You may have heard the Bahrain International Circuit described as ‘in the middle of the desert’. Perhaps it is a bit sandy, but don’t get the wrong idea – you won’t have to have to trek out on a camel to get to the Bahrain Grand Prix.

In fact, you don’t have to travel far from the circuit before you’re engulfed in the urban sprawl of Manama. And it’s here, the charming capital of Bahrain, that most visitors will base themselves for the weekend.

Organisation 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 straightforward commute by rental car, taxi, uber, bus or shuttle bus to the circuit in Sakhir, about 32km south of the city.

Arrival in Bahrain at the Bahrain International Airport

Bahrain is an archipelago in the Gulf. Though it’s possible to reach via a series of bridges which connect the kingdom to Saudi Arabia, most visitors will arrive by plane. The Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is about 8km away from the centre of Manama.

Gulf Air is based here and offers flights from 23 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. Many fans fly via nearby Abu Dhabi (Ethiad) or Dubai (Emirates). An alternative is to transfer at one of these major 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 a delay the Kiwi guarantee means you can take the next available flight at no extra cost.

transport-bahrain-f1
© Allen Watkin | Flickr

Getting around in Manama, getting to the circuit and transport for the Airport

Manama’s public transport is underdeveloped but fast improving, and being a small city, getting from A to B is quite simple. To get around the city, hop on a cheap and efficient local bus, take expensive taxis or be self-reliant and hire a car.

Driving and Parking at the Bahrain Grand Prix

With taxis being expensive in Bahrain, you may wish to rent a car, especially if you’re in a group. Driving in Bahrain can be 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 signposts in English and Arabic – but some of the aggressive local driving is a 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.

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.

Directions to the Circuit

  1. To get to the circuit by car, head south out of the city on the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Highway.
  2. After about 22km, turn right onto the Zallaq Highway.
  3. From here, follow the signs to the circuit.

Parking at the Circuit

If you’re brave enough to drive here, the good news is that parking is abundant at the circuit. Parking is free for vehicles with at least three ticket holders. For two or fewer, the parking pass costs 10BHD and can be arranged by calling the circuit helpline on 1745 0000. 

You’ll want to arrange your parking passes in advance, as it won’t be possible to buy parking tickets on the day of the event. Passes need to be collected from one of these collection points and displayed on the vehicle’s windshield. 

  • BIC stand, City Centre Mall
  • BIC stand, Beyond Money F1 Village, Block 338
  • Ticket Sales and information stand, Exhibition World Bahrain

Grand Prix Shuttle Bus

On Grand Prix weekend, free shuttle buses connect downtown Manama, the circuit and the airport. There is no charge for F1 ticket holders to use this service, and no extra passes are required. The hotels below serve as pick-up and drop-off points for the shuttle service in central Manama. You don’t need to be a guest of one of these hotels to use the shuttle bus – just go to the departure point nearest to where you’re staying.

  • Sofitel
  • Ritz Carlton
  • Four Seasons Hotel
  • Intercontinental Regency
  • Nordic Palace & Spa —Seef
  • Ibis Hotel Manama
  • Ibis Styles Diplomatic
  • Gulf Hotel
  • The K Hotel
  • The Olive Hotel

All shuttle buses are scheduled to depart every 45 minutes.

Route: airport to Manama

Days: Monday, 27th February – Sunday, 5th March
Hours: 5am – 1pm & 3pm – 1am

Route: airport to the circuit

Days: Thursday, 2nd March – Sunday, 5th March
Hours: 6am – 4pm

Route: Manama to the circuit

Days: Thursday, 2nd March – Sunday, 5th March
Hours: 10am – 4pm

Route: the circuit to Manama and the airport

Days: Thursday, 2nd March – Sunday, 5th March
Hours: 6pm – 11pm

Route: Manama to the airport

Days: Sunday, 5th March – Monday, 6th March 
Hours: 8pm – 12 midnight (Sunday) & 6am – 12 midnight (Monday)

Public Bus

Public buses in Manama have come on leaps and bounds since Formula 1 started visiting Bahrain. BPTC public buses are new, comfortable and 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 involves a bit of a walk, so it’s 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 the University of Bahrain, about 3.7km from the circuit. From here, you might be able to get a taxi or Uber, but you’ll likely 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.

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 10 pm and before 6 am.

As with just about anywhere in the world, some taxi drivers 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 less by using Uber. Just be aware that some Uber drivers double as regular taxi drivers and may want to use the meter instead. So hold your ground, and if they insist, just summon another driver.

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). However, on your way back after the Grand Prix, there may be a long wait for taxis, so arrange your pick-up in advance if possible.

for the Airport

Find a taxi outside the arrivals exit 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.

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About Me

I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.