WE’RE EXCITED TO BE STARTING A NEW DECADE HERE IN BAHRAIN WITH ALL OF OUR READERS! TO CELEBRATE NEW BEGINNINGS, FACT HAS PUT TOGETHER A LIST OF 20 THINGS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE IN THIS GLORIOUS COUNTRY THAT WE ALL CALL HOME – FROM THE ARTSY TO THE FOODIE – THERE’S SOMETHING TO PLEASE EVERY INTEREST…
HAVE A SPA DAY
If you still haven’t treated yourself to an afternoon of massages and relaxing, we can guide you in the right direction! Bahrain is packed with some of the best, award-winning spas. We would highly recommend a visit to Rimal Spa at Movenpick Hotel Bahrain. Rimal Spa features 12 treatment rooms, including single treatment suites, one double female suite and two traditional Turkish hammam suites with their own steam rooms and heated wet tables. All treatment rooms are designed to the highest standards and have private showers. To ensure privacy, the wellness facility offers segregated male and female wings with relaxation waiting areas where organic herbal infusions and fruit water are served. If you’re into revolutionary, results-driven treatments, opt for the CACI (Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument) Synergy facials. Throw in a massage for good measure and let the pampering commence.
GO: Call 1746 0000 for reservations and more information.
The camping season kicks off in Bahrain every winter and is one of the most eagerly anticipated outdoor activities of the cooler months. The Supreme Camping Season Committee of Bahrain works every year to create the best facilities and services for campers, including looking over all the necessary safety and security measures. Hundreds of people will put up tents at Sakhir desert, spending a few days under the stars and making the most of Bahrain’s varied terrain. Easy access to campsites or putting up your own tent will give you ample stargazing opportunities to wipe away all your worries. It’s close enough to civilisation that you can get your friends to drop off a Starbucks coffee in the morning, but it’s faraway for you to enjoy and appreciate the natural surroundings.
GO: Register with the Southern Governorate to enjoy the camping season from November to March.
AL JASRA HANDICRAFTS CENTRE
Tucked away in the village of Jasra, the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre is considered one of the most important of its kind in Bahrain. Surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views, the handicrafts centre showcases pottery making, cloth weaving, woodworking, basket weaving, and sadow making. Learn about the country’s great past as you explore industries and crafts that were practiced by the ancestors – you can even join in with the craftsmen and women to hone your own skills.
GO: Call 1761 1900 for more information.TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WATER
Delve into the beautiful underwater world! Jump into the mesmerising blue ocean and discover coral beds and tropical fish, whilst snorkelling or scuba diving. At this time of the year, the water is much cooler and makes for an incredible experience. There’s never a better a time to get out onto the water than now! Activities on the water are also a big yes. You can get involved in everything from windsurfing, water skiing, paddle boarding and even fishing (there are no limits to the amount of fun you can have). Bahrain has Al Dar Islands, Jarada tours, Bahrain Yacht club and many more places that cater to water sport enthusiasts or those who want to do something exciting for the day. Most activities are relatively affordable and involve basic safety training too.
GO: Call Jarada Tours on 7715 6561 or visit www.jaradatours.com for more information.
TRY HORSE RIDING
Though we may not have rolling green hills in Bahrain, horse riding is still a well catered for hobby and activity on the island. Horse riding is a great pastime for both amateurs and more experienced riders, and there’s no better feeling than going riding outside. Horses are known to be one of the kindest and most gentle animals you will encounter so don’t be afraid to give this a go even if you’re not on a pro-level. For beginners, there are a whole host of classes available with all the required safety measures you’ll need. The pros amongst us can enjoy riding sessions at quite a few places including the Dilmun Club Stables, Shakhoora Riding Centre and the Bahrain Riding School. You’ll love this sport for the close engagement with an animal and its relaxing benefits (even though it might seem quite a vigorous activity). Go on, put on your riding boots as you take a ride with the breeze flying through your saddle.
GO: Visit Twin Palms Riding Centre for an unforgettable horseriding experience. Call 3956 6809 for more information.
GET UP ON A PADDLEBOARD
SUP is the fastest growing water activity which is a good overall workout option. This intense workout regime uses almost every muscle in your body at some point in time. Cruising in an inner bay or blasting through waves, the unstable nature of water and the occasional challenge of gusting wind adds to the difficulty of balancing on a SUP board. This offers a complete body workout that activates the core. You work on conditioning your back, arms, legs and even your toes and feet while paddling. A good half hour on a paddle board will work out your quads and calves for sure. SUP is an excellent cardiovascular activity and a relaxing sport! If yoga is your way of exercising and keeping fit, do it with a little twist. Stand-Up Paddleboard Yoga teaches you how to move on calm water using different paddling techniques and the importance of balance. A beautiful workout system that strengthens and lengthens all the major muscle groups, opening up the breath, calming the mind and moving into greater alignment with yourself and the natural beauty that surrounds you on the water.
GO: Visit www.beachculture.me or call 3303 6362 for more information.TOUR THE FORTS
Rich in culture and heritage, the forts in Bahrain are an absolute must-visit. These rich cultural sites including the likes of Qal’at al Bahrain, Arad Fort, Buhamer Fort and more are not only historically significant but also tell fascinating archaeological stories dating back centuries ago. Our favourite is the stunning representation of Bahrain’s rich history, Qal’at al Bahrain – or more popularly known as Bahrain Fort – was an important trading port throughout the centuries and is brimming with historical inventories. The site is especially gorgeous when it’s lit up in the evening and you’re likely to see everything from impromptu horse rides to locals getting their daily steps in. This time of year, the sites become a great place to explore, to go for a jog, or to take a casual stroll.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information on these beautiful sites.
LOST PARADISE OF DILMUN
For some guaranteed feel-good fun, LPOD is a reliable go-to for a day out! It’s water world galore at LPOD with thrilling slides, numerous pools, playground fun and everyone’s favourite – the lazy river. Our favourite things here are the wave pool, the soap machines and the water temple! The great thing is that families and friends can rent out a private cabana to make your day out all the more special. There are three tiers of air-conditioned cabanas; Royal, VIP and Beach, each catering to visitor’s needs! On weekends and special themed nights, a DJ will also spin some tunes for the crowd.
GO: Call 1784 5100 for more information.
ATTEND A FESTIVAL
If there’s one thing you can count on in Bahrain, it’s music, food, entertainment and shows by some of the best local talents. Catering to every genre, style, and interest, some of the annual shindigs to check out include the famed Spring of Culture, Bahrain Music Festival, Bahrain Jazz Fest, and Bahrain Summer Festival. More and more independent events are also being conjured up – the Sea Festival and Revive being recent additions – making sure that you’re covered for culture and good ol’ fun. Keeping an eye out on Instagram or staying tuned into your local radio station will help keep you in the know about these sorts of happenings. But you can’t go through 2020 without getting down to your chosen festival – we’ll see you there!
Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.EAT AT THE HOLE IN THE WALL
If there’s one thing you can rely on in Bahrain, it’s delicious diverse cuisines! Some of the best cuisines are found in the most undiscovered neck of the woods. Take Chai Café for example, located opposite Bahrain Mall, it has become somewhat of a staple for locals and expats alike. It specialises in traditional Bahraini food and is famous for its exceptional selection of teas, like Chai Karak, Chai Darseen, and Mint Chai. Swagat, located at the Manama Centre is pretty popular amongst Indian cuisine lovers; especially vegetarians. With authentic dishes, guests enjoy tasty, piping hot food in a simple atmosphere. Try the paneer masala, and dal and naan – they’ll be a real treat for the taste buds. If a typical traditional Bahraini breakfast is what you’re looking for, Emmawash will not disappoint! A very off-the-wall restaurant (with very interesting walls), Emmawash has a homely atmosphere and a classic, pocket-friendly menu. Order the simple but utterly satisfying hot bread drizzled in honey and let every bite do the talking.
A’ALI POTTERY WORKSHOPS
A relaxing and interactive activity, pottery is the perfect way to unwind and de-stress. Using traditional methods that have been passed on from generation to generation, Bahrain is home to a number of authentic pottery workshops. Treat your creative aptitude to the fascinating ancient techniques displayed by the potters as they make their masterpieces. Try your hand at some pottery or take your pick from the beautifully designed authentic creations, ready to buy for pride of place in your home or as a gift.
GO: Call 3985 6994 for more information.
ROYAL CAMEL FARM
A truly unique and wholesome experience, the Royal Camel Farm gives visitors an insight into a treasured element of Bahraini culture. Home to over 600 camels of all ages and sizes, the farm was created as a means of preserving camels, and traditions related to the animal, in Bahrain. Go and visit for some adorable playtime with the elegant creatures where you can get up close and personal with baby camels and even feed them and the ‘rents freely as you walk through the sprawling farm. This is one for a picture op!
GO: Call 1788 1188 for more information.
