Destination Guide: Bahrain

The Kingdom of Bahrain is the only island nation in the Middle East, comprising 33 natural islands, with Bahrain Island being the largest. As well as year-round sunshine and white-sand beaches, the Kingdom has a rich history and is a fusion of old and new, home to five-star luxury hotels, as well as historic archaeological sites.


WHAT TO DO

Visit the disappearing tidal island of Jarada

With its golden sands and clear blue waters, Jarada Island is a day-tripper’s dream. But come high tide, the sand bank wondrously disappears. Located approximately 14km from the mainland, travellers can visit the paradisiacal island during low tide and kick back on the beach with a picnic and enjoy unparalleled views of the crystal-clear sea or enjoy dolphin watching and snorkelling in the nearby coral reefs.

Experience the art of traditional pearl diving or explore the world’s largest underwater theme park

Historically Bahrain was the centre of the world’s pearl trade, with Bahraini pearls considered the best in the world. Today, divers can explore the treasures of Bahrain’s warm, turquoise waters and try their hand at traditional pearl diving. Divers can scoop as many oysters as they can carry and if they’re lucky enough to find a pearl, they can keep it forever. Adventurers can also visit the world’s largest underwater theme park, Dive Bahrain, which acts as an important conservation area. The theme park covers an area of over 100,000 square metres and features a decommissioned Boeing 747 as its centrepiece; the largest aircraft ever to be submerged. Divers can explore sunken dhows (ships), traditional pearl merchants’ houses, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly material designed to encourage the growth of marine life.

Delve into 5,000 years of history at Bahrain’s UNESCO sites

Bahrain is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the Dilmun Burial Mounds, Qal’at al-Bahrain (Bahrain Fort) and the pearling site on Muharraq island. The Dilmun Burial Mounds, listed as a World Heritage Site in 2019, spans over 21 archaeological sites on the western part of the island. Built between 2050 and 1750 BCE, there are over 11,000 mounds that signify evidence of the Early Dilmun civilisation around the second Millennium BC – with most of the mounds being intact and remaining un excavated. For an unforgettable Bahraini experience, travellers can explore Bahrain Fort on horseback or follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Jacques Cartier along the Bahrain Pearling Trail. The trail boasts grand palaces and merchant houses, each one an opulent example of traditional, Arabic architecture.

Get your adrenaline pumping at the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix

The 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix marked the first ever round of the FIA Formula One World Championship held in the Middle East. The Bahraini passion for racing has continued to grow, with the annual night race held under the Sakhir desert stars becoming a firm favourite each season. During the rest of the year, visitors can get in on the action themselves by karting around the track!

WHERE TO EAT

Traditional Bahraini fare: Saffron

Cross the bridge from modern Manama and step back in time to Muharraq, the Kingdom’s former capital and part of the Bahrain Pearling Trail. Saffron is a charming restaurant in the heart of Souq Al Qaysariya, built on the remains of a traditional date press which has been lovingly preserved. Travellers can visit for a Bahraini breakfast, which is served all day and consists of traditional dishes with modern touches, such as eggs with tomato, dhal, beans, balaleet (sweet vermicelli noodles with an omelette) and small, Indian-inspired sandwiches.

Buzzing urban atmosphere: Block 338

To get a flavour of modern cuisine and entertainment in Bahrain, travellers can head to Block 338, Manama's trendy pedestrianised quarter, home to hip rooftop bars and stylish restaurants. For dinner, foodies should head to Masso, which serves Italian dishes and wines, or The Foundry, which dishes up excellent steaks and seafood in an urban-chic setting. After dark, the best place for cocktails is the Hazel Rooftop Lounge, which has a late-night live music licence and draws a fun and friendly local crowd.

Chic seaside lounging: Solymar

On the sun-drenched north-eastern tip of Bahrain sits a golden stretch of sand home to Solymar, a luxurious beach bar. Visitors can indulge in Mediterranean bites in one of the many al-fresco lounge areas, sample one of the various Shisha flavours on offer or unwind on a beach bed to the soothing sounds of the waves. Solymar also hosts plenty of night-time events with top DJs, so be sure to stick around once the sun goes down.

www.solymarbahrain.com

WHERE TO STAY

Traditional arts meet modern architecture: The Merchant House

Located a 10-minute walk from Manama’s vibrant Bab el-Bahrain Souk is The Merchant House – Bahrain’s first and only five-star boutique property. The contemporary hotel epitomises the city’s flair for combining heritage with ultra-sleek modern styling and is home to 46 immaculate suites, a rooftop pool and on-site spa. The hotel features contemporary Gulf Islamic architecture complemented by local art and textiles, reflecting the colourful markets nearby.

www.themerchanthouse.bh


Secluded seaside paradise: The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain

This luxury resort offers a tranquil slice of paradise along the bay in Seef. With a private lagoon and island, the resort provides guests with one temptation after another. Visitors can experience luxury with spacious rooms, modern suites and five-star villas complete with private infinity pools. Dining spans the globe, from Italy to India; the spa fuses traditional therapies and modern-day relaxation; and beach time can transform into an afternoon of golf or tennis.

www.ritzcarlton.com

A cosmopolitan oasis: Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay

On an exclusive island in the heart of the Kingdom’s capital, Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay combines the best of a beach holiday and an urban getaway. Boasting 180-degree views of the Arabian Gulf or Manama skyline, travellers can soak up the views from a cabana on the private white-sand beach and enjoy capital sophistication on island time.

www.fourseasons.com


www.bahrain.com


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