How to get around Dubai

By Alex Ritman, your Dubai expert

I write for Dorling Kindersley, .... Read more

Getting around Dubai - my advice

Despite its preference for headline hogging, Dubai isn't actually that big a city - just over two million souls at the last count. It's not particularly spread out either (although it is permanently expanding), meaning you can get from one side to the other in a relatively short space of time. That said, it's not the most pedestrian-friendly of places and getting around generally requires the use of something motorised rather than just two legs. Thankfully, this is usually very simple. Gone are the days of monumental traffic jams or tedious waits for taxis. Getting from one spot to the next without losing too much sweat in the process is a breeze. 

Taxis

Despite billions invested in public transport, the humble taxi is still the most popular and handy way to get around. Cheap and plentiful, the beige-coloured Dubai cab can be found almost everywhere, with long lines of them usually waiting at busy spots such as malls.

There's a minimum spend in each of 10 dirhams, but this will get you a decent distance. A trip across town shouldn't set you back any more than 40-50 dirhams. Make sure you get some change before you get in though - your friendly cabby won't be so friendly if you hand him a 500 dirham note at the other end.

Most taxi drivers are friendly and speak enough English to understand where you want to go (unless they're new, in which case they might ask a few people on the way). They're mainly from India or Pakistan, but there are also a few Egyptians (noticeable for their slightly more erratic driving style). 

Metro

Launched with huge fanfare in 2009, the Dubai Metro is one futuristic beast, featuring blue-and-silver driverless trains that shuttle passengers on a monorail between space-aged cocoon-like stations. The carriages are near spotless (nobody would dare graffiti), the platforms extremely well maintained (and all air conditioned) and the journey extremely smooth.

The only issue is that it's mainly aimed at residents, and - aside from malls - doesn't really link up the main tourist spots. There is currently one line in operation, the red line, (another - the green line - is due to open next year), which links the airports to various points, including Deira City Centre mall and the Mall of the Emirates, but you'll probably be needing a taxi ride some part of the way if you're heading to a hotel or beach. All of the stations come with taxi ranks. 

That said, they are extremely cheap. Tickets range from 2 dirham to 6.50 dirhams and can be bought at any of the stations. Trains run from 6am to 11pm, Saturday to Thursday and from 2pm to midnight on Fridays (dubaimetro.eu).

Buses

There is a well-serviced bus network, but it's rarely used by tourists. Without wanting to totally dismiss a much-used form of public transport, I'd advise visitors to use the Dubai Metro or taxis to get around, as the buses are known to be somewhat late and rather slow.

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