Known for its 6000-year-old history, Bahrain is a country on the Arabian Gulf in the Middle East. Not every country can boast of an ancient civilisation, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, grand forts and Pearling sites along with a waterpark with state-of-the-art facilities, a race track and indoor skydiving.
I visited Bahrain for 6 nights and was really surprised by the country. If you’re planning a trip here and are unsure what to do in Bahrain, in this article I share my guide for visiting Bahrain, including things to do in Bahrain, the best time to visit and where to stay.
Things To Do in Bahrain
Bahrain Fort is one of the top things to do in Bahrain. It’s on the outskirts of the city and the way to get here is either by taxi or by driving. I took a taxi here as there didn’t seem to be a direct bus route. Being one of the most popular Bahrain tourist places, tours also stop here too.
The Bahrain Fort has a rich history. Built on a shore and located 6kms away from Manama in Al Qala, the fort was constructed in 2300 B.C. and abandoned in the 16th century. Also referred to as the Portuguese fort by many as it was invaded by the Portuguese, who considered it a strategic point for its maritime trade with other countries.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site feels magical as you walk around it, especially as you enter it through the doorway and wander through the narrow streets. Walk to the top of the fort to see the scenic view of the sea and the city in the background. Before you walk to the fort, you spend time at the Bahrain Fort Museum learning about the history and seeing some of the beautiful antiquities that have been excavated here.
Dilmun Burial Mounds
The very first settlers to Bahrain were the Dilmun people who made their home on the islands and influenced the country’s culture. Built somewhere between 2200 B.C.-1750 B.C. Dilmun has also been labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dilmun burial mounds is a necropolis, which served as a burial ground mainly for the royal family.
Consisting of 17 mounds, you will get to know more about the ancient burial practices followed by the royals of the Dilmun civilisation. The mounds are huge in size, the biggest one being 12 meters tall and 50 meters across. Excavations have been carried out time and again here by the Government which has shed light on some interesting facts.
But there aren’t just mounds here as the region is also rich in pottery. As one of the Bahrain tourist spots, you can visit the Delmon Pottery shop and watch the potters as they mould the clay into vases (just think of the scene from the movie Ghost). To watch is free but if you’re searching for things to buy in Bahrain, you can pick up gorgeous pottery and Arabic tiles, made by the potters in the shop opposite.
Bahrain National Museum
What the Middle East does really well is their museums and one of those is the Bahrain Museum. This museum is a cultural landmark and one of most popular tourist attractions in Manama. Built on the waterfront in a beautiful modern building, this museum displays rich culture and heritage of the past 6000 years of Bahrain in the form of manuscripts, handicrafts, the country’s flora and fauna.
The museum only takes approximately an hour to get around but it’s really interesting and you even see inside one of the Dilmun burial mounds here. The cafe serves really good food and if you haven’t tried any typical Bahraini cuisine before you visit here, make sure to try some in the cafe. (The Bahraini tomato and eggs are lush!)
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is one of the unique things to do in Bahrain. This 400 year-old tree is covered with green leaves and what is so special about this Bahrain tree is that it is flourishing in a desert without any known source of water. The tree is 32 feet tall and its roots that are 500 metres deep and is known to baffle the thousands of tourists that visit it each year. Situated 40 kms away from Manama, some say it is in ‘the Garden of Eden’ and has some mystical source of water. One thing’s for sure, you really have to see the Tree of Life Bahrain to believe it.
Bahrain Pearling Trail
Bahrain has a rich pearling history and another place for a spot of Bahrain sightseeing is the Bahrain Pearling site known as the Pearling Trail. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated on Muharraq Island. Its location represents a period of Bahrain when its pearl trade was at its peak and Bahrain was referred to as ‘the Mecca of Pearling’.
Spread over 3.5 kms, the trail connects important locations within the pearl industry. Discover how Jacques Cartier (the famous jeweller), followed in the Dilmun’s footsteps to seek pearls for some of his most inspirational jewellery. And snake through ancient alleyways, past pearl merchants homes, an exhibition centre and the old fort of Qal’at Bu Mahir, learning more about the heritage of pearl diving in Bahrain.
