How to get to Dubai

Getting to and from Dubai

There are no shortage of ways to take you to this city - by plane, train, automobile, bus or even boat.

Melinda HealyJournalist and travel writer
15 September 2022

As with most destinations, how you get to Dubai depends on where you are coming from. We have listed the various ways you can get to the UAEs most popular city.

By plane

Dubai has two international airports – Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Dubai World Centre (DWC). The former is on the northern side of the city and is one of the busiest in the world where most of the global carriers fly in and out regularly, while the latter is in Jebel Ali, almost 25 miles southwest of Dubai and not as heavily utilised as DXB.

Emirates is Dubai’s national carrier, which means that plenty of Emirates and Emirates code-share airlines frequent DXB, but, given its global standing, the site welcomes almost all international carriers. There are plenty of low-cost carriers too, including FlyDubai, Air Arabia, and Air India Express, to name a few.

Dubai is a stopover hub for carriers right around the world: Qantas, British Airways, Qatar Airways, American Airlines, you name it – they all come and go from here. Whether settling in for a long-haul flight or preparing for just a couple of hours in the air, you can do it from DXB.

By bus

If you are making your way to Dubai from another emirate, for example, your international flight lands in Abu Dhabi and from there you’re planning to head to neighboring Dubai, there are bus services to get you there relatively easily.

From the capital, buses frequently make their way to Dubai from Al Wahda Bus Station every 15 minutes, with the journey to Dubai’s Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in the Fahidi District (northern end) taking about two hours at a cost of about AED 25 each way. Passengers need to purchase a prepaid, rechargeable ‘Nol’ card, which can be purchased at the bus station, and should be swiped in order to ride.

By train

While not functioning yet, when EtihadRail begins operating, tourists to the UAE will have the option to travel to Dubai from the capital in less than an hour. It is a much anticipated development for the UAE and one that has been a long-time coming.

By car or by cab

Whether you’re brave enough to tackle the UAE traffic behind the wheel or more comfortable having someone else in control, it is possible to drive to Dubai from within the Emirates, from places like Abu Dhabi in the south and Sharjah in the north.

It is also possible to access Dubai by road from the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia if you’ve got the time, energy and wherewithal to do so.

Both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have international airports servicing them and it’s really only about an hour’s car drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai if you take the E10 or E11 highways, and not much more than a 25-minute journey from Sharjah.

When it comes to tolls, there are four gates between the capital and Dubai. Depending on which ones you pass through, you should expect to take a hit of AED 4 for each.

Unlike many other countries, cabs in the UAE are reasonably well-priced, especially when considering some of the distances traveled. For example, a taxi ride from Abu Dhabi to Dubai will cost you between AED 190-240. For a hire car, expect a day rate of about AED 50 per day, with insurance and fuel on top of that.

If you want a road-trip style adventure from Oman or Saudi, you’ll be looking at driving times of about 4.5 and 11 hours respectively and will need to consider licensing and border-entry requirements.

By boat

Unsurprisingly, Dubai is home to one of the most luxurious cruise ship terminals in the world. Plenty of international cruise liners dock in Dubai, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, P&O, and Cunard. Located at Port Rashid, the cruise terminal is about 25 minutes from Dubai International Airport, welcoming as many as 5,000 cruisers each year. The most popular cruises to dock in Dubai venture here from Bahrain, Muscat (Oman), and of course Europe.

The cruising season generally extends from October to May: this is when European liners like MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises head to warmer climes. Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises call this part of the world home for much of the winter, and it’s not hard to see why – sunshine and warm weather is pretty much guaranteed right the way through the season, which is ideal for European travelers seeking an escape from their usually icy winter.

What are the visa/passport policies?

Depending on your country of origin, most tourists who arrive in Dubai are provided a visa on entry which is valid for 30 days. A standard passport is acceptable, although it must have validity beyond six months and there must be at least one spare page to hold the visa.

If you’re in doubt whether any travel requirements may apply for your entry or stay in Dubai, you can always check our Travel Restrictions page for the latest recommendations.

About the author

Melinda HealyAlthough born in PNG, Mel is an Aussie-made journo who's always been more interested in passport stamps than possessions. A whiz with words, Mel spent a number of years living and working in the United Arab Emirates, it was here that she shared insight into Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the world. Mel believes travel is a privilege and an educator.