You’ve probably heard the Bahrain Grand Prix being described as being ‘in the middle of the desert’. A bit sandy it may be, but don’t get the wrong idea; you’re not going to have to have to trek out there on a camel to get to the circuit.
In fact you don’t have to travel far from the circuit before you’re engulfed in the urban sprawl of Manama and its here, the charming capital of Bahrain that most visitors will base themselves for the weekend.
Organization is a strong point of the Bahrain Grand Prix and getting to and from the track is about as easy here as it ever is for F1 fans. From Manama it’s a straight forward commute by rental car, taxi, uber, bus or shuttle bus to the circuit in Sakhir, about 32km to the south of the city.
Arrival at Bahrain International Airport (BAH)
Bahrain is an archipelago and though it’s possible to reach over a series of bridges connecting with Saudi Arabia most visitors will arrive by plane at Bahrain International Airport (BAH), only about 8km away from the centre of Manama.
Gulf Air are based here and offer flights from 23 different countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. An alternative is to fly via nearby Abu Dhabi (Ethiad) or Dubai (Emirates) or transfer at either of these major international airports to a low cost regional carrier such as Fly Dubai, Rotana Jet or Air Arabia.
Kiwi.com lets you search for the lowest cost flights and shows you route combinations that often don’t show up on other search engines. If you miss a connecting flight due to delay the Kiwi guarantee means you can take the next available flight at no extra cost.
Getting around in Manama, going to the Grand Prix and transport to the Airport
Manama’s public transport is under developed but fast improving and being a small city, getting from A to B is quite simple. For getting around the city hop on a cheap and efficient local bus, take expensive taxis or be self-reliant and hire a car, bike or just walk.
Taxi and Uber
Taking a cab in Manama can quickly get expensive and there are generally not enough. Starting price is 1 BHD and an extra 0.20 BHD per km, plus whatever surcharges may apply such as being picked up from a hotel (1BHD), from the airport (2BHD) or having luggage. These charges increase after 10pm and before 6am.
As with just about anywhere in the world there are some taxi drivers who will try to scam you, and getting taxis at the Grand Prix, the airport or any tourist site you should be especially vigilant. Always make sure the meter is on and stays on. If it isn’t you shouldn’t pay – that’s the law.
You can avoid most of these problems and usually pay a lot less by using Uber. Just be aware that some Uber drivers double as regular taxi drivers and may want to use the meter instead. Hold your ground and if they insist just summon another driver.
If you’re a first time Uber user, F1S readers can get €10 off their first ride when signing up.
…for the Grand Prix
Going to the circuit from downtown Manama costs only 5BHD with Uber compared to 12BHD with a regular taxi (and more if you factor in surcharges). On your way back after the Grand Prix there may be a long wait for taxis so arrange pick up in advance if possible.
…for the Airport
Find a taxi outside the exit of arrivals and be prepared to pay surcharges for luggage and airport pick up. A taxi from the airport to downtown Manama will cost about 6 BHD before surcharges.
Public buses in Manama have come on leaps and bounds since Formula One started visiting Bahrain. BPTC public buses are new, comfortable and are all decked out with 4G wifi.
Pay with cash or grab a rechargeable GO CARD for 500 fils (half a dinar) and just tap as you enter the bus. A single journey anywhere in the city costs 250 fils with the GO CARD or 300 if you pay in cash. They can be found and topped up at all main bus terminals and the airport.
…for the Grand Prix
Unless you spot a magic carpet the cheapest way of getting to the Sakhir Circuit is to take a local bus. This is easy to arrange and comfortable, but does involve a bit of a walk so its definitely not for everyone.
The A2 bus route begins at the Airport and stops at Manama Bus Terminal, City Centre Bahrain and the Indian Embassy and terminates at University of Bahrain, about 3.7km from the circuit. From here you might be able to get a taxi or Uber but its likely you’ll have to walk, so bring plenty of water with you.
The buses run at about a 20 minute interval from early morning to 10.30pm, making the journey from the Airport to the final stop in about an hour. Full schedule and route details can be found here.
…for the Airport
Bahrain bus A1 and A2 routes service the Bahrain International Airport every 20 minutes.
Grand Prix Shuttle Bus
There’s no official shuttle bus for F1 fans put on by race organizers, but a number of major hotels in Manama do run either a free or paid shuttle bus service to the Bahrain circuit. Check with your hotel in advance to see if they are doing this.
Driving and Parking at the Bahrain Grand Prix
With taxis being expensive in Bahrain you may find yourself wishing to rent a car, especially if you’re in group. Driving in Bahrain can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it. You’re unlikely to get lost or hit a pothole – roads are well maintained and there are usually sign posts in English as well as Arabic – but its some of the aggressive local driving that is the cause for concern.
To rent a car from Thursday to Sunday prices start at about 24 Dinar or 10 Dinar if you just need a hire car for one day.
There’s no shortage of car hire companies at the airport but you’ll get better deals reserving one in advance using a search aggregator like RentalCars.com that searches multiple car hire companies at once for the best prices.
Directions to the Circuit
- To get to the circuit by car, head south out of the city on the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway.
- After about 22km, turn right onto the Zallaq Highway.
- From here follow signs to the circuit.
The circuit is about a 40 minute drive from Manama, traffic delays being nowhere near as severe as they sometimes are at other circuits as local roads are made one-way for the weekend.
Parking at the Circuit
If you’re brave enough to drive here, the good news is that parking is provided at the circuit in abundance and is free for vehicles with two or more passengers.