Easy Day Trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai
Have you ever seen Sex and the City? In the 2nd movie, Samantha (basically my idol - confident, sexy, independent woman extroadinaire) leads the rest of the girls to Abu Dhabi. Ever since then, I've dreamed of visiting.
After some light research, I realized that it's super easy to make a day trip to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, from Dubai. I thought I'd put together some info here so others could easily visit as well! Some agencies offer super expensive guided tours between the cities, but I promise its very simple to just do it on your own - and much cheaper!
Travel between the cities requires a bus, which only takes around an hour and a half. There are two possible bus stations: Ibn Battuta (the one I took, the bus station is located directly next to/outside the Ibn Battuta metro stop on the red line) and Al Ghubaiba bus station which is again, located right outside the metro station of the same name on the green line. Buses leave approximately every 30 minutes, starting around 5:00 am and last bus leaving around 12:00 am midnight. It cost me just under $10 each way. Show up maybe 10 minutes before each departure to buy your tickets and get situated.
There's a lot to do in Abu Dhabi, but I was going only to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the primary attraction for the city and really the entire country. If you're into it, there's also a Ferrari World theme park, and artificially made Yas Island with other entertainment. I'd had enough of the false glitzy-ness in Dubai, and purely wanted a cultural experience at the Grand Mosque.
From the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station, there are smaller buses that take you directly to the Grand Mosque. At the central bus station, ask at the information desk which bus to take to make it to the Mosque. They were helpful and informative. If you're planning to head to other sights in Abu Dhabi, I'm sure they'd be able to point you in the right direction as well.
Now to my favorite part of the UAE: The Grand Mosque! It's an enormous complex made almost entirely out of striking white marble with gold accents, turquoise pools lining the exterior, and intricately detailed, symmetric designs adorning the entire structure. It's a real feast for your eyes. I walked around with either a huge smile on my face or my jaw wide open from the breathtaking beauty of it the entire time. Every inch of the place is dripping with stunning and elegant designs, it really makes you stop and appreciate the perfectionism of Islamic architecture.
Since it's a highly important place of worship for Muslim people, visitors must wear modest clothing. Upon arrival, ladies are given a full body covering to wear including a head covering, free of charge (note: entrance is also free of charge). I saw some people disrespect the customs and remove the hair/head covering and abruptly got yelled at. Please, be respectful and regard the customs of the Grand Mosque. As for the men, most I saw were wearing shirts covering their shoulders and pants covering their legs. My personal politics run in direct opposition to dress codes and policing of bodies, but I will always respect cultural customs and follow the traditions of any location I visit. Part of traveling is immersing yourself in the local culture, leaving some of your biases/personal beliefs at home.
There you have it! A day trip to Abu Dhabi is extremely easy from Dubai. I spent about 3 hours in total at the Grand Mosque and was back at my hostel before sunset in Dubai.