If you have a bit of time off during the festive period, why not use it to explore more of Bahrain.
During the working week it can be a struggle to see more than the inside of a car and your office, so having a bit of a break can help you get out.
So here are five brilliant sights we recommend checking out.
Qal'at al-Bahrain on the northern shore of Bahrain is the perfect introduction to the country. Parts of the fort itself date back to the sixth century, while archaeological digs at the site have revealed people have been living in the area for at least 5,000 years. The site was once the capital of Dilmun, an ancient civilisation in the Persian Gulf that stretched across Bahrain, Kuwait and parts of Saudi Arabia. Visitors to the fort, which became Bahrain’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, can find out about the area’s rich history at the museum.
Free (fort), BHD2 (museum). Daily, 8am-6pm (fort), Tue-Sun, 8am-8pm (museum). Near Karbabad (1756 7171).
Bahrain National Museum
There’s 6,000 years of history contained inside the walls of the Bahrain National Museum, and visitors can spend hours dissecting it all by visiting a number of exhibitions. Find out all about customs and traditions from the Dilmuns up until the modern day here.
Wed-Mon 10am-6pm. Shaikh Hamad Causeway, Manama (1729 8777).
Dilmun burial mounds
Between Hamad Town and A’ali there are tens of thousands of graves, dating from between 2050 and 1750BC. Some of the tombs were for members of the Dilmunite royal families and contain a number of chambers, whereas others are much smaller. Researchers believe this was once the largest graveyard in ancient times. UNESCO made the area a World Heritage site earlier this year, confirming what locals already knew: that this fascinating site deserves protection and is a phenomenal place to visit.
Madinat Hamad, Janabiyah and A'ali (no number).
You can’t really get to know the Island of Pearls without exploring this trail. From the second century right up until the 1930s, the white gems were a vital part of the kingdom’s economy, and far more valuable than diamonds. The pearling trail consists of three oyster beds, part of the seashore, the Bu Maher fort and seventeen buildings in Muharraq City, which include merchants’ residents and pearl storehouses, each of which showcases the importance of the historic trade. In 2012, the trail was also made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Qal’at Bu Mahir and Bu Mahir Visitor’s Centre: Wed-Mon, 10.15am-4.30pm. Pearling Path Visitor and Experience Centre: Thu-Tue, 10am-5pm. Al Nukhidhah House: Sat-Thu, 8am-1pm, 4pm-7pm. Muharraq (1729 8777).
Tree of life
Around 65,000 people visit the tree of life every year, and it doesn’t take long to work out why. The surprisingly green prosopis cineraria tree is believed to be more than 300 years old, and is located in a barren part of the Arabian desert, where nothing else is growing for miles around. Nobody knows for sure how the tree survives.
Off Musakar Highway, between Riffa and Awali (no number).