Bab Al Bahrain
One for the shopping solo, Bab Al Bahrain is Manama’s ancient souk. This souk is just gorgeous and you’ll be transported into the old Arab world in all its marble splendour. Its narrow alleyways have a natural charm. Shopkeepers display their authentic products such as hand woven carpets, silk prints, jewellery made from Bahraini pearls and of course, plenty of gold in the gold souk. Besides traditional products such as dates, dry fruits and handicrafts, you can also find contemporary items.
There are a few other attractions in the complex too but Bab Al Bahrain is mostly about shopping. Although there are so many shopping centres in Bahrain, Bab Al Bahrain is most popular among all. This area really is a true sensory experience of spices and incense.
Wander through the main building to window shop at the jewellery shops. You don’t even have to buy anything to go here.
Bahrain International Circuit
Another of the best things to do in Bahrain is to take a visit to the Bahrain International Circuit. Bahrain International circuit (BIC) is a sports venue where the annual Formula one Bahrain Grand Prix takes place. This is a must-see for anyone who loves the Grand Prix and it was one of the highlights of my trip.
You can even visit the 8 storey Circuit Tower and climb to the top of the tower for a lovely view of the surrounding areas. It’s not just the Bahrain Formula One that takes place here as the circuit is also home to other car races. And if you’re lucky your trip may coincide with a race. You can even follow in Lewis Hamilton’s footsteps on the kart track here.
The track is one of the places to visit in Bahrain at night, when the temperature is cooler. The newly installed night lights add to the exhilarating experience and there is a restaurant where you can have dinner. If you are a fan, make sure to buy a souvenir from the gift shop. Even looking at all the merchandise is exciting. You’ll honestly feel like a little kid if you love the Grand Prix!
Bahrain comprises of 50 natural islands and 33 artificial islands, each island offering something different. And being a country with dozens of islands, it would rude not to visit one. One of the tourist places in Bahrain is the exotic Hawar islands. Hawar is untouched and is a paradise for nature and wildlife lovers. It focuses on eco-tourism and has been recognised by UNESCO for its natural history and its local endangered species. As well as multi-coloured coral reefs, you can spot endangered dugongs (also known as sea cows) and the Socotra cormorant that is endemic to the Gulf. Or get active with some of the water sports here.
As one of the beautiful places in Bahrain, the Hawar Islands are a peaceful getaway for a day or two from the busy and crowded Manama. You can stay overnight and enjoy a tranquil stay in one the beautiful resorts on the Island. From the mainland Manama, the islands are a 45 minute boat ride away.
Jarada Island is another island to visit, especially on a day trip. Located 14km from the mainland, you need to get here at low tide as when high tide hits, apparently the sand bank disappears!
The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park
To indulge your inner child and cool off from the heat, a must do on your Bahrain trip is a trip to Dilmun Water Park, the biggest waterpark in Bahrain (it can accommodate 5,000 people in any one visit). One of the fun activities to do in Bahrain, the Lost Paradise Dilmun is spread over 77,682 square meters and is equipped with state of the art facilities. T
here are more than 25 thrilling rides and slides, including high-speed waterslides and man made waves for taking on the bumping battle boats. You can even see a Boeing 747 here! Located off the north coast of the mainland, this decommissioned plane sits 20 metres deep. It’s one of the best water parks in Bahrain.
Indoor Skydiving Bahrain
For the adventurous solo, one of the fun things to do in Bahrain is to go for indoor skydiving at Gravity Indoor Skydiving. This attraction is in Zallaq, just a 27 minutes drive away from Manama. Opened in 2015, it is one of the relatively new fun places in Bahrain and it’s an exhilarating one of its kind experience as you are dropped from a height of 19 meters to the ground. As well as adventure seekers it also attracts spectators who come here to watch the competitions.
