If you’re planning a holiday in the Kingdom of Bahrain, you’ll find plenty of attractions to visit, miles of beaches and watersports facilities, some of the best shopping in the Persian Gulf, and much more besides! While it may be the smallest of the independent Persian Gulf states, Bahrain has a lot to offer: a total of 33 islands, a liberal culture (meaning alcohol is legal) and huge biodiversity make it popular with all kinds of travellers, from sunbathers to wildlife spotters.
Whether you’re just going for a short visit or you’re planning a truly luxurious retreat in one of Bahrain’s premium hotels – for instance, the prestigious Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel in the centre of Manama – take a few tips below on what to see and do while you’re there.
Beaches and watersports
Many of the best beaches in Bahrain are private and attached to hotels, so it’s a good idea to make sure your accommodation has its own beach. However, the man-made Amwaj Islands have some great places to swim or just sit and watch the jet skiers and kite surfers. If you want to visit a real public beach, take a trip out to Jazayir – around a mile-long stretch of sand that’s a great spot for barbecues and particularly popular with the locals.
If you want to have more fun in the sea, there are plenty of providers offering scuba diving, sailing and surfing – your hotel should be able to point you to the best providers. Bulthama is a particularly spectacular dive site, and while it’s quite a long journey out, the undersea views are well worth it.
Sightseeing and museums
The capital city, Manama, has some splendid sights to see. The Al-Fateh Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques, is one of Bahrain’s top tourist attractions and a masterpiece of Middle Eastern architecture – it looks equally impressive on a sunny day or lit up in different colours at night. Visitors can find out more about one of Bahrain’s most important industries at the Museum of Pearl Diving, as well as discovering the country’s cultural heritage at the Bahrain National Museum.
For something a little different, the Tree of Life is worth a visit: it’s a 400-year-old mesquite tree atop a hill in the middle of an arid desert, which some people believe has magical properties. Around 50,000 people a year visit the tree, whose survival in a completely dry area still puzzles scientists.
Like many Middle Eastern capitals, Manama has some enormous shopping centres where you can lose yourself for hours in the mix of trendy designer outlets and traditional open-air souks. The Bahrain City Centre mall is the biggest and most famous in the city, but don’t miss the Al A’Ali Mall and the exclusive Moda Mall, which is a haven for lovers of fashion with 160 brand-name boutiques. When it’s time for a bite to eat, head to the Adliya district for affordable yet delicious street food.
Photo Credit: Jacobs – Creative Bees