when and where the transfers run can be found by contacting the company directly.

  • Great way to see the key sites in both cities so perfect if you are visiting both
  • Convenient way to travel between both and on board tourist information available on the tours in each city
  • Relatively expensive and only useful if you are new to both cities (you could just consider the Abu Dhabi ticket if you just wanted to visit this city – this is around £46 per person)
  • The bus in Abu Dhabi is every hour so look at the time table and plan your time carefully so you don’t end up wasting your time waiting for the next bus!!

Saadiyat Beach, Abu Dhabi

The cheap option: RTA public bus

This was the option we opted for during our recent trip to Abu Dhabi – full information on this option can be found on a separate post here.

  • Cheap option!
  • Reliable and comfy – we were impressed with the bus
  • More of an effort – you need to get to the bus station first and then will have to get a taxi the other end to explore the city so the pros need to be considered against this. It wasn’t a problem for us and we did have two days, but is one to consider because it’s not as easy as some of the other options in this respect.
  • Queues – we didn’t have any problems but if you were doing the reverse journey at the start or end of the weekend (say Abu Dhabi to Dubai on a Friday morning), then you could face quite a big queue!

 Saadiyat Beach Club, Abu Dhabi

The VIP option: Helicopter:

If you are only interested in visiting in Abu Dhabi and you want to do it in style then a helicopter is the best option for you. Prices vary so you’d need to contact a company such as Heli Dubai for a quote – but expect £££. This is definitely one for the VIPs!!

The future option: Hyperloop:

Visiting Dubai in the future (let’s say 2022 onwards), then you might be able to travel to Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes via the Hyperloop due to a partnership currently being explored by the Dubai government and Virgin (see more here!). The invention sees passengers enter a pod and then they are launched through a vacuum less tunnel to Abu Dhabi. How? I’ve no idea. But it really is thing that is being discussed at the moment so let’s wait and see. Only in Dubai!


The Guestbook’s comment: “Abu Dhabi should definitely be on your list as a place to visit and is a relatively short distance from Dubai making it a perfect day trip or perfect for a longer stay depending on what you’d like to see. The Mosque should be top of your list. For more details on what to see and do in Abu Dhabi, see this post


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