Area: 665 square kilometers
Population: approx. 700,000
Currency: Bahraini Dinar (BHD)
Bahrain is an island nation of 665 square kilometers in the Arabian Gulf. With an archipelago of 33 islands, this is a travel destination that offers the tourist a blend of ancient and modern. Modern high-rise buildings share the landscape with majestic mosques, embodiments of Islamic art, culture and architecture.
Bahrain is an ancient land. The first reference to Bahrain in history was in the epic of Gilgamesh, in the 3rd millenium BC. It was then called "Dilmun", a name given by the Sumerians. The name Bahrain, which literally means "two seas" was given to this land around the 13th century AD.
Getting to and from Bahrain:
Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is located 6 km northeast of Manama, on Muharraq island. The airport is the hub for the national carrier Gulf Air. More than 40 international airlines operate scheduled flights from Bahrain to destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Far East, Australasia and Europe.
Terminals: One terminal.
Getting to & from Manama: A regular bus service operates between Manama city centre and the airport. Car rental and taxi services are also available.
|Passenger ferries operate between Bushehr in Iran and Bahrain. The ferry departs Bahrain from Mina Salman port in Manama.|
|Coaches belonging to the Saudi-Bahraini Transport Co. (SABTCO) run several times daily between Manama and Al-Khobar/Dammam in Saudi Arabia, across the King Fahd Causeway. There are also services to Jordan, Syria and several Gulf destinations run by SAPTCO (Saudi Arabian Public Transport Co.). All buses depart from Manama's international bus terminal in Lulu Avenue.|
Where to Stay:
There are hotels in Bahrain for every type of budget, from five-star luxury hotels to budget accommodation. Most hotels are located in and around the capital Manama.
Some of the top-of-the-line 5-star hotels include:
|Road distances in Bahrain|
|From Manama (Pearl Roundabout) to:|
|Airport:||10 km||Bahrain International Circuit:||33 km|
|Al Areen Wildlife Sanctuary:||35 km||Barbar temples:||10 km|
|Al Dur:||40 km||Isa Town:||11 km|
|Al Rifaa (Al Riffa):||22 km||King Fahd Causeway:||30 km|
|Bahrain Fort:||7 km||Tree of Life:||35 km|
The "Gateway of Bahrain" was designed in 1945 by Sir Charles Belgrave, who was adviser to the Bahraini ruler. It was refurbished in 1986, when features reflecting local architecture were incorporated.
The gateway marks the entrance to the souk area, and also houses a tourist information office. The souk in Manama contains shops ranging from traditional open-air stalls to modern department stores. This is where you can buy practically any imaginable item, be it modern or traditional. The Gold Souk is well worth a visit. The gold on sale is hallmarked, and this is also where you can shop for natural pearls.
The museum is housed in a building regarded as one of the most important and historic buildings in Bahrain. Its importance derives from its being the first official center for the Bahrain Courts.
The museum displays the story of Bahrain, its governors and its people from the past till the present. There are displays of Bahrain's heritage as a nation of pearl divers and seafarers.
The Heritage Center
Has a large collection of rooms, each depicting a scene from traditional Bahrain life, together with rooms of archive photographs. A visit to the center will provide good insight into local customs, culture and traditions.
Bait Al Qur'an ("The Quran House")
This centrally located museum houses a rare collection of Islamic manuscripts, prints and books.
Near the Royal Bahraini Palace is this huge mosque, capable of accommodating more than 7,000 worshippers. Completed in 1988, this is the largest place of worship in Bahrain, and it also contains the National Library. Also known as Al-Fateh Islamic Center, the mosque is open to visitors and tourists except on Fridays
Built by Arabs in the late 16th century, Arad Fort changed hands a number of times. During its history, it was captured by the Portuguese and later by the Omanis.
Arad Fort is on Muharraq island, close to the airport.
With its picturesque location on the northern coast of Bahrain, this is the country's main archaeological site. The first dwellings on Qal'at Al-Bahrain are believed to have been constructed around 2300 BC, and have subsequently been overlaid by numerous fortified settlements.
The site was the harbour and capital of Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations in the Gulf region. Excavations have revealed different types of residential, public,commercial, religious and military structures. About 25% of the site has so far been excavated.
The site was an important trading port over the centuries, and a meeting point of cultures. Dilmun has been referenced in Sumerian documents, and it was described as paradise in the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh.
