When visiting any country, there’s a temptation just to stay in the capital as that’s often where most of the sights are.
But sticking to that would mean missing out on places like Lyon in France, St Petersburg in Russia or Dubai in the UAE.
There’s so much more to Bahrain than Manama – and this guide will help you pick out the spots that are worth travelling for.
Al Dar Island
Bahrain is made up of 33 natural islands, and it would be a shame to restrict yourself to just one. Head over to Sitra and catch a boat over to Al Dar Island where you can spend the day on the beach playing volleyball or football, or head out on a dolphin watching tour. You can also rent out a chalet and stay overnight.
BHD5 (adults, weekdays), BHD8 (adults, weekends), BHD2 (children, weekdays), BHD4 (children, weekends) for the boat journey to the island. Road 1321, Sitra Fisherman Port (1770 4600).
Amwaj Islands is the perfect place to fill up your day – you can try your hand at water sports, go on a shopping spree, or visit one of the top-rated restaurants such as Lanterns Gourmet Lounge. Alternatively, you can do absolutely nothing – the lagoon and marina areas are the perfect spots for a casual stroll at any time of day.
Arad Bay Protected Area & Park
The 15th century Arad Fort is one of Bahrain’s top tourist attractions, but you’ll be missing out if you don’t head to the Arad Bay Protected Area & Park after. This 3 km-long walkway is a fan favourite among kids and adults alike, with plenty of cyclists, joggers, and evening strollers getting their 10,000 steps in here.
Road 4233, Arad.
Bahrain International Circuit
The draw of the Formula 1 race track pulls in plenty of tourists, even when there isn’t a race on. You can tour the Bahrain International Circuit, try your hand at driving around the track or even visit the climbing wall on site.
Prices and times vary. Gulf of Bahrain Avenue, Sakhir. www.bahraingp.com (1745 0000).
Dilmun Burial Mounds
Earlier this year, UNESCO recognised the Dilmun Burial Mounds scattered across A’Ali, Madinat Hamad and Janabiyah as a world heritage site and it’s not difficult to work out why. These mounds, created between 2050 BC and 1750 BC give a glimpse into early civilisation in Bahrain. Spend a while wandering around the area counting how many you can see.
Dhow Building Yard
Traditional shipping vessels, or dhow, are a site to behold, and a trip to the dhow building site in Muharraq is well worth the detour. If you’re lucky, you’ll see men at work on the boats which were once used in the pearling industry. If not, you’ll at least see plenty of half-finished boats for you to admire.
Durrat al Bahrain
Durrat al Bahrain is 25 miles to the south of Manama, but once complete it promises to be a top spot for those looking to relax thanks to its 5* hotels and golf course. The man-made development has a number of crescent shaped islands with beaches and five that are shaped like fish, meaning there’s plenty of waterfront walks for you to try as well.
If you want to understand the history of Bahrain from the 1930s up until the present day, head to the Oil Museum in Jebel Dukhan. Here you’ll be able to see the very first oil well and explore how the fossil fuel has changed the Kingdom.
Free. Sun-Thu 9am-5pm. Jebel Dukhan (1775 3475).
Muharraq is home to some of the best parts of old Bahrain, and there’s no better way to explore than by walking the pearling path, where you will visit key buildings including a merchant’s house and oyster beds. There are museums along the way too so you’ll finish your trip as an expert on the trade.
Another key aspect of Bahraini culture is the pottery, and if you want to see craftsmen at work, head to A’Ali. Along Avenue 42 there are a number of traditional kilns you can visit and purchase work made by locals, or even give it a go yourself.
Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Park
The Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Park is incredibly popular with joggers and cyclists, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can even hire a scooter for whizzing around alongside the greenery. Make sure you stop off at one of the cafes inside the park.
Riffa Fort was built by Sheikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh Al Khalifa in 1812 and has since been restored. Head here for an interesting glimpse into the life of the 19th century ruler while admiring the architecture.
Royal Camel Farm
If you’re an animal lover, don’t worry – none of the camels in this farm have been bred for their meat or to race. Instead, these are all owned by the royal family or other rich families in Bahrain, and you are free to feed the younger ones and take snaps with them.
Free. Daily 8am-5pm. Janabiyah (1788 1188).
Royal Golf Club
The Royal Golf Club has the only 18-hole championship standard golf course in Bahrain, so if you’re a golf aficionado, this spot in Riffa is a must visit. For those with less experience, there’s also a 9-hole course – or, if you fancy something a bit different, you can also play a game under the stars at night.
Membership prices vary. Daily 6am-midnight. Riffa (1775 1266).
Tree of Life
This mysterious tree continues to baffle scientists, having survived in the middle of the barren desert for more than 300 years with no clear water source in sight. Travel here to be amazed by how green the leaves are in the middle of the sandy landscape.
Off Musakar Highway, between Riffa and Awali (no number).