Bahrain Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Bahrain

Bahrain drives on the right hand side of the road. Rules around driving licence requirements for foreigners are contradictory online and unfortunately the Bahrain Government section on traffic rules is in Arabic only. A number of websites say an International Driving permit is required in addition to your own licence. However some online resources say an IDP is not required for ‘some countries’, and the UK Government website says UK licence holders can drive for up to 3 months without an IDP. That seems pretty clear in the case of the UK but for other countries I would suggest taking an IDP as well as your own licence. Speed limits are 120kmh on highways, 80-100km on rural roads and 60kmh in urban areas. Fines are steep for infringement of traffic rules, particularly drink driving. Bahrain operates a zero tolerance to drink/driving. If you are caught you will be arrested, put into the drivers prison and your case will not be heard until the next working day. First time offenders will have to pay a minimum £900 fine and could be banned from driving in Bahrain. Jail sentences for traffic offences are possible.

Bahrain’s four main islands and all urban areas are connected by a well maintained and efficient road system comprising of 3500km of mostly paved routes. Causeways connect Manama with Muharraq Island, and the Sitra Causeway joins Sitra to Bahrain Island. A 24 km causeway, the King Fahd Causeway, links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia mainland via the island of Umm an-Nasan and is a ‘must-drive’ location in the Middle East. It’s a toll road and can be busy at certain times, especially a Thursday afternoon, heading from Saudi into Bahrain.  A new causeway linking Bahrain to Qatar has been planned for many years, and there are still hopes that it could be completed in time for the 2022 football world cup.

Highways and major roads in the northern third of Bahrain are four to six lanes wide and well maintained. Roads in villages and older parts of Manama and Muharraq are narrow and twisting but are generally reasonably well maintained. Most drivers abide by road rules but expect to see some fast and aggressive on the multi-lane highways. Historically, Bahrain has had a very high rate of road fatalities but a tightening of rules and more stringent penalties have reduced the death toll in recent years. You should still drive confidently but defensively and expect the unexpected. There are occasionally demonstrations which block roads, including areas around the Budaiya Highway and may require a detour. A satnav is therefore useful.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Bahrain Car Rental –
Sixt, Hertz, Europcar , National, Avis, Budget, have outlets here.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Bahrain. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Bahrain Self Driving Rules–

Budget allow vehicles to be taken into Saudi Arabia for 15BHD. You will also be required to leave a credit card to cover an additional insurance excess in Saudi. Remember also that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia .


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