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Know Before You Go
- Tipping is common practice in Abu Dhabi for waiters, hotel staff, taxi drivers and car valets. But if you do eat out, check your bill. Some establishments automatically add 10% gratuity to the bill.
- If you are planning on visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, there are a few things you need to know. Admission is free and visiting hours are from Saturday to Thursday from 9 am to 10 pm. There is also a dress code you'll need to adhere to for entry. Wear loose fitting ankle length trousers or a skirt. Women also need to cover their hair with a headscarf.
- While alcohol can be bought in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it is illegal to consume it in public. You'll also need a license if you want to buy bottles of alcohol from a store which is not easily available for tourists.
- Public displays of affection are not allowed in Abu Dhabi. While hand holding is okay, you can get into trouble with the police if you are caught kissing in public spaces.
- Before you leave for your flight to Abu Dhabi, check the banned substances list. The UAE has strict anti-drug laws, and some over-the-counter medications are not allowed and could get you arrested.
Getting Around Abu Dhabi
- Taxis are a common and affordable way to get around the city. You can hail a cab from the street or call the TransAD cab Association hotline. Fares start at AED 4 with every kilometre costing AED 1.60 and if you are travelling between 10 pm and 6 am, prices will be higher.
- If you are going to spend a lot of time outside of Abu Dhabi, hiring a car is worth it. Petrol is cheap, and the major highways are easy to navigate. You can find car rental services at Abu Dhabi International Airport, at city outposts and even at select hotels. To rent a car all you will need to a valid international driver's license. Parking is not free in Abu Dhabi, and you can expect to pay AED 3 for every hour.
- The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport operates an extensive bus network in the city. Download the city's interactive map to help find your way around. You'll be able to plot your bus route and get updated departure times. Buses run 24 hours a day, with a limited service on Fridays and Saturdays. Fares within Abu Dhabi cost AED 2 one-way and go up to AED 4 for routes around Al Ain and Al Gharbia.
- If you want to visit Yas Island, there is a Yas Express bus that runs from 9 am to 9 pm. These shuttle buses are free and an easy way to get to popular attractions like Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld.
When is The Best Time to Visit Abu Dhabi?
Springtime in Abu Dhabi is one of the best times to visit the city. This shoulder season from April to May yields pleasant weather, fewer crowds and affordable hotel rates. There are also several cultural festivals and sporting events to attend during this time.
If you are searching for the best time to visit Abu Dhabi weatherwise, book your flights during the city's winter months. From November to March, temperatures are ideal for lounging on the beach or spending the day exploring the top attractions. On the downside, you will have to fork out more money for a hotel room as tourists flock to the city to take advantage of the weather.
For budget travellers, the best time to visit is during the city's summer months. Temperatures from June to August skyrocket with high humidity levels and little to no rainfall. But if you can beat the heat, you'll find great hotel deals and cheap flights.
Autumn is another shoulder season to consider. While temperatures are still high, you'll be able to find rooms at reasonable rates before the winter high season kicks in.
But before you book your flights, check the dates for Ramadan. This holy holiday lasts for 30 days, and the city tends to be very quiet. You won't be able to drink or eat in public, and tourism hits a slump.
Airports in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi International Airport
Abu Dhabi is the main international airport for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. However, the city also features smaller airports that serve domestic flights within the emirate.
Abu Dhabi International Airport is located 30 kilometres from the city centre. It's the second largest airport in the UAE and services more than 50 airlines that fly to over 120 destinations around the world.
The airport is a hub for Etihad Airways. It's the UAE's second largest air carrier and dominates terminal spaces at Abu Dhabi.
Getting To and From Abu Dhabi International Airport
If you want to save money getting from the airport into the city, the cheapest option is the bus. The A1 buses leave outside Terminals 1, 2 and 3 every 40 minutes 24 hours a day. One-way fares cost AED 4 (you will need exact change), and the ride to the city will take 45 minutes depending on traffic.
For travellers that would prefer to take a taxi from the airport, you'll find cabs waiting outside the arrivals terminal 24 hours a day. The meter will start at AED 25 and cost AED 1.60 for every 1 kilometre up to 50km.
Alternatively, you can rent a car directly from the airport.