How to move through Dubai with the local transport

Dubai is a large city, but the highly efficient Dubai public transport network is managed by the Roads & Transport Authority and includes buses, tram, metro, taxis and water taxis.

Dubai is divided into 7 Zones, of which 2 and 6 are those of significant tourist interest. Each zone contains Metro stations, Bus stations, Tram stations, and Water bus stations.

Rates of Bus and Metro are based on distance, so travelling within the same zone involves the minimum cost. Moving between two zones has an average cost, whereas between 3 zones or more have the highest value.

1 Metro

The Dubai metro is the world’s most extended fully automatic metro network. It is modern, efficient, fast, and the means of transport for most local and tourist. At the moment, there are only 2 lines: the red line and the green line.

The red line is by far the most used by tourists, as it starts from the airport, running mainly along Sheikh Zayed Road and stops at some of the city’s most essential destinations. The attractions you can reach catching the red line are Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Marina.

The green line of the Dubai Metro is widely used by commuters and workers who live mainly in the Deira area. The only attraction you can reach by using the green line is The Gold and spices Souk (get off at al ras station and walk for 10 minutes).

The interchange stations are Bur Juman and Union square

Opening time: 5 am to midnight (1 am on Thu – 10 am to 1 am on Fri)

2. Bus

In our opinion, the bus is a solution if you travel alone, you have a small budget, and you stay long enough in Dubai. The attractions are scattered through the city, and moving around Dubai catching the bus could take a long time.

Anyway, the bus network is quite extensive, and it allows you to get to most of the places that cannot be reached by metro. Check the schedule and the bus number on the official website of RTA

Schedule: Usually the buses run from 5 am to midnight

3. Tram

Dubai Tram is a line powered by an electric transport system that operates only in the Dubai Marina area. It has 11 stations, and it is particularly convenient for reaching the spot of Palm Jumeirah (and the Atlantis Hotel taking a Monorail from Palm Jumeirah station), “The Walk”, and the beach from the two metro stations of Dubai Marina (Damac properties station) and Jumeirah Lake Towers (DMCC station).

Schedule: it runs from 6 am to 1 am (Fri 9 am to 1 am). A ride costs 3 AED.

4. Water taxi and ferries

If you need to cross the Creek (from/to Deira Gold/spice souk to/from Bur Dubai/Bastakya), you can catch the traditional motorised Abra boat (1 AED cash). The Abra can be booked as a private charter for cruising across the Creek  (120 AED per hour, but try to haggle).

If you need to move along the Creek, catch the Petrol Heritage Abra (2 AED x ride). If you are in Dubai Marina and want to move around the canal, you can pick the Air-conditioned abra boats (a single trip between 2 nearby stations is 3 AED).

An excellent way to explore the coastline and the Dubai canals is to take a Dubay ferry. It can host 100 passengers and runs within 5 different significant routes.

Another choice to move through the Canals and the coastline is to take a Dubai water taxis that boast 43 stations located all around the city. Check the official website of RTA to see schedules, routes and fares. 

5. Taxi

If you don’t have a long journey in Dubai, it’s undoubtedly the most comfortable and fastest way to reach your destination. The cabs always use the meter (you don’t have to haggle), and compared with other big cities, the fare for a ride is quite cheap.

You’ll find a taxi everywhere 24 hours a day (above all in front of the main spots). You can catch it in the taxi station or stop it along the road by raising your hand. During peak hours (5 pm to 7 pm), it is often challenging to find a taxi since most people use it.

For example, the fare for a ride from BurJuman metro station to Dubai Mall is approximately 25 AED (9 km); from the Dubai Mall to Dubai Marina is around 60 AED (27 km); from the Dubai Mall to Deira is around 30 AED (11 km).

Where can I buy a ticket?

If you want to catch the local transports, you need to buy a Nol Card or a Nol ticket. In each metro station, you’ll find ticket machines or ticketing offices. You’ll also find ticket machines at most bus stop as well. The ticket can also be purchased through RTA authorised sales agent in the city.

There are 4 options available: Nol red ticket (the one for tourist), and Nol Silver, Gold, Blue (Regular or Gold) cards.

Nol red ticket (Regular or Gold) is the one used by tourists. It’s a paper ticket that can be used for a single ride (or 1 daily pass) or loaded with up to 10 Single Trips or 5 daily passes. Currently, this ticket can only be used on one mode of transport at a time (on Metro only, Bus only).

The card costs 2 AED, whereas the ride within 1 zone is 4 AED, 2 Adjacent Zones is 6 AED, and more than 2 Zones is 8.50 AED. The daily pass costs 20 AED. If you want to travel in the less crowded first class, buy the Nol red ticket Gold instead of a regular one (daily pass is 40 AED).

If your stay is longer and you plan to use public transport, you can buy the Nol Silver card instead, a rechargeable card that can be loaded up to a maximum of 5000 AED. Each time the automatically calculated travel cost is deducted, and it is valid on all public transport. The card can be topped up at the ticket offices of the metro stations or RTA kiosks located almost everywhere in the city.


Buy a local sim card for your mobile with data at the Airport or in some Malls and download the Smart App Moovit, Wojhati or Rta Public Transport to find the local transport for reaching your destination.

As an alternative to taxis, you can download the smart app Uber (the price is not different from taxis).

If your stay in Dubai is short and you plan to visit all the main attraction scattered through the city, the best way is to use the Hop on- Hop off bus. It boasts 3 different routes covering all the attractions through Dubai.


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