Two Days in Bahrain
What are the best things to see and do? That's the question on everyone's mind when you only have a limited amount of time to see a new place. I've compiled below a list of activities to pick from, with a recommended time allowance for each. Luckily, Bahrain is a pretty small island so you can actually accomplish quite a lot in a couple of days.
Bahrain's National Museum
With an entrance fee of only 5 dinar, this air conditioned oasis is an absolute paradise. There is a large map of Bahrain on the floor of the ground level which could take an hour in itself to inspect in detail. The upstairs galleries have wonderful life sized reconstructions of daily life in the Arab world. Other sections of the museum display artifacts present a thorough history of Bahrain, particularly during the early Bronze Age and up to the Hellenistic period.
You might also be able to catch a temporary exhibit (I saw Reptiles in the Jurassic Period). If you get hungry, there is a wonderful cafe inside serving both traditional dishes and Western favourites like the Club Sandwich.
Recommended Time: 2-5 hours
Scuba Diving/ Pearl Diving
Read about my pearl dive HERE and watch my 747 dive HERE. Each takes about half the day 8am-1pm or later depending on the dive shop you book through. Both are regular two tank dives. Booking is advance is strongly recommended. If you're a new diver I do not recommend doing the 747. The pearl diving is for those with a lot of patience ;)
Recommended Time: 4-5 hours
This is advertised an an old and traditional souk. In reality, it is a collection of every day objects being peddled by small stores with some 'antique' stores mixed in here and there. If you've been anywhere in the Middle East before these won't be anything new, but if this is your first time its makes for an interesting perusal. The regular souk melts into the gold souk eventually where you can wander in and try on shiny things priced per carat.
Recommended Time: 1-3 hours depending on your affinity for shopping.
The mall at Manama Souk has two very pretty cafes inside, one of those, Saffron, is highly recommended for its traditional Bahraini breakfast. I personally did not enjoy it as much as Lilou (located elsewhere) where you should definitely order shakshuka off the breakfast menu (before noon).
From left to right: Shakshuka with whipped labneh at Lilou cafe. Saffron by Jena inside the Manama souk and a traditional Bahraini breakfast platter at Saffron.
If you're a history lover you will spend about half the day here. There is the fort to explore and the adjoining museum. A nightly light show follows at 6 p.m. For a detailed description, read about my trip HERE.
Recommended Time: 3-5 hours
This is a new mall built along a waterfront and has quite a few restaurant options which all have outdoor patio seating for those wishing to soak in the Arabian air. The shops are a mix of Western and Middle Eastern stores. There is a giant kids' playdium, movie theatre and VR play room. Any mall visit makes for a good escape from the heat and dust of the outdoors.
Recommended Time: 1-2 hours
The Lagoon Park
This is an accumulation of various restaurants around a man-made lagoon. A great place to stroll, have tea, and taste various cuisines. The Tea Club World is my favourite stop here. Try the Karak tea with milk!
Recommended Time: 2-3 hours
Tree of Life
This is a 45 minute trip into the centre of the island during which you will drive through oil fields which are only mildly interesting. The tree itself makes for a quick inspection. It is surrounded by a circular wall along which marked plaques commemorate other large trees around the world. A small roofed enclosure acts as an informal museum where plaques about the tree's history and related studies are presented in both English and Arabic. Read about my trip to the tree HERE.
Recommended Time: actual Tree time: 30mins. Roundtrip: 1.5 -2 hours.
Travel Tips for Bahrain
1. There are many Airbnb options and those located in high rise buildings are almost like hotels anyway.
2. Uber works everywhere and is cheaper and more reliable than local taxis which always seem to be running some kind of scam on travellers.
3. If you are travelling without Data, download the GPS coordinates of your destination because addresses are notoriously difficult to find in Bahrain.
4. Drawing money directly from ATMs is an easy way to obtain dinars once you get here but some of them do run out of cash so you may have to hunt down other ATMs.
5. Not all restaurants are licensed to serve alcohol, those located inside hotels typically are.
6. English is widely spoken and communication won't be a problem.
7. Conservative dress is not mandatory but recommended to avoid stares and sunburn.