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How to Go From Dubai International Airport to City Center 

Even for first-time visitors, Dubai is one of the world’s easiest cities to get around, thanks to efficient and well-organized public transportation systems. If you’re arriving at Dubai International Airport (DXB), then it’s incredibly straightforward to get to the city center—or wherever your hotel or accommodation is located. There are various modes of transportation available to get from Dubai International Airport to the city center, such as metro, taxis, Uber, or private transfers. 

Whatever your budget and preference for your Dubai airport to hotel transportation, each of these ways to get from Dubai Airport to the city is quick, efficient, and good value for money.   

Dubai Taxis from Dubai Airport to City Center

The most convenient way to get from Dubai Aiport to City

How to find a taxi to get from DXB Dubai International Airport to Dubai city or downtown?

Once you’ve collected your bags at Dubai International Airport, keep an eye on the signboards and follow the signs for Taxi in the Arrivals hall of the terminal. The signs will lead you to an organized queue outside a gate that is allocated to passengers wanting to take an RTA Taxi. RTA is the official Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai. 

There will always be an official to assign you a taxi, so there’s no chance of someone skipping the queue to get ahead. If you’ve got more luggage or are a big group or family, you can ask for a bigger SUV or minivan to be assigned to you.    

How can you identify official taxis in Dubai?

A cream taxi with a red top stands on the side of a street in Dubai. Across from it are buildings. The sky above is a bright blue.
Dubai taxis can be recognized by their cream cars with red, green, yellow or pink tops.

The cream-colored RTA Dubai Taxis are the official city taxis in Dubai. Those with a pink top are driven by women and they’re great if you’re a female traveler who prefers a female driver (welcome to the modern Middle East where many things are easier if you’re a woman).  

How much does taxi cost from DXB to Dubai city center?

RTA Taxis operate by the meter, so there’s no chance of getting scammed into paying an exorbitant amount. Do note there’s a 25 AED base fare when you take an RTA Taxi from Dubai International Airport, and the charge for each kilometer is 1.75 AED.   

Here are some current taxi fares from DXB Airport as per the RTA Dubai taxi fare calculator.

  • Taxi fare from Dubai Airport Terminal 3 to Downtown Dubai is 48 AED
  • Taxi fare from Dubai Airport to Burj Khalifa is 48 AED
  • Taxi fare from Dubai Airport Terminal 3 to Deira City Center is 12 AED
  • Taxi fare from Dubai Airport Terminal 3 to Dubai Marina is 104 AED
  • Taxi fare from Dubai Airport Terminal 3 to Jumeirah Beach Residence is 108 AED

Need to book your hotel in Dubai? Here’s a guide to the best neighborhoods to stay in Dubai.

Are RTA Dubai Taxis easily available at Dubai International Airport?

RTA Dubai Taxis are available at all times of the day or night, every day at Dubai International Airport. However, in peak travel periods (such as long public holidays such as Eid, or busy weeks such as around Christmas), the taxi queues can be long and extend all the way inside the airport. Even in such periods, queues move fast and it rarely takes over 30 minutes to be assigned a taxi. 

Are Dubai Taxis safe?

RTA Dubai Taxis are safe, whatever the time of day or night. They are also generally safe for women traveling alone. If you’re a bit anxious, it’s good to make note of the car plate number, driver name, and official helpline number—all three of which are clearly displayed inside the taxi. 

Is Uber available at Dubai Airport?

If you’ve got the Uber app on your smartphone, it is possible to book an Uber to take you from Dubai International Airport to your Dubai hotel or apartment. 

Once you’ve booked an Uber, you’ll be notified about exactly where your pick-up point is, as this can change depending upon how busy the pick-up lanes are at Dubai International Airport. You might find that you need to make you way to the Departures level of your Dubai Airport terminal in order to find your Uber. 

Can you book Private Transfer from Dubai International Airport to City?

The most luxurious way to get from Dubai Airport to the city

You might be arriving after a long flight, heading straight to a business meeting, reaching Dubai with tired toddlers in tow, or might simply have a taste for the finer things in life. So it’s totally understandable if you prefer the convenience of having a smartly-dressed driver show up at the arrivals hall with your name on a placard. I totally get it if you want to do nothing more than follow said driver to a nice private car and have him take care of the rest until you get to your hotel. 

If you don’t mind paying a premium for the convenience of a private transfer, then you can book one through Welcome Pickups, a company I trust and use to book private transfers myself. You can book an airport transfer with them in advance. They’ll give you the contact information of your driver who might reach out to you before you arrive via Whatsapp, and they’ll even accommodate any changes due to flight delays.   

How to take the Dubai Metro from Dubai International Airport to the City

The cheapest way to get from Dubai Airport to the city

A shiny blue metro runs along a track next to steel gray skyscrapers. Above is a blue sky with clouds.
The Dubai Metro is the most affordable way to go from Dubai International Airport to the city center.

At the Arrivals area of Dubai International Airport, follow the signs for Dubai Metro. Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport (DXB) are connected to the Dubai Metro on the Red Line, with Dubai metro trains arriving every 4 to 7 minutes during operational hours. 