Then there’s the desert where the adventurous solo can jump aboard a 4×4 and cruise across the sand. Release your inner child at one of the three water parks or dive to the bottom of the pearl beds just as the Bahrainis used to do. See, there’s so much more to this little country than first meets the eye! Even Renaldo has just bought a place here!
Where To Eat in Bahrain
The Avenues Mall Bahrain is a shopping and leisure destination, situated next to the Bahrain Bay in Manama. Besides shops and several restaurants with different types of cuisine, you’ll find cinemas and arcades that attract both the locals and tourists. And after you’ve dined yourself and been entertained, you can take a boat ride from here to different parts of Bahrain.
The Avenues isn’t the only place to eat in Bahrain. Another Bahrain mall is The Square. The Square Bahrain is located in the heart of Juffair. Known as Juffair Square, this modern urban square is an ideal place to people watch while enjoying Arabic food amongst others such as Japanese. They even have fish & chips!.
As with practically everywhere in the Middle East, cafes are really popular and part of society. Another great area to go for food and drink is the vibrant Block 338. Here you’ll find cafes, restaurants and even art galleries that you can browse after your brunch. Plus there's a nice welcoming buzz to the area.
Alcohol in Bahrain
To buy alcohol in Bahrain you have to go to a special alcohol shop which aren’t usually inside the city. Instead, just go to one of the bars which are located inside hotels to enjoy a drink. There is an Irish bar, but my favourite is the Alto Lounge, a rooftop bar on the 25th floor of Downtown Rotana. The staff here are friendly if you’re on your own and I sat here and watched the sun go down on a Bahrain night, enjoying the stunning views as the city turned from dusk to evening.
Accommodation in Bahrain
Bahrain has the type of accommodation you would expect from the Middle East. There are 4 and 5-star hotels, apartments if you prefer to be able to cook for yourself and spa hotels, some even within the desert area. There is also Airbnb Bahrain where you can stay with locals. If you are unsure of where to stay in Bahrain, I’ve listed my recommended hotels below. For all other accommodations in Bahrain, click on the link below.
* Check prices, dates and availability for all Bahrain accommodation
I stayed at Ibis Styles Bahrain in the Diplomatic Area. I loved this 4-star hotel. The staff were really friendly to me which makes such a difference when you’re by yourself and the hotel was stylish. I chose a half-board option as I was here during Ramadan and the views from the restaurants are incredible. There’s a gym and they also arrange airport shuttles. Make sure to ask for a non-smoking room if you don’t smoke. Prices from £54 for a standard double room with a city view. * Check prices, dates and availability: Ibis Styles Bahrain
Apartments – If you prefer your own apartment in Bahrain, Swan Towers offers studios and apartments complete with a kitchenette so you can cook your own meals. There’s a pool and a sauna too. Located in Juffair, it’s more of a surburban residential area. Prices from £67 for a deluxe studio. * Check prices, dates and availability: Swan Towers
5 Star Hotel – I stayed at the Wyndham Hotel in Kuwait and loved the brand! For those seeking a 5-star option, there’s a Wyndham Grand Manama in Bahrain which is a stunning hotel in a great location. Prices from £152 p/n for a superior king room. * Check prices, dates and availability: Wyndham Grand Manama
World Class Service – If you’ve ever seen the large ‘H’ building in Bahrain. It’s the Four Seasons Hotel! This 5-star hotel is costly but with stunning views of the Gulf, celebrity treatment and a Michelin-starred experience across its three restaurants, it’s worth the splurge. Prices from £463 p/n for a superior room with a king bed. * Check prices, dates and availability: The Four Seasons in Bahrain
You don’t really need a tour to visit Bahrain as it’s easy to see independently especially if you decide to hire a car. If you’re not driving, you can just join day tours to see the sites.
You can visit the Bahrain National Museum independently so you don’t really need a tour to go here but there is a full day tour that includes it. I took the half-day Desert tour with Viator which included Bahrain International Circuit, Tree of Life, Dilmun Mounds and the Camel Farm (but I found the camel’s feet tied together distressing).
