Ice skating, water parks, road trips and more summer survival tips
Time Out Bahrain staff
Catch a movie To be fair, last time we went to the cinema in the summer the air-conditioning was so cold we needed a coat and socks but that’s not going to stop us checking out the VIP options at Cineco Bahrain City Centre.
In VIP 1 you pay BD10 for possibly the most super dooper huge, comfy, reclining cinema seat you’re ever likely to experience (stay awake at the back there). Or in VIP 2 you can curl up with a friend on a two-person sofa for BD10 for two. Both options have a special VIP waiting area and you can enjoy your popcorn via waitress service.
Just one little note from all of us here at Time Out. Turn your phone off! Call (17 584 444)
Dance on ice Or, if you’re like us, fumble along hanging onto the sides for dear life till you get a little confidence, push off too fast and land, unceremoniously, on your butt.
The skating rink at Funland Centre on the Corniche is the only ice rink in Bahrain and it’s surprisingly quiet so you can at least enjoy, or otherwise, your humiliation without too many witnesses.
Advertised as disco lights and music, it’s actually a much less snazzy concern than it sounds but it’s certainly good for a couple of hours of chilled out fun. Remember to wear your woolies as this is one place you will definitely stay cool even on the hottest day.
Discover Islam With the Holy Month of Ramadan fast approaching, now‘s the ideal time to visit the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, one of the world’s biggest mosques, where non-Muslims can take the opportunity to find out a bit more about the religion.
Built by the late ruler Sheikh Isa, the Al Fateh Mosque can hold up to 7,000 worshippers. Building materials came from across the globe and it has the world’s biggest fibreglass dome.
Open daily, except Fridays and holidays, tours are conducted in a variety of languages including English, French, Filipinno, Russian and others with enthusiastic volunteer guides who provide a great introduction to Islam and the religion’s background and history.
Obviously, this is a religious site so you will need to dress respectfully. Be prepared to leave your shoes at the door and women will need to don abaya and hijab, which are provided.
Public opening 9am-5pm. Entrance free.
Get blinded by science Check out the island’s newest edutainment facility, Bahrain Science Centre (featured in last month’s Time Out Bahrain) where you’ll find a wealth of cool stuff for kids young and old. It’s all things science in a series of interactive exhibition areas with working body part models, skeletons, tools and much more.
It’s aimed at children but is a great place for the whole family to visit. Head towards Isa Town and you can’t miss it, it’s painted red, orange, green and blue.
Opening hours are 8am-1pm and 3pm-7pm weekdays during term time and from 10am on Thu and Fri. Closed Wed afternoons for maintenance. Call (17 101 861)
Go Eskimo Well OK, not exactly, but as the temperatures rise, trust us, the idea of entering the ice igloo at Al Areen Palace Spa will not seem like such a crazy idea.
Aimed at combating cellulite you head inside the pod and rub yourself in ice from head to toe in the sub-zero temperatures.
The treatment is part of the Garden Hammam experience which includes a rain shower, steam room and igloo visit for BD15++. Call (17 845 000)
Hit the mall For once we’re not just talking about shopping. The City Walkers programme at Bahrain City Centre offers the chance to get/stay fit for free with a 2km walk around the mall with a personal trainer from Fitness First on hand to motivate, guide and provide useful tips and information.
Walks are on Mon, Wed and Sat from 9am-10am. Call (17 177 771)
Make a splash Yep it’s way too hot for most of us to be outside but Wahoo! the waterpark at Bahrain City Centre is the Middle East’s first indoor-outdoor waterpark. It’s the ultimate water fest with a whole range of crazy thrilling rides and attractions including sidewinder, a multi-level rain fortress, wave pool, toddler pool and Lazy River.
There are also a range of facilities including a restaurant and large party rooms and it’s temperature controlled all year round.
Opening hours Sat-Wed 11am-8pm, Thu-Fri 11am-9pm, closed Sunday apart from public holidays. Kids under 3 BD3, up to 1.2m BD6 over 1.2m BD10.
Ladies nights on Wednesdays (5pm-10pm) and wave rider surf school, lessons by appointment. Call (17 173 000)
Pick up a book Visit Bahrain National Library at the Isa Cultural Centre next the Grand Mosque, the building that looks a bit like the front of the Sydney Opera House (well, it does to us).
Opened in December 2008, the national library houses almost 75,000 books over four halls – general, reference and periodicals, national publications and special collections and foreign books.
