Want to visit the UAE capital but you’re staying in Dubai?
It’s an easy freeway drive between the two biggest cities in the UAE – Dubai and Abu Dhabi – making it an incredibly popular day trip destination for Dubai visitors.
On this page, we’re going to share with you exactly how you get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and mustn’t miss attractions to see in the UAE’s capital city.
PLEASE NOTE: Since June 2020 the domestic border between Dubai and Abu Dhabi has been closed and restricted, due to COVID-19. You must present a negative COVID test result and meet other requirements to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhbai. Please see our complete guide to the Dubai – Abu Dhabi border crossing procedure before attempting to plan a day trip into Abu Dhabi emirate.
Dubai to Abu Dhabi Tour Packages
One of the most convenient ways to get between the two cities is to join an organized tour group. They will arrange your pick ups from Dubai and transfer you in air conditioned comfort to Abu Dhabi’s biggest sites (more on these below!)
Things to look for in choosing a tour provider and booking your package to Abu Dhabi from Dubai:
- Is the tour private and personalised, a small group, or a large group?
- Will you be picked up from your hotel or need to meet at an arranged rendezvous point in Dubai?
- Are meals included or will you need to budget extra for a meal stop?
- Can you add any additional stops not in the itinerary?
Larger groups may be more budget-friendly, but will also give you limited flexibility in what you want to see and do.
We highly recommend you book your tours through a reputable tour provider such as Get Your Guide. The reason being they have vetted all their tour providers giving you a variety of itineraries to choose from all in one spot. You can read reviews from past customers and most importantly they offer the ability to cancel up to 24 hours before for most tours, giving you flexibility in your plans.
Our favourite Abu Dhabi to Dubai Tours
- Grand Mosque tour only transfers to and from the Mosque from Dubai.
- Full-day private sightseeing tour including the Mosque, Qasr al Watan, Grand Prix Track, Heritage Village.
- Full-day group sightseeing tour including the Mosque and fruit & date market; drive past many attractions & photo stops only at the Louvre, Grand Prix track, Corniche, Emirates Palace, Wahat al Karama.
- Full day sightseeing tour & Ferrari World tickets enjoy the Mosque and Emirates Palace & Corniche skyline in the morning, then spend the afternoon at Ferrari World.
- Fly to Abu Dhabi! Stunning aerial views from Dubai to Abu Dhabi with Seawings, then spend the afternoon at Ferrari World before returning to Dubai by road.
What are the most important things to see in Abu Dhabi?
This will really depend on your interests, but undoubtedly the number one stop in Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
There are tours that exclusively shuttle customers back and forward to the Grand Mosque, but you really need to see more in the city! (And be warned the day-tripping buses from Dubai all seem to arrive en masse to Abu Dhabi making it a very crowded experience by mid-morning).
The main cultural attractions in Abu Dhabi we recommend you look out for are:
- The Louvre Abu Dhabi – a stunning new Museum on Saadiyat Island that covers the “History of Humanity” in a superb waterfront setting.
- Qasr al Watan – the Presidential Palace of the United Arab Emirates is a stunning new building to rival the beauty of the Grand Mosque. Open for daily tours, it’s situated at the end of the Abu Dhabi Corniche (about the furthermost point from Dubai!).
- Qasr al Hosn – a brilliant insight into the history of the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi from early Bedouin days through to the discovery of oil, federation and the modern-day city – tours special workshops and daily events offered.
You can find a complete guide to Abu Dhabi’s best cultural attractions on our sister site Abu Dhabi Travel Planner.
Other sightseeing in Abu Dhabi
For general sightseeing, some popular attractions you might want to include:
- Step inside the stunning Emirates Palace Hotel. You can simply get some amazing snaps on the front steps, or head inside to enjoy some local delicacies from camel burger to gold leaf tea. Respectable dress (knees covered) required for men and women.
- Capture the city from above at Observation 300 – the city’s highest observation tower point Level 74 from Jumeirah Etihad Towers.
- Visit the Founders Memorial and walk along the Marina Breakwater
- Wahat al Karama – the war memorial that sits opposite the Grand Mosque. A poignant spot and beautiful photo opportunity of both the memorial and the Mosque.
