Home Visit DubaiDays out Hop On, Hop Off: Guide to Bus Tours in Dubai from a Local

Hop On, Hop Off: Guide to Bus Tours in Dubai from a Local

by Danni B
Published: Last Updated on

From the world’s tallest building to its man-made palm tree-shaped islands, there are so many amazing places to see in Dubai! After showing many friends around Dubai when they came to visit, I know it can be difficult to know where to start with such a vast and sprawling city. That’s why bus tours are a great option for getting around and seeing the many tourist attractions in Dubai in a short space of time. Make sure to read my tips as a local towards the bottom of the article. Let’s take a deep dive into all that you can experience and expect on your next bus tour in Dubai

Are there tour buses in Dubai?

Yes! There are two different hop on hop off tour buses available in Dubai. You can choose from different options depending on your interests and budget, that’s whether you want to buy a single day ticket or even a multiple-city ticket which includes Abu Dhabi. There’s even a free shuttle bus from Dubai to Abu Dhabi if you buy a combo ticket.

Big Bus Dubai

Big Bus Tours are instantly recognisable by their yellow, cream and maroon coloured double decker buses, featuring an open top roof. They operate in over 20 cities and across 4 continents, so you know you’re dealing with a well-established and popular brand. You may even already be familiar with Big Bus Tours if you’ve used them in another city such as London or Paris.

Dubai City Sightseeing

One of the largest operators in the world, City Sightseeing are recognised by its red and yellow open top buses and is available at over 100 locations around the world. So yet another well established brand that is available in Dubai and one which you may have used in another city across the globe.

You can also choose to do a private tour or a tour bus with a smaller group of people. Depending on what you prefer.

Big bus Dubai also do a night tour of Dubai that isn’t a hop on hop off tour. Dubai City Sightseeing offers a sunset tour and a night tour also that aren’t a hop on hop off bus tour.

What will I see on a bus tour in Dubai?

A bus tour of Dubai will take you to all the must-see attractions in the city, including Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; Palm Jumeirah Islands; Deira Old Souk and Al Fahidi Historical Districtand many more. You can also explore the city’s many shopping malls and markets, taste traditional Emirati dishes in local restaurants, or enjoy a day at the beach at one of Dubai’s famous public beaches like Kite Beach. See the exact stops below!

You can even combine your tickets with Abu Dhabi Bus tours or combine your bus ticket with other Dubai attractions such as Atlantis Lost Chambers or Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour Route

Both companies have very similar routes and cover most of the key attractions in Dubai including, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dubai Frame, Atlantis, Spice Souks, Gold Souks and more.

Big Bus Tour Map Route

The Big Bus tour stops include:

Red Route (City)
  1. Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall
  2. DIFC
  3. Museum of the Future
  4. Royal Palace
  5. Dhow Cruise
  6. Bastakiya Old Village (Al Seef)
  7. Al Fahidi Fort
  8. Old Souk Arabia
  9. Heritage Village
  10. Gold Souq
  11. Spice Souq
  12. Dubai Creek
  13. Baniyas Road
  14. Dubai Frame
Blue route (Beach)
  1. Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall
  2. Mall of Emirates / Ski Dubai
  3. Ain Dubai
  4. Dubai Marina / JBR
  5. Bayside / Skydive Dubai
  6. Tallest Block (Infinity Tower)
  7. Media City
  8. Dubai Palm Fountain
  9. Atlantis The Palm
  10. Palm West Beach
  11. Souk Madinat / Burj Al Arab

City Sightseeing Bus Tour Map Route

The Big Bus tour stops include:

Red Route (City)
  1. Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall
  2. Museum of the Future
  3. Al Seef Heritage Area
  4. Al Fahidi Historical District
  5. Dubai Museum (Closed)
  6. Old Souq
  7. Al Shindagha Museum
  8. Gold & Spice Souq
  9. Riveria Hotel
  10. Dubai Creek
  11. Sheraton Hotel Dubai Creek
  12. Dubai Frame
Blue route (Beach)
  1. Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall
  2. Souk Madinat / Burj Al Arab
  3. Atlantis
  4. Fairmont The Palm
  5. Dubai Marina Mall
  6. The Beach JBR
  7. Marina Promenade
  8. Grosvenor House
  9. Infinity Tower
  10. Mina Seyahi
  11. Mall of Emirates

What are the best bus tours in Dubai?

