Not too long ago, Dubai was simply another dusty Emirate. Today, the city is one of the most developed and technologically advanced in the world. Dubai is also many things to many people, from a party destination and shopping mecca to a business hub and adventure sport capital, this city has it all. While many travellers choose to remain within the confines of the CBD, there are several areas outside of the city centre well worth exploring. With a rental car and a bit of an adventurous spirit, travellers could be uncovering a whole new side to Dubai in a flash.
Who to Book With
Car hire in Dubai can be easily organised with any one of the many international car rental companies in the city. Whether Hertz, Avis, Budget or Europcar, the options are endless. The main offices of most of these companies can be found at several locations in the city centre and, of course, at the airport. To avoid missing the chance to choose that ideal car, travellers should really consider online booking.
Best time to go
Simply put: the best time to go to Dubai is anytime. The city experiences warm temperatures and clear skies almost every day of the year. Peak season is experienced during the rest of the northern hemisphere’s winter as travellers from North America and Europe flee from the rain and snow. Prices during this time are even higher than usual so advanced bookings are recommended.
Need to Know Essentials
In order to get a rental car in Dubai, the following documents are required:
- A passport valid for no less than six months
- The credit card used to make the booking
- An International Driver’s Permit
For more info read our FAQ's.
Dubai is a large city and while public transport options are available, they do not cover all areas all of the time. Travellers who plan on moving around frequently should definitely consider renting a car for the duration of their stay. The road network in the city is of a high standard and the roads themselves are well-maintained and clearly signposted. This, however, was never the problem with Dubai’s roads. The quality of driving in the city is appalling, and the city now carries the title of highest road deaths per capita in the world. New drivers are discouraged from renting cars and seasoned drivers are advised to be particularly cautious on the roads.
The roads should definitely be avoided during morning and afternoon rush hours. Traffic congestion during these times can be highly frustrating and travellers could be waiting for hours to get to a nearby destination. Parking is not too much of an issue in the city as there are a few large car parks where drivers can choose to pay hourly or daily rates.
You can read more about general driving in our guide to the United Arab Emirates.
Although Dubai is largely dominated by cars, the public transport system is top notch. The metro service was implemented quite recently and offers a modern and efficient journey. There are, however, also reliable bus and taxi services which have been ferrying passengers for years. The transport network is operated by the Dubai Municipality and travellers can purchase passes which allow access on all forms of local rides. The Silver Card, in particular, offers reduced rates on both bus and metro routes.
The bus system in Dubai is large, comprised of over 50 lines but unfortunately some lines operate more prolifically than others. Central Dubai is serviced very well but the outskirts are often neglected. The main station is Gold Souq Market and here tickets can be bought for single journeys or weekly passes. Tickets can also be purchased on the vehicles themselves but the exact amount is required. The rates of tickets depend on the destination but most routes cost around AED2.
The Dubai Metro service operates both underground and railway journeys to many areas in the city. All metro stations have connections to bus routes and park-and-ride facilities. Tickets for single journeys can be purchased from the platform before boarding the train but travellers staying in the city for longer can also invest in the Nol Silver Card at the price of AED20. The Silver Card can be obtained from bus stations as well.
Taxis are an extremely popular way of getting around the city with more people choosing these services than other modes of public transport. Taxis can be flagged down from the side of the road and are metred if travelling within the city boundaries. Destinations outside of the city usually have higher fixed rates. Taxis can also be booked advance through the reliable Dubai Taxi Corporation.
Many travellers get stuck in the metropolis that Dubai has become and forget about how much there is to see and experience just a few hours away by road. Whether it’s another city or an exciting excursion on the dunes, there are many new adventures to be had away from the sky-rise buildings and flashy cars.
Sharjah - The city of Sharjah, located only 20 kilometres from Dubai, is the perfect place for travellers craving the culture that is often lacking from Dubai’s highly developed character. Dubbed the cultural capital of the Arab World, Sharjah is filled to the brim with galleries, museums, theatres and traditional local markets.
Hatta - Dubai can become quite hot, especially during summer, so heading towards Hatta to the east of the city is a great way to cool down. The mountains sit at a higher altitude and provide a cool respite from the sometimes sweltering conditions in Dubai. There are also several excursions of a cultural nature to be had including a trip to an ancient mosque.
Dubai's Sand Dunes - A trip to Dubai is certainly not complete without at least a test drive on the region’s golden dunes. Travellers can make the drive towards the desert from where they will be collected in well-equipped SUVs for the drive of a life time. The expert drivers certainly know their way around the dunes, and also know how to make an SUV feel like a rollercoaster.