Yas Island Theme Parks & Grand Prix track Abu Dhabi
For theme park fun, you really need to allow at least 4 to 6 hours to tackle even one of the mega theme parks on Yas Island – these are Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World.
Technically you could squeeze in a theme park alongside a day trip to the cultural sites, but we highly recommend you make a full day for each experience so you are not rushed.
Yas Island is also home to the famous Yas Marina Grand Prix track. You may not get time on a day tour to do much more than snap some photos, but motorsports fans should put aside extra time on a day trip to Abu Dhabi to take part in either a behind the scenes guided tour of the track, or even better a circuit driving experience.
For something truly unique, on a Sunday and Tuesday night, you can walk, run or cycle the Yas Marina Grand Prix track! Join in with local residents enjoying this truly unique track experience – completely FREE! See timetable and any planned track closures here.
Transfers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
If you are seeking to self-tour in Abu Dhabi, all you will need to arrange is getting yourself by public or private transport to Abu Dhabi or arrange a hire car. By road, the journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on your mode of transport and exact locations.
Note the bus will take you to the central bus station in Abu Dhabi, Al Wadha; all the tourist attractions we have set out here are quite spread out over the city so you will then need to take local bus services, or several taxis to jump between the various sightseeing destinations. There’s a good guide to public transport within Abu Dhabi here.
Taxi from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
If budget permits you can simply take a standard taxi from off the street in Dubai. Depending on your pick up and drop off points, this should cost you around 250 AED from Downtown Dubai to Abu Dhabi Airport. From Dubai Airport to the Abu Dhabi Corniche area, you are looking at more like 300 AED. All taxes run on a meter and are a reliable form of transportation in the UAE.
Hiring your own car from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
Hiring your own car will, of course, grant you the most flexibility but may not be the cheapest. You will also need to drive on Dubai’s freeways which can be challenging at times with the fast and heavy flow of traffic!
With the high-speed limits it is a quick drive through to Abu Dhabi and most tourist locations, other than in the city centre of Abu Dhabi have free visitor parking (otherwise you need a few dirhams in change for meters). You can weight up the option of hire car costs here:
Hiring a private driver
If you are not interested in a private tour but simply want someone to drive you from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, you can use ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Careem, or try these driver options:
Staying overnight in Abu Dhabi – Hotel Recommendations
If time will permit, an overnight stay in Abu Dhabi is essential to fit everything in we have mentioned here – a day tour will barely scratch the surface of Abu Dhabi.
- If you are visiting the theme parks on Yas Island, then the Yas Plaza Hotels should be your top pick – there are several to choose from; our favourite for the most unique of experience is staying in the W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island which straddles over the Yas Marina GP race track.
- If you’re main focus is seeing the Grand Mosque, there are several hotels in an area known as Bab Al Bahr – just on the mainland before you cross to Abu Dhabi island. Why not try the Fairmont Bab al Bahr, or the Shangri-La Hoel Qaryat Al Beri. A great budget alternative (still 4 star!) is Traders Hotel Qaryat Al Beri. These are all glorious spots to watch the sunset behind the Grand Mosque to the west. There are lots of dining choices in the Souk at Qaryat Al Beri or take a traditional abra (paid) across the Grand Canal to the Venetian Village at the Ritz Carlton for a great range of restaurants and buzzing nightlife.
- If you’d like to mix in some resort sunshine with your stay, Saadiyat Island, adjacent to where you will find the Louvre Abu Dhabi is our top pick. Here there is a string of 5 luxury resorts to choose from. They don’t come cheap but are simply stunning (and maybe just a few dirhams cheaper than their Dubai counterparts – worth checking!)
- On a budget? There are plenty of inner-city hotels in Abu Dhabi offered with reputable brand names attached that you can comfortably get a room for two under 300 AED per night. You can try Al Maha Arjaan by Rotana, Ramada Abu Dhabi Corniche or Southern Sun Abu Dhabi.
Before you go… More important things to know when planning your trip to Dubai and beyond
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws and customs to be aware of.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai.