How To Get Around Dubai

Soaring skyscrapers, high-end hotels and golden beaches await you in the City of Gold. There are state-of-the-art restaurants, and endless record-breaking sights to visit too. Dubai is about three times the size of London and to make the most of your time, clever travel is essential. Here’s how to get around Dubai.

How to get around Dubai by car

The lure of a private air-conditioned vehicle is strong in a tropical climate. Dubai has an extensive network of modern, well-maintained highways, and some of the cheapest fuel prices in the world. Car hire prices are lower than in many comparable destinations.

But there are considerable downsides to Dubai driving, too. Traffic can be heavy, especially at peak times, and driving standards are variable. Piloting an unfamiliar car on a multi-lane highway without knowing your route is not a relaxing holiday experience. Unless you plan to tour widely around the seven Emirates, take the relaxing, environmentally-friendly choice; public transport is how to get around Dubai.

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How to get around Dubai by public transport

Dubai’s public transport system is modern, extensive, and affordable. You can combine Metro, bus, tram, and even taxi to create an efficient route to any city location, and fares are generally lower than in comparable international destinations.

Transportation in Dubai is made even easier by the NOL pass. This rechargeable, contactless smart card comes in two varieties: silver for standard class, and gold for Gold Class. Pick up your NOL card at the airport and a 5G Tourist SIM Card to be extra ready for your holiday in the Emirates.

And don’t forget to use Google Maps, or better still, the RTA Wohjati website and app to work out how to get around Dubai.

🚇 How to get around Dubai by Metro

In a city known for its record-breaking extremes, even Dubai’s metro is unequaled. It’s the largest driverless train system in the world. The Metro’s two red and green lines cover all the major tourist spots.

The Red Line is particularly useful, with stops at Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina, and the Mall of the Emirates, plus Dubai International Airport for arriving and departing the UAE. For a smooth journey to dizzying views, combine the Metro with a ticket to the 124th and 125th floors of Burj Khalifa. 

You can choose from standard cars or Gold Class, double the fare to enjoy carpets and leather seats. Each train has a woman-only section, though women may ride in any part of the train. The trains are air-conditioned throughout, and they run about every ten minutes.

🚍 How to get around Dubai by bus

The hidden gem of Dubai public transport, not only are the city’s buses air-conditioned – many of the bus shelters are too. Over 1,500 buses run more than 100 routes, and some operate 24 hours/day. When considering how to get around Dubai, remember buses are the cheapest option.

For a shopping trip by bus, start at the buzzing Deira Gold Souk and take a route 27 bus to The Dubai Mall. Here you’ll find hundreds of stores, more than 200 luxury brands, and a vast array of entertainment. Families, or anyone who’s all shopped out, should head for Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and look out for fearsome King Croc.

🚊 How to get around Dubai by tram

Small but mighty, the Dubai Marina tram is a surprisingly useful arm of Dubai public transport with 11 stops, many at city landmarks. The tram makes a loop around Dubai Marina and connects with the Metro and the Palm Monorail.

There’s a fixed fee for tram journeys and you can use your NOL card! Best of all, trams run every 6 – 8 minutes so you never have to wait long for this transportation in Dubai.

🚖 How to get around Dubai by taxi

Are you tempted to glide around the City of Gold in air-conditioned four-wheeled privacy – but realize that driving in Dubai would be a challenge too far? That’s where the city’s excellent value taxis come in. You can pre-book, or hail them at nearly every corner. There are women-only taxis – the pink ones – with female drivers, and accessible taxis too.

This is one type of Dubai public transport that won’t accept payment by Nol card. Pay with cash or bank/credit card. And for a wider variety of auto options, don’t forget Uber and local alternative Careem.

⛴️ How to get around Dubai by boat

Dubai public transport extends to the water with Dubai Ferries. Comfortable and fully air-conditioned, the ferries ply six routes and offer glorious views of the shoreline. They run seven days a week and yes, you can use your NOL card.

For a superior sea experience, take a dedicated Dubai cruise or boat tour. Pick a traditional water taxi and see the Dubai Fountain Show, or choose a mega yacht and enjoy dinner and drinks in luxurious surroundings.

How to get around Dubai by air

Bird's eye view of Dubai Palm Jumeirah island
Take a helicopter tour to see the famous Palm view in Dubai. Photo by Delpixel

Fancy soaring above Dubai and having a bird’s eye view of the city’s glories? While strictly not regular transportation in Dubai, helicopter or hot air balloon flight will open up a whole new way of seeing the sights. A scenic helicopter tour of The Palm and Atlantis provides an elevated look at these skyline icons, while a hot air balloon lets you glide high above the desert.

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