The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small archipelago jutting into the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Islam is reflected in its traditions and culture, the country also has a Western-friendly, relaxed and cosmopolitan lifestyle.
A visit to Bahrain and its 33 islands is ideal for a beach holiday. You can spend a day snorkelling and relaxing on Al Dar Island and enjoying barbecue in its beach huts. Jarada Island, only visible when the tide is low, is a peaceful getaway with crystalline, turquoise waters and pristine, sandy beaches. Among the best places to visit in Bahrain for wildlife is Hawar Island, where you might spot amazing dugong and picturesque flamingos, diving cormorants and sea turtles.
Bahrain Island, also called al-Awan Island, is the largest island of the Bahrain archipelago and home to its capital, Manama. Over the centuries, the city has been one of the main trade ports in the Middle East, and has been ruled by the Portuguese, Persians and Arabs, leading to a mix of diverse cultures and people.
The pearling industry was at the heart of Bahrain until the early 20th Century, with hundreds of boats departing weekly from Manama’s port in search of the underwater gemstones. The discovery of oil marked a turning point for the country, and the capital is now a vital regional financial hub with many banks and financial institutions.
Manama’s waterfront is dotted with eclectic modern buildings housing offices, residences and entertainment venues. In the upscale Al Seef District, you’ll find cafés, restaurants, shops, the family-friendly Seef Mall, and the City Centre Mall with cinemas and a water park. You can visit the historic Qal'at al-Bahrain fort, once the capital of the ancient Dilmun civilisation, or head to Dilmun Burial Mounds, which is said to be the world’s largest prehistoric cemetery. One of the top attractions is Bahrain National Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Dilmun civilisation.
The best Bahrain shopping in Manama is the bustling Bab el-Bahrain Souq; enjoy haggling for colourful fabrics, lustrous natural pearls and fragrant spices to take home.
The Bahrain International Circuit hosts Formula One races, and you can test your skills on the go-kart track.
Visitors should dress modestly in public spaces, covering knees and shoulders. Be sure to remove your shoes before entering mosques.