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?
The Grand Mosque has re-opened post-COVID, and border crossing restrictions between the Emirates have been abolished. As of 7 November 2022, you no longer require any sort of PCR testing, nor evidence of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter public spaces in Abu Dhabi emirate.
Things To Know About The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Before diving into the details of how to get there, let’s look at just a few fabulous facts 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.
- The 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 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 – approximately 1.5 hours, depending on where you set out from; expect to pay around AED 300-350 one-way for a metered taxi.
- Join A Tour Group – 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the 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 – more below!
- Hire a Private Driver – taking approximately 1.5 hours; this is the best choice if you prefer door-to-door service and like the personal touch – ideal if you are a family or small group looking to split the cost. You can try a service such as GetTransfer to have private drivers bid on your journey and get a competitive price.
- Self Drive – 1 to 1.5 hours – If you are a confident driver, pick up a hire car in Dubai and take the E11 all the way to Abu Dhabi.
- Take a public 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 that you can take from Dubai to central Abu Dhabi, each costing AED 25 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.
Note you can use your Nol card to get to Abu Dhabi on the InterCity bus, but from Abu Dhabi central bus station to the Grand Mosque, you need a Hafilat card to use local public transport in the capital.
You can learn more about the public bus service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi here
Organised Tours From Dubai to Abu Dhabi
You can join a larger tour group and simply use this as a form of transportation or hire 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, self-driving, taxi or private Abu Dhabi 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 can attend the Grand Mosque any time during opening hours.
Learn more about other Dubai mosques that allow visitors
What should I wear to the Grand Mosque?
It is always advisable as a tourist in Abu Dhabi to dress conservatively. The Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque – and in fact, any religious or Government building in the UAE – has a much higher dress standard than, say, a Mall or public promenades.
For women, you must have arms and legs completely covered and your head. The only skin that can show is your hands, feet, and face. If you are not adequately dressed (don’t worry, this applies to most tourists), you will be sent to purchase an abaya or Shayla in the adjoining boutiques as you enter the mosque. These are around AED 40 – 80 for something cheap.
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 purchase something more suitable before entering.
Please note! since COVID the ability to hire appropriate clothing for free to enter the Grand Mosque has been suspended and doesn’t look like it will return. If you turn up with in appropriate clothing, you will be redirected by security staff to a small strip of shopping boutiques to buy the right attire. They are relatively inexpensive, but you may want to BYO from Dubai if you’re hitting the souks, consider it a souvenir of your time in the UAE!
Security stringently enforces the appropriate wearing of your outfits throughout your visit – you can find a really detailed guide to the Grand Mosque dress code here.
Note, part of the tour involves you taking off your shoes to walk through the Mosque itself; consider nice socks too, 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; as such, no charge is levied on worshippers or visitors. Even cultural tours are provided for free.
However, they will issue you an entry ticket where you need to give some personal details. This can be done online in advance here to save time.
Do I need to book a tour of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi?
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 throughout the day with no need to pre-book.
Opening times for the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
- Saturday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM
- Friday 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM & 3:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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 – Find the revised opening hours for Ramadan here
For more on what to expect at the Grand Mosque including photography tips, see this article.
Best Accommodation Near The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
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 fairly priced: The Fairmont Bab al Bahr
- Budget but excellent 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 most prominent and the only drawcard getting tourists to trek the 160km journey from Dubai.
However, many more tourist highlights now 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 Museum on Saadiyat Island that covers the history of humanity in a superb waterfront setting. Open Tuesday to Sunday; Closed Mondays. Paid Entry.
- 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. Paid Entry.
- 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. Open Daily,Paid Entry.
We explain here how to get from Dubai to the Louvre and Qasr al Watan with a free shuttle service from Dubai. You can also check out our complete guide for things to do in Abu Dhabi over on our partner site www.abudhabitravelplanner.com for more of the city’s spectacular cultural sites and entertainment.
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 from iVenture or a Go City 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, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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