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Weekend activities in Manama, Bahrain

Listed here are some interesting weekend activities that are worth trying in Bahrain.

Places to visit – Parks, museums or forts

Al-Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve

Is a place worth visiting if you are a nature and animal lover, wherein you get to enjoy the sight of various animals, birds and desert plants in their own natural habitat. You could take a walk around the park, or get close to unique birds that wander freely or take a bus tour in the reserve, to know more about all variety of endangered animals such as the Arabian Leopard, the Arabian Gazette, the Ostrich, the Oryx and more, which seem a rather relaxing experience.

Bahrain Fort

Situated in the western suburbs of Manama between avenues 42 and 44, the Bahrain Fort, built in the 16th century offers a Portuguese-eyed view of the sea. Bahrain Fort dates back to early sixteenth century, and grew to be an important military installation protecting trade routes from Africa, India and Europe. The Fort is well-preserved and allows visitors to appreciate its history and former structures and has also gained entry on UNESCO World Heritage Site list. The easiest way to get there is by taxi or car. Bahrain Fort is open daily except on Sundays, and admission is free.

Bahrain National Museum

The museum throws light into Bahrain’s ancient civilization, and helps visitors unlock the past, as the museum houses several ancient artefacts, some of which, dates back to the Dilmun era. Being the most popular tourist attraction in Bahrain, the museum is the best place to begin an intriguing well-labelled introduction into the sights of the country. There’s plenty to keep the family amused for hours, but, even a quick 10-minute visit is particularly worthwhile, with new attractions like national theatre.

Al-Fatih Mosque

The Al-Fatih Mosque is a place worth visiting for visitors who wish to learn more on Islam religion, as this grand Mosque provides informative guides. Built in 1984, the Al-Fatih Mosque is the largest building in the country, capable of accommodating at least 7000 worshippers. The building houses a massive domed roof built by Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in the early 1990s.

Bab al-Bahrain

Built in 1945 by the British, the Bab al-Bahrain, also known as the ‘Gateway to Bahrain’, was originally designed by Sir Charles Belgrave. It was redesigned in 1986, to give an ‘Islamic’ touch, and the small square in front of the gate was once the terminus of the customs pier, an indication of land reclamation of the past two decades. It is worth visiting to learn more about Bahrain.

La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art

Displaying regional and international contemporary artists, this magnificent venue is an elaboration of 19th century Bahraini townhouse, and hosts regular exhibitions. It is a fine artistic expression on its own, featuring typical Gulf Islamic architecture, and includes several covered colonnades, archways and signature fountain.

Dining out

Dining out is common in Manama, especially during the weekends. The Downtown of Manama City is filled with choices of restaurants that serve international cuisines and flavours. You can find fantastic Italian pizzerias, and with large community of immigrants from India there are numerous authentic Indian restaurants too. The Bahraini cuisine is also excellent, with its array of fresh seafood cooked with local herbs and spices.

Middle Eastern fast food is also available, including the tasty shawarma kebab-styled sandwiches and local sweets from local street vendors. Local favourites worth trying are pasta, rice, chickpea, lentil, and onion dishes served with fresh lemon and chilli sauces.

Old Exhibition Avenue is home to some world-class fine dining restaurants with modern European menus. Also, there are some Hard Rock Cafes located here, with their tasty burgers and live music all-through the week.

Sports

Numerous sporting activities can be taken up as a hobby or for relaxation over the weekend, and the options are plenty. Few worth considering for sports-lovers are:

