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Getting Around Abu Dhabi

The best way to get around Abu Dhabi is by car, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time outside of Abu Dhabi city. The emirate's major highways are easy to navigate, although maintenance efforts can cause construction-related traffic. However, if you intend to spend the majority of your vacation in and around Abu Dhabi city, you'll fare just fine with taxis and the public bus system. Cabs are a relatively affordable means of transit, and you can easily flag them from the street. Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport operates a fairly extensive bus network within Abu Dhabi city and to and around other parts of the emirate, including Al Ain and parts of Al Gharbia. To help you find your way around, you can rely on interactive map services provided by DARB.ae, which can help you plot your car and bus routes. Walking is also an option, but you'll need to take precautions to ward off heat stroke (especially during the summer months).

More than 50 airlines service Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), which sits about 20 miles east of Abu Dhabi city on the mainland near the bridge to Yas Island. You can rent a car at the airport, or you can take a taxi — you should expect to pay around 70 to 80 AED (roughly $19 to $22 USD) to get from the airport to Abu Dhabi city.

Abu Dhabi also features several smaller airports servicing destinations within the emirate and the UAE. Located in Abu Dhabi city is the Al Bateen Executive Airport (AZI), which services private jets. Travelers can also fly into Al Ain International Airport (AAN), though this much smaller airport doesn't have nearly the capacity of Abu Dhabi International. Meanwhile, both Sir Bani Yas and Dalma islands feature their own airports to accommodate flights from within the UAE.

On Foot It is possible to explore Abu Dhabi city and other parts of the emirate on foot, but you will need to rely frequently on other forms of transportation. If you do decide to take a stroll along the Corniche or take a walking tour of central Al Ain, be sure to protect yourself from the heat: Lather on plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated.
Car

You'll find almost every major car rental agency represented in Abu Dhabi. You can pick up your own set of wheels at Abu Dhabi International Airport or from one of the Abu Dhabi city outposts; many hotels also feature car rental kiosks. In order to rent a car in Abu Dhabi, you will need to obtain a valid international drivers license prior to arriving in the UAE. As far as parking goes, there's no such thing as a free space in Abu Dhabi city (except on Fridays and public holidays). Parking fees are paid and monitored by the city's Mawaqif system, and rates are fairly cheap: Expect to pay around 3 AED (around $0.80 USD) every hour for up to four hours or 2 AED (roughly $0.50 USD) per hour for up to 24 hours. The Mawaqif system is only used in Abu Dhabi city; parking rates and availability vary in other parts of the emirate.

Taxi

You'll have no trouble finding a cab in Abu Dhabi city — just look for either a silver car with a yellow roof sign or a white and gold car with a green roof sign. You can hail a cab from the street or call for one in advance through the TransAD cab association hotline. Fares start at 3.50 to 4 AED (approximately $1 USD) with every kilometer costing an additional 1.60 to 1.69 AED (around $0.45 USD); prices are higher between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Outside Abu Dhabi city, however, spotting a cab will be much more of a challenge, though cabs are usually willing to take you to places like Al Ain. If you're planning on exploring other areas of the emirate, you're better off renting a car.

Bus

The Abu Dhabi Department of Transportation operates more than 95 bus routes throughout the emirate with extensive services in Abu Dhabi city and Al Ain. You can use the public buses to get between the two cities, as well as to different points of interest around Al Gharbia. Buses run at all hours of the day and night, though service may be more limited on Fridays and Saturdays; times vary depending on the line. Rides within specific transport zones — Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and Al Gharbia — cost 2 AED (about $0.50 USD) each way. Simply drop exact change into the collection box next to the driver. If you're using the regional bus routes to more extensive areas around Al Ain and Al Gharbia, expect to pay 4 AED (around $1 USD) per ride. As for intercity routes, fares are calculated based on distance: For example, the ride from Abu Dhabi city to Al Ain will cost 25 AED (just less than $7 USD). To eliminate the need to remember this complex fair structure, you can opt to use an Ojra bus pass; these weeklong passes are good for unlimited transport on all routes, and cost 30 AED (around $8 USD). Orja passes can be purchased from kiosks found at bus stations in the Al Mina district, near the Marina Mall and from other select areas.

For visitors to Yas Island, the Yas Express runs two routes around the island. The Blue Route runs from 9 a.m. to around 9 p.m. to the Yas Plaza hotels, the Yas Viceroy Hotel, Yas Central, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld; the Red Route also stops at the Yas Plaza hotels and the Yas Viceroy, but then continues on to Yas Beach, Yas Marina and the Yas Links. The Red Route continues to service some stops until around 2 a.m. The Yas Express also offers transport between Yas and Saadiyat islands between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day. These shuttle services are free.

Ferry

Travelers who are interested in visiting Dalma Island can get there by ferry from Jabal al Dhanna, a small port town located just 150 miles west of Abu Dhabi city along the coast of the Persian Gulf. Ferries run three times a day (in both directions) between Saturday and Thursday and twice on Fridays. One-way tickets are 20 AED (around $5.50 USD) for adults and free for children younger than 12. If you are traveling with a car, you will need to pay an additional 100 AED (roughly $27 USD) to bring it on board. (Complimentary sea transport between Jabal al Dhanna and Sir Bani Yas Island is provided by the three Anantara resorts to all guests.)

Plane

If you are not staying at one of the Anantara resorts, the only way to get to Sir Bani Yas Island from the mainland is by plane. Rotana Jet offers daily flights out of Al Bateen Executive Airport to Sir Bani Yas Airport (SBY). The flight takes around 30 minutes, and one-way tickets start at 200 AED (around $54 USD) for adults and 100 AED (approximately $27 USD) for children younger than 11. (Rotana Jet also offers flights to Sir Bani Yas from Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Ain International Airport, though they are not as frequent as flights from Al Bateen Executive Airport.)

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Air offers flights from Abu Dhabi International Airport to Dalma Airport (ZDY); planes usually depart around noon and 4 p.m. Dalma Island's visitors bureau can help you arrange flights to and from the island.

Explore More of Abu Dhabi

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