Home Travel F1 Travel: How to Watch a Formula 1 Race Live Around the World

F1 Travel: How to Watch a Formula 1 Race Live Around the World


Thanks to the success of Netflix’s “just a little overdramatic” but very fun to watch Drive to Survive, F1 has exploded in popularity, with venues selling out months in advance, widespread media coverage, increased celebrity attendance, and bidding wars for broadcasting rights.

All these factors combined mean traveling to F1 races has become a bit of a competitive sport. Despite this, there are ways to maximize your time at a race and see a new corner of the world!

So, if your dream is to watch a Formula 1 race live, we’ve got everything you need to know about F1 travel.

What Is Formula 1?

For the uninitiated, Formula 1 is Motorsport, or rather, car racing. Formula 1 cars are designed to specific rules and cost millions of dollars to build, run, and repair. Formula 1 cars race around non-linear tracks at speeds between 90 to 340 kilometers per hour. There are ten different teams, each with two cars for a total of 20 drivers on the ‘grid.’

Different tracks require different types of tires or downforce (managing wind against the car to help with speed, turning, etc.), and each car is its own entity, as are the drivers. The F1 World Championship as we know it today has been running uninterrupted since 1950.

A typical weekend starts on a Friday with two practice sessions, each an hour long. Then, Saturday sees one more practice session and the qualifying session for the Sunday Grand Prix. Qualifying has three different sessions, with five drivers eliminated from each one until ten remain, and the order to start the race is set, including the very coveted first place or Pole Position. Sunday is the big event, with the actual race taking place.

Other events going on during these weekends may include F1 Academy (a new female driver series), Formula 3 and 2 (hopeful F1 drivers), Porsche Supercup racing, and concerts across the weekend. In the last few years, F1 has also introduced the Sprint format, which includes a 100km dash-style race on Saturdays, which carries points for the World Championship as well.

F1 hosts 23 races worldwide, with the bulk being held in Europe, though the US is an up-and-coming location as Formula 1 continues to penetrate the US market. Six of these races include a Sprint race. Each race has the drivers competing for points to win either the driver’s championship (personal glory) or the constructor’s championship (team glory and, most importantly, prize money to build next season’s car). Sometimes a team and driver win both with ease the most recent being Red Bull Racing and their star driver Max Verstappen.

How to Attend an F1 Race

With 23 races worldwide, you have many options to watch a race. So how can you maximize your time in a location while traveling before or after and still watch the race?

Luckily, some of the best and most affordable races are in locations that allow you to explore nearby locations easily. The races in the United States are by far the most expensive, so since the bulk of the most affordable races are in Europe, we’ll start there.

There are several ways to purchase tickets, whether from the Formula 1 site itself (you can also see the yearly race calendar here with dates), each race track’s individual sites (our preferred method), or from 3rd-party vendors. Read more about purchasing F1 Tickets here.

F1 Travel

Top 5 Best Cities to Watch A Race and Maximize F1 Travel

With so many different races worldwide, there are many options for watching a race, but some cities offer a bit more than others. Let’s look at what we believe are the five best cities to watch a race AND travel around!

Abu Dhabi, UAE: Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi is probably the most expensive of the races in the Middle East (Bahrain, Qatar, Jeddah), with major hotel chain prices skyrocketing, though smaller budget hotels and Airbnb’s can certainly be found for affordable prices.

However, Abu Dhabi is also the last race of the season, which means it can be very important, even a title decider. 2021 was an amazing final race between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen to decide the Driver’s Championship on the last corner of the last lap. The weather is perfect to be outdoors, as it’s always held at the end of November or early December!

The track in Abu Dhabi is located on Yas Island, about a 10-minute Uber ride from the airport. There are several hotels on the island to stay at (book well in advance!), but so much to do!

Yas Island boasts Warner Brothers World, an indoor theme park dedicated to all things Warner from Gotham City, Bedrock, and Looney Tunes. Right next to the track are Yas Mall and Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster! Also, water parks such as Yas Waterworld and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. We recommend buying a pass or combined tickets if you’re visiting more than one park.

For more culture, on Saadiyat Island, you can visit the very affordable Louvre Abu Dhabi, which has works and artifacts from throughout history and shared pieces between the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay. Saadiyat will also include, in the future, a Guggenheim and a Natural History Museum.

Finally, you’d be remiss not to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is the largest mosque in the world that non-Muslims can visit and one of the most stunning buildings to see in person. It is free to visit, though there are strict dress code requirements.

If that wasn’t enough and you want a bit more, you can always head down to Dubai (about 45 minutes by car/taxi), where you can see the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, visit the Palm Dubai with expansive hotels like the Atlantis, and attend a brunch of whatever kind suits your fancy!

Related read: Top Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi – United Arab Emirates

Budapest, Hungary: The Hungaroring

Compared to many Western European cities, Budapest offers a full F1 travel weekend for a much more affordable price. In fact, the Hungaroring is often the cheapest race on the entire calendar. On top of all that, Budapest has plenty of history and gorgeous architecture (like its Parliament) to see and give you that true European feel. Budapest also has a wonderful social scene if you’re looking for a night out.

The Hungaoring always offers great races for F1 fans and novices alike. It is a short 24km from downtown, though taking a cab is recommended. As this race always falls during the summer, you usually have some good weather (though rain isn’t uncommon). The circuit itself is rather short (a little over 4 km) with many corners, making overtaking difficult. Strategy, teamwork, and reading the weather conditions are key to winning in Hungary.