There are other tours such as horse riding, pearl diving or an archaeological tour. Click on the link below for all tours. * Check dates and availability for all Bahrain tours
Getting Around Bahrain
I walked around Bahrain and took a tour for the sights that I couldn’t reach easily on foot. Bahrain is more of a driving destination so it’s ideal if you’re hiring a car (especially in the summer months when it can be too hot to walk outside). There are taxis that you can hail from the side of the road. If you call a taxi from your accommodation there is generally a surcharge.
Best Time to Visit Bahrain
Bahrain only has winter (which is mild compared to the UK) and summer. If there is any rain it generally falls in the winter months. Visit between December to March and expect an average of 22 degrees. From June to September the summer months are on average 37 degrees Celsius. The best time to go to Bahrain is from October to April. Avoid Ramadan if you can as cafes and restaurants are closed for daylight hours. .
Bahrain holds several events from the Grand Prix in March 2023 to the International Music Festival. If you’re a shopping solo, you may even prefer to visit in January to grab some bargains at Bahrain’s shopping festival ‘Shop Bahrain.’ Below is a chart showing the average temperature in Bahrain from January to December to help you decide when to go.
Airports in Bahrain
Although there are 3 airports in Bahrain, there is only one international airport in Bahrain. Bahrain International Airport is situated on Muhurraq Island, 7km from the capital. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes by taxi depending on where you are staying. There is a bus which takes an hour and costs up to $30 which is the cheapest option. I paid £20 from Ibis Styles to the airport. When searching for flights, BAH is the airport code of Bahrain. * Check availability of flights to Bahrain
* Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
- Can I drink the water? It’s not advisable to drink tap water. You can take a water filter flask with you or buy bottled water.
- Is tipping expected? Tipping is expected in Bahrain. There is a percentage usually added onto your bill as a government levy but it’s also expected to tip if you had good service.
- Fixed price or barter? Generally fixed price but you can try your hand bartering in the souks.
- Any ATMs? Yes, there are several banks here.
- Which side of the road do they drive in Bahrain? On the right-hand side
- Good for vegetarians? Manama has several restaurants for both vegetarians and vegans.
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? No but it has some of the most stunning waters. (Book a window seat on your flight to see the Bahrain beautiful places from above.
Solo Travel in Bahrain
I found Bahrain really safe as a woman travelling here alone. That's why I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Sightseeing was easy and the hospitality within the tourism industry was really welcoming. Plus everyone speaks English. Bahrain also has some of the most stunning waters I have seen and can easily rival those in the Caribbean. Bahrain’s water is shallow to swim in and is nice and warm year-round.
Due to Bahrain being a trading nation, Bahrainis are both welcoming and eager to help. It feels very multi-cultural and even though it is largely, an Arabic-speaking nation, you won't find it difficult to navigate yourself to the tourist spots where English guides are provided to give you in-depth knowledge of the site.
Islam is the main religion, the country is also home to Hindus, Christians and Jews. Just bear in mind that Bahrain is a playground for the Saudis who come here across the Causeway so there is a nightlife scene that you may want to avoid as a lone woman.
Plan a Trip to Bahrain
Budget – £100 / $118+ a day
Current Manama time
Capital – Manama
Population – 1.7 million
Language spoken – The official language of Bahrain is Arabic but many people speak English.
Local Currency – Bahraini dinar
Do I need a visa? As a British Citizen, you’re granted a visa on arrival for 14 days. It costs approximately £10.
Did you know? Bahrain is the Gulf’s only island nation. Bahrain is an archipelago made up of 33 islands and Bahrain is the biggest of the natural islands.
Lingo – They speak English!
The Best Time to Go – October to April
Events and Festivals in Bahrain
- Solo Travel in The Middle East
- Places To Visit in Sharjah
- Solo Travel in Dubai
- Solo Travel in United Arab Emirates