Bahrain is a tiny island country
Bahrain is very small island country (archipelago, to be precise) with a total area of only 760 km2. The Arabic word “Bahrain” literally means “Two Seas”. It’s a country with a long history; a home to Dilmun civilization that was founded over 2,500 years ago. It’s a unique travel destination in the Gulf region with lots of delicious local food spots, interesting local traditions, beautiful beaches, and a relatively laid back lifestyle in comparison to its Gulf neighbours which makes it, in my opinion, a true Oasis in the region.
In November 2019, I had the pleasure to spend 24 hours in Bahrain. It was a very short trip in a tiny country but I still managed to have a good time there and will be pleased to share my impressions about Bahrain in this blog.
A couple of weeks before the flight, I was browsing the internet and found out that KLM airlines have scheduled flights from Bahrain to Kuwait and back! I later realized that KLM originally fly from Amsterdam to Kuwait and then to Bahrain. On the way back to Amsterdam, the plane flies from Bahrain and stops in Kuwait on the way to Amsterdam. What was more interesting is the price of the ticket, I booked a return ticket for less than 75USD (it’s very cheap for this region).
I arrived at Kuwait airport; I was the only one at the check-in desk, got my boarding pass and headed directly to the lounge. Luckily, my credit card grants me an unlimited access to selected airport lounges around the world. I make sure to take a full advantage of that whenever I get the chance. I arrived at the lounge and got myself some good food from the buffet, all tasted good! For more information about my lounge access, click here “I arrived at the lounge and got myself some good food from the buffet, all tasted good! For more information about my lounge access, click here; for more information on travel credit cards and perks like free airport lounge use, click here.
I was very excited to fly with KLM after many years as the last time I flew with them was in 2013. I had the option to book an “Economy Comfort” seat for only 18 USD extra for the 1st leg of the flight and I decided to give it a try as I wanted to try their Economy Comfort product to see if it’s worth it in any future flight with KLM.
KLM’s “Economy Comfort” turned out to be really generous in terms of legroom. As you can see in the photo below, I was able to comfortably sit with crossed legs. However, this seat doesn’t give you any extra service so you will be getting exactly the same service as other economy class passengers. Speaking of service, it felt great to get a delicious Dutch Stroopwafels and a bottle of water in this flight although the flight didn’t last for longer than 40 minutes.
The flight was pleasant but very short. I remember that the pilot started to descend a few minutes after reaching cruising altitude. I landed in Bahrain Airport, got myself a visa on arrival for 5 Bahraini Dinar (13.5 USD) and then took an airport taxi to my hotel. Taxi from airport to my hotel costed me about half the price of the return flight ticket. As you can see, Bahrain isn’t cheap at all 🙂
I arrived in my hotel which is called “Arch Hotel, Best Western Signature Collection”. I booked this hotel through Lufthansa’s Miles&More frequent flyer portal. My night in the hotel costed me around 90 USD but it also granted me 3200 miles. I guess it was a good deal since I managed to collect some valuable miles and the hotel room was clean, tidy, and spacious.
I heard a lot about how crazy it can get in Bahrain during weekends and all what I heard turned out to be true. I arrived in the hotel and I realized that the whole area around the hotel including the hotel itself is a huge party spot. It was one of the noisiest and the most crowded hotel lobbies I have ever seen. It was absolutely insane! There are 3 or 4 nightclubs inside the hotel and there are many other clubs and bars in the surrounding area. I had a funny chat with the front desk employee who checked me in and politely asked him to get a quiet room. I told him “As you can see, I don’t look like a crazy party person and I need to get some sleep as I have to wake up early tomorrow”. He probably didn’t expect someone who is checking in a hotel at around midnight in a middle of party spot to have such a request 🙂 I was probably the only “boring” guest in the entire hotel. Luckily, my room was quiet and didn’t hear any crazy loud music from any of the nightclubs or bars in the hotel.
After checking in, I looked around to see if there is anything interesting. The place was full of extremely drunk and even violent people and the atmosphere wasn’t appealing. I walked around and found a relatively less crazy sports bar so stayed there for a drink and a late night snack. After an hour or so, it was already around 2 am so I returned back to my room and got some sleep.
Bahrain National Museum
Next morning, after having an excellent breakfast in the hotel, I wanted to check out “Bahrain National Museum” so I ordered an Uber taxi from the hotel and that costed me less than 5 USD. Entrance ticket to the museum is very cheap (only 1 Bahraini Dinar = 2.65 USD). It is believed to be one of the oldest museums in the Gulf region and definitely one of the most interesting and most authentic.