The last fort was built in the early 16th century to defend Portugal's recent acquisition of the islands. For this reason, it is also known locally as "the Portuguese Fort". Numerous excavations have uncovered a variety of relics from the fort’s past.
The fort is in Karbabad village, some 6 kilometres west of Bab Al-Bahrain. There is a museum next to the fort, containing items among which some date back to the Dilmun period. The site is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Barbar is a complex of three temples dating back to the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC. The temples are thought to have been dedicated to Enki, the "God of Wisdom". The temple contains two altars and a natural water spring that seems to have been of spiritual significance for the worshippers.
Items excavated from the site can be seen in the Bahrain National Museum. The site is west of the Bahrain Fort, off the Budaiya Highway.
This reserve for the protection of indigenous animals, is located in the southern part of the island of Bahrain.
Al Areen Wildlife Sanctuary
"The Lost Paradise of Dilmun"
Near the Areen Wildlife Sanctuary is a water park by the name of “The Lost Paradise of Dilmun”. This park – the first of its kind in Bahrain – is themed on the history of the Dilmun period, some 4000 years ago. Among the attractions are more than 14 water slides, spa pools, interactive wet play areas for kids, and a family raft ride. The park also has the largest wave pool in the Middle East, complete with a sandy beach.
Located at Al Jasra village, near the causeway to Saudi Arabia, Al Jasra house is a fine example of the traditional architecture of Bahrain. The father of the current ruler, Sheikh Issa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, was born here.
Al Jasra House
Al Jasra village also has a handicraft centre, open all week except Fridays.
This is a spectacular road construction project, connecting the island of Bahrain with the city of Al-Khobar in Saudi Arabia. The causeway consists of a four-lane highway, 25 meters wide and about 26 kilometers long. Building works began in 1982, and were completed in 1986. The causeway was opened to traffic at the end of that year.
At the halfway point is a recreation area with a tower restaurant.
The Bahrain Causeway (King Fahd Causeway)
Al Dar Island
This small island, located southeast of Manama, offers facilities for swimming, waterskiing, parasailing and fishing trips. Pedal boats are also available. Sea taxis depart for Al Dar from the jetty in Sitra, a town south of Manama.
This fort is in the fast-growing city of Al-Rifa (also written as "Riffa"), in central Bahrain. Al-Rifaa Fort was built in 1812, and played a strategically important role while Al-Rifaa was home to the seat of government until 1869.
The Tree of Life
The so-called " Tree of Life" stands alone on a sandy hill in the middle of the desert, some 2 km from Jebel Dukhan, the highest point in Bahrain.
This tree, estimated to be 400 years old, has become a legend. Being in an area apparently free of water, the tree’s survival remains a mystery.
The tree is one of Bahrain's main tourist attractions. Unfortunately, some thoughtless visitors have disfigured the tree with graffiti.
For a visit to the Tree of Life, the use a 4x4 vehicle is advised.
These islands are located just 1,4 kilometres off the west coast of Qatar, and can be reached by a 45-minute boat ride from Al Dur village on the mainland.
An archipelago of 36 islands, the Hawar Islands represent the last remaining true wilderness in Bahrain. The islands have a rich wildlife, and offer bird watchers a large variety of bird species. There are good beaches and the waters are inhabited by dugongs and dolphins.
Accommodation on the islands is available at the luxurious Tulip Inn Hawar Hotel, with its 60 rooms, suites and villas.
Bahrain has long stretches of sandy beaches. Apart from Al Dar and Hawar Islands mentioned above, among other popular beaches are Al Jazayer Beach on the south-western coast, and Asry Beach, on Muharraq Island near Manama.
Golfers can enjoy their game at The Royal Golf Club in Al-Rifaa (Riffa). This is an 18-hole championship golf course, open throughout the year. Night golf is available until midnight. Here is more information on The Royal Golf Club.
Another very popular club is Awali Golf Club, with its 18-hole desert course, located in the same area as The Royal Golf Club. Here is more information on Awali Golf Club.
The shallow waters of Bahrain offer the possibility of diving for pearls as well as there are a number of ship wrecks that abound in marine life. One of the most famous oyster beds is Shetaya, located some 70 km east of Manama. Here is more information on diving in Bahrain.
Bahrain Grand Prix
This Formula One international championship race, sponsored by Gulf Air, features top drivers from across the world. The event is held every spring at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, near the University of Bahrain.