What to expect on the Abu Dhabi Hop-on Hop-off Bus

There are few cities where I genuinely believe that the Hop on Hop off Bus makes sense these days. However, credit where it is due, Abu Dhabi is definitely one of those places we would suggest the Hop on Hop off Bus makes sense for tourists. Here’s why…

The city of Abu Dhabi is very spread out and lacks a comprehensive public transport system that is user-friendly for tourists.  It has some stunning buildings and fabulous cultural sites to visit, but getting a taxi or Uber in between each not only involves needing data on your phone or waiting in queues, but it can also add up to a lot too.

The Abu Dhabi Big Bus Tour can take a lot of this hassle out of the way for your stopover or a short trip to Abu Dhabi where you’d like to see as much as possible.  Here’s what to expect with Big Bus Tours in Abu Dhabi.

Please note this service has ceased operating during the pandemic. We will advise when services in Abu Dhabi have resumed.

Abu Dubai Tour – Big Bus Itineraries for Abu Dhabi

There are two routes operated by Big Bus in Abu Dhabi.

  • City Tour – Red Route
  • Island Tour – Green Route

As you would expect in Abu Dhabi, all buses are air-conditioned downstairs, and they offer an open rooftop too, perfect for visiting in winter.

There are two Big Bus routes exploring the spectacular sites of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi City Tour – Big Bus Red Route

Taking in the top attractions on Abu Dhabi Island (yes, the city itself is actually an island separated from mainland UAE! Find more Abu Dhabi facts you should know before visiting here).

The top spots we recommend you get off Big Bus to enjoy:

  • Abu Dhabi Heritage Village – a small volunteer-run organisation that sits on the Marina Breakwater. A taster for Bedouin life and fabulous views over to the city. Time it right you can catch handicraft displays and even photo opportunities with a falcon. Allow 30 minutes to 1 hour. Entry is FREE.
  • Founders Memorial – a photo moment although you can catch this from the right side of the bus without disembarking. No entry fee.
  • Emirates Palace – worth the stop if you’re excited by the glitz and glam of Abu Dhabi. You can time it right for a meal or stop for your gold flake tea. This is also the stopping point to cross the road for Observation Deck at 300 in Etihad Towers for amamazing city views and teas – entry fee applies.
  • Presidential Place – this one is a must to get off and visit inside as you won’t get much just from the road. Allow yourself 1.5 to 2 hours here exploring the stunning Qasr Al Watan, entry fee applies, additional for guided tours.
  • Al Hosn Fort – recently reopened this restored fort is the city’s culture and history centre (arguably the better of the two if you’re weighing up time to stop at here or the Heritage Village) Entry fees apply.
  • Galleria – one of the city’s glitziest malls on Al Maryah Island, a great way to finish off your day with city views and dinner choices aplenty.

If there’s no immediate bus and the weather is cool enough you can walk from the Founders Memorial to Emirates Palace, Qasr al Watan and the Observation Deck, though this will take a fair part of your day.

The Red Route Tour operates daily from 9am (Abu Dhabi Mall) to 5pm last departure(ends approx 6.25pm).

Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace
Qasr al Watan – Presidential Palace is a must-stop to see inside the opulent buildings

Check out how many Abu Dhabi attractions are actually FREE

Abu Dhabi Island Tour – Big Bus Green Route

As we mentioned above, Abu Dhabi is actually a series of islands. The main city is simply called Abu Dhabi, but there are two other developed islands well worth a stop on Saadiyat Island and Yas Island.

You can interchange to the Green Route at Abu Dhabi Mall stop after completing the Red Route, or tackle the Green Route as a separate day (you will need to if you get off at the mentioned stops!)

So 5 biggies for you to fit in – the bus is mostly for getting you A to B as there’s a bit of freeway driving involved, not city sightseeing per se, other than passing many epic architectual highlights.

  • Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island – a must for art lovers or the culturally interested. The building itself is amazing and the meticulously designed collection well worth a stop. Entry fees apply, closed Mondays.
  • Yas Island – you are dropped at the city’s biggest shopping mall, Yas Mall (good for a lunch stop) but the biggest drawcard on Yas Island is a series of amazing theme parks, you can read more about them here.
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – what more can you say! stunning in every way and the number one most visited destination in the country. Entry is free.
  • Wahat al Karama – don’t miss the stunning memorial that sits opposite the Mosque and offers a spectacular photo vantage point. Entry is free.
  • Eastern Mangroves – a beautiful nature reserve in the heart of the city and a great place to finish your day with a kayak of eco donut boat through the mangroves before dinner on the promenade.

The Green Route Tour operates daily from 9am (Abu Dhabi Mall) to 5pm last departure (ends approx 6.20pm).

Abu Dhabi Big City Pass

At the time of booking, if you book directly with Big Bus you can upgrade to a Deluxe Ticket which includes a Big City Pass. We would recommend taking this option if you have multiple days to explore the city and want some added extras such as:

  • A dhow cruise in Abu Dhabi
  • Sunset Desert safari
  • Excursion to Al Ain
Desert safari in Dubai
Add on a desert safari experience with a deluxe ticket

How to book your Big Bus ticket for Abu Dhabi

There are several ticket resellers (that we frequently use ourselves) who you can book your Big Bus tickets through, as well as other top Abu Dhabi attractions:

But often it can work out cheaper to book your Big Bus tickets with the company directly in advance for an instant 10% online saving.

Whichever method you use above, it is always cheaper to book your Big Bus tickets in advance than buying off the street at one of their bus stops! When you book online you get the choice of:

  • Classic Tickets – 1 day, 2 routes
  • Premium Tickets – 2 days – 2 routes (ideal if you’d like to spend a full day out at the Yas Island theme parks)
  • Deluxe Ticket – 3 days, 2 routes & they add a CityPass
  • Abu Dhabi & Dubai Combo Ticket – ideal if you are visiting both cities

See how you transfer between Abu Dhabi and Dubai here.

Whatever way you book your tickets, a Big Bus Tour is a great way to get between Abu Dhabi’s major sites and we think it’s a winner for short-term visitors to Abu Dhabi on a stopover or with limited time to get out and see the sites independently.

Dubai Attractions
You can combine the best of Abu Dhabi and Dubai with a combo Big Bus Ticket

Are there Hop-on-hop-off Bus alternatives in Abu Dhabi?

At present no. You can book individuals small group or personal tours, but there are no other buses or public transport routes that offer as comprehensive service to the key tourism sites as Big Bus Tours Abu Dhabi.

Should you wish to book a smaller group tour, these are some of the companies that operate from Abu Dhabi:

And those setting off from Dubai on an Abu Dhabi sightseeing Day Trip.

We hope you’ve found this useful if you are planning an Abu Dhabi Bus tour. We are long term Abu Dhabi residents, recommending services we know and trust.

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Abu Dhabi Hop On Hop Off Bus sightseeing

This is NOT a sponsored post, however, we are affiliates of Big Bus and third party ticketing agents that sell the tour mentioned. If you make a purchase after reading our review we may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read our full website terms of use here.