The small island of Bahrain packs a punch and is an ideal destination for those wanting a GCC getaway.
Grab a taxi at the airport and ask your driver to take you to Saffron in Muharraq to fuel up for the day. This traditional café in the heart of the Muharraq souk, al Qaisariya, is a peach. Opened a couple of years ago it lays in the narrow alleyways of old Bahrain.
Walking in you will see the glass covered flooring, this is because when the building works for the café started they came across the ancient Madabasa underneath, a traditional date juicing site of yonder.
Keeping with the authenticity here, the food is traditional Bahraini breakfast and serviced throughout the day. Ensure to wash it down with sweet karak tea and relish the ambience at this bustling neighbourhood gem.
Following your meal, take a wander around the local area much of which is now part of the UNESCO Pearl Walking Tour. Here you can visit Shaikh Ebrahim Centre, Bin Matar House and a number of restored pearling merchant homes that are perfect for wandering around at your own pace.
Once you have had a good stroll around Muharraq we suggest you jump in a cab and head to Bahrain Fort in Seef. Here you can explore the beautifully designed museum before a lovely afternoon walk around this ancient Portuguese Fort, on the water’s edge. Wander around the fort and view Manama’s modern skyline in the distance. To have history and modernity so close together is quite a grounding experience.
Depending on time, we suggest doing a little shopping. Two authentic and unique options are: Riyadat Mall in A’Ali (a bit further away 20-30 minutes) or Plus 973+ in Adliya (about 20 minutes). At both places you can stock up local artisanal products and go home sporting unique wares.
By about now it’s time to replenish yourself and Al Riwaq gallery in Adliya is the place to do so. This contemporary art space is an ideal place to do some art spotting and enjoy their delicious café. Whether you want a quinoa salad, sandwich or burger this is the place to eat, read and savour Bahrain life.
From here you can then wander around the pedestrianized area of block 338, Bahraini’s restaurant hood that offers a range of restaurants, cuisines and watering holes. People watch at Café Lilou, enjoy the views from Meat Co roof and take in some sundowners in Block 338’s garden before heading to your hotel.
Leading the way in independent hotels in Bahrain is The Domain. Rising high amongst the towers of the Diplomatic Area, jump into a cab and head to this multi storey, restaurant packed hotel.
Before hitting the sack have a nightcap and some tapas in Txoko, with some of the best views of Bahrain, this bar hosts top local DJs and is a great place for late night people watching.
‘You can shake the sand from your shoes, but not from your soul’
- If you have to pay for a visa on arrival, try and bring cash.
- Dirhams (AED) and Riyals (SAR) are accepted at quite a lot of places
- There are two Saffron’s in Muharraq, go to Saffron 1 for the traditional date press.
Going to Qatar? Read Wanderlust: Doha for the inside scoop.
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