How to Spend a Long Weekend in Bahrain

by Travelbag on 21 January 2019, 11:01AM

Bahrain city skyline

Tucked away in the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain is made up of more than 30 islands. A melting pot of cultures, cuisines and activities, this place can be enjoyed by travellers of all ages. And, if you’ve never been to the Middle East, the Kingdom of Bahrain provides a great introduction. You can expect to find world-class museums, beautiful architecture, spectacular souks and – of course – the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. With so many things to do in Bahrain, this small-but-mighty country is a strong contender for an exotic long weekend.

And there’s nothing better than hearing about it from someone who’s actually been. We sent one of our Social Media experts to experience Bahrain first hand. Her verdict? “If it isn’t already on your list of places to visit, it really needs to be.” Read on to find out what she got up to, and get inspired for your own trip to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Bahrain fort

Day One

Once we landed – after a fantastic six-hour flight with Gulf Air – we were greeted by our tour guide, Zahra, who was with us for the duration of the trip. We made our way to our hotel, the five-star Downtown Rotana. It’s right in the heart of Manama’s bustling financial district, within walking distance of Bahrain’s historic sites and the Manama Souq. The hotel’s roof lounge area has outstanding views of the city, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows. And my room was spacious, modern and – most importantly – comfortable.

In the evening, we were well and truly spoilt. We dined in the hotel’s main restaurant, Teatro Downtown, which offers a real fusion of cuisines, including Japanese, Chinese and Italian. Course after course came out and we tried a great selection of dishes. The real showstoppers were the sushi and the dessert spinning plates. After our feast, we waddled back to our rooms, ready for an early start the next day.  

Bahrain Manama Souk

Day Two

Our action-packed second day started with a traditional Arabic breakfast at Haji’s Cafe in Manama – a hidden gem which we would never have come across without Zahra. We tried a selection of dishes, before strolling around Manama Souq. It’s a popular shopping spot for locals – you can find all the Bahraini essentials, from spices and nuts, to fabrics, gold and pearls. The fun really starts when you haggle with the owners for a bargain souvenir.

Next up was a trip to Al Fateh Grand Mosque. This vast building is one of the largest mosques in the world, and can hold over 7,000 worshippers at a time. We were given the traditional Bahraini dress to wear when we entered, so that we could walk respectfully around the mosque. It’s definitely something to see if you get the chance to go – the intricate details within the mosque are stunning.

But it wasn’t all about sightseeing – a big part of our trip was visiting some of Bahrain’s beautiful hotels. First on the list was The Four Seasons Bahrain Bay. It was simply amazing. Built on its own exclusive island, this elegant resort is filled with architectural statements. It’s a great luxury option for both business and leisure, with fantastic facilities – expect swimming pools, spas and world-class restaurants. We were lucky enough to have a bite of lunch here, and everything was delicious.

Feeling rather full, we headed to our next activity – horse riding. As a group, we rode to the Bahrain Fort, which is one of the Gulf’s few UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The fort dates back over 4,000 years and contains seven stratified layers, created by various occupants from 2,300BC to the 18th Century. While we were there, the sun dropped and the skyline came to life as the towering skyscrapers lit up. The views were mesmerising – I would definitely recommend going here.

We ended our second day with a visit to the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain – one of the most luxurious resorts in Bahrain. With panoramic views, its own private beach and 11 restaurants, it’s easy to see why this hotel is popular with tourists and locals alike. We tucked into a tasty meal at the resort’s authentic Italian restaurant, Trattoria Moderna. This was a unique dining experience in itself, as we sat by the open glass kitchen, where we could see the chefs preparing every meal. As expected, the food was bellissimo.

Horse riding Bahrain

Day Three

After two nights in Downtown Rotana, it was time for us to move on to our second hotel – the five-star ART Rotana. It’s anchored on the Amwaj Islands in the northeast region of Bahrain. The best thing about it? All the rooms and suites face the sea, so you get a stunning view – whichever room you’re in. The resort feels homely and welcoming, but super luxurious at the same time.

After we checked in, it was time for another hotel visit. This time, we saw Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa. Perched on the pristine beaches of Zallaq, overlooking the Arabian Gulf, this resort blends French art with traditional Bahraini styles. You can look forward to superb facilities and top views from the elegant bedrooms. If you stay here, you’ll also be able to experience luxury treatments in the Thalassa Spa, including seaweed wraps and oxygen bubbles.

Next was something the whole group was really looking forward to – go-karting at Bahrain International Circuit. It’s fair to say we were very excited about zooming around the Grand Prix track. We changed into our racing gear, jumped into our karts and flew round the tarmac trying to get the fastest lap. It was brilliant – definitely a great activity if you’re a couple visiting Bahrain, or a family travelling with teenagers.  

After working up an appetite, it was time for dinner at Block 338. This pedestrianised quarter of Bahrain is crammed with international restaurants, art galleries and small boutiques. It was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. We dined at a retro Greek restaurant called Attic, sat on the terrace and soaked up the beautiful views of Manama. And the food was just as good – I’d highly recommend it.

Go-karting Bahrain

Day Four

On our last day, we enjoyed breakfast at a local Bahraini restaurant, Saffron, then headed off on a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Pearling Trail and Old Houses on the island of Muharraq. During the tour we also visited the house of Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa – a former Bahraini King. After the tour, we had a Bahraini cooking lesson and learned how to make a few authentic dishes, which we then ate for lunch afterwards. If you think we spent most of our time in Bahrain eating, you’d be right – and I suggest you do the same. There’s so much to try.

The last hotel on our list was Jumeirah Royal Saray. Based on a private beach in Manama’s new Seef district, surrounded by the Arabian Sea, this stylish resort is in a great spot – you couldn’t be nearer the sea if you tried.

Our long weekend in Bahrain was coming to an end – but there was just time for one more meal. We had the pleasure of dining in ART Rotana’s international cuisine restaurant, Choices. Their live cooking stations showcased Asian, Western and Middle Eastern flair, and we were lucky enough to experience their seafood night, which is a recurring event. The chefs pulled out all the stops and the range of food was remarkable. If you’re not a seafood fan, don’t worry – there are plenty of other options, including a wok station. After piling our plates and eating so much we thought we’d burst, it was time to head to the airport and fly home.

Pearling Trail

Looking back on my time in Bahrain, it really was fantastic. We experienced so much in such a short space of time. The amount of culture and history was pleasantly surprising, and the food and people were wonderful. It was fascinating to be able to experience it all first hand. I would definitely recommend visiting Bahrain – you could even add on a few days in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, if you wanted a real Middle Eastern adventure. Whatever you decide, I’m sure you’ll be well and truly impressed.

 

Tempted? Take a look at our holidays to Bahrain or call our travel experts today.

If you need any more persuasion, see which Bahraini buildings made it on to our list of the best architecture in the Middle East.


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