Things to Do in Bahrain
Anybody looking to explore the history of Bahrain should pay a visit to Bahrain Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage site is thought to be the former capital of ancient Dilmun and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Persian Gulf. Excavations over the years have revealed a large number of cultural, commercial, and military discoveries.
Qal'at al-Bahrain is located atop a large artificial mound that was created by centuries of rebuilding during continuous occupation. It was occupied from around 2800 BC, and has the remnants of two earlier forts surrounding it. The site has been open to the public since 2008, with a museum featuring five exhibition halls with more than 500 archaeological finds, which are explained via a free audio tour.
Visiting Bahrain Fort is best enjoyed as part of a day tour of the region’s other main highlights, including Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Bahrain National Museum, Manama Souq, and the Bahrain City Center complex. It is also included within certain half-day tours from Manama, taking in the Saar burial chambers, the Barbar Temple, and the Burial Mounds.
The Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve in Bahrain is a conservation project that’s home to a variety of Arabian indigenous species. It is a sanctuary for bird, plant, and animal life, and has attracted a large number of migratory birds since opening in 1976. The park protects and breeds a number of endangered mammals, including native leopards and gazelles, plus Bahrain’s national animal, the Arabian oryx.
The park covers an area of seven square kilometers and is divided into four main sections: the Water Birds Parks, Wild Birds Park, Wild Animals Complex, and the Desert Flora Garden. As a visitor, you are free to explore most of these areas on foot, allowing you to get up close to the unique plant and birdlife. There’s also the option to watch a short film to introduce you to the park and its inhabitants, before boarding a bus to transport you on a tour around the reserve and past the animals that live there.
The Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve is ideal for families, wildlife enthusiasts, and budding naturalists of all ages, and can be combined with other attractions in the area to make for a fun and informative day out. A full-day tour to discover the highlights of Bahrain might include visiting Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the Bahrain National Museum, Arad Fort, and Bahrain International Circuit.
The Royal Camel Farm on the outskirts of Manama was founded by the late Sheikh Mohammed Bin Salman Al Khalifa, uncle of the current ruler of Bahrain. It’s a hobby farm, meaning the animals aren’t raised for racing or for their meat, and there are hundreds of camels living here, all owned by the royal family.
The Royal Camel Farm is not widely advertised as a tourist attraction. However, it’s open to the public every day until sunset, so you are free to go and take a look around, see the camels, and chat to the farmers. Entry into the farm is free, but there are sometimes opportunities to feed or even ride the camels, and a small fee for this can be negotiated with the workers.
A trip to the Royal Camel Farm is best enjoyed as part of a day tour of Bahrain’s main attractions, including Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the Bahrain National Museum, the Bait Al-Qur’an Museum, Bahrain Fort, the Burial Mounds and Manama Souq.
Al Fateh Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Bahrain, with the ability to hold up to 7000 worshippers at any one time. The mosque was built using marble from Italy, teak wood from India, and glass from Austria, and its fiberglass dome in the largest in the world. The walls of the mosque are ornately decorated with Kufic calligraphy carved by local Bahraini craftspeople.
Tours begin in the library just inside the main entrance, where women will be given a black cloak and headscarf to wear for their visit. For non-worshippers, a tour of the mosque means learning about and observing various aspects of religious etiquette, as well as marveling at the mosque’s exquisite architecture and interior design.
A trip to Al Fateh Grand Mosque is best enjoyed as part of a day tour of Bahrain’s main highlights, such as the Bahrain National Museum, Arad Fort, Al Areen Wildlife Park, and the Bahrain International Circuit. Other day tours combine a visit to Al Fateh Grand Mosque with the Bait Al-Qur’an Museum, the Royal Camel Farm at Janabiya, the Burial Mounds, and Manama Souq.
The Bahrain National Museum is the country’s biggest and most popular attraction. A must-visit among history and culture buffs, it features nine main halls dedicated to 4000 years of Bahrain history. The main aim of the museum is to enhance and promote an understanding of Bahrain’s history, which it achieves through variously themed displays and numerous art and culture exhibitions.
The highlights of the museum’s permanent displays include a replica souq on the first floor, a huge satellite image of Bahrain on the ground floor, and some fascinating archaeological artefacts from ancient Dilmun. From its Islamic era and burial mounds halls, to its ancient manuscripts and traditional handicraft exhibits, the National Museum provides a thorough insight into the history and culture of the country, with all exhibits well-labelled in both English and Arabic.
