- Download our Moving to Bahrain Guide (PDF)
Expats should be aware that it will likely take some time to get used to transport and driving in Bahrain. That said, the island's diminutive size means that this adjustment is somewhat less dramatic than in larger countries.
As public transport options are limited to bus services, most expats find that driving is the easiest and most convenient way to get around in Bahrain. Plans have been put in place to construct a metro system for the island, which will be built in phases and is set to be complete by 2023.
Public transport in Bahrain
The primary mode of public transport in Bahrain is buses. Though buses are plentiful and cover just about anywhere one would need to go on the island, many don't have air conditioning and they are often crowded. Some of the island's bus shelters are air conditioned, however.
The bus system is complex to navigate and route maps aren't easy to understand, but there is a Bahrain Bus app that is available to download from the App Store or Play Store, which makes navigating the bus system a lot easier. Otherwise, expats can speak to a member of staff at the bus station for assistance.
Fares can be paid using a GO Card. They can be topped up using machines on buses or at stations, and are the cheapest and easiest method of payment for the buses.
Taxis in Bahrain
Taxis are reliable and plentiful in Bahrain's main city centres. Fares are expensive, and taxi drivers may try to further overcharge expats if they think they can get away with it. Expats should therefore make sure that taxi drivers have their meters on at all times.
Uber is also available in Bahrain, which can be cheaper than regular taxis, and expats will have the added benefit of knowing the fare beforehand.
Driving in Bahrain
Most expats living in Bahrain have a car. In the heat of the summer, air-conditioned transport is essential even to drive to the local shop.
Driving in Bahrain is on the right-hand side of the road and traffic is commonly regulated by roundabouts. Road signs are usually in both Arabic and English, and roads are generally well maintained.
That said, driving standards in Bahrain are poor and local driving behaviour can be erratic. Speeding, lane switching without signalling and the use of mobile phones while driving are common so expats should drive defensively and always wear a seatbelt.
Cycling in Bahrain
Although there is a lack of cycling infrastructure in Bahrain, the island is home to a handful of cycling groups. Bahrain's small size should make commuting by bicycle easy, but it can get unbearably hot and the roads are filled with unpredictable and dangerous driving, making this a far from ideal form of commute.
What do expats say about getting around in Bahrain?
"My biggest challenge when I moved was not driving. It’s hard and expensive to move around if you do not drive so I applied for driving licence as soon as possible." Check out Ezra's expat interview about Bahrain for more.
"Definitely recommend a car. Taxis, while plentiful, are relatively expensive, and often taxi drivers will not take you to or through certain areas, particularly if they need to pass through a military checkpoint. There are local bus routes, but these are primarily for labourers and school children. There are also buses for travel to Saudi Arabia." Read John's Expat Arrivals interview for more about life in Bahrain.
►Read Healthcare in Bahrain for info about the country's medical system
Are you an expat living in Bahrain?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bahrain. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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