It is the UAE’s most renowned and beautiful building, rated #3 landmark in the world by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards, but how exactly can you visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi if you are flying in and out of Dubai?
Please note this article was written pre-COVID. The Grand Mosque has re-opened, however, border crossing restrictions still apply between Dubai and Abu Dhabi making day trips for tourists challenging – here’s exactly what you need to know to cross the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border.
Things to know about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Before we dive into the details of how to get there, let’s look at just a few fabulous facts to know about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (and why it is absolutely worth the day trip from Dubai!)
- The Grand Mosque is named after the country’s founding father, the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan “May Allah rest his soul in peace”.
- The Mosque is an active house of worship, capable of housing 41,000 worshippers at capacity – 10,000 inside and 31,000 in the external courtyards.
- Building of the Mosque was completed in 2007 with the craftsmanship of 38 contractors and thousands of workers from around the world.
- It holds several “largest in the world” claims to fame – including the largest hand-woven carpet at 5,627 sqm and the largest marble mosaic floor in its 17,000 sqm courtyard.
- HH Sheikh Zayed is laid to rest in a mausoleum on the Mosque grounds. Two Imans read the Quran here 24 hours a day.
How to get to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque from Dubai
There are limited public transport options between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as we discuss here, so our best-recommended method of getting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to see the Grand Mosque are:
- Take a taxi – 1.5 hours approximately depending on where you set out from, expect to pay around 300-350AED one-way
- Join a tour Group – 1.5 to 2 hours depending on departure point and how many pickups they make. A tour guide, meals and multiple tourist stops are likely to be thrown in so the price is very variable per person
- Hire a private driver – 1.5 hours best if you prefer door to door service and like the personal touch – ideal if you are a family or small group looking ti split the cost.
- Self Drive – 1 to 1.5 hours – If you are a confident driver pick up a hire car and take the E11 all the way to Abu Dhabi.
- Take a bus – 2 to 2.5 hours depending on your starting point, more below!
Public Transport Dubai to Abu Dhabi to see the Grand Mosque
There are two different Intercity bus routes which you can take from Dubai to central Abu Dhabi, each costs 25AED one way.
- The first bus leaves from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station (Route 100) approx every 20 minutes and terminates at Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station (Al Wadha Mall)
- The second leaves from Ibn Battuta Mall (Route 101) approx every 30 minutes and also terminates at Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station
From Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station, you then need to catch a local Abu Dhabi bus service 94 to the Grand Mosque.
Organised tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
You have the option of joining a larger tour group and simply using this as a form of transportation, or hiring a personal guide and driver.
This can certainly take the stress out of self-driving, but do note a lot of the tour buses from Dubai arrive “en masse”. If you want crowd-free photos, seld driving, taxi or private tours are the better way to go.
More facts and visitor information to know about visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as a tourist
Do I need to be Muslim to visit?
Not at all. The Grand Mosque is open to everyone, as long as they treat it in a respectful way (including conservative dress).
There are certain areas of active worship, and Friday mornings when visits are limited to worshippers only.
Otherwise, you are free to attend the Grand Mosque at any time during opening hours.
What should I wear to the Grand Mosque?
It is always advisable as a tourist in Abu Dhabi to dress conservatively.
The Grand Mosque – and in fact any religious of a Government building has a much higher standard.
For women, you must have arms and legs completely covered, as well as your head. The only skin that can show is your hands, feet and face. If you are not properly dressed (don’t worry, this applies to most tourists) you will be sent to the dressing room where you can hire an Abaya and Shayla. This is all part of the experience so embrace it! But please don’t think this means you should wear the skimpiest outfit underneath!
For men, they should be in long trousers and sleeves. If they have shorts on, they will also be asked to go into a dressing gown and wear a hired kandura for their visit.
Security stringently enforce the appropriate wearing of your outfits throughout your visit.
Note, part of the tour involves you taking off your shoes to walk through the Mosque itself, consider nice socks or having your toenails painted for this!! And remember where you left your shoes!!!
Do I need to pay to go into the Grand Mosque?
It’s absolutely free. The Mosque is for the people and as such, no charge is levied on worshippers or visitors. Even the hire of appropriate clothing mentioned above is free.
They will issue you an entry ticket, however, where you need to give some personal details.
Do I need to book a tour?
If you come with a tour guide, they may have a personal tour guide included within the price you paid.
Otherwise, the best alternative option to make sure you get the best out of your Grand Mosque visit is to get involved with one of the FREE mosque cultural tours.
These are held daily:
- Sunday through Thursday at 10am, 11am & 5pm.
- Friday at 5pm & 7pm
- Saturday at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm & 7pm
It’s advisable to get there at least 15 minutes before the group tours commence, it’s all well sign-posted. Groups can be large and headsets need to be issued for foreign languages.
Tours are conducted in English and Arabic and last around 45 minutes, with an opportunity to ask further questions at the end. It is not customary to tip for this tour.
Note opening hours and tour times are adjusted during the Holy Month of Ramadan
Best accommodation near the Grand Mosque
Abu Dhabi has plentiful accommodation choices. Our favourites close to the Grand Mosque, or with spectacular views back over the canal towards the Grand Mosque are:
- Pure Luxury: The Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi
- Indulgent but fair priced: The Fairmont Bab al Bahr
- Budget but nice choice: Traders Hotel Qaryat Al Beri by Shangri-La
More to see in Abu Dhabi
For a long time, the Grand Mosque was probably Abu Dhabi’s biggest and the only drawcard getting tourists to trek the 160km journey from Dubai. However, there are now many more tourist highlights that warrant at least a full day trip to Abu Dhabi, if not longer.
Look out for Abu Dhabi tours that will also include:
- 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.
- 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.
Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai
- 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.
- Check out this incredible list of 150+ places you should visit when you’re in Dubai.
- 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.