There are two bus tours in Dubai that offer visitors the chance to explore all the city has to offer. Some of the most popular choices include City Sightseeing and Big Bus Tours.

Big Bus Dubai

4.3 out of 5 stars (2343 reviews)

dubai to abu dhabi shuttle bus
Includes a free shuttle to Abu Dhabi when buying their twin city ticket

Big Bus Tours is my recommended option for getting around Dubai; based on the stops they offer, the more regular buses around the city part of Dubai and their reviews overall are higher. The bus has air-conditioned cabins with audio guides in multiple languages. They also include a Dhow cruise for free with even their most basic tickets.

You can also choose to use them in Abu Dhabi too with their free shuttle bus when you buy a Twin City ticket.

  • Use ticket within 6 months
  • Travel any day
  • Commentary / audio guide is in 12 languages
  • Beach route & city route
  • Bus runs every 20 minutes for city route
  • Bus runs every 30 minutes for beach route
  • Supporting app for departure times
  • Operates from 9 am till 5 pm
  • Free shuttle bus to Abu Dhabi when buying a Twin City ticket

Dubai City Sightseeing

4 out of 5 stars (322 reviews)

City Sightseeing offers hop-on hop-off double-decker buses that take you around the major attractions in Dubai such as the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Jumeirah Beach, and more.

  • Use ticket within 12 months
  • Travel any day
  • Free cancellation 24 hours before chosen travel date.
  • Commentary / audio guide is in 11 languages
  • Beach route & city route
  • Bus runs every 30 minutes
  • Operates from 9 am till 5 pm

Dubai Hop On Hop Off Visitor Tips and Guidelines

My personal tip as a local – I would mostly use the bus for the City part of the route which is the red route on both tour companies, This is because there is quite a lot compacted in this area and being able to hop on and hop off will make life easier. The area is also very difficult to park a car, so I do not recommend driving in this area.

I wouldn’t advise the hop on and hop off bus for the beach area of Dubai or the blue route you see on the maps because the landmarks here are quite spread out compared with other cities. You may feel like there isn’t much to see and likely the metro and tram will get you to this section of Dubai quicker.

Taking a baby or infant – If you’re planning to take a baby or child that needs a pram or stroller with you, then bear in mind getting the to top deck where you have the best view of all the landmarks can be difficult. As it involves stairs, it may be easier for you to use a baby carrier instead.

Bus busy times – The buses tend to be busier in the late morning and afternoons, so getting a seat on the top deck can be more difficult during these times. This is another thing to bear in mind if you do have a baby or child with you also as the top may be very crowded.

Top deck tip – Some buses have shade coverings at the top but not all, so it’s best to pack some sunscreen or a hat to avoid getting burnt sitting on the top deck.

What to wear & pack – Definitely put your comfortable walking shoes on as you’ll be doing a lot of walking, light clothes to keep you cool along with sunscreen and a sun hat to protect you from the sun. Also make sure to take a bottle of water and some snacks in case you get stuck in traffic.

Also make sure to take your camera or camera phone, along with a power bank. It’s very likely with all the video and photos that you’ll end up draining your battery. Especially being out all day!

Frequently Asked Questions About Dubai Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours

How long is the big bus tour Dubai?

The Big Bus Tour typically takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete, depending on the route you choose.

Where can I catch the big bus in Dubai?

You can catch the bus from any of the stops shown on the map however you will need to have purchased your ticket first either online or from one of their ticket booths. The ticket booth location depends on which tour operator you choose.

How often do the hop on hop off tour buses run?

Depending on the route and the company, they run every 20 to 30 minutes. Starting at 9 am until 5 pm. Excluding the sunrise and night tours which aren’t a hop on and hop off tour.

Why Choose a Dubai Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours?

It’s a great way to see the city of Dubai by hopping on and off. These tours allow you to explore at your own pace and get off at any of the stops along the way. Each stop offers its own unique attractions, such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, or Atlantis to visit the Lost Chambers Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. With these tours, you can spend as much or as little time exploring each stop as you like before hopping back onto the next bus.

You’ll get a free audio tour to listen to on board, providing insight into the city’s history and culture. Not to mention getting to enjoy the view while sat on the open top and probably a bit of a tan too!