I had a great time there learning more about Bahrain history and Dilmun civilization while touring the museum. The museum has a large collection of Bahrain’s archaeological artifacts. I found Hall of Dilmun graves to be truly fascinating fascinating.
The Gate of Bahrain – Souk
After spending a couple of hours in the museum, I wanted to visit the old souk to try some good local food and to take a look at local traditions. The Souk is located in Gate of Bahrain which is an iconic attraction in the island. You can shop for authentic Bahraini products such as sweets and spices and you can also try some local food there.
I had my lunch there in a restaurant called “Saffron by Jenna”. I heard about this restaurant from one Vlogger who visited Bahrain. My lunch consisted of some Bahraini lamb meat with Saffron and some sauces. To be honest, I had much higher expectations. I was a bit disappointed.
After spending a few hours in the Souk, I decided to head to another iconic landmark of the country which is Bahrain Fort. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. This fort was founded in 2300BC and was used by various occupants including Persians, Greeks, and Portuguese. It’s a remarkable landmark and it’s quite astonishing that this site was founded more than 4,000 ago. I had a great afternoon there.
After a lovely excursion around the fort, I had a tasty afternoon coffee in a nice cafe next to the fort. A few minutes later, I ordered an uber taxi and headed back to my hotel to pick up my bag pack and then later in the evening, I decided to walk around the city.
Evening in Bahrain
After picking up my super light backpack, I still had a few hours to kill before heading back to the airport so decided to walk around to explore some new places. I found a nice pub called “Grand Yard House” and it was very lively and full of international crowd enjoying their weekend. It seemed to be a really nice spot to hang out and to meet new people. They were playing some football games from European Qualifications and I enjoyed watching that since I am a football lover.
An hour or so later, it was time to try another meal in Bahrain and for some strange reasons, I was craving burger and was told that there’s a great burger place next door called “Bluefield burger” and that it’s supposed to be the best in Bahrain. The burger I tried there was good and tasty but I wouldn’t say that it was exceptional. Anyway, it was a much less disappointing meal than the lunch I had in the souk 🙂
Back to the Airport .. Back to Kuwait
After spending a nice day in Bahrain, I needed to go back to the airport to catch my flight back to Kuwait. When I arrived at the airport, it was too early that the check-in desk was closed so I had to wait for some time before they opened the check-in desk. I got my boarding pass and walked to security and then to the lounge. They have a beautiful lounge in Bahrain airport called Dilmun lounge, it’s probably one of the best airport lounges I’ve ever tried; service was exceptional and the selection of food and drinks was really good.
While walking to the gate, I spotted a beautiful Lufthansa A330 waiting to head back to Frankfurt. I know that Lufthansa isn’t the best airlines in the world but I have this strange loyalty to this company, maybe because I have childhood memories and a long flying history associated with Lufthansa.
Bahrain is a nice tiny island that can be a cool weekend getaway destination. The country is very small so expect to run out of new places to visit in a couple of days. I personally liked the laid back environment there; I saw many expatriates from Europe, America and Asia who live and work there and who seem to be having a good and relaxing time, especially in the weekend. I am referring to people I saw in restaurants, shops, pubs and museum, not the insane atmosphere which I saw outside nightclubs. I am so glad I didn’t go inside any of these clubs, I sincerely believe that I did the right thing 🙂
Bahrain is a modern country with interesting history and can be a really nice place to visit or even to live, if you have a great job offer. The country is a financial hub in the region as many international financial institutes have a regional headquarters in Bahrain. I also heard that Amazon Web Services have major data centres in Bahrain. Furthermore, the island hosts an annual Formula One Grand Prix race and has a large number of hotels to support many major events.
Bottom line, if you live somewhere in the Gulf region, visiting Bahrain can be very interesting. It’s definitely not as glamorous as Dubai but it can be a cool break if you are into history and local traditions. If you are flying with Gulf Air (Bahrain’s national carrier) and you have a layover in Bahrain, it’s a good idea to go out the airport and explore this country.
One last thing, Bahrain can be a bit expensive especially when it comes to accommodation. Transportation cost is above average and eating out can be costly. It is still cheaper than Dubai though but much more expensive than places I love to visit in Eastern Europe, for example.
That’s all I can say about Bahrain for now. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the comment section and I will be more than happy to answer.