The Grand Prix circuit is on Yas Island – a man made island that has sprung up since 2006 for leisure, shopping and entertainment. The track is located some 20km from the city centre, close to Abu Dhabi international airport and accessible by road, sea and air.
Flying in via Abu Dhabi (AUH) or Dubai (DXB) for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
The closest airport to the Yas Marina circuit is Abu Dhabi International Airport, which at 8km makes it the closest international airport to any F1 circuit.
Take a look also at flights to Dubai which you may find are cheaper. Be warned though that getting from Dubai to Yas Marina Circuit is not straight forward and certainly not something you’ll want to do 3 days on the trot unless you have your own transport.
It’s far more preferable to find accommodation in Abu Dhabi and base yourself there over the weekend, but going back and forth a couple of times to the airport in Dubai shouldn’t be a worry.
Getting from Dubai to Yas Marina
The 130km trip from the centre of Abu Dhabi is about 2 hours by bus from Dubai, in normal traffic. Buses leave from the Dubai Al Ghubaiba Bus Station which itself can be reached by taxi in about 20 minutes from the airport, or by taking the metro to Al Ghubaiba station. Bus number 102 passes close to Yas Island en route to the main bus terminal in Abu Dhabi. This bus costs 15AED and departs about every 40 minutes.
From here you’ll need to take bus number 190 to Yas Island (see buses to the Grand Prix below).
If you’re flying out of Dubai after the race and you have an Emirates ticket, you may be able to avail of a free shuttle service that they operate between their city centre office in Abu Dhabi and DBX International Airport. This needs to be booked in advance and conditions apply.
A taxi from the centre of Dubai to Yas Marina takes about 1 hour in normal traffic and will cost about 400AED.
Getting around in Abu Dhabi and Yas Island, and transport to the Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi is a city built for ground transportation, and taxis and buses are common and not expensive. The city centre’s grid-like layout means its easily navigable, though the traffic can be horrendous.
The main Bus station in Abu Dhabi – an unmistakable futurist style building, rendered in Petronas green concrete – is on the corner of Hazaa Bin Zayed Road and 4th Street, in the city centre. A single trip ticket anywhere in the city costs about 50 cents.
for the Grand Prix
Yas Island itself can be reached from the city or airport by buses which are efficient and inexpensive. From the main bus station, take bus route number 190 and expect it to take from 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. Buses leave about every half an hour.
for the Airport
From the airport there are a number of bus routes. Bus number A1, departing every 30 – 60 minutes is a 24 hour service connecting terminals 1 and 2 with downtown Abu Dhabi. If you’re flying out of Abu Dhabi airport, chances are you can avail of a free shuttle bus. Contact your airline to find out.
The silver taxis with yellow signs are a common sight in Abu Dhabi streets. They are well regulated and quite well priced especially if you’re going to the Grand Prix as a group. Taking a cab between the city centre and either the airport or Yas Island will cost about 70AED and take about 40 minutes. In the arrivals hall you may be approached by taxi drivers offering their services which are usually best avoided.
for the Grand Prix
Going to the Grand Prix circuit, you might find the taxi driver is not familiar with where the drop off points are. If you have this trouble, directing him or her to let you out at Ferrari World and using the Yas Island shuttle from here can be more straight forward.
After the Grand Prix, getting a cab can be torturous with reports previous years of people having to wait up to 2 hours. The post race concert goes some way to alleviate these problems, staggering the departure time of spectators, and the organizers have made increased efforts to manage this situation but it’s probably not something that’s going to dramatically improve any time soon. If you must get a taxi, leaving the venue at unconventional times is about all you can do to avoid this long wait.
If you’re thinking of getting a rental car, note that there isn’t much in the way of parking near the circuit, though there are park and ride services available. Abu Dhabi has a zero tolerance approach to drink driving and if any amount of alcohol is detected in your blood there will be a mandatory jail sentence. Not a great way to remember your F1 trip. Also be advised that you’re likely to witness some quite dangerous antics among local drivers – something I would suggest is better left to the F1 stars and enjoyed at the circuit.
Yas Island itself can feel a bit like a theme park so it comes as no surprise that there’s a free shuttle bus taking visitors to and from attractions, hotels, shopping malls, etc. The service operates from 9am to 9pm daily.
After the race these buses are jam-packed as most fans make their way to the concert arena. It’s often better to get where you want to go on foot rather than waiting in line for a shuttle bus that will probably be full anyway.