Unless you’re travelling overland from neighbouring Oman or sailing in on a cruise ship, you’ll arrive at Dubai’s sparkling modern international airport close to the old city centre – at least pending the full opening of the new Al Maktoum International Airport. Once you’ve cleared customs and the crowds, getting into town is fairly straightforward.
The airport (wdubaiairport.com; airport code DXB) is very centrally located in the district of Garhoud, around 7km from the city centre. There are three passenger terminals: Terminal 1 is where most international flights arrive; Terminal 3 is where all Emirates airlines flights land; and Terminal 2 is used by smaller regional carriers. All three terminals have plenty of ATMs and currency exchange booths, although if you want to rent a car, you’ll have to head to Terminal 1.
There are several ways of getting into town from the airport and many hotels offer free airport transfers; check when you book. Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 have dedicated metro stations, offering quick and inexpensive transport into the city centre and beyond to southern Dubai. Alternatively, there are plentiful taxis, although note that they charge a 20dh flag fare when picking up from the airport rather than the usual 3dh, making them significantly pricier than usual. There are also various buses (see wdubai-bus.com) running from the airport into the city centre, although these are only really useful if you’re staying in Deira or Bur Dubai and know where you’re going; as for the metro, you’ll also have to buy a Nol card or ticket before boarding the bus. The two most useful services (every 30min, 24hr; 3dh) are airport bus #401, which travels via Baniyas Road to Al Sabkha Bus Station in central Deira, and airport bus #402, which runs via Al Mankhool Road and the Golden Sands area to Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in the middle of Bur Dubai.