Abu Dhabi

By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi?

Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi > Should you rent a car in Abu Dhabi UAE > Abu Dhabi ( AUH )
Car: Do you need a car in 3? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 3? Slider: Should you rent a car in 3? Should you rent a car in 3?

Abu Dhabi car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 164 - of which 86 have free parking. [full notes - parking]




  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Abu Dhabi public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.



  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.



  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Abu Dhabi good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Abu Dhabi



Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Abu Dhabi", "is it worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Abu Dhabi?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Compared to its larger and glitzier brother Dubai, Abu Dhabi is substantially more compact. Nowhere in the downtown area is more than a short bus or taxi ride away from anywhere else, but you will still be using motorised transport more than walking. There is also still a fair amount of sprawl in Abu Dhabi, so you may be staying somewhere a bit outside the centre.

Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Abu Dhabi as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Abu Dhabi?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Whereas Dubai has invested heavily in rail-based transport, there is no such service in Abu Dhabi. You’ll have a choice of waiting outside in the dusty heat for a bus or taking the much more commonplace option of a taxi.  Then there’s the natural question that if you are spending let’s say one week in Abu Dhabi, will you also want to visit Dubai? Will you want to travel elsewhere within the UAE, and possibly even on to Oman? Abu Dhabi car hire certainly isn’t for everyone, but it might still be an option for your visit.

It certainly is perfectly possible to travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai by bus, and plenty of people do so. Abu Dhabi is also not lacking in its own huge range of architectural gems. Visitors can either use state-backed scheduled bus services, or they can take guided tours.

For trips into the desert, then 4×4 vehicles tend to be more popular, although the practice of “dune bashing” has been heavily criticised for its environmental damage.

Why should you rent a car in Abu Dhabi?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi?

Reasons why you need a car in Abu Dhabi

  • Fuel is cheap!
  • Public transport in the city is poor – no metro, only taxis and buses.
  • Plans for an Abu Dhabi metro are currently on hold. Dspite the rapid growth of the city, including huge expansion of the airport, there are still no confirmed plans for mass rapid transit in the city.
  • Coaches to other cities in the UAE only offer limited service. They are an excellent option for getting to Dubai or Al Ain, but less so for anywhere else.
  • A car provides more flexible access across the whole city.
  • A hire car is useful for day trips to Dubai.
  • Car rental in Abu Dhabi is generally good value when compared with other destinations in the Gulf region. Expect to pay a little bit more than in Dubai, as it’s not quite so competitive here.

Why not? Visiting Abu Dhabi without a car

What is public transport like in Abu Dhabi? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?

Visiting Abu Dhabi without a car

  • The roads in the UAE are amongst the least safe in the world. It might be better to leave the driving to somebody local.
  • Abu Dhabi is actually very compact. You can get by using buses or walking, especially once you are outside the midday heat.
  • Some parts of Abu Dhabi are well shaded with trees, whereas there are also many other places which are refreshed by the sea breeze. Abu Dhabi is hot by any standard, but there are still ways to enjoy the city on foot without being completely overwhelmed.
  • Plenty of activities based around the waterfront, car not needed.
  • Vist the Mangrove National Park – this is in a very central location, and easy to reach by bus or taxi. You can also go kayaking here.
  • Car fanatics can have lots of fun at the Yas Circuit – but you can easily get there by bus or taxi.
Do I need a car in Abu Dhabi?

You don’t need a car to visit the main points of interest in Abu Dhabi.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Any Abu Dhabi car hire advice also has to come with the significant caveat that the roads in the United Arab Emirates have some of the worst accident figures of any country that publishes this data. However, given the sheer volume of tourists and expats, these figures tend to look even worse than they actually are. On balance, there is certainly no need to get a hire car if you are literally just stopping over in Abu Dhabi, but for a longer trip then car rental starts to become something as well worth considering.

James says - a few trip notes:

Anyone with an interest in technology might well want to take a look at the futuristic Masdar City near Abu Dhabi International airport. Masdar is designed to have much more in common with traditional Middle Eastern cities, with steep sided streets having additional natural climate control systems to make them inherently walkable.

Masdar does also have its own bus terminal. If all of Abu Dhabi was built like Masdar, then our verdict would be very different, but sadly it is not – Masdar is the experiment, not the reality, and it’s only really worth visiting if you have an interest in the architecture or the technology.

Do I need a car in Abu Dhabi?  Verdict – yes (may be useful for longer visits, especially for getting out of the city).

Would you hire a car in Abu Dhabi?

Have you driven in Abu Dhabi? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Abu Dhabi}?

Do you need a car in Abu Dhabi? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

Category: UAE

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