It's easy to explore Dubai, as the roads are excellent; the only problem with travel in Dubai can be traffic jams in some areas at rush hour. Do ask somebody in the know to make sure you leave yourself enough time before setting out, especially if you are exploring Dubai for the first time. Most visitors opt to travel in Dubai by taxi (very reasonably priced) or to drive themselves, despite the constant road changes and chaotic traffic.
The Dubai Metro is one of the most advanced public transport systems in the world, featuring driverless trains, air-conditioned stations, and special sections for women and children and Gold Class passengers.
Dubai Metro’s two lines cover a large part of the city: the Red Line runs from Rashidiya and Dubai Airport through the city center and along Sheikh Zayed Road, and the Green Line goes through some of Dubai’s busiest districts in Deira and Bur Dubai.
The Dubai Metro is a swift, smart, and reasonably priced way for visitors to get around the city—and to see large parts of it, from the Metro’s elevated tracks. With an extensive system of brand new feeder buses, much of Dubai is now accessible by Metro.
Find out more at Dubai Roads and Transport Authority’s Journey Planner website.
Although bus is a wonderfully cheap way to explore Dubai, the buses can be very crowded, the traffic erratic, and the timetables inaccurate. However, with the opening of the Dubai Metro a concerted effort is being made to improve the Dubai bus fleet and to coordinate all public transport, including water taxis, buses, and the Metro. Most bus routes now have brand new vehicles, and many new feeder routes have been created to serve the Metro; these can be used by anyone, not just Metro passengers.
All Dubai buses now only accept payment through the Roads and Transport Authority's Nol card system. You can buy Nol cards at any Metro station and from a number of retailers; for more information see the Nol website.
For timetable information on public transportation, use the RTA's Journey Planner website, contact the RTA by calling 800 9090 within the UAE, or go to the RTA website.
Taxis are relatively cheap in Dubai but can be hard to find during peak times. Make sure you know a well-known landmark close to your intended destination, as taxi drivers cannot always keep up with the ever-expanding nature of this city. For more information, call Dubai Taxi at +971 4 2080808 or visit the Dubai Taxi website.
Driving is nearly always the best way to explore Dubai. There are swarms of metered taxis, although finding one during rush hour can be mission impossible.
Should you choose to drive yourself, there are plenty of car rental companies at the airport. Gas is cheap and parking usually costs about AED 5 for two hours. Be prepared for rush-hour gridlock, and for other vehicles to cut in front of you, turn without indicating, wander in and out of lanes, and ignore pedestrian crossings. Accidents are frequent, so be cautious at all times. If you have an accident yourself, alert the police immediately by calling 999 and remain with your vehicle.
The best way to appreciate Dubai Creek’s bustling dhow wharfage and explore the souks, heritage areas, and museums is to explore on foot; other areas such as Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina are also very walkable. That said, the higher summer temperatures can soon make any outside activity exhausting. And the city's sprawling nature means that getting around the rest of Dubai without wheels is impracticable.