Before our first trip to Dubai, I was looking for some practical information regarding public transportation in Dubai. There are so many ways to get around Dubai that I ended up browsing through so many different websites in order to research information on Dubai transport that’s truly interesting and useful for tourists…
So I thought I would make a short summary based on our experience with public transport in Dubai. This should save you lots of time trying to figure out public transportation and the best ways to get around in Dubai.
Good to know: This is in no way a complete guide to Dubai public transport, but it should be more than enough for any tourist visiting the city for the first time. This guide is now also updated after our most recent visit to Dubai.
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The easiest way to travel around Dubai is by taxi. Taxi in Dubai is very affordable and it’s also cheaper than Uber.
Taxi in Dubai costs less than a euro per kilometer. We used taxis a lot and with the whole family sharing a car, it was often the cheapest way to travel around the city. The only disadvantage of taking a taxi in Dubai is the busy traffic.
Here are some examples of our recent cost of taxi rides in Dubai:
- From Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall Area: 50-60 AED (13-15 EUR).
- Dubai Mall Area to Atlantis (The Palm): 60-80 AED (15-20 EUR).
- Dubai Mall Area to Old Town: 35-40 AED (9-10 EUR).
Good to know: Many hotels offer their own ‘taxi’ service. Hotel taxis are usually 25-40% more expensive than a regular taxi. Private airport transfers that you can book online are often also cheaper than what the hotels charge you, especially if your hotel is located far from the airport.
TIP: Install Careem app on your smartphone and use it to request ‘Hala Taxi’ every time you want to go somewhere. That’s the official taxi in Dubai. If you request ‘Rides’, it works similarly to Uber and is a bit more expensive (but still cheaper than Uber). With this app, you don’t have to connect your credit card to it and pay directly to the driver. They take cash but also credit cards.
The fastest way to travel big distances in Dubai is the metro. It’s easy, it’s efficient, and the trains run every couple of minutes. Disadvantages are the location of the metro stations (depending on where you are staying), and the long waiting times at the ticket booths.
Dubai Metro is the cheapest transportation in Dubai for tourists!
The first time you use the metro, you buy a red NOL card, and they charge you 2 AED for it. You can load a certain amount of money on the card and avoid having to queue every time you travel, or you can pay per ride.
In case you choose to pay per ride, make sure to use the same NOL card so that you don’t have to pay for a new one every time.
What does it cost? Red NOL card users pay the following tariffs (the same for everyone, including children 5 years and older): 4 to 8,5 AED (1-2 EUR) depending on the zones traveled.
We paid 8.5 AED/pp from Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) Station to Dubai Mall (Burj Khalifa) and the same price from JLT to The Mall of The Emirates which is only half as far, because the price is the same for 3, 4, or 5 zones.
Dubai Tram uses the same NOL card as the metro. In fact, you can use your metro ticket at no extra cost to continue your journey by tram.
The Dubai Tram line is pretty short though. It follows the coast area around Dubai Marina, from The Walk to Al Sufouh. In addition, part of the route is in one direction only. So it’s very limited and only useful if you are staying in the Marina area.
In the future, the line should reach as far as Burj Al Arab and the Mall of the Emirates. But for now, it’s only useful for traveling around a small part of the coastal area.
The Palm Monorail
The Monorail is privately owned and uses a separate ticket system from the metro/tram. A single trip costs 15 AED, return – 30 AED (4-8 EUR).
Dubai Marina Water Bus
With only 4 stops Dubai Marina water bus is a comfortable way to get from one side of the Marina to the other, but it isn’t by any means a fast way to travel around.
It runs every 15-20 minutes depending on the time of the day. We, and especially the kids, enjoyed it – it was a bit like a sightseeing tour of the Marina and saved us a 3km walk from Marina Promenade to Marina Walk. We walked back afterwards as the Marina promenade is a very lively and pleasant place to walk around in the evening.
Ticket costs 3, 5, 8, or 11 AED (1-3 EUR) depending on the number of stops. Children under 5 travel free.
Dubai Creek Water Taxi
Dubai Creek is a very lively waterway that is buzzing with boats in all shapes and sizes.
There are more comfortable ways to travel on Dubai creek including a water taxi or a sightseeing water bus, but the traditional Abra (take the motorized version) is much more fun and it’s very cheap too.
The price is 1AED (0,25 EUR) per trip. It’s one you should do if in the Dubai Creek area, even if just for the experience.
There are other ways to travel in Dubai, including bus, Hop-On Hop-Off bus, etc. But we didn’t use those, so I cannot comment on them.
Don’t forget that using different means of transport adds to your travel experience. Furthermore, it can be really fun, especially for children. Our kids loved taking the metro, the water bus, and the Abra water taxi.
Tips for Getting Around Dubai
If you are traveling in Dubai with a family, I would opt for a taxi for all your short rides in the city. It’s fast, cheap (often the cheapest option for 4-5 people), and convenient.
Taxi is also great for couples, of course. And it’s so affordable compared to most other destinations that it often makes no sense to even look at the public transportation options in Dubai at all.
TIP: Take the metro for longer distances and during rush hours. Traffic can be quite bad in Dubai at peak times, so keep this in mind when planning your day.
For transportation from the Dubai airport to your hotel and back, you can also book a private airport transfer. It’s often cheaper than the hotel shuttles and you can be sure that there is a car for you exactly when you need it.
Where to Stay
Depending on how much time you have in Dubai, you may either want to stay in the Dubai Downtown area at the Dubai Mall/ Burj Khalifa or Dubai Marina area (for shopping and sightseeing) or at the beach (for a longer vacation that has it all).
With the convenient public transportation options, taxis, and private airport transfers, most of the popular parts of the city are comparable accessibility-wise.
Our personal recommendation for a longer vacation is the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) area. It’s close to the beach and is quite easy to get everywhere else from there. On the other hand, if you are mostly interested in sightseeing, you may want to stay closer to Dubai Mall or at Dubai Marina – ideally, close to a metro station.
More travel tips for visiting Dubai:
- What to wear in Dubai
- How expensive is Dubai
- Best tours and excursions in Dubai
- Things to do in Dubai with kids
- Free & cheap activities in Dubai
- Interesting facts about Dubai
- Dubai stopover – what to see in 1 or 2 days
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