An archipelago of islands in the Arabian Gulf near Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain combines ancient history with the modern trappings of oil wealth. Here’s your travel guide for the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix on 19-22 March.
- Visas: Most Western tourists visiting Bahrain for the Grand Prix can obtain a free visa on arrival at the airport. Make sure you have your race tickets handy and use the special F1 lanes at immigration. Check your eligibility before you travel, as citizens of some countries need to apply for an eVisa in advance.
- Currency: Bahraini Dinar, abbreviated as BD or BHD, and divided into 1000 Fils. At current exchange rates, 1 BHD = €2.30 EUR / $2.65 USD
- Language: Arabic, though English is widely spoken.
- Time Zone: UTC/GMT + 3 hours
- In an Emergency: Dial 999
- Power Sockets: Bahrain uses the same G Type power sockets as the United Kingdom. Fans coming from other parts of the world will need to bring along a universal adaptor.
- Weather: The Bahrain GP falls in late March, just before the onset of the much hotter summer season. Daytime temperatures should be around 25-30°C (75-85°F) with a very low chance of rainfall. All grandstands at Bahrain International Circuit are covered and most of the on-track action takes place at night when temperatures are more comfortable.
Arrival & Getting Around
Bahrain International Airport is served by Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air, which flies direct to a host of major global cities such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Athens, Bangkok, Manila, Mumbai. Other notable direct connections include Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific), Istanbul (Turkish Airlines) and Delhi (Air India). There’s also plenty of daily flights from the nearby local hubs of Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Muscat. No direct connections from the USA, unfortunately.
The easiest way to get from the airport to the city (and to the circuit) is by taxi or ride sharing. The fare from the airport to the centre of Manama should set you back around 15-20 EUR while the far from Manama to the circuit should be around double this amount. Hiring a car is also worth considering in Bahrain; rental prices are reasonable and petrol is cheap. Free shuttle buses connect popular hotels in the capital Manama with the Bahrain International Circuit on race weekend. More information: 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix – Getting Around Guide.
Where to Stay
Bahrain International Circuit is located in the desert, some 30km south of Bahrain’s capital, Manama. As there is very little going on near the circuit, we recommend staying in one of the following central areas of Manama for access to the best hotels, plus shopping, nightlife and restaurants:
- Home to many of the city’s skyscrapers, Al Seef has a good range of 5-star hotels, plus lots of shopping and entertainment options.
- Al Juffair is popular with expats for its nightlife, shopping, bars and cafes.
- Popular with F1 personnel, the Diplomatic Area is the main business district of Manama.
- The Amwaj Islands are best for hotels with access to private beaches and water sports.
Why not add accommodation to your Official Ticket Package? F1 Experiences offers a 3- or 4-night stay at the Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre or the Ritz Carlton Bahrain, two of the city’s best 5-star hotels. Circuit transfers can be added to hotel packages.
Where to Eat & Drink
Befitting its status as the only Gulf state where you can buy alcohol legally, Bahrain has a lively dining and nightlife scene that’s popular with local expats and visitors from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
- Brunch: With the on-track action not starting till later, why not start your day with a popular location tradition? Sumptuous “all you can eat” brunches are served in countless restaurants across Manama, especially in high-end hotels like the Le Méridien & Ritz Carlton (where you can stay with F1 Experiences, see above). Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular days. You’ll pay a fixed amount (normally 20-40 BHD / $50-100 USD) for all the food and drink you can handle in 3-4 hours. If you arrive early for next year’s race, many restaurants will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day on 17 March with specially themed events.
- Buffet: In addition to brunches, many of the city’s best hotels and restaurants also do a similar “all you can eat” buffet during the week, especially from Wednesday to Friday nights. Popular buffets include themed nights at the Crowne Plaza, Indian cuisine on Thursdays and Fridays at Lanterns Restaurant and Le Méridien’s seafood buffet on Thursday nights.
- Adliya: Many of Manama’s best restaurants can be found in the Adliya district of the city. Popular cafés include Coco’s, which serves classic American fare and the Parisian-themed Café Lilou. For some of the best Indian food in Manama, head to Rasoi by Vineet; close by, Polo Gastropub in the Palace Boutique Hotel has tasty burgers and live music, while The Meat Company offers prime cuts of steak.
- Bahraini cuisine: Don’t leave Manama without sampling some of the tasty local fare. Popular dishes include machboos (fragrant rice with meat), grilled meat with khubus (soft bread), nasheef (potato and meat stew) and luqaimat (sweet dumplings). Haji Gahwa is a street-side cafe near the Manama Souk with tasty and cheap, home-cooked food, while Basta 23 in the Riyadat Mall offers a modern take on traditional local dishes.
- Nightlife: Sports bars are popular in Manama and the always-lively JJ's Irish Restaurant is one of the best. Most high-end hotels in the Seef area have a least one bar or nightclub; some of the best include Bizarre Lounge in the Le Méridien and Casa Bar & Terrace at the Mercure Grand Seef. Popular clubs include Ibrida in the Ramee Grand Hotel and Club XS in the Ramee Rose Hotel. Look out for happy hour drink specials and ladies’ nights, which are held on weeknights at most popular nightspots.
What to do
- Beaches: some of the best beaches in Bahrain can be found at the resort on Al Dar Island, a 10-minute ferry ride from the fisherman’s port of Sitra. Here you can swim in the lagoon, snorkel on the artificial reef or relax in a cabana. There’s also water sports, restaurants and shopping. Tickets, which include entry to the island and return ferry, cost 5 BHD for adults and 2 BHD for children on weekdays ($13/$5 USD), slightly more on weekends. Don’t forget to bring your passport for coastguard inspection.
- Shopping: City Centre Bahrain in the Seef district is the largest shopping centre in Bahrain, complete with hotels, dining, cinema complex, Magic Planet family entertainment complex and the 15,000m2 Wahooo! Water Park. For a more traditional experience, head to Manama Souk behind the Bab Al Bahrain historic building in the city centre. Practice your haggling skills on everything from tourist souvenirs to spices, electronics, gold jewellery and perfume.
- Culture & History: discover 6000 years of Bahraini history at the impressive Bahrain National Museum (open every day, 08:00-20:00, entry 1 BHD/$2.50 USD), visit the Bahrain Fort, the remains of a 16th century Portuguese fort and UNESCO World Heritage site with on-site museum (open Tuesday to Sunday, 08:00-20:00, free entry) or pay your respects at Al Fatih Mosque, the largest in Bahrain with capacity for up to 7,000 worshippers (open Saturday-Thursday 09:00-16:00, closed to non-Muslims on Fridays, free entry).
- Tours: Together with our local partners, F1 Experiences is proud to offer a selection of organized tours away from the track for our guests at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. These include a Half Day Desert Tour, visiting the Royal Camel Farm, historic first oil well and A’Ali Burial Mounds, and a Pearl Diving Tour, where you’ll hit the water and go snorkeling in the beautiful, clear waters. You can also learn more about the history and culture of Bahrain on a City Sightseeing Tour or hone your off-road driving skills at the Land Rover Experience.
In addition to our signature benefits, Bahrain Grand Prix Ticket Packages from F1 Experiences include select grandstands or VIP hospitality in the Formula 1 Paddock Club. Get yours today!