If you’re a traveler and you find yourself in Abu Dhabi, it’s probably for one of two reasons: (1) you took a day trip from Dubai to see the Grand Mosque and have to get back or (2) you flew into UAE on Etihad Airways, who naturally placed you at their hub in Abu Dhabi, and you have to get to Dubai. Either way, there is a pretty good chance that if you’re in Abu Dhabi, you’ll need to make your way to Dubai at some point. And when that time comes, you have a few options. You can arrange a taxi (for about 200 AED / $50 USD), rent a car (for about 100 AED / $25 USD), or you can take the public bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (for 25 AED / $6.81 USD).
While glitz and glam is the Dubai way, getting there doesn’t have to be expensive, too. We’re big fans of public transit. It’s cheap, efficient, and the transportation of our people (backpackers, that is). The bus is so simple that I feel a little silly even writing about it. In fact I’m pretty sure that it’s even easier than your more expensive alternatives. In this post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to easily, happily and cheaply take the bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
Taking the bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai
- Abu Dhabi Departure Location: Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station
- Bus Number: 100 to Al Ghubaiba Bus Station or 101 to Ibn Battuta Bus Stop
- Ticket price: 25 AED
- Dubai Arrival Location: Al Ghubaiba Bus Station OR Ibn Battuta Metro Bus Stop
Step 1: Get to the Bus Station in Abu Dhabi
This is the least exciting step. You just take a cab.
Abu Dhabi is pretty spread out. They do have public transit, but taxis are cheap within the city. So if you’re by a bus or train stop and want to throw it in Google Maps to check if you have an easy public transit option, go for it. But if you’re like the most of us, hail yourself a cab. You’re hotel/hostel will be able to get you in a good cab, or there are taxi lines at every major attraction in Abu Dhabi, including Yas Mall and the Grand Mosque.
Tell your cab driver to go to the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station (located at Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum St (2nd St) – Abu Dhabi) in the Al Wahda neighborhood.
Step 2: Pick Your Dubai Arrival Station
There are two bus routes to Dubai, the only difference being the culminating bus stop in Dubai. Your choices are Ibn Battuta, which is outside the Ibn Battuta mall and is a hub for trains and busses around the city (although the train is temporarily under construction as of April 2018). The other is Al Ghubaiba in the Al Souk Al Kabir neighborhood, which is closer to Old Dubai.
Unless you’re staying by the souks or are planning on going straight there, we think the Ibn Battuta stop is usually best. It has a lot of public transit options to get you where you need to go, should you choose to take public transit. If you are going to take a taxi, Ibn Battuta is closer to the Marina. The Al Ghubaiba stop is closer to the Burj Khalifa, but you have to pass it to get to the stop, so the Ibn Battuta stop will still save you some time.
Step 3: Buy Your Ticket
The cost of the ticket for the bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is 25 AED ($6.81 USD). You can buy your ticket at the station, and there’s no need to purchase it in advance.
If you have been to Dubai and have a NOL card already with a balance of 25 AED, you can pay the fair with the card. There are machines available to check your balance and top off your card, but you cannot purchase a new NOL card at the Abu Dhabi station. If you don’t have a NOL card, you’ll need to purchase your ticket from the ticket booth.
To purchase your ticket without a NOL card, walk to the ticket counter with the sign that says “Dubai” (I told you it was easy). You’ll need to tell them which station you’re going to and pay 25 AED (I’m sorry, I don’t remember if they took credit cards. We paid cash.) Your ticket will not necessarily say the specific station of your destination, but don’t worry. We were going to Ibn Battuta but our ticket said Al Ghubaiba Bus Station, but this is not an issue. I think they just have one ticket and they all say the same station.
Step 4: Get on the Bus
Walk out the door, following the signs to “Dubai”, to the right of the ticket booth. The busses will be lined up on your left and will display the route number. Line up near the bus number you are taking (100 for Al Ghubaiba and 101 for Ibn Battuta). Before departure time, a driver will arrive, check your tickets, and let everyone on board. There is luggage space below if needed.
The busses run every 10 – 20 minutes from roughly 5 AM – midnight. The bus runs non-stop from Abu Dhabi to the designated station in Dubai, and the journey is about an hour and a half (although we’ve heard it can be two hours, depending on traffic).
Step 5: Get to your Destination in Dubai
When you arrive in Dubai, getting to your destination kind of depends on where you’re going and how you want to get there. We took the bus to Ibn Battuta, so unfortunately I can only share details from this stop.
If you’re taking a cab … When you get off the bus, keep walking forward in the direction the bus was going. You’ll run straight into the cab stand, and from there, they will get you where you need to go.
If you’re taking a bus … Walk forward in the direction the bus was going and turn left. You’ll run into a small ticket booth. From here, you can purchase a NOL card to pay for your bus ride. You need to have at least 7.50 AED on the card to scan onto the bus, but it’s safe to start by loading your card with 20 AED.
If you’re reading this in the future and are taking the train (closed while we were in town), you can buy a NOL card from the above referenced ticket booth or from the train station. You will see the train station (the giant metallic structure behind you, opposite the parking lot) from the bus stop, and it appears to be a short walk.
Step 6: Have a Cocktail because you’re in Dubai!
Sit back, relax, and toast to your successful journey on the bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.