A trip to the Bahrain National Museum is best enjoyed as part of a day tour of the region’s main highlights, which might include the Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Arad Fort, Al Areen Wildlife Park, and the Bahrain International Circuit. Other day tours combine a visit to the National Museum with the Bait Al Qur’an Museum, the Royal Camel Farm at Janabiya, the Burial Mounds, and Manama Souq.
The Beit Al Qur’an (House of the Quran) is dedicated to Islamic heritage and the understanding of the Holy Qur’an. Housed in a building based on the 12th-century Al Khamis Mosque, with its engraved Qur’anic verses and slender minaret, here you’ll find an impressive collection of Qur’ans and other antique manuscripts, showcasing a stunning display of calligraphy.
Visiting the Beit Al Qur’an provides an insight into Islam, and Kufic script in particular. The museum is spread across several floors, with exhibits well-labelled in both English and Arabic. There are also some rare Islamic artifacts on display, plus jewelry and beautifully decorated glass utensils that illustrate how Islamic heritage has influenced art all across the world.
The best way to visit the Beit Al Qur’an is as part of a larger day tour where you can explore the most famous attractions in Bahrain, including Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the Bahrain National Museum, Bahrain Fort, the Royal Camel Farm, the Burial Mounds and Manama Souq.
Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House in Muharraq was once home to Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa, who was sovereign from 1869 to 1932, making him the longest ruler of Bahrain. The building was constructed around 1800, and a visit here will provide a glimpse into 19th-century royal life.
With its period architecture and fine wall carvings, this grand house is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional local architecture in the pre-oil era. Though unfurnished now, the ornate decoration within the house makes it a fascinating place to explore, with its multiple staircases, intricate archways, and pleasant courtyards. The building is divided into four sections, including one for the shaikh and separate areas for family, guests, and servants, each of which are well-labelled in English.
A visit to Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House can be combined with Bahrain’s other attractions exploring the country's history and culture, such as Kurar House, Muharraq souq, and the Shaikh Ebrahim Center.
TheTree of Life (Shajarat-al-Hayat) is a lone mesquite tree that stands in the desert atop a sandy hill near the highest point in Bahrain. Approximately 400 years-old and standing at almost 10 meters tall, the tree has continued to grow despite the extreme temperatures and lack of any apparent water source for miles around.
The tree’s source of water is a mystery and the fact that it has thrived for so long has made it something of a mystical legend in Bahrain. The locals believe that the tree is looked after by Enki, the mythical God of water, and some believe that it is the last vestige from the Garden of Eden. Presumably, the old tree has tapped into an underground spring somewhere, a feat of nature that is impressive even without the legends and myths.
Both its age and location make the Tree of Life a true natural survivor, although the sheer volume of visitors it attracts might be its eventual downfall; spray paint and etchings are clearly visible on its old bark, and a protective circular fence now surrounds the tree in an attempt to preserve it.
The best way to see the Tree of Life is to join a short tour that also takes in other attractions in the desert, including the Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed Al-Fateh Fort and the first ever oil well, plus the Oil Museum next to it.
Strategically located overlooking a number of sea passages, Arad Fort is one of Bahrain's most important fortified castles, and is a classic example of Islamic fort architecture in the 15th and 16th centuries. It used to guard a separate island of its own, but the fort has since been connected to Muharraq Island.
Arad Fort was used as a defensive fortress throughout various phases of Bahrain’s history, and was the site of many conflicts, including the country’s occupation by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It has undergone various construction phases throughout the years and is now open to the public to visit, as well as playing host to a number of seasonal festivals.
History and military buffs, as well as those interested in architecture, will be particularly enchanted, with three archeological layers of the fort to explore. Among the site, there’s a trench, two wells, a canal, plus lookout towers at each of the fort’s four corners with passages that connect them.
A visit to Arad Fort can be combined with other attractions in the area to make for a fun and informative day out for all ages. A full day tour to discover the highlights of Bahrain might include visiting Al Fateh Grand Mosque, the Bahrain National Museum, Al Areen Wildlife Park, and Bahrain International Circuit.
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