Abu Dhabi has a fantastic network of roads system and getting around is easy. All the roads and streets are clearly marked, while the boards pointing to the touristic areas are bigger than the regular boards and are written on brown boards. The roads are wide and clean, with clearly marked parking slots on the sides. There are currently no trains in the Capital. You can get around the city in the following ways – taxi, buses or self-drive. In any case, there is no hassle of getting from one place to the other. If you are driving yourself during the length of your stay, remember that Abu Dhabi city’s paid parking system Mawaqif is enforced round the clock, excluding Fridays and public holidays. Parking meters set time limits for use of public parking spaces, which helps organise parking and prevent illegal parking.
At premium parking lots on main streets, vehicles can park for up to four hours at AED 3 per hour, while in standard spaces, the rate is AED 2 per hour for a maximum of 24 hours. Drivers who park outside designated spaces; indicated by turquoise and white or blue and black markings, can be fined from AED 200 – AED 1,000.
The taxis are easily recognized. They will usually have a lit board on the top if it is empty, which is turned off the moment you step in. There are different types of taxis in Abu Dhabi, and the most common are the silver taxis which are operated by authorized taxi companies. The recently introduced pink taxis are exclusively for female passengers and boys under the age of 10. They are driven by women and have the same fares as the silver taxis.
Metered taxis are plentiful in Abu Dhabi and usually can be quite easily flagged down. The driver will stop when it is safe for him to find a place to stop. Most malls have designated taxi stands.
The other option is to book in advance through the hotline number (TransAD hotline 600 535353), but be prepared to pay a little extra for this. Usually the meter starts at AED 3.5, but reserving a taxi will attract an additional charge.
Every hired taxi can be asked to travel to places outside Abu Dhabi City or outside the emirate. The fare for a trip to Dubai in a metered taxi, for example, is about AED 250 during daytime. Shared taxis are available for inter-emirate travel at the central bus station next to Al Wahda Mall.
You can easily use regular meter taxis to get to the airport, or specially registered airport taxis and limo services, which can be more expensive. If the meter is used, the average journey into town from the airport costs AED 70 – 80. After 10pm there will be a minimum charge per fare of AED 10 (even if the fare is below AED10, the passenger will have to pay the minimum fare of AED 10, regardless of what the meter shows). If the cost of the trip is above AED 10, then the passenger pays the actual cost displayed on the metre).
Fast Limos (Ph 02 6220000) operates luxury cars, which can be booked in advance. The airport fare in this case is fixed at AED 120.
Abu Dhabi has all the major car rental companies and a few local operators, although it would be a good idea to do business with the more reputable companies, largely because of the choices available. All rentals are inclusive of registration, maintenance, replacement, 24-hour assistance and insurance (comprehensive insurance with personal accident cover is advisable). Whether you are looking for a short or a longer rental, you could either book it online in advance, or visit the booths at the airport or get one from your hotel. Unless of course, you would like to stroll around the city and look for one yourself – it is also worth checking it out for yourself for the best rates you can get. To hire any vehicle you will need a passport copy, credit card and a valid driving licence from your home country, or a valid international driving license.
Trips from Abu Dhabi International Airport to the city take around 40 minutes by car. The airport houses several car rental offices and offers multiple parking options, including valet parking, for those who want to leave their car at the airport.
Al Ghazal Transport Co (+971 2 634 2200)
ALLO Rent (+971 2 575 7232)
Avis Rent A Car (+971 2 633 4200)
Dollar Rent A Car (+971 2 641 9002)
Hertz Rent A Car (+971 2 800 3130)
Public transport systems in Abu Dhabi include the Abu Dhabi public buses, taxis and airplanes. Abu Dhabi’s modern air-conditioned buses operate round-the-clock (www.ojra.ae). If you are planning to use the bus on a regular basis, day passes and monthly passes are also available. Travelling by bus is complimentary for senior citizens above the age of 60 and for people with disabilities. Visitors who qualify need to apply online for their free pass and can collect it from Abu Dhabi’s Central Bus Station. Buses serving the domestic routes within the city operate round the clock. The seats for female passengers are provided immediately behind the driver, the section for men is at the back.
The bus service was free till three years ago, however it is not so anymore. Frequent passengers can purchase Ojra Bus Passes from accredited selling points or any Red Crescent kiosk in Abu Dhabi Island. The Ojra Pass costs AED 30 per week, or AED 80 per month and allows unlimited travel on any of the DoT city buses from the date of first use. For students, DoT provides annual passes called Hafilaty which costs AED 500, whereas people with special needs and senior citizens over 60 years old can obtain Reaya cards which entitle them for free unlimited travel on all DoT buses.
Since 2010, numerous regional routes operating from the Abu Dhabi CBD to area outside the city (eg Yas Island (Route 290) have been introduced. A modern fleet of air-conditioned public buses, managed by the Department of Transport (DoT), operates in Abu Dhabi Island, Abu Dhabi’s suburbs, Al Ain and the Western Region. The fare for a single trip inside Abu Dhabi City is AED 2.
Abu Dhabi intercity buses start from the central bus station and link Abu Dhabi City with Al Ain, Liwa and Ruwais. Also, the buses to Dubai (E1) or Sharjah run from here.
Passengers who do not want to use their own cars can choose between taxis, buses and the Etihad shuttle services:
Bus no. A1 runs between the three airport terminals and the City Air Terminal in the Tourist Club Area in Abu Dhabi City. On its way to the city, Bus no. A1 stops at all major bus stops, including the central bus station. The bus runs every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day and the fare is AED 3 for a one-way trip. It passes by the Bus Stand at Muroor and Street 11 and terminates at the Old Fish Market on Al Nasr Street (near NYU Abu Dhabi). Passengers flying with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, are offered transfers to and from the airport. Diamond First Class and Pearl Business Class passengers can book a door-to-door limousine service, Coral Economy passengers can use coach transfers to and from Dubai and Al Ain. Details can be found on the website of Abu Dhabi airport.
To Al Ain
From Abu Dhabi, you can board the X90 service from the Central Bus Station to Al Ain. The bus departs every 30 minutes and costs AED25. Remember that this bus does not go to/from the airport.
To other emirates
fully air-conditioned and top of the line buses run between Abu Dhabi (near Al Wada Mall) and Dubai regularly. The travel time is about 90 minutes, depending on traffic. The bus terminates at Al Ghubaiba station in Dubai. One way fare costs AED25. You can buy the tickets at the easily recognizable ticket counters at the station.
Abu Dhabi’s award winning international airport (IATA: AUH) is very well connected to the rest of the world, including the Americas, Far East, Asia and Europe. Winner of the 2012 Best Airport in the Middle East award by the World Airport Award it is also the world’s most customer-friendly airports, besides being one of the fastest growing airports in terms of passenger traffic. Over fifty airlines operate out of this airport covering over ninety destinations worldwide. Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE operates out of this airport. Inter –terminal shuttle is available every fifteen minutes.