Dubai to Abu Dhabi by bus: Cheapest way from a local

by Danni B
White Domes of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Want to know the cheapest way to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai?

So you’re here for a holiday or vacation in Dubai and you want to get to Abu Dhabi. What is the cheapest way from Dubai to Abu Dhabi? Which is the fastest? Which is the best? Depending on where you need to get to, the answer can change, and there are so many travel options to choose from!

Not to worry! I’ll tell you exactly the best options to travel Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

As someone who’s lived in Dubai since 2013 and done this journey many times due to my best friend living in Abu Dhabi, I can tell you exactly what is the cheapest way from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

I’ve also added my recommended fast and cheap ways, travel recommendations, plus what you need to know based on where you plan to visit.

I’ve personally tried every type of public and private transport between the two cities. So I can give you all the best tips for getting between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Dubai to Abu Dhabi? Dubai from Abu Dhabi? If you don’t have a car or a driving license. Not to worry! There are plenty of options!

Abu Dhabi is actually the capital of the United Arab Emirates, not Dubai! There are some really stunning things to see in the city so I definitely recommend visiting Abu Dhabi from Dubai.

Let’s get you there first!

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai 📷

What is the cheapest way from Dubai to Abu Dhabi?

RTA buses waiting at the Ibn Battuta terminal in Dubai to go to Abu Dhabit

If you are purely looking for the cheapest way, the public bus to Abu Dhabi from Dubai between the two cities is the cheapest. The Dubai RTA bus is actually a large coach with nice seats, air conditioning and free wifi. It costs 25 AED each way.

While the bus is the cheapest, it is also the longest. The buses must travel at a slower speed than cars; the stopping in between and traffic also slows them down.

How to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi by bus

3 bus routes will take you from Dubai to Abu Dhabi:

E100 – Ghubaiba Bus Station to Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station – 2 hours 20 minutes
E101 – Ibn Battuta Mall to Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station – 1 hour 45 minutes
E102 – Ibn Battuta Mall to Mussafah Shabiya Bus Station via Abu Dhabi Airport – 1 hour 55 minutes

The buses are the same number in both directions. You will see the numbers clearly on the digital displays on the front of the bus, for instance, E100. The bus stops are also numbered.

The above journey times are approximate, and from my experience, they typically take longer than stated.

All you need to do is either buy a ticket or top up your travel card to go on the bus.

Dubai to Abu Dhabi bus timings 2024 & schedule

The buses run every 30 minutes Monday to Thursday, increasing to every 20 minutes during peak times on weekends. Peak times are midday Friday to Sunday. The E102 runs every 40 minutes in the day.

The bus Dubai to Abu Dhabi starts at 4:20 am and the last bus leaving Dubai is at 11:25 pm for the E100 and 12:30 am for the E101.

Times are subject to change, so check the RTA website before travelling.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai bus timings 2024 & schedule

The buses from Abu Dhabi run every 30 minutes Monday to Thursday, the same as from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Also increasing to every 20 minutes during peaks on weekends, Friday to Sunday. The E102 runs every 40 minutes in the day and less frequently at night.

See the full timetables below.

Buses from Abu Dhabi start at 4:32 am. The last bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is usually around 2am. However, on a Sunday, there is a later one at 2:30 am.

The E102 starts later at 6:20am and the last bus from Dubai is 9:40 pm. Abu Dhabi to Dubai starts at 6:20 am and last back is 9:40 pm arriving in Dubai at 11:40 pm.

Full timetables:

E100 Timetable
E101 Timetable
E102 Timetable

Bus Fare from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

All routes are 25 AED one way or 50 AED for a return. You can use what is called a NOL card to pay for the fare both ways. The NOL card can also be used across the Dubai public transport system.

How do I pay for the Dubai to Abu Dhabi bus?

public transport nol machine in dubai

Topping up enough for your return journey is important because Abu Dhabi doesn’t have NOL machines.

You add funds to the card on dedicated machines located inside all Dubai metro stations. Some are also outside bus stations, but I recommend topping up at the metro since it’s nice and air-conditioned.

The NOL card is like an Oyster Card for those who have been to London. It’s a plastic card that you top up to use on all public transport, using the machines at the metro stations. It also can be used to pay for entry to some of the parks in Dubai.

If you’re getting the E101 or E102, Ibn Battuta metro station has many NOL machines inside. You can add however much money you want onto the card, depending on how much travel you think you’ll do over your holiday. Cash and cards are accepted.

