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Discover the traditions and culture in Manama.
With a choice of daily short flights from the UAE the Kingdom of Bahrain is an ideal weekend getaway and while it may be the smallest Arab nation the island is awash with character and charm. A couple of days is ample time to explore its traditions and culture, enjoy one of the many luxury hotels as well as the exciting independent dining scene.
Much like the UAE, modern skyscrapers in the capital of Manama sit hand-in-hand with mosques, traditional souks selling their colourful wares and enormous western shopping malls. Those seeking history should visit Bab Al Bahrain, also known as the ‘Gateway to Bahrain’ that leads to Manama Souq selling a mixture of old and new including gold, perfumes and spices. Bahrain National Museum is another must for history buffs, pearl diving is an important part of the country’s heritage and natural pearls are available for purchase at selected outlets. Those looking to venture further afield can visit the 400-year old Tree of Life, thriving even though bereft of any visible nutrient source. F1 fans will be familiar with the country’s affiliation with the grand prix, a regular race calendar fixture before the Abu Dhabi event.
Adliya is an exciting combination of cafes, restaurants, bars, art galleries, markets and colourful street art. A hub for foodies and art lovers you can just wander through its lively fairy light lit streets to explore all the venues serving different cuisines and experiences. The Foundry, located in the popular Block 338 is a hotspot and a must visit for steak lovers and vegetarians alike. This New York industrial style loft prides itself on sourcing the freshest ingredients and has a fabulous cocktail menu served in both the bar and restaurant.
If you like Mexican, the trendy cantina Calexico is super cool and the food is great, as were the cocktails and the music. Exposed brick walls, booth seating, open kitchen and illuminated word art set the scene and the Mexican street food was really good and well presented. Californian chef Matthew Kenny who ‘brings together plant-based culinary art and ultimate nutrition’ has opened his first 100% plant based cafe outside America in Bahrain. Plant Cafe in Hamala is a modern space that offers an interesting menu with an array of vegan dishes with Middle Eastern culinary influences.
There’s a wide range of hotels to choose from to suit all tastes, high end options include the Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton and the ART Rotana Amwaj Islands to name but a few along with many other more budget friendly options. We stayed at the centrally located Downtown Rotana, a five-star contemporary gem with a rooftop pool, health club, restaurants and bars.
While all the usual tourist friendly infrastructure appears to be missing, like structured tours and buses there are plenty of taxis although they can be pricey, Bahrain has much to offer the visitor looking to add another gulf region to their travel map.
This article is by guest writer, Jo Brett. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @anexpatabroad