The Middle East’s smallest country by a long shot, Bahrain often escapes the attention of tourists in favour of skyscrapers that are second to none. But Bahrain is still record-breaking; not least because the Middle East’s first ever Grand Prix was held here. Even more impressive is its unsurpassed pearl diving scene where you can keep your treasure trove. Shiny and sentimental, uncovering the local history is just as thrilling as shopping until you drop. And with English being so widely spoken, booking a 5-day getaway to international-friendly Bahrain feels quite effortless.
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Day 1: Check out Bahrain’s top attractions
What better way to start your trip than to get to know the city? And with the majority of Bahrain’s attractions being located in Manama and the surrounding cities, this gives you more freedom when planning your sightseeing.
There is no better place to start than Bahrain’s National Museum, which uncovers 5000 years of this country’s history. From the Babylonian era to pre-industrial times, all 6 gallery rooms provide a detailed explanation into Bahraini culture.
And if you are curious to find out more, only 4km away from Manama is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bahrain Fort. Reconstructed by the Portuguese in the 16th century, this site was once capital of Dilmun civilisation during the Bronze Age. Exploring the ruins itself is fascinating, but this ancient fortress also happens to be one of the best areas in Bahrain for watching the sunset.
Day 2: Go pearl diving (or snorkelling)
Bahrain is widely considered to be the number 1 spot for pearl diving in the world, and now you can experience it for yourself. An activity that was only recently made available to tourists, pearl diving can only be done through a certified company like Scuba Life (find out more here).
You can collect a maximum of 60 oysters, but there is no limit when it comes to the pearls inside. These tend to be smaller in size, but are rounder and more lustrous than the average pearl. Even if you do not have a diving license, there is a good chance you may find a few catches whilst snorkelling instead.
Day 3: Purchase custom-made perfume
A favourite amongst tourists, step into the Kingdom of Perfumes whilst you are exploring the eclectic shops of the Manama Souq. You can pick up all the best branded perfumes here, but the real fun is witnessing the magic of local fresh ingredients blending together to create something unique.
You might want to bring an extra suitcase when visiting Bahrain; there is no escaping the temptation of a shopping spree. If you want to spoil yourself to designer goods, then a trip to the elegant Al Aali Mall will capture your interest. Or if your style is more bohemian, then check out the antique shops in Manama’s artsy neighbourhood, Adliya.
Day 4: Take a pottery-making class
Experience the rich history of Bahrain’s oldest trade hands-on with a trip to A’Ali: the country’s most revered pottery district. Despite being famous worldwide, you can purchase pottery here at a reasonable price. A favourite spot amongst tourists, it is no surprise that A'Ali has embraced its status by offering step-by-step workshops.
Whilst you are in the area, make sure to check out the Dilmun Burial Mounds. With over 10,000 burial mounds in this UNESCO site alone, there have been incredible archaeological discoveries here — including the identification of the Dilmun’s final kings.
Day 5: Go-karting on the F1 Track
The Grand Prix may be out of season, but the Arrive and Drive Go-Karting experience is the next best thing. End your trip on a high with a drive around this iconic track for BD 17+ (€42). If you are travelling in a big group, you can have the track to yourselves by booking a Mini Grand Prix race!
For the chance of getting your hands on next year’s Formula 1 tickets, register your interest here.
Where to eat
Trying Bahrain’s delectable cuisine is almost an activity in of itself. Rice and meat are the perfect pairing, from the national dish of chicken machboos (‘spicy chicken and rice’) to the beloved muhammar (‘sweet rice accompanied with fish or lamb’). Breakfast is an exciting mix of different appetisers as pictured above, such as scrambled egg, fried chickpeas, and sautéed potatoes.
Remember when we said that English is widely spoken here? As a result of Bahrain’s long-term connections with the West, you can find all kinds of restaurants here. Take a trip around the world without ever leaving the city: from a classic Brazilian steak, to spicy Pad Thai alongside a sushi platter.