How to get around in Dubai
You’re coming to Dubai. Congratulations. Welcome to the pearl of the desert.
…But now that you’re here, how do you get around?
You want to get acquainted with the local transportation options as soon as you touch down. Don’t worry, there are lots of options available (and almost all of them are air-conditioned). No matter your budget and needs, Dubai has you covered.
You’ve touched down and you’re ready to begin your adventure. You are hardly alone. Dubai
Airport was the third busiest airport in 2016, according to the Airports Council International.
There are many ways to connect to your destination from the airport, including taxi, bus, metro, and car hire.
You can even use the Wojhati Trip Planner app, produced by the government of Dubai, to view stops and landmarks, pick your route, and plan your journey using any of Dubai’s various public transport methods.
The Dubai Metro – which just passed the one billion rider milestone – is a sleek, modern rail system with two connected lines and a route that links the airport with the city center.
Have a fear of missing out? No need to worry! Wifi and mobile are access available throughout the metro.
Want to travel in style? Gold Class cars feature wider leather seats and boast beautiful views from enlarged windows.
Similar to the pink-roof taxis, there are cabins in the metro available for the exclusive use of women and children. The metro also has wheelchair access, guide paths for the visually impaired, and a dedicated metro police.
With over 600 bus stops covering 82% of the city, it’s not hard to hop on one of these air-conditioned vehicles to grab a ride to your destination.
Dubai boasts a fleet of over 1,500 buses traveling along almost 120 different routes crisscrossing the city. There are four different kinds of buses: standard, double-decker, and articulated (extra-long), and metro link.
Taxis are an easy way to quickly zip around from A to B. It’s easy to find taxis at the airport and nearby hotels. You can reserve one online or call Dubai Taxi – the state-run taxi service – and you’ll be cruising in no time. Now the largest taxi company in Dubai, it started with just 81 vehicles in 1995.
There are taxis with pink roofs that are for ladies only. This ensures that female visitors and residents alike have the safest and most comfortable environment possible
And they are super affordable. A 14km ride can cost you as little as USD 3.00 (although usually it’s slightly more than that).
Ride sharing apps have recently come into vogue in Dubai, challenging Dubai Taxi for preeminence.
You can go with Uber or Careem , a home-grown company that currently operates in 53 cities around the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. But which should you choose?
In Dubai, Uber and Careem typically cost more than a taxi . The advantage is that Uber offers a flat rate, so if there’s traffic and you’re going a long distance, it can also be cheaper. In general, Careem is less expensive than Uber for shorter distances and Uber is less expensive for longer distances.
If you need to get from point A to point B but can’t be bothered to wait in traffic (and you have a couple hundred dollars to spend), UberCHOPPER is a reality in Dubai.
Although you do have to book a bit in advance, it’s a flat rate per person to deliver you, wait for you, and take you home. It’s not cheap, but it’s an amazing way to see the desert oasis from a bird’s eye view.
If you’re looking for a more experiential (rather than transportational) flight, there’s also the Dubai Helicopter City Tour , a truly awing experience.
The Dubai Tram is another safe, air-conditioned, and efficient way to get around the city, especially if you’re in the Marina or Jumeirah area. Travelling along Al Sufouh Road and Jumeirah Beach Road for nine miles, the tram is the first outside Europe to incorporate in-track electrical cables to supply power.
Similar to the metro, the tram has wifi and mobile coverage, dedicated cabins for women and children, and accommodations for passengers with disabilities. And of course, they feature Gold Class cars for interested passengers.
As long as you are down by the Marina area, you should also consider riding in a taxi boat. Or if you’re in the Al Fahidi district, charter an abra, a traditional Emirati boat that brings you across the Dubai Creek.
Since Dubai is so well-connected via roadways, some travelers decide that the most convenient and efficient way to get around town is to rent a car for a portion or the duration of their stay.
There are both budget rentals and luxury rentals available, so you can choose to cruise the town in either a standard sedan or a slick supercar.
Renting requires either an international license or a license from one of Dubai’s approved countries. It’s important to follow the traffic laws carefully and drive as safely as possible, given that you’re in a new environment.
Rules and etiquette
Since you are in a new place, it’s best to be as polite as possible. Lucky for visitors like you, it’s easy to do so in Dubai, a multicultural city where manners matter.
While on public transport, it’s important to refrain from pushing, move down into the cabins upon entering, and allowing passengers to exit before boarding. These simple rules will make sure you and the other passengers have a pleasant ride and arrive with a smile.
For more information about rules & etiquette, have a look at our Rules & Etiquette Guide.