Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the 2 most touristy cities in the United Arab Emirates. If you are planning to visit Dubai and have some free time left after discovering all the wonders of this city, you can go to Abu Dhabi for a day (or two!) and discover the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The air connection between these two cities is still quite poor, and there are no trains running from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Fortunately, the distance between the two emirates is barely more than 93 miles (150 kilometers), and there are several ways to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai quickly and comfortably.
I'll give you an update in this article. I have already tested 2 of these ways to reach Abu Dhabi from Dubai myself during my previous stays 🙂
GOING TO ABU DHABI BY BUS
If you plan to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, the bus is undoubtedly the most economical way to do it. The Road & Transport Authority of Dubai has set up the bus network that connects these two big cities: there are 3 different routes connecting the two emirates, and the trip takes about 2 hours.
For each of these 3 lines, the departures are made from one of the main bus stations of Dubai:
- There is the Line E100, which is accessible from the AlGhubaiba Bus Station (the city's largest bus station). On this line, buses pass very regularly, and they reach the central bus station of Abu Dhabi (AlWahda) after making 4 stops. Buses run approximately 4 times per hour daily, from 5:00 am to 3:40 am.
- The Line E101, which leaves from the IbnBattuta Bus Station. Every half hour, a bus leaves from this line, with the AlWahda Bus Station as its destination. The buses of the E101 line run every day from 5am to 10pm.
- The Line E102 is the newest bus route to Abu Dhabi. As of July 2019, it provides access to the IbnBattuta Bus Station. Buses on this route depart from the Mussafah Al Shaabiya Bus Station, which is located near the Dalma Mall, about 15 minutes from the Grand Mosque of Dubai. Buses run on this route every 40 minutes, every day of the week from 6:30am to 11:30pm.
Depending on the line, the number of stops, and of course on traffic conditions, the trip can take between 1h45 et 2h15. To purchase a ticket to Abu Dhabi, you will need to pay approximately AED 25, which is between $6 and $7 (€5 - €6).
You can also use an NOL Card for these trips. This rechargeable smart card allows you to use many of the vehicles on Dubai's public transport network such as the subway, buses and streetcars. Several formats of NOL Card are available depending on your needs - however this card cannot be used for public transport in Abu Dhabi.
PRIVATE AIRLINES COACHES
Some airlines also have their own shuttle buses and coaches, which provide free travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for their passengers. This is the case for Emirates and Etihad, for example.
If you have traveled to Dubai in economy class with one of these airlines, you will have the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi in a vehicle with all the necessary amenities. To access these shuttles, all you need to do is present your airline ticket. Please note that these free rides will only be available on the day of your arrival at Dubai Airport.
Emirates' coaches make 6 trips a day from Dubai Airport Terminal 3 to the Emirates offices in downtown Abu Dhabi.
For more information, please click here.
Etihad’s coaches make 10 trips per day between the airport and the Etihad Travel Mall, which is also located in the center of Abu Dhabi.
To find out the exact schedule of these shuttle buses, you can visit the official websites of these airlines. It is also possible to book yourself a trip on one of these private shuttles 24 or 48 hours in advance, to make sure that a seat will be available for you.
If you wish to travel to Abu Dhabi and enjoy a leisurely tour of the city's major landmarks, you can opt for an organized tour. Departing from Dubai, everything will be taken care of for you for the duration of the day, and you will pass by the most iconic places in Abu Dhabi such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque or the Heritage Village. An audio guide in English will also allow you to learn a lot more about all these places and the history of the city in general, as well as the culture of its inhabitants.
I had opted for a day trip to Abu Dhabi city from Dubai and keep a wonderful memory of it! Everything went well and everything was included in the excursion except the meal.
It allowed me to do a nice visit of the city of Abu Dhabi and to see the most important places in a record time of one day, and all this for a very reasonable price: about $76 (67 €) including round trip transportation, entrance fees, tour guide... A very good compromise if you don't have a vehicle in Dubai 🙂
GOING TO ABU DHABI BY RENTAL CAR
If your trip to the UAE is going to last a while, and you plan to visit many places, then you might want to rent a car in Dubai. This can be even more interesting if you are traveling with a group. From the airport, companies offer cars to rent. The traffic in the city is quite fluid and driving is not more constraining than in America or Europe. In addition, most hotels have parking facilities,and so do any places you may visit.
Additionally, a car will give you more freedom in your travels, and you can reach Abu Dhabi by road whenever you want, in less than 2 hours. For a car rental, you should expect to pay around $28 per day (€25). Of course, this price can quickly increase depending on the model you choose or the rental period. You can see the availability and compare the prices of the rentals by clicking here.
If your budget allows it and you want to avoid all constraints, then you should use a transportation company. Thanks to these private companies, you will only have to book your trips, by choosing the times and places of your departures and arrivals, as well as the number of people who will travel. Depending on the options you choose, prices will vary, and you should expect to pay at least 113 dollars per person (100 euros) to reach downtown Abu Dhabi from Dubai by private transfer.
WHAT TO DO IN ABU DHABI?
Abu Dhabi is the capital and the most economically important city in the United Arab Emirates, thanks in part to its oil production. You can read the full article on "What to do in Abu Dhabi" on this very blog, but quickly on the spot you can discover:
- The Sheikh Zayed Mosque with its 80 domes, which is one of the most imposing and majestic mosques in the world.
- The Louvre of Abu Dhabi, a building with a unique architecture that houses a very large collection of artworks.
- The Qasr Al Watan, the presidential palace which can be visited since 2019, and which has quickly become a must-see tourist attraction in the city.
- The Etihad Towers, the tallest building in the city, at the top of which an observation platform offers an absolutely unique view.
- The Emirates Palace Hotel, which is quite simply the most expensive and luxurious hotel in the world.
- The Heritage Village, an open-air museum that shows how people in this part of the world lived before the era of oil.
Many other activities are also available, including a walk along the sea on the corniche, a visit to Yas Waterworld, the Warner Bros. Park, the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit and the Ferrari World theme park. You’ll be spoilt for choice!