When you travel to Bahrain, at first glance, it might look like it doesn’t have much to offer for families to entertain and spare some time. In reality, Bahrain has a lot of hidden gems for you to discover, and the Kingdom never fails to deliver some fantastic family-orientated events. Our story with Bahrain starts in November 2018, when we arrived in the country on our three months visitor visa. My husband had just secured investment in his startup from investors in the region. We decided to come to Bahrain to experience life in the Middle East while my husband was setting up his business in the area, and to have a break from our tropical life in Phuket, Thailand.
Bahrain welcomed us with open arms. Our first three months in Bahrain fell into the end of winter and the start of summer, so we had an opportunity to experience both seasons and visit some significant events. Bahrain puts a lot of effort into the organisation of various festivals throughout the year. If you like to find out what is happening on the dates of your visit, check out Local Bh for the exciting updates.
Myself, I have prepared for you a list of things to do in Bahrain and our favourite places to visit there. In the end, our three months stay turned into a year-long chapter. The Kingdom has become a home away from home for us. All thanks to the welcoming environment and kindness of local people. I hope you will find my guide useful and get a chance to see and experience Bahrain in all its beauty. Check out the video below for some stunning visuals of the Kingdom!
Bahrain Fort was one of the first places we visited when we arrived. I still remember that day so clearly. The sky was blue, and the sun was bright, and the views of the city were incredible! The Fort is an archaeological site that was once the capital of the Dilmun civilisation and now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. The ruins of the old Fort are situated on the seashore looking out over Manama, the capital of Bahrain. “When old meets new” is the perfect way to describe the location which is an ideal spot for some epic photos and a pleasant walk.
The museum is a great place to spend an afternoon getting to know about Bahrain culture, costumes, heritage and more. It has several rooms dedicated to different subjects, and one of them contains recreated the ancient Dilmun mounds which you can still see scattered around the landscapes of Bahrain. Once you enter the museum, you will find the giant map of the country spread over the entire ground floor, which is very impressive! Modern building designs and exhibits also add to the experience. Outside the museum, you will find a very calm atmosphere with stunning views and modern architecture to walk around. For a coffee break, visit the “Darseen Cafe” to taste their delicious cakes and yummy, nutritious meals.
If you travel with kids and like to learn about local wildlife, you would enjoy visiting the Al Areen nature reserve. The best time to visit is during colder times, so you can take it easy and enjoy the walk through the park. The entry ticket is only BHD 1 (3 USD) per adult, so it’s very affordable and busy with families. They also have a big playground at the end of the park, which makes an excellent area for a picnic.
Get a close introduction with a treasured element of Bahraini culture at the Royal Camel Farm. Bahrainis and the Middle East, in general, have had a profound cultural connection to camels for centuries that’s why till these days camels are still considered a symbol of power and wealth.
The farm was created by Sheikh Mohammad to preserve camels in Bahrain as their number was declining since people no longer needed them for transportation. Despite being called a farm, the animals are not bred for eating or any production. To visit the place is free of charge and you will have a chance to hand-feed young camels.
Another way to experience a more traditional Bahrain is to visit Manama souq. There you will find a variety of shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, spices and many other items, including the famous Bahraini high-quality gold jewellery. After shopping, have a break and enjoy delicious traditional Bahraini breakfast at the “Saffron by Jena” which is located inside the souq. Even though it’s called breakfast, it served throughout the day and its something you don’t want to miss out on!
The grand Al Fateh Mosque will catch your attention as soon as you drive through the city. It’s Bahrain’s most important place of worship and among one of the largest in the world. Its magnificent architecture can be seen from miles away and up close its even more impressive. It was built under the patronage of the late Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in 1987 and can accommodate up to 7000 worshippers at once. The sign at the entrance makes it clear that everyone is welcome, so don’t hesitate to visit.
If you want to have a glimpse into the 19th -century royal life then I recommend you to visit the Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House in the old capital of Bahrain, Muharraq. The building was once home to the longest ruler of Bahrain – Shaikh Isa bin Ali Al Khalifa. If you are into history and architecture, this place will surprise you with its delicate wall carvings and ornate decorations.
Once you are there, pop in next door to discover the hidden oasis of Bahrain Pavilion. It was designed for the Milano Expo in 2015 and later was moved to Bahrain to serve as a botanical garden.
Magic comes in different shapes and forms, and the Tree of Life in Bahrain is the perfect example. The mysterious old tree has been thriving for over 400000 years without any visible source of water. A local legend has it that Bahrain is the site of the biblical Garden of Eden, and that tree is a vestige of that paradise. Others believe that the tree is protected by the ancient Sumerian god Enki. And some say that the tree has learned to extract moisture from grains of sand. Or just maybe the roots of the tree are so long that they can reach some unknown source of freshwater. Whatever the truth is, it’s pretty fascinating and exciting to see!
