With its UNESCO heritage sites, tropical desert climate, natural springs, and white sandy beaches it is no surprise that Bahrain is an increasingly popular destination in the Middle East. Comprised of 33 islands and situated in the Perian Gulf, its name means 'two seas'.
History of Bahrain
It became rich from pearls which came through its numerous ports, it was the most important country for the pearl trade until the 19th century. In recent years its wealth has come from oil, though this too is now starting to dry up as the nation looks to diversify its economy. Tourism in Bahrain and banking are two of the main areas of investment and focus.
Bahrain is the location of the ancient bronze-age civilization of Dilmun. It is regarded as one of the oldest civilizations in the Middle East and at the height of its power, controlled the Persian Gulf trading routes. It was later conquered by the Babylonians and the Persians.
What is the population of Bahrain? 1.4 million and the capital city is Manama, an important trading center which homes 157,000 people. Bahrain is a popular destination as it feels Arabic but the Islamic laws are not strictly applied to its non-Muslim population or visitors. This attitude has given rise to a cosmopolitan middle class which is not found in neighboring countries.
Tourism in Bahrain is on the rise
Bahrain receives four million tourists a year though this figure is expected to rise. Both the private sector and the government are investing heavily in large-scale developments to boost tourism so there is a growing of things to see in Bahrain.
What to do in Bahrain? Due to its rich, long history, it is home to numerous castles including the Bahrain Fort (also known as the Portuguese Fort), whose foundations date back to 2,300BC. Bahrain's wealth of world heritage sites have been meticulously restored and opened to the public and these are the most popular tourist attractions in Bahrain.
Shopping in Bahrain is popular among locals and tourists. It is known for its countless, huge, western-style shopping malls where you can find luxury brands at reasonable prices and see some modern, outlandish architecture. There are also boutiques and affordable tailors.
There is a growing contemporary art scene with new galleries and exhibitions popping up each month. The price of Bahraini art is expected to increase in the near future so now is the right time to find yourself a bargain!
In 2004, Bahrain made history when it held the first ever Formula One Grand Prix in the Middle East and was awarded the prize of ´Best Organised Grand Prix' by FIA. Now the Bahrain Grand Prix regular fixture on the racing calendar.
Bahrain Basic Information
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When to Go
A desert climate with prevailing winds from the north-west, Bahrain has only two seasons.When is the best time to visit Bahrain? With temperatures exceeding 40°C, it is best to go during the winter months. It rarely rains, there are normally one or two wet days a month between December and March.
- High season (winter). November to May are the best months to go to Bahrain. With average temperatures ranging between 20°C and 25°C, you can enjoy the warm days and pleasant evenings.
- Low season (summer). With scorching temperatures and sandstorms, this can be an uncomfortable time to visit Bahrain
Bahrain is a good destination for:
Bahrain Entry Requirements
Visitors to Bahrain must have a valid passport within a minimum of six months remaining from the date of arrival.
It is also necessary to obtain a visa before they travel unless they are from a country which is exempt (Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates). Citizens from these countries can enter using a national ID card.
All other nationalities either need to apply for an electronic visa, to apply for one click here. Citizens from some countries can also obtain a visa on arrival if they wish. These countries include the United States, all countries in the EU, Canada, and Australia.
Bahrain Country Atractions
With its complex, ancient history and recent investment in large-scale tourism projects there are plenty of popular tourist attractions in Bahrain.
Things to see and do in Bahrain
- Bahrain National Museum. This stunning collection of relics from Bahrain’s history dates back to the island’s first human inhabitation 5000 years ago. Located in the capital, it consists of nine halls which are grouped into six sections.
- Bahrain Fort. A UNESCO heritage site, excavations have been carried out since 1954. It was once the capital of the Dilmun civilization and the oldest parts of its layered foundations date back to 2300BC.
- Bahrain National Theatre. This thousand-seater, waterside complex was opened in 2012. The spectacular structure has been described as having an ‘Arabian nights theme’ and it is definitely worth keeping an eye on its cultural program while you’re there.
- Pearl Diving in Bahrain The nation’s wealth was built on the lucrative pearl trade and history shows that pearl diving dated back 5000 years there! Over 400 sq miles of oysters beds provides a unique and unusual scuba diving experience. Bahraini pearls are considered to be the best in the world and if you find one it’s yours!
- The Ahmed Al Fateh Mosque. One of the largest mosques in the world, it can accommodate over 7,000 worshippers. It was built in 1987 and has since become the home of the National Library of Bahrain as well as of the most popular tourist attractions.
- Beit Al Qu’ran. The home to a rare collection of Islamic manuscripts, prints, and books, it is one of the island’s most distinctive and iconic pieces of architecture. The multi-purpose building is one of the most renowned Islamic museums in the world as well as one of the most popular things to do in Bahrain.
- Bahrain is socially liberal but many locals are conservative. Travelers should keep this in mind and respect local customs and laws. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, as are revealing clothes.Visit your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations.
- Do you need vaccinations before going to Bahrain? Most probably yes, Visit your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations before going to Bahrain.
- Change your money before you go as exchange rates vary wildly in Bahrain (US$1 = 2.65 Bahraini Dinar). Are there ATMs in Bahrain? Yes, and instructions are normally available in English, you will be subject to charges.
- Is Bahrain safe? On the whole yes, most visits are trouble-free though female visitors should take care when traveling alone at night. It is advisable to use one of the more reputable taxi companies.
- All residents and visitors are required to carry ID and can be fined if they don’t, so carry your ID with you.
- Driving in Bahrain. You can drive in Bahrain using an international driving permit. There is a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving, those caught are put in prison until their hearing and then fined heavily.