Home Visit Dubai What is the best way between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

What is the best way between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

by Danni B
White Domes of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Dubai to Abu Dhabi? Dubai from Abu Dhabi? Not sure how to get back and forth or perhaps you don’t have a car. Not to worry! We’re going to give you all the possible ways to get between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and back again. Including which are the quickest and cheapest. You might be surprised but actually Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, not Dubai! There are some really stunning things to see in the city, so if you’re visiting Dubai. Definitely make sure to go visit Abu Dhabi as well!

Please note, there are currently restrictions getting between Abu Dhabi and Dubai at the moment due to Covid19. You will need a valid PCR test in order to enter. For more details read here.

Have some more questions about Abu Dhabi? Check out our other articles:
How to spend 48 hours in Abu Dhabi; the best itinerary
Where is Dubai? Everything you need to know about the United Arab Emirates

How far is Abu Dhabi from Dubai?

Sometimes people ask are Abu Dhabi and Dubai different countries? The answer is no and they’re actually not far to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. It’s only 140km! From central Dubai to central Abu Dhabi. In fact, it’s pretty much one straight road all the way! So it’s super easy to travel between the two. The Sheikh Zayed Road or E11, which is the road connecting the two, is the longest road in the UAE.

Can I enter Abu Dhabi with my visa from Dubai?

Yes! You can visit Abu Dhabi with the same visa you get at Dubai airport. Although Abu Dhabi and Dubai are different emirates. They’re part of the same country so you won’t need a different visa or to worry about needing to pay extra to enter Abu Dhabi.

What are the options getting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi?

So you actually have quite a few options:

  • Using a hire car (quickest)
  • Using a sharable hire car
  • Hiring a taxi
  • Sharing a taxi
  • Bus (slowest but cheapest)

If you prefer an organised tour or want to book some extra activities, check out these below:

Which is the cheapest way to get between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

The bus is the cheapest way and costs only 25 AED each way. From Dubai to Abu Dhabi, it is operated by RTA (which is the Dubai government-owned transport company) and the Abu Dhabi equivalent on the way back.  While it is the cheapest, it is also the longest. As the buses have to travel at a slower speed compared with cars.

The bus route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is the E100 and is clearly labelled on the front of the buses.

How do I pay for the bus?

For Dubai there is a NOL card which works for the metro and the Dubai to Abu Dhabi bus. This is like an Oyster Card for those who have been to London. It’s a plastic card which you top up to use for transport, using the machines at the metro stations. It also can be used to pay for entry to some of the parks in Dubai.

On the Dubai side, there is a small little booth to buy the NOL card and top it up. You can buy it inside Ibn Battuta Metro station and top it up which however much money you want. You can pay by cash or card. However, on your return trip, you can’t top up your NOL card so you’ll need to make sure you have enough for the return if you plan to pay using the NOL. You can buy a ticket over the counter if your NOL card balance is low.

The NOL card cannot be used in Abu Dhabi, only in Dubai. So you will need to take cash or a card for the return journey from Abu Dhabi.

For the Abu Dhabi side you have the Hafilat card. More details here.

How often do the buses run?

The buses run every 30 minutes roughly Saturday to Thursday which some increase to every 20 minutes during peak times on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Fridays they run every 30 minutes though at certain times they’re every 60 minutes.

Times are subject to change so make sure to check the RTA website before you travel.

Note that on Fridays the metro doesn’t start till later (usually 10am) so while the buses start at 7am. You might not be able to get the metro to Ibn Battuta if you’re planning to go very early on a Friday.

What are the buses like?

So you might have a certain image of buses in your head and think no way am I getting a bus! Actually, they’re larger coaches with quite comfortable leather seats and air-conditioning. They have space underneath for your luggage and even wifi. Also, they designate a small section of seats to be used only by women as well. (Something which many of us women love about the Middle East.)

How long does the bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi take?

The bus takes approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours (depending on where you board and get off) however it can be longer with traffic. On top of this, during busy times there can be quite a large queue waiting to get on the bus, especially at Ibn Battuta. So you may have to wait for a couple of buses until you are able to board. So make sure you plan that extra time just in case.

Where does the bus start from and leave?

You can start in Dubai from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai (E101) or Ibn Battuta Mall in Jebel Ali (E100). I would recommend to get the metro to Ibn Battuta and get the bus from there. It makes the journey quicker and Jebel Ali is closer to Abu Dhabi. Also, the best part about Ibn Battuta is there are also alternatives available if there’s a huge queue for the bus.

The final stop is Al Wahda, Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station which is close to central Abu Dhabi. If you’re planning to go to the corniche, you will still need to get a taxi or a local bus from the bus station.

There are other stops before the bus station. If you tell the bus driver where you want to go (Airport or Sheikh Zayed Mosque for example) they’ll tell you the best place to get off. Since Sheikh Zayed Mosque is further out from the centre. Most of the stop on routes from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you’ll need to either get a taxi or a local bus to your final destination. They’re not walkable.

Sharing a taxi

If the queue for the bus is long, which it can be particularly during the morning and early evening commuter hours! Then definitely it can be worth sharing a taxi instead. If you walk past the buses at Ibn Battuta, you’ll see a line of taxi drivers. Usually, there is one outside of his RTA taxi shouting “Abu Dhabi” and people sat waiting or stood by the taxis waiting.

Things to note:
– The taxi still has set stops and doesn’t go to different destinations
– This costs more than the bus but it is quicker
– I’ve pais around 35 AED for this (a while ago) but prices may have increased, so I would guess around 50 AED*
– The journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is typically a minivan (not a taxi) and can be a little bit cramped at times!

Hiring a private taxi or driver

You have a choice of using an RTA taxi which is the cheapest. Uber or Careem (similar to Uber but more popular in the Middle East). Both are available in Dubai and now Abu Dhabi. Prices for an RTA range from 150 to 250 AED depending on your destination and Uber/Careem are around 250 to 350 AED. *These are both approximate and can change over time.

Uber have bought Careem and will continue to operate under this name for now however this may change in the future

Private transfers are also available:

Hiring a sharable car or hiring a car per hour

This is a rather new method available for those both visiting the UAE. This service is offered by UDrive however you do have to pay an intercity fee for dropping the car off in another Emirate. The great thing about these cars is you only pay for the time you actually use the car. So if you don’t need a car all day, just for a few trips. they’re ideal. You can also hire their cars on a daily rate too.

This service is available for both residents and tourists. Check their website for all the details.

If you’re planning to visit all the attractions in Abu Dhabi, what is the best way?

If you’re planning to visit quite a few different attractions in Abu Dhabi then I would definitely recommend hiring a car for the day or taking a private tour. Likely it will work at cheaper than getting buses and taxis everywhere. Especially if there is two or more of you. Petrol is cheap in all the gulf countries and you can hire a small car for as little as 60 AED per day.

The only other extra charge is Salik, a form of road tolls. Abu Dhabi have recently introduced toll gates too (but they’re not yet working) so it is likely in the future you will have to pay a charge for driving around the city.

Another thing to note, in more central places in Abu Dhabi, the machines to pay for parking only accept coins. You can, however, set up SMS parking for your rental car which will definitely make life easier if you’re planning to go to The Corniche or Sheikh Zayed Memorial. If not, save all your dirham coins as it can be difficult finding shops who will have enough change!

I’ve tried to include as much information as possible and all the things I’ve learnt from doing the journeys myself over the years. I also try to keep all my articles up to date with new information. So I hope this guide helped and if anything has changed or you want to share your own experience of travelling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi or Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Feel free to share in the comments below!

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