Bahrain is an island nation located in the Persian Gulf. Situated off the northwest coastline of Qatar and the eastern seaboard of the much larger Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is home to over 1.5 million people. Before the discovery of oil, Manama was known for pearl exports as it was one of the key contributors to Bahrain's economy. However, with the oil wealth the country currently enjoys, the relevance of the pearl trade has diminished. Although it is relatively small, (just 268 square miles making it the third smallest nation in Asia) Bahrain is a rising tourist destination.
The country’s capital, Manama, is a gorgeous, modern Arabic city similar to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Skyscrapers and high-rise buildings dominate Bahrain’s skyline. The city is home to a number of historical sites and museums that share the culture of the nation with visitors. Perhaps the most well-known event travelers will be familiar with prior to visiting Bahrain is the Grand Prix. Since the inaugural race in 2004, the Bahrain GP attracts tourists to the country every year to see the event.
Although it welcomed about 12.7 million travelers in 2017, Bahrain is still a relatively under-visited country. However, thanks to some extraordinary sites and attractions, the country is seeing more people than ever and is destined to receive even more visitors in the future.
Local Favorite: MachboosBahrain's most famous food is known as machboos. The dish is so widely eaten across Bahrain that it has been deemed the country's national dish. Machboos comes from the heavy influence of Persian and Indian biryanis but adds a flavor distinct to Bahrain. When making machboos, the cook reuses water previously used to cook fish or meat to spice the rice. This method gives the rice a flavor that blends all of the machboos spices for optimal taste. machboos can be made with lamb, fish, chicken, or beef. It is common for Bahraini families to eat machboos on Friday for lunch. Like other dishes from the Middle East, variations of the recipe are made all over the region to fit the tastebuds of specific countries.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque
Bahrain National Museum
Bahrain World Trade Center
Beit Al Quran
Bahrain Financial Harbour
Al Khamis Mosque
Top Tourist Attractions
Bahrain National Museum
Opened in 1988, the Bahrain National Museum is one of the oldest museums in the country. The two buildings that make up the National Museum contain a variety of historical artifacts from the region. The museum showcases around 5,000 years of Bahrain’s history. Car lovers must see the 1932 Buick donated by Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The gorgeous, fully restored car was a gift from the United States government.
The Pure Mclaren experience has had Bahrain on its calendar for some time now. The series holds events at some of the most exclusive racetracks in the world, and petrolheads will have the chance to participate in the event at the Bahrain International Circuit. Drivers can get behind the wheel of McLaren’s road cars or race cars in a safe, friendly environment. The three-day event features an owner track day, performance academy, and the popular half-day Pure Mclaren experience where enthusiasts can take the wheel of a McLaren car from the Sports or Super Series.
The Manama Souq is a great place to soak up local Bahraini culture and to buy some great souvenirs. The souq is a traditional Arabic marketplace with small lanes and stalls filled with locally produced items and foodstuff. It also has plenty of great dining options and juice bars. It is easy to get lost in all its twists and turns.
Driving Experiences at Bahrain International Circuit
The Bahrain International Circuit offers opportunities for members of the public to drive different cars at the circuit. These include race cars like the Radical SR1 as well as street cars like the Jaguar F-Type, The Jaguar Experience gives car enthusiasts the chance to take the wheel of a Jaguar F-Type on a GP circuit. Designed by Jaguar’s driving team and led by an official Jaguar instructor, the driving experience gives learners a hands-on F-Type experience. Drivers pilot the F-Type for a fantastically fast 15-minutes around the circuit. The Jaguar instructor will sit shotgun; giving drivers expert advice and tips. Following the 15-minute session, the instructor will take over and speed around the circuit on a ‘hot lap’ giving the learner an unforgettable F-Type memory.
Car enthusiasts looking for something a little different can take a passenger ride in a dragster that travels a quarter mile in just 8 seconds.
Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve
The Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve was established by the Bahraini government to preserve wildlife from the Middle East. It is one of the only nature reserve projects in the entire Middle East, and Bahrain’s government hopes other Arabic nations will follow suit. Visitors will see a variety of animals from the region including the oryx, addax, and rhim gazelle.
Travelers looking to cool off can dive into the waters of Coral Bay. Whether it is scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, or water skiing, explorers can enjoy a relaxing day in the waters of the Persian Gulf. The average yearly high temperature in Bahrain is 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. It can get rather warm, so finding a place to cool off and participate in watersports can be refreshing and fun.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque
In the spirit of Bahrain's desire to modernize while holding firm on traditional Islamic and Arab characteristics, this beautifully designed mosque has Italian marble, stained glass, and teak wood decorative features. Attached to a center for Quranic studies, the Grand Mosque is a beautiful space for those practicing the Islamic faith while letting non-Muslims learn more about its practices and traditions.
La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art
Dating back 150 years, this monument is another Bahraini destination that brings several different aesthetics and cultural characteristics into one place. With the skeleton makeup of a European chateau but the design characteristics of the gulf area, the center provides an all-around experience for the senses. With several contemporary art galleries and an open-air amphitheater, you can properly immerse yourself in the exhibits before dining in its restaurant, enjoying the spa, or taking a Pilates class.
Bahrain is a rising travel destination. The continued increase in the number of tourists shows just how exciting and interesting Bahrain is today. While Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha are better known Middle-Eastern tourist destinations, Manama is a sleeping giant that wows visitors year-round.