The Red Line operates from: 

  • 5am till midnight from Monday to Thursday
  • 5am till 1am on Friday
  • 5am till midnight on Saturday
  • 8am till midnight on Sunday

You might be able to get to your destination stop on the Red Line, or you might have to change to the Green Line at an interchange station such as BurJuman or Union. There are only two lines on the Dubai Metro—Red and Green, so it’s quite simple to figure out how to get to your final stop. You can plan your journey and learn about fares and duration using the RTA Journey Planner

The routes, including stop names, are displayed inside the metro and at metro stations. During the journey, the name of the next stop is announced in English and is displayed on screens. 

If you want to double-check, just ask a fellow passenger. Plenty of locals take the Dubai Metro to get from Dubai Airport to the city.  

How to buy tickets for the Dubai Metro at Dubai International Airport?

You can buy tickets, using cash (in AED) or debit or credit card, at the stations connected to the terminals at Dubai Airport. 

As a first option, you can buy point-to-point tickets, where the fare depends on how many zones you’ll be traveling through.  

A second option is to buy a Nol Card which you can then load up with additional money that can be used on the Dubai Metro, tram, and public buses during your Dubai trip. The Nol card is re-usable unlike point-to-point tickets; you just load it up with more credit, as needed, at the self-service ticket machines in metro stations around Dubai.    

For the Dubai Metro, you can choose to pay the standard fare to travel in general class or a slightly pricier fare to travel in the Gold Class carriage—a front-seat, driverless carriage. 

How much does it cost to take the Dubai Metro from Dubai Airport to the city?

The Dubai Metro is the cheapest, most budget-friendly way to get from Dubai International Airport to the city, whether you’re traveling to old Dubai, Mankhool, Karama, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Mall or as far as Dubai Marina and JBR.  

Here are some current standard fares (general class) at the time of writing

  • Metro fare from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to the Dubai Mall is 5 AED
  • Metro fare from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Downtown Dubai is 5 AED
  • Metro fare from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Business Bay is 5 AED
  • Metro fare from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Dubai Marina is 7.5 AED
  • Metro fare from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is 7.5 AED 

How long does it take to reach Downtown Dubai from Dubai Airport by Dubai Metro?

While your journey may or may not be as quick as by car or taxi, depending upon where you’re going and the traffic situation at that time of day, the Dubai Metro is still an efficient and cost-effective way of getting to the city. It’s the best way to travel from DXB airport to your hotel or apartment if you’re on a budget and don’t mind a little extra travel time. 

Below are some current travel times at the time of writing. 

  • Metro travel time from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to the Dubai Mall is 27 minutes
  • Metro travel time from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Business Bay is 29 minutes
  • Metro travel time from Terminal 1 (or 3) Dubai International Airport to Dubai Marina is 50 minutes

Is the Dubai Metro comfortable and safe?

The Dubai Metro is very comfortable, convenient, and safe. The cabins are air-conditioned and spotlessly clean. In fact, I think the Dubai Metro might even be the cleanest metro in the world (I speak from my experience of taking the metro in many European and Asian cities). Plus the views of skyscrapers and the rest of the city along the way serve as a fantastic introduction to Dubai. 

There are two classes of travel with the first carriage reserved for Gold Class which has a slightly pricier ticket fare. But the metro is not usually too crowded when boarding at Dubai Airport, so it’s comfortable even if you travel in general class. Note that you’re allowed to bring two pieces of luggage on the Dubai Metro, i.e. one suitcase and one hand luggage. 

There is also a carriage reserved for women and children only, so unless you’re a woman, double-check that you’re not mistakenly entering this cabin, as you can be fined a hefty sum of upto 1000AED.  

The metro is quick, and during peak office rush-hour traffic times, might even be a more efficient way of reaching certain areas. Not to mention, it’s a relief to know you’ll be paying a fixed fare rather than nervously watching the taxi fare increase on the meter in case of heavy traffic.  

It’s easy enough to take a bus, taxi, or tram from your destination stop as most stops on the Red and Green Lines have good connectivity with other types of public transportation. 

Here’s my guide to how to dress and what to pack for Dubai.

Can you travel by public bus from Dubai International Airport to the city?

While there are bus stops outside Terminals 1, 2, and 3, Dubai buses can be a very slow mode of transport. The Dubai Metro is a much more cost-effective and efficient way of traveling to the city. If you do decide to take a bus, you’ll need to have a Nol card as you can’t buy a ticket on the bus by paying cash to the driver. 

How to travel between Terminals at Dubai International Airport?

To travel between Terminals 1 and 3 at Dubai International Airport, take the free airport shuttle that operates 24/7. 

How far is Dubai International Airport from Dubai city center?

It’s helpful to know that unlike European cities, Dubai does not have one main city center. 

There is old Dubai, where much of the old town lies on both sides of the Dubai Creek—think souks (markets), traditional wooden boats, and cafes in atmospheric lanes. On the other side of Dubai creek is Deira where you’ll find more markets and Deira City Center.

