You’re leaving soon but still don't know how to get around in Dubai? I explain it all here 🙂
Dubai is a city with an area of over 2,500 sq mi (4000 km²), stretching from north to south for over 19 square miles (30 kilometers).
So if you plan to visit Dubai, it is very important to find out in advance how you will be able to get around once you get there. Depending on the length of your stay and the places you want to visit, there are several means of transportation that may be suitable for you.
Here are some tips on how to get around in Dubai, and how to use the different means of transportation.
Exploring the city by tour bus 🚍
Tourist buses run daily in the city. You will have the option of taking a multi-stop ticket valid for a period of 1 to 3 days, depending on your choice.
These sightseeing buses follow more than 5 routes and serve more than 40 stops, which will allow you to easily do a circuit in the city of Dubai at a very interesting price 🙂
The little +: you will have audio commentary in different languages at your disposition, to accompany your city tour.
THE DUBAI METRO: THE ECONOMICAL SOLUTION
In Dubai, there are two subway lines available, and it is the most economical form of transportation you can use locally. The whole city is relatively well served by the subway.
The first line, the Red Line, runs the entire length of the city from north to south, while the Green Line focuses specifically on some of the more touristy areas of northeast Dubai.
Fares for subway travel in Dubai vary depending on which areas of the city you will pass through. It is possible to buy an unlimited day ticket for AED 20 (about $5.50, or €4.80) or to buy a NOL Card, which can be topped up at will and will allow you to travel as you wish on the subway, buses and streetcars.
As a general rule, your trips will cost between AED 3 and AED 12, which means that even for your longest trips, you will never have to pay more than $3.20 (or €3).
The Red Line is the main line of the Dubai Metro. It is 32.3 miles long (or 52 km long), making it the longest automatic subway line in the world. It runs in an almost straight line, and often saves considerable time by avoiding traffic jams. However, to reach some places that are a bit far from the stations of this line, you may still have a good distance left to travel, and will then have to finish your journey using another means of transportation. For example, if you want to reach the Aquaventure water park on the Palm Jumeirah artificial island, you will still have more than three kilometers to go from the nearest subway station. You'll have to use the monorail, or take a cab to the park.
The subway is a very cheap option that can save valuable time, but it may not be very convenient to reach all destinations.
If your stay in Dubai will last 5 days or more, and you plan to use public transport regularly, the NOL Card will save you a lot of money.
GETTING AROUND DUBAI BY CAR: THE MOST PRACTICAL SOLUTION
Let's face it, having a car at your disposal during your trip to Dubai will be very useful. Of course, it is possible to use public transportation, access many sites through organized tours or even take a cab, but in Dubai more than anywhere else, a car will give you a freedom that is hard to match.
If your stay in Dubai is going to last more than a few days, and you're planning to do some exploring around the city and possibly discover other emirates (Abu Dhabi is less than 2 hours away from Dubai by road), a rental car will most likely be the best choice for you.
Even if you're planning to stay in Dubai itself, the sheer size of the city means that having a vehicle might be the best option. Some of the city's most iconic locations are far apart, and not all of them are easily accessible by public transportation.
Depending on your plans, it will be important to weigh the pros and cons carefully to determine whether taking a cab and public transportation or renting a car is the best option. With a car, you will not necessarily save time, but you will undoubtedly have access to more autonomy and comfort.
To rent a car in Dubai, you must have an international driving license. The procedure to obtain this license is free, but the delays can be quite long. As such, you will need to apply for one several weeks before your departure. To rent a car, you will also need to present your national license.
During my last stay in Dubai, I booked a car using a price comparison website. This allowed me to see in advance the prices and the availability of the vehicles for the dates of my stay. Pretty convenient and reassuring to know that my vehicle is awaiting me as soon as the plane lands 🙂
Throughout my trip, this vehicle was notably used to go spend a day in Abu Dhabi and to get off the beaten tracks a bit in Dubai. As for parking, my accommodation had a private parking lot and I didn't have any problem in particular parking during my various visits.
GETTING AROUND IN DUBAI ON FOOT
Even if you're a walking enthusiast and don't mind covering long distances on foot, Dubai is clearly not a place that is at all suitable for this type of moving around.
In addition to being a very large city, Dubai is also a place where temperatures can get very high during the day. Even if you are in very good physical shape, walking for more than a few minutes in this heavy heat will never be a pleasure.
The construction and layout of Dubai shows that this city was obviously never designed to be walked. You will find that even with the best will in the world, it is often impossible to reach certain places on foot, simply because the streets and roads are not pedestrian friendly. Given the size of the city, if you want to see even a small part of Dubai's various landmarks, having a car or using public transportation is simply a must.
Some visits can still be done on foot, of course. In Old Dubai in particular, which is the historic center of the city, you can discover the gold and spice souks in the Deira district, and the textile souk in Bur Dubai.
GETTING AROUND DUBAI BY BIKE
It is possible to get around Dubai by bike. There are self-service bikes all over the city.
Though this is not the option I recommend in summer, in winter on the other hand - when the temperatures are a bit milder - it is quite possible to get around by bike. If you're still not sure when to go to Dubai, feel free to check out my full article on the subject 🙂
Byky is the company of self-service bicycles of Dubai. You can find kiosks to rent a bike in many places in the city, although more towards the center. Note that the bikes are only suitable for short trips, and that the city's busy main roads are off limits to cyclists. In areas with less traffic, you can enjoy beautiful rides and for example, cycle around the Dubai Marina. The rides are very pleasant in this part of Dubai.
THE BUS IN DUBAI
Dubai also has an extensive city bus network. Bus routes are less direct and more complex (there are nearly 119 routes in total in Dubai) and they can't escape traffic jams. To get a list of the different stops and to better plan your trip, you can consult the official website of the Dubai RTA.
As a general rule, it is most convenient to use the bus only to complete a subway trip. When leaving the subway station, if you take a city bus within 30 minutes of leaving the subway, it will be considered a transfer and you will be charged for a single trip.
TAKE A CAB OR AN UBER IN DUBAI
Taking an Uber or a cab will be a good alternative for all your travels in Dubai, but will have a few drawbacks. First of all, cab or Uber rides can be expensive. They are often the most expensive means of transportation in Dubai, depending on the number of miles you travel. The smallest trip can quickly cost you a dozen or twenty dollars.
Moreover, cabs are not able to avoid traffic problems, which are common in Dubai, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Just like with buses, the most advantageous solution here is to take the subway to the station closest to your destination, then use a cab or Uber only for the end of your journey.
ALTERNATIVES FOR YOUR TRIPS IN DUBAI
Depending on where you wish to go, you will have access to other means of transportation. Dubai's public transportation system includes water buses, for example. There are a total of 5 lines available, and they will get you over the river from 6 am to 11 pm.
The abra is the traditional means of transportation in Dubai: these small boats will allow you to cross the river for just 1 dirham (less than 30 cents). They will be perfect for a discovery of the Old Dubai, and will allow you to cross the Dubai Creek, which separates the 2 historical districts of the city. A ferry is also available to explore some of the tourist sites near the Dubai coast.
And that’s it for the different means of transportation in Dubai! Hope I could help you! 🙂