There’s a special section donated by the US Embassy and collections and sections donated by other individuals and embassies as well as the libarary of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Khilifa which includes many valuable Arabic and Foreign language publications.
With a comprehensive kids’ library and multi-media facilities, it makes for an interesting few hours’ browsing.
Opening times Sun-Thu 7am-2pm. Call (17 366 666)
Step back in time Take a look at Bahrain National Museum just off the King Faisal Highway along from Fun Land. It’s a big complex with a great collection of ancient archaeological artifacts covering around 6,000 years of Bahrain’s history. There are three halls devoted to archaeology and the ancient Dilmun civilisation, of which Bahrain is thought to have been the capital, including an actual burial mound.
Two halls are devoted to the culture and lifestyle of the island’s recent pre-industrial past. A natural history hall focuses on the natural environment and the documents and manuscripts hall houses old Quranic manuscripts, notes on astronomy and historical documents and letters.
There are also frequent art exhibitions and the grounds house a sculpture garden.
Opening hours 8am-8pm daily. Call (17 298 714)
Or take a trip out into the desert to learn about the history of the island’s ‘black gold’. Built in 1992 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the discovery of oil in the Gulf, the Oil Museum, a bit like the tree of life, is not the easiest place to find. But if you head out towards Bahrain International Circuit and follow the signs for the 1st Oil Well, you’ll find it nearby at Sakhir.
Exhibiting old photographs, drilling equipment and a working model of an oil rig, it tells a fascinating story of a bygone era and makes for an interesting couple of hours browsing. For timings (17 753 882/17 753 257)
If Bahrain’s pearling past is more your thing, Memory of the place – Bin Matar House is a restoration project undertaken by the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research as part of its ongoing efforts to protect Bahrain’s traditional architectural heritage.
The name reflects the dual function of this traditional building in presenting the identity of a people. Firstly, there is the definite cultural identity through the specific architecture and design elements and, at the same time, it’s also a repository of memories, through the individuals that lived in the building and the events that took place there.
The house was built in 1905 by the Bin Matar family, a well-known pearling dynasty, and it nestles close to the Pearl Trail in Muharraq. As well as showcasing the architecture of the time is also houses a small collection of contemporary Bahraini art and features an ongoing programme of temporary art exhibitions in its dedicated exhibition space.And when you’ve done with culture there’s a rather fab coffee shop too.
Opening hours Sat-Thu 8am-1pm and 4pm-7pm. Call (17 322 549)
Strike out Take to the lanes for a spot of bowling and channel your inner American teenager. There’s a world-class 12-lane 10-pin bowling alley, Bowling @ Magic Planet, at Bahrain City Centre, with pool tables, billiards and the latest video-game machines to keep you out of mischief between turns.
Opening hours Sat-Wed 10am-10pm (last entry 9pm) and Thu-Fri 10am-11pm (last entry 10pm). BD2 per person. Call (17 173 117)
Fun Land Centre on the Corniche has an 18-lane facility and, as well as individual bowling, organises all kinds of competitions including local, international and even friendly or family games.
Support some ancient crafts If you fancy a taste of the old Bahrain head along to Jasra Handicrafts Centre at Jasra village, towards the King Fahad Causeway, where you can find weavers, potters and all manner of craftspeople keeping the ancient traditions alive.
There are artisan workshops including mat weaving, basket making, pottery and boat building. The enthusiastic staff and craftspeople encourage visitors to take a close look at how items are made and offer a full explanation of the technical processes involved and one highlight is watching the friendly women who come down to the centre daily to weave mats from plain and brightly-coloured dampened palm fronds. The centre also houses a number of musical instrument amkers tanners and silk weavers.
Opening hours Sat 9am-4pm, Sun-Thu 7am-2pm. Call (17 611 900)
Take a road trip Yes the King Fahad Causeway may seem a bit of an odd one to include with indoor stuff but hey, air-conditioned car to air-conditioned restaurant, we figure it qualifies and no, you don’t need a visa to go to the middle. Opened in 1986, the 25-km causeway is the longest in the Middle East and the border between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is on two islands at the centre.
Drive out in the late afternoon, the sunset across the water is really quite stunning and a trip up the 65-m high observation tower in the middle leads to an equally impressive view. There’s a restaurant in the tower and various fast food eateries at ground level but don’t bank on these being open, make sure to take drinks with you.
The toll from the Bahrain side costs BD2 and don’t worry, you won’t find yourself crossing the border by mistake.