You can buy a ticket just for the coach over the counter if your NOL card balance is low.

Please note – The NOL card cannot be used for Abu Dhabi public transport. Only Dubai. If you plan to use public buses in Abu Dhabi, then you’ll need a Hafialt card.

What are the buses to Abu Dhabi like?

Photo inside bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

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 love about being a woman in Dubai).

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

The Abu Dhabi to Dubai bus takes between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes (depending on where you board and which bus route you take). However, it is much more likely to be longer than the advertised times due to traffic.

On top of this, during busy times, there can be a large queue waiting to get on the bus.

I’ve often gone to Ibn Battuta, and the queue has meant the first 1 or 2 buses are full. So you’ll have to wait for a few buses until you can board. So make sure you plan that extra time just in case, as this can add an hour to your journey.

Where do I catch the Dubai to Abu Dhabi bus from?

You can start in Dubai from Ghubaiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai (E100) or Ibn Battuta in Jebel Ali (E101 or E102). I would recommend taking the metro to Ibn Battuta and taking the bus from there unless you live close to Ghubaiba Bus Station.

Also, Ibn Battuta is one of the malls of Dubai, so if you go up the escalators into the mall. You’ll find yourself directly in the food court of Ibn Battuta. Perfect for grabbing a bite to eat before you travel. There’s also a large amount of shops as it’s a very big mall.

It makes the journey quicker as Jebel Ali is closer to Abu Dhabi. Also, the best part about Ibn Battuta is there are alternatives available if there’s a huge queue for the bus!

Insider tip – Remember that summer and the hotter Dubai months, getting the bus can involve a long time queueing outside in the sun. Especially during peak hours, so make sure to take some water with you and a sun hat.

Where do I arrive in Abu Dhabi from Dubai via bus?

There are two bus stations in Abu Dhabi, if you get the E100 or E101, you will arrive at Al Wahda Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station.

If you take the E102 you’ll arrive at Mussafah Shabiya Bus Station which is closer to Abu Dhabi Corniche but further away from Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

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.

The E102 does travel via Abu Dhabi airport. The airport is 15 minutes away from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It’s around 90 to 100 AED ($24.50 to $27 USD( to get a taxi to Sheikh Zayed Mosque from the airport.

Since Sheikh Zayed Mosque is further out from the centre, so you’ll need to get either a bus or a taxi to the more central part of Abu Dhabi after Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The distance between most attractions aren’t walkable.

This is why buying a hop on and hop off bus ticket to see both Dubai and Abu Dhabi makes a lot of sense!

What to wear on the Abu Dhabi buses from Dubai

Dubai’s climate is very hot and humid. There aren’t cold months however sometimes on the buses, the drivers can put the air conditioning on very high which can make the bus very cold. So I do recommend to take a jacket or shawl to keep you a bit warmer just in case.

If you’re getting the bus at night, then I recommend making sure you can take off layers of clothes if you need them. I have experienced buses before where the heating has been very high and you may need to take off a few layers to cool down.

So I recommend wearing light, breathable clothing that will keep you comfortable when sitting for a couple of hours, along with comfy shoes for climbing up and down the bus steps. A sun hat while travelling in the day is also useful, as is a pair of sunglasses to block out the sunlight. However, there are usually window shades on the bus also.

Make sure to keep these items in a small bag with you, as any larger luggage will go underneath the bus in the luggage compartment. There isn’t a dress code in Dubai; however, Abu Dhabi does have a higher local population so it’s best to dress more modest here compared to Dubai.

As a local, do I recommend the bus to Abu Dhabi?

If you are on a very tight budget during your holiday, then yes, the bus is likely the best option, but you will need to plan your transport in Abu Dhabi very carefully.

There are large distances between Sheikh Zayed Mosque, The Lourve, and Abu Dhabi Corniche. Even getting from one part of the corniche to another can be a far distance to walk. So you could end up spending a lot on taxis if you don’t plan the attractions you want to see in Abu Dhabi and how to get between them.

If you have a little bit more money to spend, then I recommend other options. Which I’ll go into more about below.

All transport from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

Here is every transport from Abu Dhabi to Dubai available in speed order:

  • Hiring a taxi (quickest)
  • Using a hire car
  • Using a sharable hire car
  • Taking a tour that includes transport from Dubai
  • Sharing a taxi from Ibn Battuta
  • Etihad bus shuttle service
  • Big Bus Tours shuttle service
  • RTA public bus (slowest)

Alternative to the bus to Abu Dhabi: Tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

So my first recommendation would be to do a tour if you’re visiting Dubai as a tourist, as it takes all of the hard work out for you. It also gives you someone knowledgeable to show you around Abu Dhabi.

