How to Get from Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa & Downtown Dubai


One of the easiest short stopover destinations for first-time visitors to Dubai is to visit the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, in the area of the city known as Downtown Dubai.

But how exactly do you get between Dubai International Airport (DXB) and the city’s most popular and well-known attractions, the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa?

There is no “city centre” as such to Dubai, but the Downtown Dubai area is probably as close as you’ll get. 

In this Dubai Airport to city center guide:

To leave the airport, you MUST be either eligible for a UAE Visa on Arrival, or have applied for a Transit Visa in advance – we explain all your Dubai tourist visa options over here

Public Transport Options from Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall & Burj Khalifa

There are Metro train, bus, and taxi options to get from Dubai Airport to Downtown Dubai – home to both the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa among the many attractions. Let’s take a look at each to see what is the quickest and most convenient:

Dubai Airport DXB to Dubai Mall by Metro

The easiest public transport option for visitors to the centre of Dubai’s shopping and entertainment district in Downtown Dubai is by Metro.

  • From DXB Terminal 3 or Terminal 1, look out for the signs to the Metro Red Line at the airport – you board at stop R13 or R14.
  • You alight at the rather easy-to-recognise station named Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall (R25). There is the Metro Link Bridge (a covered walkway with travelators) to the Mall from the Metro station.
  • The estimated travel time from T3 to Burj Khalifa Dubai Mall Metro station is 23 minutes. The walk to the Mall from the station, even with travelators, will add a further 10 minutes to your transit time.
  • During peak times, the Metro service runs every 4 minutes (6.30 AM to 9:00 AM weekdays) and 4.30 PM to 8:00 PM evenings. Off-peak, the service runs every 7 minutes.
  • The standard fare on a Nol Red Card is 5 AED for this journey (Short-term visitors will only need a Red Nol card for individual journeys, noting there is a 2 AED upfront fee as well. For a longer stop or extensive use of transport in Dubai, consider a Nol Silver card, which costs more upfront, but fares are cheaper).
The highrise towers of Downtown Dubai from the Burj Khalifa

Dubai Airport Bus to Dubai Mall & Burj Khalifa

There is little difference in cost to take the Bus instead of the Metro, but with traffic and stops, the journey is likely to take you at least twice as long and involve at least one change.

Buses in Dubai are cashless, so you need a Nol card from within the airport terminal before you board.

Note the bus does not go directly to Downtown Dubai but can take you to the main Al Ghubaiaba Bus Station; this is where many of the country’s Intercity buses depart from

DXB to Dubai Mall by Taxi

RTA Taxis are readily available in front of the terminals at DXB. You should expect a standard taxi from Terminal 3 to Dubai Mall to cost approximately 40 to 55 AED, and the journey to take 15 to 25 minutes, depending on traffic.

Note that when leaving from Dubai Airport, there is automatically a 25 AED flagfall added. The cost thereafter is 1.96 AED per kilometre.

Taxis lined up at arrivals in DXB airport in Dubai
Taxis lined up ready for passengers at DXB Terminal 3

At the airport, there is a choice of a standard taxi, premium taxi, or ladies’ taxi.

NB, if you jump in a Premium Taxi from DXB, they are nicer cars but charge you for the privilege of an extra 1 AED per kilometre! Careful staff don’t sweet-talk you into spending more “for only 1 AED more!!”

The differences in roof colour are just the different taxi companies; the only exception is the ‘pink roof’ taxis are specifically for ladies and families.

Returning from Dubai Mall to Dubai Airport

You simply need to take one of the above-mentioned routes in reverse to get back to DXB from Dubai Mall and the Downtown area:

  • There is a large taxi rank available under Dubai Mall (allow 15-25 minutes + 3 hours before your flight)
  • The mall contains are busy bus station with local bus services as mentioned above (with Nol card)
  • The Metro is still the most convenient and direct route from Dubai Mall to Dubai International Airport (with Nol card allow at least 35 minutes for the train + that ridiculously long walk to the station!!)

What is there to do in Dubai’s Downtown Area?

The most obvious answer is to visit the Dubai Mall for shopping and window browsing, and take in the views from the Burj Khalifa – but the answer goes much deeper than this as there are just so many things to do! 

On a short stopover from Dubai Airport, you will really need to narrow it down to a couple of favourite activities – many you can enjoy for free, others you will need to pay for and preferably pre-book.

Dubai mall Fountain show at night
Enjoy the spectacular nightly fountain show in front of Dubai Mall and the Downtown Dubai area

What time is Dubai Mall Open?

  • The main trading hours for the Dubai Mall are 10:00 AM to midnight (often open later on special public holidays such as Eid).
  • Some coffee shops in Dubai Mall open earlier than 10:00 AM, and the Waitrose Supermarket on the basement level opens from 8:00 AM for groceries.
  • Restaurants and food courts within Dubai Mall can stay open until 1:00 AM; waterfront promenade restaurants can stay open until 2:00 AM.
  • Do note though, when planning your trip back to the airport, the Metro may close before the last shops and attractions do; factor this in for your return journey to DXB from Dubai Mall.

If your Dubai Airport stopover is in the wee hours of the morning (many, many flights land between midnight and 5:00 AM!) then you may be better keeping within DXB for a lounge and entertainment, you can learn about all the things to do in Dubai Airport here.

Stopover Passengers Note! If your stopover with Emirates is unavoidably greater than 8 hours, you may be able to avail a FREE hotel room with Emirates Dubai Connect. We explain exactly how the Dubai Connect service works here.

Alternatives to Dubai Mall and Downtown Dubai on a stopover

If you only have limited time to get out and get some fresh air during a Dubai Stopover, why not also try:

  • Dubai Festival City – creekside and close to the airport, this is a smaller shopping mall than Dubai Mall but still has plenty of dining and entertainment options. You can enjoy the nightly IMAGINE sound and light show, or how about Bounce X freestyle Terrain Park if you have active kids to burn off energy?
  • Al Seef & Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood – if you’d prefer a taste of old Dubai on a stopover, we recommend catching a taxi to this creekside area of the city (or Red Metro to Khalid bin al Waleed station, changing one stop to Al Fahidi on the Green Line). Beautifully restored buildings and the Dubai Museum (currently closed for renovations) can be found, along with plenty of dining options and the opportunity to take a traditional Abra across the Dubai Creek).
  • The Walk & The Beach, JBR – this area takes a little longer to reach from the airport, so you should allow at least an hour in transit in either direction. If you are visiting during the cooler winter months this is the perfect place to catch some rays, maybe even time to head out on a boat tour from Dubai Marina and enjoy dinner at one of the trendy beachfront restaurants, or sundowners from a stunning rooftop bar.
  • Grab the Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Bus for a greater taster of experiences and sightseeing all over the city. Note you cannot catch the sightseeing bus directly from the airport. The best starting point for airport passengers to jump on is Deira City Centre, which is located a few stops away from DXB on the Metro Red Line.
  • We have a more detailed guide to Dubai stopover ideas over here.
Stroll the streets of the historical Al Fahidi neighbourhood for an alternative short stopover in Dubai

Remember to check your eligibility to leave the airport and how long you actually have spare before attempting to travel from Dubai International Airport to Downtown. We wouldn’t attempt it unless you have 6 hours+ between flights; noting if your not eligible for Visa on Arrival, you cannot get a Transit Visa if your stop is under 8 hours.

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

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Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

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