Although getting around Abu Dhabi is relatively easy, most visitors choose to take taxis rather than hire a car or take public transport when sightseeing in Abu Dhabi.
Here we share our top insider tips to help you figure out how to get around Abu Dhabi.
We also have a 3-day family-friendly itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Public Transport
Abu Dhabi Taxi – TransAD
Taxi is often considered the best way to get around Abu Dhabi for visitors.
Although there are many different taxi companies, they are all regulated and booked via TransAD.
Taxis are in plentiful supply out the front of hotels and malls, although at large events can be more difficult to come by. Should you find yourself stranded or need to make an Abu Dhabi taxi booking, call this Abu Dhabi taxi number: 600 53 53 53 or use the TransAD Abu Dhabi taxi app.
Abu Dhabi taxi fares are relatively cheap, taxis are metered and (most) drivers understand the city’s grid system.
The ever-changing street names and numbering system can cause confusion, so if you’re taking a taxi in Abu Dhabi, it’s best to go by describing the landmark you are looking for and specify any preferred route, if known, rather than just giving the address.
Note that Uber is currently banned in Abu Dhabi, but the Careem ride-hailing app continues to operate.
Abu Dhabi Bus Service
There is a public Abu Dhabi bus service and many bus stops have air conditioning.
The Abu Dhabi bus system is cheap to use with most inner-city fares only costing 2AED. However, you will need to get each person a temporary Hafilat card, issued from the central Abu Dhabi bus station for 5 AED. Note though that getting this Abu Dhabi bus card can often be more hassle than its worth for a short visit.
You can see more on the Abu Dhabi bus timings and routes on the Department of Transport website.
Driving in Abu Dhabi – Hiring a Car
Driving in Abu Dhabi can be challenging for newcomers. Although the roads are wide and in good condition, traffic moves very fast and there are a lot of one-way systems as well as constant road works and trucks to contend with.
Only confident drivers should look to hire and self-drive in Abu Dhabi.
There are plentiful car hire companies at Abu Dhabi airport to choose from. Vehicles are left-hand drive and car seats for children under 4 in private vehicles were made compulsory on 1 July 2017.
To hire a car in Abu Dhabi, all you will need is a drivers licence from your home country written in English or Arabic.
Note that tolls are added to Abu Dhabi roads leading on and off the main island from October 2019. Your hire car will come fitted with a tag for tolls.
Walking in Abu Dhabi – Is Abu Dhabi Stroller friendly?
Sadly, in many places, Abu Dhabi it is not stroller friendly. Nor is it particularly accessible for wheelchair users.
There are lots of parks and long stretches, like the Corniche, where you can walk with a stroller uninterrupted. However, as soon as you head into downtown parts of Abu Dhabi, you’ll frustratingly find pavements to be high and inconsistent; down ramps with no connecting up ramps; lampposts or signage in the middle of footpaths; or even no sidewalk at all!
With the heat and these obstacles, its often easier to catch a taxi in Abu Dhabi, even if you are only going a few short blocks.
Getting from Abu Dhabi Airport to the City
From the airport, the easiest way to get to town or your Abu Dhabi accommodation is with an Abu Dhabi airport taxi. (Please don’t take a limousine tout in the terminal – 99% of the time they are trying to rip you off, yet somehow still seem to be operating!)
- The official airport taxis in Abu Dhabi are well signposted at the exit and easy to identify black Mercedes vans.
- Abu Dhabi airport to city taxis charge an initial flag-fall of 25AED. To Yas Island, the total fare is only around 45AED ($12USD) and takes 10 minutes.
- To the Corniche your fare could be up to 100AED ($27USD) and take 30-40 minutes, maybe a little longer if you hit peak hour traffic on the freeway.
- If you download the taxi app there is an Abu Dhabi taxi fare calculator to work out approximate costs.
Another option for an Abu Dhabi airport transfer is the bus. This leaves from outside the lower level of Terminals 1 and 3.
Look for the Green and White A1 Abu Dhabi airport bus, which will take you past the main bus station (corner of Muroor Road and 11th) all the way to the Old Fish Market on Al Nasr Street.
Returning to the airport, you can catch any cab from the street, or arrange a transfer with a private airport transfer company.
Travelling with young children in Abu Dhabi
Taxis are not fitted with any sort of car seat. You will need to bring your own or book a private pick up service such as Careem Kids.
How to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai
Looking to head to Dubai? Currently, the only public transport from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is Intercity Buses.
You can catch this Abu Dhabi to Dubai bus at the Abu Dhabi bus station, and alight at either the IBN Battuta Mall or Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai. The cost is 25AED each way.
These services run fairly regularly throughout the day, but just be mindful that you will need to catch another bus or taxi to connect at either end.
With a family group, you may be better off getting a taxi to drive the Abu Dhabi to Dubai distance. This way you can get dropped directly at your destination. Another option to taking a taxi from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is hiring a private driver who can come with you for the day.
Expect the Abu Dhabi to Dubai taxi fare to be approximately 300AED ($80USD) for a standard taxi to Downtown Dubai, or 400AED+ ($110USD+) for a privately hired people mover.
If you are flying with Emirates there is a complimentary Emirates bus service from outside their Khalidiya office (near the Corniche) in Abu Dhabi to Dubai Airport. Note this only applies to passengers holding an Emirates ticket for that day of travel.
If you have arrived into Abu Dhabi International Airport with Etihad economy and connect straight to Dubai you can arrange a seat on the Etihad Coach for free, which will take you to the Etihad Travel Mall (Downtown Dubai) – see timetable here.
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