The main reason I advise a tour is because Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is far away from the main centre of Abu Dhabi so you’ll most likely need to get a taxi from the bus stop or station which is already almost half the cost of doing the tour. That doesn’t even include your taxis getting to other attractions, so likely you’ll even save money!

I haven’t used an Abu Dhabi public bus in quite a few years but it often involved a lot of waiting around and they often didn’t seem to be on time.

The one downside is that it means you can’t explore in your own time and you’ll have less freedom to explore places nearby. However tours are perfect for those who want to see a lot in a small amount of time.

Here are some great tour options below:

However, if you’re planning to spend more than one day in Abu Dhabi from Dubai or if you’re on a really tight budget, then I’ll go through more options below!

Free Bus Shuttle from Abu Dhabi to Dubai

There are a couple of different shuttle options, depending on what you purchase. These are:

  • Etihad Bus Shuttle to Abu Dhabi Airport
  • Big Bus Tours Shuttle

Etihad Abu Dhabi Airport Bus Shuttle

If you buy an economy ticket for Etihad Airlines, this includes a free bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. You need to book 24 hours in advance with your passenger name and ticket reference number. Otherwise you will be charged 25 AED ($6.81 USD) for the bus. The only drops to Abu Dhabi airport.

The coach leaves from Al Wasl Centre, close to Business Bay Metro stop.

Book in advance the free shuttle here.

If you buy business class, then you get a free chauffeur from anywhere in the UAE, which is a pretty nice perk!

Big Bus Tours Shuttle from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

Big bug tours Dubai to Abu Dhabi free shuttle bus sat outside Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

If you buy the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tour Package, then it also includes a free shuttle between the two cities. The pros of this are, of course, it’s free and you can use the bus tickets to explore many parts of both cities. If you were already planning to buy these, works out extremely cost-effective! It also includes audio.

The cons are the buses can be a bit slow and the shuttle service between the cities only runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Departing from Dubai Mall at 8:15 am and leaving Abu Dhabi Mall at 4 pm on those days.

You will definitely need two days in Abu Dhabi if you want to try and do most of the stops.

Dubai to Abu Dhabi Taxi

Sharing a taxi

If the queue for the bus is long, which it can be during the mornings 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 inside the taxi 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 paid around 35 AED for this (quite a long while ago) and prices are now 40 – 60 AED depending on if you get a 4 seater or 6 seater taxi.
– 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 (Careem is similar to Uber but more popular in the Middle East). Both are available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

How much is a taxi from Dubai to Abu Dhabi?

Prices for an RTA taxi are set at 250 AED ($68 USD) one way from Ibn Battuta Mall to anywhere in Abu Dhabi. So you can go to the Corniche or Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. If you go from Mall of Emirates, it’s a set price of 275 AED ($75 USD) to anywhere in Abu Dhabi.

If you hail an RTA taxi from elsewhere in Dubai, you’ll pay between 250 AED and 350 AED ($68 to $95 USD) one way, depending on your start and end destination.

Uber or Careem are around 350 to 500 AED ($95 to $136 USD) depending on the destination, type of vehicle and surcharges due to increased demand.

The Careem app used to offer the ability to hire a personal driver for 5 to 10 hours, ranging from 580 AED to 805 AED ($157 to $219 USD). This way, you can see all the sights you wish to see at your convenience; however, I’m not sure if they still offer the service.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai by car

Hiring a sharable car or hiring a car per hour

This newer method is offered by both UDrive and Ekar, where you only pay for a car rental for the time you use it. So you can pick up and drop off different cars as you move around.

However, to go to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, you have to pay an intercity fee.

The great thing about these cars is you only pay for the time you actually use the car. So they’re ideal if you don’t need a car all day and just for a few trips.

You can also hire their cars at a daily rate too. However, the daily rate does work out to be more expensive than using a rental car company.

One downside of this service. You may drop off a car and there isn’t another nearby when you return. You may need to get a taxi or walk very far to the nearest car. In the time you travel there, the car may be gone.

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

Hire a car or private vehicle

If you’re travelling as a family, this would be my most recommended way to visit Abu Dhabi, as it’ll be the quickest and easiest option. It also gives you the freedom to explore Abu Dhabi at your own pace and freedom.