COFFEE HOP FOR YOUR INSTA
Forget bar crawls, 2020 is the year of the coffee house. With more and more cool hangouts popping up all around the island, one thing’s for sure – Bahrain loves a good cup of the perfect blend. Start your day at 11:11 (@11.11bh) in Adliya where the coffee is evidently made with a dash of love. The venue is a cool, instagrammable spot and the coffee follows suit. For a livelier joint, walk into Coffea (@coffea.bh) at The Flagship in Seef – here’s where you’ll get all the good vibes – they might even let you take over the playlist – with a side of great coffee – hello, Iced Spanish Latte. The Dot (thedot_bh) is the cutest little coffeeshop-cum-café adorned in plants and comfy seating – the kind of place to pull up with your laptop in tow. A whole host of popular places including % Arabica, CAF, Arriba and more, are proof of how significant coffee culture has become in Bahrain.
With a rich history and heritage, as well as huge significance to GCC culture, pearl diving is something that you should definitely have on your Bahrain bucket list. Al Dar Islands offer trips to the best shallow waters rich in oysters and you can collect as many shells as you like. After getting back to the island, the trainers will show you how to open the shells and there could just be a pearl waiting! If you want to keep things dry on land, history buffs and those who want to get to know more about Bahrain’s past can now embark on a unique trail in Muharraq, along a route that is now considered by UNESCO for World Heritage listing. From the oyster beds to the seashore, the ‘Amarat’ and the ship building sites in front of them and the historic markets, this pearling pathway tour is approximately two miles long and best carried out on foot.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information on The Pearl Pathway / Call Al Dar Islands on 1770 4600 for more information.
HAGGLE IN MUHARRAQ SOUQ
One of our all-time favourite places on the island, the atmospheric Muharraq Souq offers the true essence of Bahraini culture. The second largest souq in Bahrain, it is your one-stop shop for everything from authentic Bahraini breakfast and tea to jewellery and an array of spices. Its old-world charm, traditional buildings and amazing deals make it the perfect weekend visit for local food with a side of haggling. A great area to see the untouched and genuine side of Bahrain
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.
FIVE CULTURAL SITES TO CHECK OUT IN BAHRAIN
Shaikh Ebrahim Centre
An amazing insight into the local culture and historical happenings in Bahrain, Shaikh Ebrahim Centre is the country’s art and intellectual hub. Established to encourage dialogue between people in philosophy, literature, poetry, culture and the arts, Shaikh Ebrahim Centre has hosted over 200 speakers, philosophers, poets and thinkers. Immerse yourself in cultural utopia and take a trip down the island’s ancestral memory lane.
GO: Call 1732 2549 for more information.
Bin Matar House
Designed by the well-known Bahraini architect Mussa Bin Hamad and built in 1905, Bin Matar House was used by Salman bin Hussein Matar as the venue for his permanent majlis. By the 1940s, it was used as a clinic by the famous physician Dr. Bandar Kab, and from the 1950s to the 1980s, the site was used as the centre for the Eslah Club. Today, Bin Matar House hosts a number of art exhibitions, workshops and Spring of Culture events. Now, imagine the stories rooted in this place… if only walls could speak!
GO: Call 1732 2549 for more information.
Not quite a fort but definitely a landmark that carries significance. One of Bahrain’s greatest treasures, the Barbar Temple is among the most remarkable architectural survivals of the ancient world. An ode to the country’s impressive history, the site features three temples built on top of each other and contains two altars and a natural water spring. Take a stroll through the breathtaking ruins of the temples as you immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant history.
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.
Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House
A beautiful contrast to the high-rises and fast-paced modern society, Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House is a rare royal residential treasure. Home to the ruler of Bahrain Shaikh Essa bin Ali Al Khalifa from 1869 to 1932, the old historical home is very well preserved and gives an interesting insight into Middle Eastern architecture. Capture the insta-worthy gorgeousness as you take a glimpse into 19th-century royal life
GO: Visit www.culture.gov.bh for more information.
Bahrain National Museum
The ultra-modern building is the perfect tranquil setting for appreciating Bahrain’s past and celebrating its culture. The museum houses plenty of artefacts that underpin the history of the island as well as special exhibitions throughout the year. The wide-open spaces encourage leisurely strolls, while the chic and comfortable museum terrace offers stunning views of the Bahrain National Theatre. A satellite map of the entire country adorns the floor of the museum and one of the most fun things to do is trying to find the places you are familiar with! There’s the fabulous Darseen Cafe too, which serves up amazing breakfast. ✤
GO: Call 1729 8777 for more information.