If you like to kick back and relax with some sheesha and good food, then you would love the vibes of Amwaj Islands. The place comes alive at night when lights from the restaurants and shops reflect in the water, and the street gets busy with parents and their kids. You will find not only a wide variety of restaurants there but also kid-friendly activities. “Cafe Arabica” is our favourite place to eat there and is located on the first floor, right next to the kid’s playroom, where you can leave your child to play supervised, while you enjoy your meal.
If you are looking for a relaxing but vibrant beach club experience, then Solymar Beach in Amwaj Islands is the place for you. It’s open throughout the year and offers a stylish seaside experience with all the comforts. Enjoy some sun and good music during the day, or visit at night for some great cocktails and socialising.
P.S. Make sure to wear your best bikini to take some Insta-worthy pics!
If you are visiting during summer, then you cant skip a beach day! Marassi beach is located next to the Amwaj Islands and is a trendy destination for many during hot days. You will get direct access to the beachfront with sunbeds just for BHD 2 (5 USD) for the unlimited time. For adrenaline lovers, a selection of water fun activities is available. You will also find a tasty variety of restaurants to eat from without leaving the beachfront.
Al Dar Islands is a group of islands near Sitra and is another accessible summertime location for locals and travellers. To reach the destination, you will need to take a boat from the Sitra Fisherman’s Port, so don’t forget to bring with you your passport or a CPR card. At the spot, you will be able to rent a beach chalet to hide from the sun, or you can enjoy your time under the umbrellas at the beachfront bar. BBQ areas are also available for use, so bring with you all the necessities and enjoy quality beach time! For pricing information and opening hours, check here.
Waterparks in Bahrain
If you travel to Bahrain during the hot season with kids, then they will love water activities to let off some steam. The Lost Paradise of Dilmun is the biggest one in Bahrain and its located in a tranquil and beautiful area. It’s beautifully designed and offers all the comforts for you and your family to have the best time. They offer a variety of rides for all ages and are known for their great hospitality.
Another spot where you can bring your kids is the Wahooo! Waterpark that is located right in the heart of Manama, City Centre Mall. It’s a smaller indoor-outdoor park that is very easy to access if you don’t have a car to drive far away from the central area. The best part about this park is that you can visit it on colder days and have straight access to the shopping mall after you finish.
Shop and eat in Bahrain
There are several shopping malls in Bahrain, where you can find some great retail shops, restaurants and entertainment, but there’s three that stand out:
I think all roads in Manama lead to the City Centre Mall! It’s the busiest mall in Bahrain that offers a big selection of high street brands, coffee shops and restaurants. If you are a fan of quality pasta, I highly recommend you to dine at the “Vapiano” restaurant that you can find at Gate 6. While you are busy shopping, take your kids to have some quality playtime at “Playsy,” that offers a “dual reality experience” and is located on level 2. You can also enjoy the latest movies at the cinema, that show them in both Arabic and English.
Aali Mall is must be the prettiest and most photogenic mall you would ever visit. The sophisticated atmosphere and premium labels create a unique shopping experience. Even if you are not planning on buying any luxurious carpets or evening gowns, the place is still worth the visit. Have lunch at the newly opened sustainable eatery the “Eightythirty” or have a delicious dinner at the stylish “The Florist’s Daughter” restaurant. In both cases, you won’t be disappointed.
The Avenues is a unique development that has become a symbol of Bahrain. The location and the concept of the mall make it very special and popular amongst visitors. The visitors get to enjoy the beautiful walkway by the water with the city view. The mall also includes a wide variety of coffee shops and a large family play hall. For the dining experience, grab a bite at “Lumee” to get a taste of the Middle Eastern street food served stylishly. When the weather cools down, make sure to take a seat outside to enjoy a beautiful sunset and relaxing atmosphere of the surroundings.
If you are looking for some more ideas where to enjoy views of Manama and take a stroll, then consider visiting Bahrain Bay. Its located north of Manama’s Diplomatic Area, opposite the “Avenues.” There also you will find a beautiful playground with a little fountain which your kids might enjoy.
The produce market in Bahrain is our absolute favourite thing to do, and I am only putting this last because due to the weather conditions, Farmers’ Market in Bahrain is open only during the winter starting in December each year. When the weather finally cools down, every Saturday, people of Bahrain gather together at the Budaiya botanical gardens to pick up fresh produce and eat some good food. If you are staying in Bahrain during the winter, I highly recommend you to make an effort and spend a morning at the markets to experience the culture and meet the locals.
I hope my guide was useful and you manage to have some fun time while visiting the Kingdom! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter!