- 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. Driving on the island is generally safe but traffic can be a headache.
Public transport in Bahrain
The primary mode of public transport in Bahrain is buses. Free WiFi is available on board. All buses have air conditioning, and an increasing number of bus terminals across the island are air conditioned as well. Buses are plentiful and cover just about anywhere one would need to go on the island.
The bus system is complex to navigate and route maps aren't easy to understand, but a Bahrain Bus app is available to download, 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. All taxis are required to make use of a meter, so expats should check to make sure the driver has activated the meter to ensure a fair price.
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.
Expats will need to convert their licence from home to a local driver's licence. To do so, they need to take their licence, passport and Bahrain ID card to the General Directorate of Traffic. Applicants will have to pass an optometry test and attend a theoretical lecture. Once this is done, they will be issued a Bahrain driver's licence.
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 and flat landscape should make commuting by bicycle easy, but it can get unbearably hot. Most cyclists use their bikes for recreation rather than transport.
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 to learn 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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