At present there are more than 80 different RTA bus routes: local bus services (numbered in single digits between 4 and 365), specialist circular feeder buses from some metro stops (numbered with the prefix ‘F’), and express services (with the prefix ‘X’). A single standard journey of up to 90 minutes, including one service transfer, is Dhs1.80 using a Nol top-up card.
We’ve found Dubai’s buses to be clean, pleasant and reliable – but far from quick. They’re kitted out with all mod cons: on board you can expect to find high-tech colour screens broadcasting detailed
maps of any planned diversions, as well as a clear graphic display of the upcoming stops. Many buses run relatively infrequently, upwards of every 15 minutes, yet detailed timetables aren’t displayed at the stops themselves. Travelling by bus in Dubai is not about speed – it can take more than an hour to reach the other end of the city. Our only other niggle is that advertising plastered across many buses’ sides makes the interior very dark. But otherwise we’ve found that the service represents an invaluable addition to Dubai.
A culture and shopping spree
Starting at Al Ghubaiba bus station, hop on route 44 for a few stops to Al Fahidi station. From here, it’s an easy ten-minute walk north to Al Fahidi (formerly Bastakiya). Take a stroll through the sandy-coloured alleyways, and visit Dubai Museum, Al Ahmadiya School and Heritage House.
Get back on the number 44 bus until you reach the Four Points by Sheraton: stop for traditional Portuguese cooking at new restaurant Picante (04 397 7444). Afterwards, treat yourself to a spot of shopping at three malls: the number 44 bus stops at the BurJuman centre, Wafi and Festival City.
Exploring oldest Dubai
Starting at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 1, hop on the 11A bus, which takes you down through Garhoud towards Deira. Jump off at Maktoum Street to check out strange and unusual giftwear shops and bargain sportswear, until your stroll takes you to Baniyas Station near the square.
Jump on the C9 bus, which will take you round to the famous gold and spice souks, where you can peruse impressive displays and haggle over 22-carat Indian gold. Make your way across the road just beyond Shindagha tunnel and round off the day with a drink overlooking the creek in the Hyatt Regency’s watering hole, The Bar (04 317 2222).
Barsha to the Marina
Starting from Barsha, take the 93 bus to The Greens. After ambling round the lakes, get on the F31 heading towards Internet City metro station. Cross Sheikh Zayed Road via the metro bridge and take the 88 around Knowledge Village and Media City.
Get off and grab some lunch at The Lime Tree Café opposite the One&Only Royal Mirage (04 435 6340), then hop on the number 8 to Dubai Marina. Here you can catch the F37 circular round the marina – enjoy the views and jump off at At Fattan Towers to visit Make Business Hub (04 392 9216) for a coffee. Jump back on the same bus to visit Marina Mall, or head to Dubai Marina metro station to return home.
Along the coast
Starting from JBR, get on the number 8 service and ride through Internet City and the surrounding free zones to arrive at Madinat Jumeirah for a stroll. After soaking up the iconic Burj Al Arab views, jump back on the number 8, or the 88 or X28, and continue along the coast until you reach Jumeirah Beach Park. After sunbathing on the beach, get on the C10 service and continue along Jumeirah Beach Road until you reach Dubai Marine Beach Resort, where you can enjoy a bite and beverage at Loca (04 346 1111).