With plans for major expansion in place, getting around in Abu Dhabi is set to get easier. The government has put a lot of effort into improving buses in the emirate, and a metro service is expected to launch in the near future. This will significantly enhance the connectivity and convenience of public transport in the region, complementing the existing bus services.

In the meantime, most expats in Abu Dhabi drive themselves or take a taxi. Efforts are being made to ease congestion, but there is often heavy traffic during morning and evening rush hours. This can be attributed to the increasing population and the number of vehicles on the road. As a result, the government is actively working on traffic management solutions to improve the flow and reduce congestion.

A bicycle-sharing scheme is available but is mainly used for leisure purposes. Given the way the city is spread out and the summer heat, Abu Dhabi isn’t known for being very pedestrian-friendly. However, the government is taking steps to improve cycling and walking infrastructure, aiming to make these more viable options for residents and tourists alike.

The Abu Dhabi government operates an online portal known as DARBI which has information on all forms of transport, divided into air, land and sea. This portal provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on public transport options, traffic updates, and other essential travel details.

Public transport in Abu Dhabi


Buses in Abu Dhabi are the most economical form of transport. The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport operates local routes on Abu Dhabi Island, as well as various regional and intercity services. This extensive network makes it easy for residents and tourists to navigate the emirate efficiently.

Abu Dhabi's buses are modern, fully equipped and operate 24 hours a day. Most local city buses and some regional buses are wheelchair-friendly. It is also worth noting that the front seats of buses are reserved for women. This is part of the government's initiative to ensure comfort and safety for female passengers.

An automated card system called Hafilat has vending machines installed at the main stations in Abu Dhabi. Under the system, reloadable cards have largely replaced cash and the Orja card as means of paying for bus rides.

For more information on bus routes and the Hafilat card system, visit the Integrated Transport Centre website.


No metro network exists yet in Abu Dhabi, but the planned metro will be 81 miles (131km) and is due to open in 2030. It will provide optimal connectivity between Abu Dhabi Island and its suburbs and the communities of Saadiyat Island, Yas Island and Al Raha Beach. This ambitious project is set to transform the public transport landscape in the emirate.

Driving in Abu Dhabi

Busy road in Abu Dhabi

Expats often have their own set of wheels in Abu Dhabi, and usually buy a new or used car instead of renting because vehicle prices in the UAE are rather cheap.

Expats who have residence status and want to drive in the emirate will need to get a valid UAE driving licence. Those with a licence from a list of countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia and South Africa, can apply to replace their foreign licence with a local one. They’ll need to undergo an eye test and provide various documents. 

Driving in Abu Dhabi is best done with care. The authorities have zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the smallest level of alcohol in a person's bloodstream can result in jail time. Expats who have committed road offences will also be unable to leave the UAE before they have paid their traffic fines.

Even though expats are likely to see other drivers ignore red lights and speed limits, there are cameras at many intersections and fines are high. Unfortunately, despite having excellent road infrastructure, car accidents are among the leading causes of death in the UAE. 

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Taxis in Abu Dhabi

Expats who aren’t keen to buy or rent a car in Abu Dhabi and don't want to brave the emirate’s roads alone often get around by taxi. Taxis can be flagged on the street or ordered ahead by telephone. Most taxis in Abu Dhabi are silver and are easily spotted. Taxis are usually metered and are relatively affordable.

Ride-hailing services are also available, and expats can download their choice of Uber, Lyft or Careem, among others, as an app on their phone, which makes communication with drivers and payment much simpler. These services offer a convenient alternative to traditional taxis and provide real-time tracking and estimated fares before booking. 

The ease of accessing taxis and ride-hailing services in Abu Dhabi provides residents and visitors with flexible and convenient transportation options, suitable for various needs and preferences.

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Cycling in Abu Dhabi

Cycling is emerging as an increasingly popular mode of transport and leisure activity in Abu Dhabi. The city boasts several designated cycling paths, including the picturesque routes along the Corniche and Yas Island. These areas provide a safe and scenic environment for both casual riders and cycling enthusiasts.

For those without their own bike, Abu Dhabi offers various bike rental services. Options range from traditional bicycles to e-bikes, available through numerous rental companies and apps. This flexibility makes cycling an accessible and enjoyable way to explore the city. 

Cyclists in Abu Dhabi are advised to take necessary safety precautions, such as wearing helmets and using lights for night cycling. It's also important to stay hydrated, particularly during the hotter months. The city’s increasing focus on cycling infrastructure reflects its commitment to promoting a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle. 

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Walking in Abu Dhabi

People with bicycles leaning on a handrail in Abu Dhabi

Walking in Abu Dhabi offers a unique way to experience the city's blend of modernity and tradition. Downtown Abu Dhabi, in particular, is well-suited for pedestrians, with numerous attractions within walking distance. The Corniche, a five-mile (8km) stretch along the coast, is a popular walking destination, offering breathtaking views and a range of leisure activities.

While walking is a viable option in many areas, it's essential to be mindful of the weather. The summer months can be extremely hot, making it advisable to walk during cooler parts of the day or to plan breaks in air-conditioned spaces. The city is continuously improving pedestrian facilities, aiming to make walking a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Safety is also a priority, and pedestrians are encouraged to use designated crossings and be aware of their surroundings. Overall, walking in Abu Dhabi not only provides a healthy form of exercise but also a closer look at the city's vibrant culture and architecture. 

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