You won’t have to worry about getting lost or driving in unfamiliar areas. Particularly in the older part of Dubai which has limited on-street parking and can be very stressful to drive around.

Finally, taking a bus tour in Dubai can also be an affordable and convenient way to get around.

With flexible ticket packages and multiple routes, you can tailor your tour to suit your interests and budget. And you can hop on and off the bus at any stop, allowing you to explore for as long or as little as you like.

Which places provide the best hop-on hop-off tours in Dubai for groups?

For groups looking for a fun and convenient way to explore Dubai, the best option may be a hop-on hop-off tours or a private tour. Depending on the size of the group. In fact, for a family of two adults and two children, a tour will cost around $260. So you may be better off buying a private tour, depending on your needs and budget.

Though the buses are a really fun way to get around and see all the attractions due to the open top nature of the bus. Dubai has two operators offering these tours and that is City Sightseeing and Big Bus Tours. Both of these tours provide double-decker open top buses that allow you to enjoy the best views of the city while hopping on and off at various attractions.

Which places provide the best hop-on hop-off tours in Dubai for couples?

For couples looking for a unique way to explore Dubai together, the hop-on hop-off tours offer an ideal solution. You can both listen to the audio tour guide and learn about Dubai as you travel. Most of the key tourist attractions are covered and the bus allows you to pick and choose which attractions you want to see. You can also choose how long you want to spend at each one too. Big Bus Tours also includes a Dhow Cruise which is a nice romantic experience as a couple.

What attractions are covered by a Dubai Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour?

The main attractions covered are:

  • Dubai Mall & Dubai Fountain
  • Burj Khalifa
  • Museum of the Future
  • Dubai Museum (Temporarily closed)
  • Heritage village
  • Dubai Frame
  • Spice Souk
  • Gold Souk
  • Atlantis
  • Burj Al Arab
  • Dubai Marina & JBR
  • Mall of Emirates & Ski Dubai
  • Dubai Eye

Learn a little bit more about each of these attractions and stops below, along with some of my personal tips and tricks for each one!

Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dubai and is the tallest building in the world, standing at a height of 828 meters. Visitors can take a tour of this magnificent skyscraper and experience breathtaking views from the observation deck located on the 148th floor.

The tower has an impressive 163 floors and hosts luxurious hotels, restaurants, and offices. The exterior is adorned with thousands of shimmering glass panels that reflect the lights of the city below. Burj Khalifa is a true engineering marvel and a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Dubai.

Learn more about what there is to do and see here in my full guide about the Burj Khalifa.

Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is one of the biggest shopping malls in the world and is home to more than 1200 stores and over 200 restaurants, cafes and bars. It also houses the world’s largest gold market, a 22-screen cinema, and a huge ice skating rink. Visitors will find an array of designer boutiques, popular high street brands, and world-renowned department stores.

The mall also plays host to many family-friendly events throughout the year, including the Dubai Shopping Festival and Diwali celebrations.

This is also where you’ll find the famous Dubai Dancing Fountains or Dubai Fountain.

Museum of the Future

The Museum of the Future is a unique attraction in Dubai, which showcases the latest innovations and technologies from around the world. It features interactive exhibits, futuristic installations, and educational workshops that explore the rapidly changing world around us. The museum is also home to a 3D printing lab, robotics lab, and a virtual reality lounge. Visitors can explore the wonders of science, technology, and design in an immersive environment that is both educational and entertaining.

Dubai Museum

*Temporarily closed

The Dubai Museum is located in the Al Fahidi Fort and is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai. It houses an array of artefacts, documents and photographs that tell the story of the city from its humble origins to its modern-day success. Visitors can also learn about traditional Emirati culture, explore a replica village from old times and observe a menagerie of stuffed animals from the region. The Dubai Museum is an ideal spot for anyone looking to explore the history and culture of Dubai.

Heritage Village

The Heritage Village is located in the Shindagha Historic District and provides an insight into the traditional way of life in Dubai. Visitors can explore a recreated village featuring replicas of old Bedouin houses, wind towers and watchtowers as well as craft workshops where visitors can witness various traditional activities such as pottery-making and weaving. The Heritage Village is a great spot for anyone looking to see what life was like in Dubai before its modernisation.