  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to Dubai Creek is 6.4 km
  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to Deira City Center is 3.3 km
Skyscrapers stand along a marina with yachts and boats. There are clouds in the blue sky above. This is a view of Dubai Marina.
Dubai Marina

There’s Downtown Dubai, which is what many people mean when they say “city center”. This neighborhood is located around the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain and the Dubai Mall. Business Bay is close to this area. Further ahead is Al Barsha, the area that sprawls out from the Mall of the Emirates, where you’ll find Ski Dubai, Dubai’s indoor ski resort. 

  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to Burj Khalifa is 14.3 km 
  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to Downtown Dubai is 14.7 km 
  • Distance from DXB Dubai International Airport to Mall of the Emirates is 25.8 km 

If you’re staying somewhere that offers amazing marina views, then you’re likely to be staying in Dubai Marina. And if you’re booked at a beach hotel, then I’m guessing it’s either in Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah or JBR. 

  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to Dubai Marina is 32.4 km 
  • Distance from DXB Dubai Airport to JBR is 33.4 km 

Here are the best day trips from Dubai, if you have a few extra days in the city.

Other Tips for Dubai International Airport

Where to get a local SIM card at Dubai International Airport

You can buy a local Tourist SIM card at the kiosk of local operator Du in the Arrivals area at Dubai International Airport. 

Is there free Wi-Fi at Dubai Airport?

Yes, Dubai International Airport offers free Wi-Fi and you can log in from your smartphone or device. 

How long are the queues at immigration at Dubai International Airport?

Regardless of how long the queues might be at immigration, these usually move quickly. Dubai International Airport is one of the most organized and efficient airports in the world. You’ll quickly realize that arriving in Dubai is a happy, seamless experience, despite the high international passenger traffic.  

Do hotels offer free shuttle to the airport?

Some hotels, especially those that are close to DXB Airport might operate a free shuttle to and from the airport for guests. It’s worth asking your hotel directly.  

How to go from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) to Dubai City Center

Where is Al Maktoum International Airport DWC?

Many visitors don’t realize that Dubai actually has two airports. While a majority of flights arrive at Dubai International Airport (DXB), a few airlines operate from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). The name of the airport DWC stands for Dubai World Central, and it’s located south of the city, about 52 km from Downtown Dubai, much further away from the city center than Dubai International Airport (DXB).

For all practical purposes, when someone mentions Dubai Airport or Dubai International Airport, they are 99% likely to be referring to DXB Dubai International Airport. Still, it’s best to check your flight ticket to confirm that you’ll be arriving at DXB Dubai International Airport and not at DWC Al Maktoum International Airport.

How to reach Dubai city center from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC)

Even if you do arrive at Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), it’s easy to get to the city center, but since this airport is much further away from the city proper, you’ll need more time to get to your hotel or accommodation.

There are 3 ways to go from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to the city.

By Taxi

You can take an Airport Taxi at DWC to get to your hotel in Dubai. They are the same cream-colored taxis that you can find at Dubai International Airport DXB and elsewhere in the city.

Travel time from Al Maktoum International Airport DWC to Dubai city by taxi is about 45 minutes or less, maybe a few minutes faster at night or early morning when there is hardly any traffic.

Here are some current fares:

  • Taxi fare from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Burj Khalifa is 86 AED
  • Taxi fare from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Downtown Dubai is 91 AED
  • Taxi fare from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Dubai Marina is 54 AED
  • Taxi fare from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Jumeirah Beach is 86 AED
  • Taxi fare from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Deira City Center is 109 AED

By Private Transfer

You can also book a private transfer in advance to go from DWC to Dubai city. It might be a bit more convenient, especially if you’re arriving at DWC at an odd hour.

By Bus

If you’re on a budget, then you can take the F55 or N55 airport bus from DWC to the Ibn Battuta Metro Station in Dubai, from where you can continue to your hotel by metro, bus, or taxi.

  • The F55 Airport Bus from DWC operates from 5.34 am to 11.30 pm and departs every 30 minutes, beginning 6.34 am.
  • The night bus N55 departs every hour beginning at 09.42 pm with the last one leaving at 04.42 am.

Travel time by bus from DWC Al Maktoum International Airport to Ibn Battuta Metro Station is 45 minutes and costs 5 AED.

If you plan to take the bus from DWC, then I suggest plugging in your date and time and re-confirming bus schedules in the RTA Journey Planner.

More resources to help plan and book your trip

Browse hotels on Booking.com or Hotels.com

Book a private transfer with Welcome Pickups

Book tours and day trips with Get Your Guide

Browse flights on Skyscanner 

World Nomads is my trusted travel insurance provider

For digital nomads, SafetyWing Insurance is currently the best option 

Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you book tours or accommodation using them, I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you, that goes towards running this site. That said, I never recommend accommodation or tours that I haven’t booked or wouldn’t book myself, and spend a considerable amount of time finding the best deals and value-for-money tours and accommodation rates.

future trip experience

Saturday 30th of July 2022

future trip experience thanks for sharing this information. Keep sharing.