Dubai is one of the most popular cities in the world for tourists. In 2019, the city welcomed 16.73 million visitors. According to the Mastercard Global Destination City Index, it is the fourth most visited city after Bangkok, Paris and London. Like Bangkok, it is a sprawling metropolis that sits on around 45 miles of Persian Gulf. Attractions are spread over a lengthy distance along Sheik Zahed Road which runs parallel to the coast. This makes it more difficult to get around Dubai.
For instance, the distance between the Burj Khalifa and the Atlantis hotel is 24 kilometres. Dubai Creek to Dubai Marina is almost a 30km trip. In short, this is not a city you can walk around. Instead, you will need to make use of public transport, hire a car or take taxis to get around. Getting to grips with public transport can be something of a minefield so this guide aims to provide a quick and easy guide to get around Dubai.
You may wish to download the RTA app which provides information on all modes of transport in Dubai. Personally, I did not find it very user friendly but it does you give access to timetables. If you wish to plan a route however you need to also download the S’hail app which seems to default to taxi as a mode of travel. It was all a bit of a faff in my opinion!
Instead I prefer to use the RTA website which has a handy journey planner to help you get from one place to another. It offers a variety of travel options and is much more user friendly. You can also download a map of public transport options here.
The Dubai metro opened in 2009 and has 2 main routes. As you can see above, the red route connects all the main areas along the coast whilst the green route navigates around the Creek.
To travel on the Dubai metro you will need to purchase a Nol ticket which you can also use on buses and trams. You can find details of all your Nol ticket options here but note you can only pay by card and must purchase a ticket prior to travelling.
Here are the current prices for the Metro tickets however for the most up to date prices visit Dubai Metro on the link above.
Metro ticket prices
|Ticket Type||1 Zone or <3km 2 zones||2 Zones||3+ Zones|
|Standard Adult Ticket (Red)||4 dirhams||6 dirhams||8.50 dirhams|
|Pre-paid Standard Adult Ticket (Silver Nol)||3 dirhams||5 dirhams||7.50 dirhams|
|Concessionary (Blue Nol Card)||1.50 dirhams||2.50 dirhams||3.75 dirhams|
|Gold Class (Red Ticket)||8 dirhams||12 dirhams||17 dirhams|
|Gold Class Pre-Paid||6 dirhams||10 dirhams||15 dirhams|
Travellers can also buy a one day pass for 20 dirhams which is valid on the metro, tram and buses but not the water services. It is valid until midnight on the day of purchase and may work out considerably cheaper if you plan to make several journeys in a day.
Gold and Silver class differences
Gold Class ticket holders can access dedicated gold class carriages with wider leather seats and panoramic windows. Silver class carriages are for women and children only.
The Dubai tram only operates in a small area and connects Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers and the Jumeirah Palm. It operates the same way as the Metro with both Silver and Gold carriages. The pricing is also the same.
The Dubai monorail connects the Dubai tram to the Palm and is the only form of public transport on Palm Jumeirah. Its 5.5km of track connects key landmarks that include the View at the Palm Observation, Atlantic waterpark and hotel, Nakheel Mall and The Pointe shopping area.
The 17 palm fronds of this man-made island boast spectacular homes, luxury hotels, a shopping mall, beaches and other attractions. A ride on the monorail not only gets you from A to B but it also provides spectacular bird’s eye views of the many sights of the Palm.
Palm Monorail tickets
Single tickets cost from 10 AED (depending on your trip duration) and a return ticket costs up to 30 AED. You can find details of the full prices here but if you plan to explore multiple destinations on the Palm, a day ticket that costs AED 35 is probably your best option. You can buy tickets online here or at any Palm Monorail station.
To find out more about how to use the Dubai monorail visit Dubai Travel Planner.
The Dubai water bus connects 4 stops in Dubai Marina and is a great way to explore the charms of Dubai Marina. Travellers can jump on the bus at Marina Terrace, Marina Walk, Dubai Marina Mall and Marina Promenade and tickets cost between 3 AED and 11.
The water taxi runs every day from 10am to 7pm and must be reserved in advance. A traditional water taxi costs around 1AED a trip. Simply dial a toll-free phone number (8009090) and have a Water Taxi come pick you up at the nearest station
The Dubai ferry is less a ferry and more a tourist trip.
It currently runs from four ferry terminals. These are Dubai Marina, Bluewater Marine Transport Station, Al Ghubaiba and Dubai Canal Station.
How to get to the ferry terminals
- The Al Ghubaiba terminal is a minute walk from the Al Ghubaiba Metro station, near the creek abra stations.
- The Marina terminal is a short walk to the left from the Marina Mall.
- The Bluewater Marine Transport Station is on the island that holds the Ain Dubai ferris wheel.
- Burj Khalifa Metro station is the nearest metro to the canal. This map shows you how to get there from the station.
Dubai ferry offers circular tourist type trips that run for approximately 1 hour. These depart from each terminal. There are also trips between terminals which take up to 1h 55m for the trip between the Marina and Al Ghubaiba. Here is the current list of trips offered by Dubai Ferry, however click hereclick here for the latest information.
Trips from Dubai Marina:
|11.30am||Circular trip to Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis|
|1pm||One way trip to Al Ghubaiba with stops at Bluewaters and Dubai Water Canal|
|4.30pm||Circular trip to Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis|
|6pm||One way trip to Al Ghubaiba stops at Bluewaters and Dubai Water Canal|
Trips from Al Ghubaiba
|1pm||One way trip to Dubai Marina with stops at Dubai Water Canal and Bluewaters|
|4.30pm||Circular Tourist trip within the Creek.|
|6pm||One way trip to Dubai Marina with stops at Dubai Water Canal and Bluewaters|
Trips from Dubai Water Canal Marine Station
|To Al Ghubaiba||14:05||19:05|
|To Dubai Marina||13:50||18:50|
Dubai Ferry ticket prices
You can find the latest ferry prices here. At the time of writing, tickets cost between 15 and 50 AED in Silver class. For Gold class, tickets cost between 25 and 75 AED.
The Gold class consists of 14 seats at the front of the boat. It is in a separate area with more comfortable seats.
84 Silver class seats are in the main body of the boat. From here, you also have access to the outside area at the back of the boat.
Taxis are reasonable in Dubai and you can flag them down on the street. Most take cards as payment
To estimate the price of a journey, you can use this handy calculator. The basic fee is 12 AED plus 1.82AED per kilometer.
Time to start planning
Hopefully you have a much better idea of how to get around Dubai now you have made it to here. All that remains is for you to put this knowledge to the test. Do let us know how you got on and which is your favourite mode of transport.