The Dubai Frame

The Dubai Frame is a spectacular structure located in Zabeel Park. The frame stands at a height of 150 meters and offers sweeping views of the city from either side. Visitors can take an elevator ride to the top of the frame for panoramic views of both old and new Dubai, or explore its various interactive exhibits that showcase the history and development of the city.

The Dubai Frame is a unique attraction for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Dubai from an unprecedented vantage point. It also has a unique glass slide and glass floors you can walk over.

Spice Souk

The Spice Souk and Gold Souk are located in the heart of Dubai’s old quarter and is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the city’s traditional side.

The Spice Souk is home to over 100 shops specialising in spices, herbs and perfumes from around the world. Visitors can also find souvenirs such as incense, jewellery and textiles. The Spice Souk is a great spot for anyone looking to experience the exotic aromas and sights of Dubai’s traditional markets.

Gold Souk

The Gold Souk is located in the old part of Dubai, in what used to be the city centre decades ago, right next to the Spice Souk and is home to over 300 shops specialising in gold jewellery. Visitors can browse a variety of pieces from around the world or find custom-made jewellery crafted by local artisans.

The Gold Souk also features stores selling precious stones, diamonds and pearls. It is an ideal spot for anyone looking to shop for luxury items, find unique souvenirs from their travels or just stare at the windows in awe.

Find out more about buying Gold in Dubai in my previous article.

Atlantis The Palm

Atlantis The Palm is one of the most iconic luxury resorts in Dubai. It is located on its own artificial island and features an array of attractions, including a 5-star hotel, water park, aquarium and marine zoo. Visitors can explore an underwater world full of sharks and rays at the Lost Chambers Aquarium or take a ride on some of the world’s tallest and fastest water slides.

The resort also has plenty of luxurious restaurants, bars and cafés to enjoy. Atlantis The Palm is a great place for families looking to make some unforgettable memories in Dubai.

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab is an iconic hotel located on its own artificial island off the coast of Dubai. This majestic building stands at a height of 321 meters and is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. It features some of the most luxurious suites in all of Dubai, along with a variety of bars, restaurants and swimming pools.

Visitors can also take an elevator ride to one of its observation decks for panoramic views of the city and surrounding desert. The Burj Al Arab is an unforgettable experience for any visitor to Dubai.

Dubai Marina & JBR Walk

Dubai Marina & JBR Walk is the perfect place to take a romantic stroll along the waterfront. There are many restaurants and cafes offering spectacular views of the marina, as well as art galleries and boutiques to explore.

The area is also home to some of the tallest residential buildings in the world such as Princess Tower and one of the tallest twisted towers in the world called Cayan Tower (Previously Infinity Tower).

Make sure to head to The Observatory which is one of my favourite restaurants with a view in Dubai and is located really close to the Cayan Tower stop.

Visitors can also take a ride on the Dubai Ferry along the marina to get unbeatable views of the city skyline or just enjoy a day at the beach.

Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates is a massive shopping complex located in the heart of Dubai. It features over 630 stores, restaurants and cafes as well as an indoor ski resort. Visitors can shop for designer labels, pick up souvenirs from around the world or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through its vast array of shops and eateries.

The mall also hosts a variety of events and performances throughout the year. Mall of the Emirates is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience Dubai’s vibrant shopping culture.

Ain Dubai

*Temporarily closed since March 2022

Ain Dubai is the world’s largest observation wheel and is situated on Blue Water Islands. This giant Ferris wheel stands at a height of 250 meters and offers spectacular views of the city skyline. Visitors can take a ride in one of its climate-controlled cabins for an unforgettable experience that includes interactive screens, surround sound speakers, and lighting effects. Ain Dubai is perfect for visitors looking to take in the sights of Dubai from a unique perspective.

Conclusion

With so many options available when taking a tour in Dubai, there really is something for everyone! Whether it be an exciting desert safari or a leisurely hop-on-hop-off bus tour, there is no better way to explore this vibrant city than by taking one of these incredible tours! I recommend to book Big Bus Tours for your hop on and hop off bus tour in Dubai due to their increased bus times and the stops they offer. Letting you explore the city at your own pace across 1 to 5 days. So what are you waiting for? Get ready to explore all that Dubai has to offer with one of its legendary bus tours today.

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