The Dubai to Abu Dhabi travel time by car is just over an hour to get to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and around 1 hour 20 minutes to get to Abu Dhabi Corniche.

As a family, hiring a car is likely to work out cheaper than buying individual bus tickets or getting taxis between the attractions. Especially since Sheikh Zayed Mosque is far from other Abu Dhabi attractions. Getting around Abu Dhabi with taxis is expensive and the public transport system isn’t as developed as Dubai.

Check rates for hiring a car in Dubai 🚗

Can I get a Dubai to Abu Dhabi flight?

There are no direct flights between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so the only way to fly is by flying to another country and then back to the UAE. So I would not recommend flying as it would add extra unnecessary time to your journey. Driving is the fastest.

Can I get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi by train?

As of 2024, there isn’t any way to get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi by train. There are plans for a Hyperloop train and other trains connecting other cities in the Gulf region. However, nothing has been completed yet and there isn’t a confirmed start date.

Another is Etihad Rail which will connect the United Arab Emirates, the launch date is 2030. So we’re still a long way off from being able to get a train from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.

Planning to visit many 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 tour. It will work out cheaper than the bus and then getting taxis to each of the locations.

Petrol is cheap in all the Gulf countries and you can hire a small car for as little as 60 AED per day. Other charges are road tolls called Salik in Dubai. Abu Dhabi also introduced toll gates in 2021, called DARB. Plus, there is often paid street parking in Abu Dhabi.

Another thing to note is that in more central places in Abu Dhabi, the machines to pay for parking only accept coins. You can set up SMS parking for your rental car, which will make life easier if you plan to go to The Corniche or Sheikh Zayed Memorial.

If you want to pay cash, make sure to save all your dirham coins, as it can be difficult to find shops that will have enough change! For a few hours, it can be 8 AED an hour and requires 32 1 dirham coins for 3 hours.

If you don’t want the headache of getting petrol, tolls and parking. Then the easiest option to see everything, I’d definitely say Abu Dhabi tour bus tour like this 9 hour day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is the easiest and best option.

Dubai to Abu Dhabi by bus: Frequently Asked Questions

How far is Abu Dhabi from Dubai?

The Dubai to Abu Dhabi distance is only 140km from central Dubai to central Abu Dhabi. It is one one straight road all the way if you take the E11. So it’s super easy to travel between the two cities. The Sheikh Zayed Road or E11, which is the road connecting the two, is the longest road in the UAE.

How to reach Abu Dhabi by road from Dubai?

From Dubai it is very straightforward, you can either take the E11 south all the way or take the E44 south which then eventually joins onto the E11 or the E311 south. Depending on your starting location and what part of Abu Dhabi you need.

How to get around Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi has the option of buses or taxis for public transport, there isn’t a metro or underground. Taxis are generally the most reliable

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 worry about needing to pay to enter Abu Dhabi.

How much is the bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi airport?

Etihad offer a free shuttle bus for those who have a ticket for an Etihad flight. You can also catch the Abu Dhabi Airport Express for $8.20 USD or the longer but cheaper bus route by RTA E102 for 25 AED ($6.81 USD). Both these options leave from Ibn Battuta Mall.

Is Abu Dhabi Dubai bus 24 hours?

No, the Abu Dhabi Dubai bus doesn’t run 24 hours. The first bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is at 4:32 am and the last bus to Dubai is around 2 am except on Sundays where there is a 2:30 am bus.

Have some more questions about Abu Dhabi or Dubai? Check out our other articles:

📷 Book a tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai📷

Final thoughts on Dubai to Abu Dhabi transport

As you can see there are many options for transportation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi!

I’ve included as much information as possible on all the potential journeys and what I’ve learnt from doing the journeys myself over the years. So I hope this guide helped with your journey.

My most recommended way would be to take a tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, especially if you’re a solo traveller, as it includes all the main sites and saves you all the stress of trying to find parking or spending a fortune on taxis on your own.

My second most recommended option would be to hire a car in Dubai so you have the freedom to explore Abu Dhabi. Especially if you are a family, having a car will make life much easier! The cost to hire a car for the day is likely to work out cheaper than buying 4 tickets of everything.

Though the hop on and hop off bus is also a great fun option both for solo travellers and families for an affordable way to see lots of sights in both cities while still having the freedom to explore as you like.

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