Riffa is Bahrain’s second largest city and is a tale of two parts. East Riffa has a thriving restaurant scene and a number of attractions, while West Riffa is more residential. His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was born in West Riffa and continues to live here, and the area is very attractive for expats as there are plenty of villas to rent or buy. West Riffa is home to one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the clock tower, which is lit up at night.
The top attraction in Riffa is undoubtedly the fort. Built in 1812, it is named after Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh who turned it into his residence during the 19th century. Riffa was the seat of government until 1869, meaning this spot has a lot of history that you’ll be able to feel as you stroll through the various rooms admiring the architecture. There’s a café inside the fort and we recommend enjoying the views over the Hunayniyah Valley from the terrace.
If you’re interested in armed forces history, Bahrain Military Museum should be top of your list. Here you’ll find a collection of weapons, uniforms and documents from over the decades, as well as Jeeps and other vehicles. This museum is fairly small and won’t take long to visit, and is conveniently located near Riffa Fort so you can tackle them both in a few hours with ease.
If you came to Bahrain to shop till you drop, Riffa’s got plenty of retail options to offer. At Riffa Bazaar you’ll find spices, antiques and souvenirs, but there are also three different malls: Oasis, Enma and The Walk. The latter has an open air area with plenty of coffee shops and cafés, a few stores and a cinema. Oasis Mall is larger, with shops including a Home Centre and New Look. It also has a Fitness First and a Fun City indoor play area to keep the kids entertained. Enma Mall is the biggest of the three, with a huge Carrefour for groceries, plenty of fashion stores and a Magic Planet for children to play in. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, make sure you head to Le Chocolat where you’ll find some of the best desserts in Bahrain.
Sports fans will also find themselves drawn to Riffa thanks to the Bahrain National Stadium, which mostly hosts football matches, and the Royal Golf Club, which has an 18-hole championship course with both grass and desert terrain as well as man-made lakes, plus a nine-hole par 3 version. Membership starts from BHD175 a month, while an adult round starts at BHD10. The Royal Golf Club is also home to a great restaurant, Links, which has an outdoor terrace and views over the course that are particularly beautiful during sunset.
Riffa also has plenty of great restaurants you won’t want to miss. David’s Stir Fry Crazy where you can pick up amazing Chinese food, Gold Label Burgers which has mouth-wateringly good burgers, or Navaratna Restaurant for fantastic vegetarian Indian food. We also recommend heading to Al Naimi for Karak tea, or checking out Cine Café for a cracking cup of coffee.
This 200-year-old structure is well worth a visit thanks to its beautiful architecture and views over the Hunayniyah Valley.
Free. Open daily 8am-8pm. Road 368, West Riffa (1729 8777).
Royal Golf Club
The home of golf in Bahrain, take on the championsip course, or the Wee Monty – a challenging nine-hole offering.
From BHD10 for nine holes (adults). Open Sun-Wed 7am-9.30pm; Fri-Sat 6.30am-9.30pm. Riffa (1775 0777).