You might be flying on Emirates or another airline and have a long connection in Abu Dhabi. To get from Abu Dhabi’s airport (AUH) to Abu Dhabi the city, the bus from airport to Abu Dhabi is very easy and cheap. I highly recommend doing this if you are looking for something to kill time (or are interested in Abu Dhabi).
Clearing customs/immigrations is easy. They give you a form which ask a lot of strange questions (What is your religion). I just left half of it blank.
First off, you will need some local currency, AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham). What I found at the AUH Airport ATM’s was that the minimum you can withdraw is $100AED (~$27USD). So withdraw the $100AED from the ATM. Then walk out and find Bus A1. From Terminal 1, you can find this by leaving from Exit 2 and crossing over to the middle lane. It makes stops at all the terminals so just follow the signs (or ask – people are helpful).
When you get on the bus, you will give the bus driver the $100AED bill and he will probably tell you that he will give you change when you get off. He will give you a receipt of sorts (handwritten if I recall) and you sit down.
Soon you’ll see the very impressive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. If you see it at night, it will be bathed in purple lights. Very scenic. On the return leg to the airport, the bus stops just outside the mosque. (In downtown, the bus runs along the same main streets to return to the airport. See map)
You can stay on the bus to the very end if you wish and you will be in the city. Better yet is to look on the map and get off when the ocean is ahead of you, before the bus makes a right turn.
The bus runs roughly every 30 minutes (read the schedule carefully and you will see it has 30 minute intervals for most of the day). The A1 Airport Bus schedule can be found here.
Signage at the airport is excellent. Signage in Abu Dhabi isn’t so good.
Bus travel will take you about two hours for the round-trip.
Oh, and the cost as of summer 2015 was 4AED, or $1.09.
When you return to the airport, you can convert your unused money back into your local currency. All in, a trip to Abu Dhabi and back will cost you less than $5.
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