From Budapest, you have aplenty of travel opportunities! Bratislava, Vienna, and Zagreb are all just a few hours’ train ride away. You can venture a bit further as well and make your way to Poland and Germany or head south to Romania and Serbia. Whatever your preference, you can find something or somewhere to maximize your enjoyment.

Related read: How to Spend a Weekend in Budapest

Mogyoród, Hungaroring, Hungaroring utca, Hungary
Mogyoród, Hungaroring, Hungaroring utca, Hungary

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Circuit Zandvoort

This race at Zandvoort takes place about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam and is one of the more easily accessible races, as you can reach it in about 45 minutes by public train.

Zandvoort isn’t usually considered one of the more exciting races on the circuit, but the weather can play havoc with the race and make it more entertaining than F1 races. Zandvoort is a fast circuit, also short, with quite a few curves that test the drivers’ ability to take the car around high-speed corners. The proximity to the ocean also means you must contend with the wind and possibly rain at Zandvoort (the 2023 race was an absolute deluge!), which adds to the challenge.

Being near Amsterdam means you have plenty to do! Amsterdam has something for everyone, from museums and history. There are museums like the Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Anne Frank House (reserve in advance!).

Nightlife is found aplenty (Amsterdam is pretty famous for this), and day trips abound. You can bike all around the Netherlands (including to Zandvoort itself – a preferred method of arrival). Utrecht is a lovely city and a university town; very much like Amsterdam but less touristy and only about an hour away, as are The Hague and Rotterdam. A bit further, you can venture into northern Germany to Cologne for schnitzel and the gorgeous cathedral or head south into Belgium for some of the world’s best beer, fries, and waffles.

Related read: 3 Days in Amsterdam: What Not to Miss

Circuit Zandvoort, Burgemeester van Alphenstraat, Zandvoort, Netherlands

Singapore: Marina Bay Street Circuit

Singapore is a street circuit, meaning the city modifies itself to accommodate the high-speed chase of 20 Formula 1 cars all around the city. Being a street circuit means, however, that you need not travel far to watch the events.

The Singapore Grand Prix was the first night race in the F1 calendar and has been a staple since 2008. One of, if not the toughest, races on the calendar due to Singapore’s humidity and the track’s low-speed corners, Singapore requires a fine-tuned combination of race pace, team strategy, physical endurance, and maximum concentration. It’s not uncommon for the Singapore GP to take the maximum allotted time of 2 hours to complete.

Singapore is a great city for enjoying a race and enjoying a place! Singapore offers one of the best food scenes in the world, with influences from all the surrounding regions. And while Singapore can be very expensive ($70-100 for a meal for two with drinks at a restaurant), the best food at the local (hawker) stalls is very affordable (and better!).

Singapore has a fantastic and affordable public transportation system, which makes getting around incredibly easy. You can also visit Gardens by the Bay, which is absolutely stunning in its design, and the indoor gardens are something to behold! If you want to dish out a few more dollars and ball out, stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which is situated right next to part of the track.

Thanks to its location, Singapore is a great jumping-off point to travel in Southeast Asia! Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are all just short (think no more than 2-3 hours flight) away. You can explore beaches, museums, temples, and so much more, all while flying through Changi Airport, which is consistently ranked as one of the best, if not usually the best, airports in the world!

Related read: Exploring Singapore: What you Need to Know

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Mexico City, Mexico: Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez

Perhaps the most affordable race in the Americas, Mexico City, is always interesting due to the altitude challenges that drivers and teams face. The high altitude in Mexico City slows cars down considerably, so it’s not a race you can win on race pace and downforce alone.

The city itself offers plenty to do! You can take time to see Tenochtitlan and the ancient Aztec Pyramids, visit Mexico City’s markets such as Central de Abastos, or visit nearby towns like Xochimilco or Zacatecas. Regardless of where you go, indulge yourself on the many flavors of Mexican cuisine (it is so much more than just tacos and burritos)!

Depending on the date of the race, you could also plan to stay in Mexico for the ever-vibrant Día de los Muertos and experience one of the most meaningful events in Mexican culture. Set your sights on some Lucha Libre and watch the Luchadores in their eccentric masks engage in over-the-top wrestling!

Venturing slightly further away from the city, you can head over to Jalisco, home of the agave plant and thus…tequila! There are many different varieties, including plenty of tequila you don’t just shoot or mix but sip like a fine wine or whisky!

Mexico also offers amazing beaches (think Zihuatanejo, Cancún, Puerto Vallarta, and more) for you to rest and relax before or after a race. With its all-inclusive resorts, you can pay for your stay and eat, drink, and tan until you’ve had your fill! If you venture out beyond the resorts in the Yucatán Peninsula, you can also visit Chichen Itza, home to the ancient Mayans, and the Xcaret Archaeological Park near Playa del Carmen.

Mexico City is a great jumping-off point for some other travel opportunities! The city is a short flight from numerous places on the West Coast of the US, such as Los Angeles or Las Vegas. You could also fly to Bogotá (4-5 hours) and explore all the Colombia has to offer in its wonderful mountains. Or you could head to Central America, like Panama or Costa Rica, where you can take in plenty of beaches and jungles!

F1 travel to Mexico

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a seasoned fan, a newbie Drive to Survive initiate, or just a casual observer, Formula 1 races are entertaining spectacles. They also have the benefit of being hosted in a slew of great cities around the world. We’ve given you what we believe to be the best five cities to watch and travel to, but we recommend you explore further and find the city and race that fits you best!

  • NomadicGregors

    We are the NomadicGregors! A pair international teachers who live and work abroad! Our goal is to share our experiences, photos, tips for travel, and advice/insights on being an international educator – the good and the bad (it’s mostly good!).


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