Important facts and information to know when visiting Bahrain
Smallest of the Gulf states, this archipelago off the Saudi Arabia coast in the Arabian Gulf is a diverse city which while modern in appearance still carries a rich history dating back to the ancient Dilmun civilization.
Influence and rule over the centuries have included the Persians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Portuguese and the British. Currently, the population is more than 50% expatriate making for a great multicultural city. These many influences can be seen in the architecture, cuisine and cultural offerings. The country caters to families but there isn’t an abundance of family-friendly adventures to be had.
Visiting Bahrain Important Facts
|Official Name||Kingdom of Bahrain
|Currency||Bahrani Dinar (BHD) Fixed to USD at $1US=0.376 BHD. Saudi Riyal accepted
|Language||Bahrani Arabic (English widelt spoken) minority languages Persian and Urdu
|Religion||Islam 70%+ Christian 14% tolerance to all religions
|Leadership||Consitutional Monarchy ruiled by the King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
|Important Dates||16 Dec National Day; 17 Dec Accession Day & Islamic Holidays
|Electrics||Type G (British square 3 pin)
|Visas||Tourist eVisa or Visa on Arrival (approx $77USD)
|Safety||Exercise normal precaution
Bahrain visa information
- All persons visiting Bahrain need a visa except citizens of the GCC (Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE).
- Visitors can get an eVisa (allow up to 72 hours for approval) or visa on arrival with a confirmed onward travel ticket.
- The cost is DB29 (approx $77USD) for 30 days and must be used within 30 days of approval.
- List of eligible countries for tourist eVisas can be found here.
- Special eVisas exist for F1 guests that last for a specific 2 week period and are free of charge.
Points for family visitors to be aware of in Bahrain
- To escape the summer heat, head to shopping Malls for indoor entertainment including Bahrain City Centre and Seef Mall.
- Whilst considered one of the most liberal of the Gulf states, many Bahraini nationals are still quite conservative. Be aware of this with your dress in public, avoid public displays of affection and being intoxicated in public.
- Ladies do not need to be fully covered in public but dress conservatively; bikinis are only acceptable at private beach clubs not on public beaches. Men should also look to wear long shorts on public beaches.
General travel tips for visiting Bahrain
- Demonstrations and civil unrest can occur – such gatherings should be avoided
- On the other hand, terrorism is extremely unlikely and general crime levels are considered very low
- Photo ID must be carried with you at all times
- Female travellers may want to check this safety advice from adventure travel specialists World Nomads
See our regional guide to culture and religion – coming soon
When is it best to visit Bahrain
In the heart of the Gulf expect hot and arid desert conditions with stifling summers up to 50c and mild winters.
Waters around Bahrain are shallow and heat quickly which leads to high humidity, especially at night.
Between June and July particularly Bahrain is susceptible to sandstorms caused by northwesterly winds.
Rainfall is not unheard of in the winter but minimal and unpredictable.
The best time to visit is during the winter months November to April.
Most popular attractions in Bahrain
Bahrain is an archipelago made up of 33 smaller islands (this number is argued to have increased to 84 with man-made islands) and is connected to the mainland of Saudi Arabia by a 26km long bridge.
Most visitors, however, arrive via Bahrain International Airport and explore the main islands of Bahrain, Muharraq, Sitra and Amwaj Islands. All attractions listed here are easily reached by taxi or private car hire (if you’re prepared for the driving style!) from the capital Manama where most visitors stay.
- Bahrain Fort – UNESCO listed defensive fort built by the Portuguese in the 16th Century
- Qal’at Al Bahrain Museum – interesting museum next door to the fort
- Riffa Fort (Sheikh Salman Bin Ahmed al Fateh Fort) and Arad Fort dating back to the 15th century are also worth including on an itinerary for history lovers
- Bahrain National Museum – houses artefacts dating back to the countries original inhabitants over 6000 years ago
- Beit Al Quran – Home to Islamic Arts, see the collection of Quran manuscripts and scriptures
There are many other smaller museums including the Currency Museum, Museum of Pearl Diving, Oil Museum, Rushid Al Oraifi Musuem and many art galleries.
- Bab al Bahrain – Manama Souq and the Gold Souq for traditional Middle East shopping and those who like a barter
- Al Khamis Mosque – one of the oldest in the region
- Al Fateh Grand Mosque – free to enter, headscarves and abayas are provided, you must be part of a tour group
- Muharraq Heritage Walk – also called the Pearl Trail and deemed a UNESCO site; a 3.5km walk taking you through the winding streets of Muharraq
- The Tree of Life – a famous Mesquite tree in the Sakhir Desert said to be over 400 years old and standing alone in the desert surrounded only by sand and no known source of water. The tree is said to date back to the Dilmun civilisation
- Dar Island – home to pearl diving and base for further boating into the islands
With a family focus:
- Lost Paradise of Dilmun man-made beach attached to a waterpark
- Wahoo! Waterpark next to Al Seef Mall is mostly indoors providing a good summer option
- Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve – conservation park for Bahrain’s native fauna and flora.
Despite its location in the Gulf, don’t come expecting too many beaches – less than 5% of the country’s sandy shorelines are available to the public but there are plenty of private beach clubs including The Ritz-Carlton and Coral Bay.
Bahrain with Kids – Our Travel Stories
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Further reading and resources on Bahrain
Blogs & online accounts to follow
Have a favourite Bahraini blog to recommend?
Explorer mini visitors guidebook
Recommended Tours and Drivers
Have a favourite tour or driver to recommend in Bahrain? Let us know.
Movies and literature
A Bahrani Tale – set during the Arab-Israel war of 1967
Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark – Documentary TV Film based on the events surrounding the Bahrani protests of 2011.
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NB please check facts with the appropriate authorities before travelling. Information correct to best of our knowledge as at October 2018. This page contains affiliate links.