No car, no problem…

Wanderlust can be an expensive habit to have, but there are ways to feed that need for adventure that won’t break the bank. We’ve put together some of our favourite ways to explore and escape the emirate with affordable pricing, and priceless memory-making. All aboard the fun bus.

Within Abu Dhabi

You may already be aware but Visit Abu Dhabi actually runs a completely free shuttle bus touring around some of the city’s biggest and most exciting attractions. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the capital for 15 minutes or 15 years, being a tourist in your own city almost always makes for a fun day out. The kaleidoscopic Visit Abu Dhabi Shuttle Bus service takes you through key destinations on Yas Island, Jubail Island, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi city centre and the Grand Canal area. You can find the full timetable of departures and arrivals on the VisitAbuDhabi website.

Still within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, but for a completely other-worldly experience — why not take a really wild day trip to the magic isle of Sir Bani Yas? We are being a little bit cheeky here, because currently, it doesn’t look like you can get a direct bus to Jebel Dhanna (which is about 250km from Abu Dhabi), the port that you’ll need to arrive at to get across to Sir Bani Yas. The closest you can get, is with the x88 which will take you 90 per cent of the way there (in about 200 minutes), so you might have to organise private transport for that last leg. You can book day passes for the island which includes your ferry there and back, and a safari drive that will bring you up close and personal with the island’s exotic wildlife (Dhs450 with three course lunch or Dhs250 without lunch, kids aged two to 11 are Dhs400 or Dhs200 respectively). Call: (02) 801 5400 to book.

Or how about a little spin around the emerald city? You can get direct bus services to Al Ain Central Bus Station from Abu Dhabi Bus Station for around Dhs20, it takes around 130 minutes. There you can plunge yourself into a verdant oasis, uncover local human history that stretches back into neolithic times and, as soon as it has reopened, hurl yourself down the side of a mountain in a toboggan.

Beyond Abu Dhabi

If you’re looking to spread your wings a little further, it’s possible to travel direct between Dubai and Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station. Yes that energetic emirate next door with all the triple A restaurants, wild neon-splashed nightlife, bohemian beach clubs, lush leisure attractions, world renowned retail hubs and  unmatched entertainment excitement.

dubai skyline

The OG RTA service, E101 will take you from Abu Dhabi to Ibn Battuta bus station (or vice versa) at a cost of just Dhs25, your journey time averages out at about 100 minutes. You can get a lift to ther othe end of town, Al Ghubaiba (Al Shindagha) direct from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station with the E100 for the same price (Dhs25) — which takes about 135 minutes in total. They start at about 4am, with the last bus at roughly 1am, with around two departures each hour — but you can find the full schedule attached to each of the route numbers above.

You can connect from Dubai to Fujairah using the RTA E700 service, with a total one-way Abu Dhabi to Fairjairah cost of Dhs55. A connection with the E400 gets you to Ajman; and the E306 takes you to Sharjah from Dubai.

Another incredible bus service available to the Abu Dhabi shoe-string jet set is the RAKTA operated direct intercity weekend service between Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah. Yes, the sporty spice of the UAE’s Emirate line-up, with epic hiking adventures, world record breaking zip lines, mountains, wadis, desert camps and more. There a two shuttles a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — the Abu Dhabi Central to RAK – Al Hamra Bus Station fare is Dhs35. The reverse trip is Dhs47. Bookings and timings can be accessed via the RAKBUS website.

The future is on track

We’ll have to wait a little while — but the Etihad Rail Passenger service, the train that will link the seven emirates might not be as far away you think — with the recent announcement that lines in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now connected.

There is no official completion date for the project yet although during a special ‘Projects of the 50’ event held at Expo2020 in December 2021, there were some indicators of intended timeline. It was confirmed that the Rail Passenger Services will be the second phase of the project (after freight) and is expected to carry more than 36.5 million passengers annually, by 2030.

Images: Provided