  • Drive a lap of the circuit on the 90-minute tour of Formula One Racetrack, or catch a glimpse as the teams and drivers take on the ultimate challenges of Formula one’s ultimate challenges around the Sakhir circuit.
  • Located close to the city, the Dilmun Club has first-class horse stables and riding facilities with more than 20 horses and ponies, and offers a safe environment for all levels of riders with fun courses, particularly for kids.
  • The warm waters surrounding Manama are ideal for kayaking, due to minimal waves all year and good weather. Kayaking is a popular way to explore the archipelago and marine life, and will also be an enjoyable form of exercise. There are several beachside vendors and resorts offering kayaks for hire.
  • Bowling is a popular pastime in Bahrain and the Funland Bowling Centre in Manama is a hub of activity all week. The site also has a skating rink, with an ice disco. Skate hire is available for minimal charges.
  • Numerous world-class golf links are available throughout Bahrain, and one among them is Riffa Golf Club in Manama, which offers a PGA-standard 18-hole course. The course can be played at night with high-powered floodlights illuminating the fairways.
  • The crystal clear warm waters around Manama are just right for scuba diving and snorkelling with a range of sea creatures inhabiting waters, including whale sharks, sea turtles etc. There is a PADI-accredited diving centre in the city that offers dive tours for beginning and advanced divers. Also, several resorts and beachside vendors offer snorkelling equipments for hire to explore marine life.
  • Short boat trips are available at minimal fare for half or full day boat charter. Jet skiing, water skiing etc can also be considered. Coral Bay is one such way to engage with sea in Manama. Diving is also available.
  • Horseback riding is also a popular past-time in Bahrain.

Entertainment

  • Manama boasts of a wonderful array of interesting cultural activities to enjoy ranging from impressive Grand Mosque in the city centre to the charming authentic markets in the Souk district. The Beit Al Quran Museum shows several copies of the Koran and brilliant Arabic calligraphy and paintings.
  • Lost paradise Water Park (Dilmun Water Park) is an exciting amusement complex with some world-class entertainment facilities. The park is designed in the Dilmun period theme, and sports unique stone architecture and sculptures. There are several pools, slides, spas and the region’s artificial wave pool with sandy beach.
  • Exploring the souks around Bab al Bahrain, you could enjoy the nosegays of cardamom coffee, sizzling kebabs, apricot sheesha and incense-laced perfumes in the labyrinth of small lanes that have endless displays of goods for sale. The area is more of a tourist attraction and retails the old Arabic atmosphere.
  • Those interested in eco-tourism or any particular activity can contact some travel or tour company who could organize specific kind of tours. For instance, Al Reem Tours organizes environmental tours, running daily bird-watching and wildlife trips to remote parts of Hawar Islands and to mainland desert.
  • People who love dolphins and sea lions arrive in large numbers at the Dolphin Resort to watch the daily 15-minute shows. The resort also offers an opportunity to swim with the dolphin at a fare of BD20 per person.
  • Contact some of the best tour agencies and organize short sightseeing trips around Manama or Bahrain Island, or dhow and fishing trips too.
  • Slide in and splash out at Wahoo Water Park, the first-ever indoor-outdoor waterpark, spanning a 15,000 sqm area, guaranteed to be the ultimate water fest for families.

Other weekend ideas

  • Visit Bahrain’s glittering ‘Gold City’ in Central Manama, a collection of gold shops likely to bedazzle even the most jaded travellers to the Middle East.
  • Take a 40-minute boat ride to the Hawar Islands and look out for dolphins who play in the calm Gulf seas, and watch flamingos stalk through the shallow waters.
  • Discover the wind towers at Muharraq’s old houses by taking a walk around the atmospheric backstreets of the island.
  • Visit the honeycomb tombs of Sar, and the unique town of A’Ali, wherein 170,000 ancient burial mounds bump the landscape, comprising 5% of Bahrain’s land mass.
  • Visit the Tree of Life, an ancient mesquite tree standing in a treeless desert.
  • Shop in a well air-conditioned shopping mall and enjoy meals in fancy restaurants in the mall.
  • Pottery is one of the handicrafts that is actively pursued in Bahrain. With plenty of pottery workshops around Manama, you can easily locate one nearby your residence, and see how the artisans make the pottery, and you may also purchase some as souvenirs.
  • Visit the Bahrain Arts Society at Budaiya Highway, which is one of the most prestigious Arabic cultural foundations, wherein you get to view the fine Bahraini art of 21st century. Apart from learning more about Bahrain Arts Society, you get to know about their creative art works and more.