Downtown Dubai Area

How to get from Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall

by Dubai Travel Planner

One of the easiest short stopover destinations for first-time visitors to Dubai is to visit the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, in the area of the city known as Downtown Dubai.

But how exactly do you get between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and the city’s most popular and well-known attractions, the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa?

There is no “city centre” as such to Dubai, but the Downtown Dubai area is probably as close as you’ll get.  Here we’ll explain:


Public Transport Options from Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall

There are Metro train, bus and taxi options to get from Dubai Airport to Downtown Dubai.

Dubai Airport DXB to Dubai Mall by Metro

The easiest public transport option for visitors to the centre of Dubai’s shopping and entertainment district in Downtown Dubai is by Metro.

  • From DXB Terminal 3 or Terminal 1, look out for the signs to the Metro Red Line at the airport. You alight at the rather easy to recognise station name Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. There is the Metro Link Bridge, a covered walkway with travelators to the Mall from the Metro station.
  • The estimated travel time from T3 to Burj Khalifa Dubai Mall Metro station is 23 minutes. The walk to the Mall from the station, even with travelators, add a further 10 minutes.
  • The Metro Service runs from Saturday to Wednesday 5:00 AM to midnight, Thursdays 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM and Fridays from 10:00 to 1:00 AM. Current guidance from the RTA.
  • During peak times, the Metro service runs every 4 minutes (6.30 AM to 9:00 AM weekdays) and 4.30 PM to 8:00 PM evenings. Off-peak, the service runs every 7 minutes
  • The standard fare on a Nol Red Card is 5 AED for this journey (Short term visitors will only need a Red Nol card for individual journeys, noting there is a 2 AED front fee as well; For a longer stop or extensive use of transport in Dubai, consider a Nol Silver card which costs more upfront but fares are cheaper).
The highrise towers of Downtown Dubai from the Burj Khalifa

Dubai Airport Bus to Dubai Mall

There is little difference in cost to take the Bus instead of the Metro, but with traffic and stops, the journey is likely to take you at least twice as long and involve at least one change. Buses in Dubai are cashless so you need a Nol card from within the airport terminal before you board.

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Note the bus does not go directly to Downtown Dubai but can take you to the main Al Ghubaiaba Bus Station, this is where many of the country’s Intercity buses depart from (You can learn more about connecting from Dubai to Abu Dhabi by bus here).

DXB to Dubai Mall by Taxi

RTA Taxis are readily available in front of the terminals at DXB. You should expect a standard taxi, taken from terminal 3 to Dubai Mall to cost approximately 40 to 55AED and the journey to take 15 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic.

Note leaving from Dubai Airport there is automatically a 25 AED flagfall added. The cost thereafter is 1.96 AED per kilometre.

There is a choice at the airport of a standard taxi, premium taxi or ladies’ taxi.

NB if you jump in a Premium Taxi from DXB, they are nicer cars but charge you for the privilege an extra 1 AED per kilometre! Careful staff don’t sweet-talk you into spending more “for only 1AED more!!”


What is there to do in Dubai’s Downtown Area?

The most obvious answers are to visit the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa – but the answer goes much deeper than this as there are just so many things to do! 

On a short stopover from Dubai Airport, you will really need to narrow it down to a couple of favourite activities – many you can enjoy for free, others you will need to pay for and preferably pre-book.

Dubai mall Fountain show at night
Enjoy the spectacular nightly fountain show in front of Dubai Mall and the Downtown Dubai area

What time is Dubai Mall Open?

  • The main trading hours for the Dubai Mall are 10:00 AM to midnight (often open later on special public holidays such as Eid).
  • Some coffee shops in Dubai Mall open earlier than 10:00 AM, and the Waitrose Supermarket on the basement level opens from 8:00 AM for groceries.
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If your Dubai Airport stopover is in the wee hours of the morning (many, many flights land between midnight and 5:00 AM!) then you may be better keeping within DXB for a lounge and entertainment, you can learn about all the things to do in Dubai Airport here.

Stopover Passengers Note! If your stopover with Emirates is greater than 10 hours, you may be able to avail a FREE hotel room with Emirates Dubai Connect. We explain exactly how the Dubai Connect service works here.


Alternatives to Dubai Mall and Downtown Dubai on a stopover

If you only have limited time to get out and get some fresh air during a Dubai Stopover, why not also try:

  • Dubai Festival City – creekside and close to the airport, this is a smaller shopping mall than Dubai Mall but still plenty of dining and entertainment options. You can enjoy the nightly IMAGINE sound and light show, or how about Bounce X freestyle Terrain Park if you have active kids to burn off energy?
  • Al Seef & Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood – if you’d prefer a taste of old Dubai on a stopover, we recommend catching a taxi to this creekside area of the city (or Red Metro to Khalid bin al Waleed station, changing one-stop to Al Fahidi on the Green Line). Beautifully restored buildings and the Dubai Museum (currently closed for renovations) can be found, along with plenty of dining options, and the opportunity to take a traditional Abra across the Dubai Creek).
  • The Walk & The Beach, JBR – this area takes a little longer to reach from the airport so you should allow at least an hour in transit in either direction. If you are visiting during the cooler winter months this is the perfect place to catch some rays, maybe even time to head out on a boat tour from Dubai Marina and enjoy dinner at one of the trendy beachfront restaurants, or sundowners from a stunning rooftop bar.
  • Grab the Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Bus for a greater taster of experiences and sightseeing all over the city. Note you cannot catch the sightseeing bus directly from the airport. The best starting point for airport passengers to jump on is Deira City Centre which is located a few stops away from DXB on the Metro Red Line.
Stroll the streets of the historical Al Fahidi neighbourhood for an alternative short stopover in Dubai

If you’d prefer to get some shut-eye or simply have a refreshing swim and a rest during your Dubai stopover, you could try one of these conveniently located Dubai airport hotels.

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Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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