Before we start this guide, here’s a little disclaimer: there’s absolutely no way you can see all of Bahrain in just a day.
That being said, if you only have a short period of time to visit, you can definitely get a taste for the culture that will leave you wanting more.
Read on to find out our guide to making the most of 24 hours in Bahrain.
Where to stay
If you’re only visiting for a day, you need to be based somewhere central. Our top picks would be the Downtown Rotana, which has incredible views of the World Trade Centre, the InterContinental Regency Hotel, which is right on King Faisal Highway, or the Merchant House, a boutique hotel next to Manama Souq. Alternatively, stay in the iconic Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain Bay and relax on the private beach when the day is over.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we’ve certainly got a big one planned for you. Head through Bab al-Bahrain into Manama Souq and seek out Haji Gahwa. This traditional Bahraini spot has no menu, but you’ll be given an absolutely massive meal for an incredibly cheap price. Head here early to avoid waiting for a seat, as this place is filled to the brim during the day.
Once you’ve eaten your breakfast, spend some time browsing the souq and bartering with shopkeepers. Expect everything you would find in a normal souq, including the sales techniques, and make sure you pick up some fresh spices and dates.
Bahrain National Museum
After you’ve had your fill of bargains, catch a taxi over to the Bahrain National Museum. On the way you should be able to spot the Manama skyline’s most prominent feature – the Bahrain World Trade Centre – and other iconic buildings. This modern 20,000 sq m museum will give you a proper introduction to Bahrain’s rich history, with exhibitions on customs and traditions, the Dilmun, Tylos and Islamic periods as well as trades and crafts. While here, pick up a ticket (BHD1) for a boat trip over to Bu Maher Fort.
Bu Maher Fort
Bu Maher Fort marks the start of the Bahrain Pearling Path, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which explores the vastly important trade that was a mainstay of the economy for centuries. Explore the fort, which was built in 1840, before heading back over to the museum.
Head over the causeway and into Muharraq, the second largest island in Bahrain and its former capital. Here you’ll find the older, traditional houses and plenty of museums, as well as some fantastic restaurants. Top picks include Saffron by Jena, which offers up traditional food, or Al Mas for Indian. If you’re still full from breakfast, head to Bu Khalaf Coffee Shop for dates and coffee. Sit outside if you fancy doing a spot of people watching. If you really want to push the boat out, head into Arad for Jimmy’s Killer Prawns for fresh seafood (duh).
After lunch, make a quick stop at the Muharraq Souq for halwa, the sweet Bahrainis adore. No trip to Bahrain is complete without trying it.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque
After enjoying a late lunch, head over to Al Fateh Grand Mosque. This beautiful place of worship was built by the late Sheikh Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifa in 1987, and is the largest mosque in the Kingdom. Top features include the dome, which weighs more than 60 tons and is the world's largest made from fibreglass, and the Austrian chandeliers.
Bahrain Fort is best seen at night, so head here for the sunset. Although it’s a bit further out from Manama than everything else on this itinerary (and a decent taxi ride from the mosque), it’s definitely worth it. The fort itself dates back to the sixth century, but the spot was previously used in the Dilmun Empire. Admire the lit-up fort before heading inside for a drink at the museum café.
After a casual stroll around the fort, head to the Ritz-Carlton for dinner where you’ll have plenty of options. You can grab a steak from Plums, Mexican food at Cantina Kahlo, or Indian at Nirvana. If you’re feeling fancy, book in at La Table Krug by Y, an exclusive fine dining experience just 16 people get to enjoy every night.
Once you've finished your meal have a stroll around the hotel's grounds before catching a ride back to your hotel. If you still have some energy you could always take check out where has good happy hours or ladies' nights.