Leisure activities in Bahrain

Travelling around Bahrain
Updated 2020-02-24 12:34

Bahrain has a long and varied history. Its location in the Arabian Gulf has led to the island being in the hands of the Dilmun, Persians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Portuguese, the Arabs, and in more recent times, the British. As would be expected with such a varied history, Bahrain is rich in historical sites. Of course, history is not the only thing on offer, and there is a wide range of distractions to be found for all the family, both indoors and outdoors.

History and culture in Bahrain


Al-Fateh Grand Mosque

Al-Fateh Islamic Centre and Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Bahrain, and one of the largest mosques in the world. It is also home to the National Library and is a fantastic place to learn more about Bahrain and Islamic culture. 

Visiting is allowed every day except Friday, and open days are held regularly throughout the year when Islam is explained in detail.

Khamis Mosque

Thought to be the oldest mosque in Bahrain, with some suggesting it dates back to the seventh century. However, an inscription discovered in the foundations suggests that it may have been built in the eleventh century. Although now a ruin, some restoration work has been carried out.


Make sure to dress respectfully when visiting any religious site.

Museums in Bahrain

Bahrain National Museum

This is an important cultural site, offering ancient Dilmun artefacts, and exhibits about Bahraini culture and history. Dioramas give an idea of what life was once like on the island.

Bahrain Oil Museum

Bahrain was the first country to discover oil on the Arabian side of the gulf. This museum has the first well to operate in the country. Although the well can be seen at any time, the museum itself is only open by prior appointment, preferably for a group booking.

Other popular museums

Beit Al Qur'an, housing the finest collection of Qur'an manuscripts in the region. 

Bahrain Military Museum houses many interesting military artefacts from ancient times up to modern-day equipment. 

Busaad Art Gallery, a fully restored 1930s house, the former family home of artist Ebrahim Mohamed Busaad.

The Pearling Path

Bahrain at one time had a thriving pearling industry which died out almost completely in the 1930s. The pearling path is a 3.5km trail passing through old alleyways in the heart of Muharraq, showcasing the history of this once-thriving industry. In 2012, the Pearling Path received UNESCO World Heritage status.

Bahrain Fort

There are several forts on the island, indicating its strategic importance in the region. By far the most impressive has to be Bahrain Fort, which became the first of Bahrain's three UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2005.

 Good to know:

Before visiting any museum or attraction, please check the visiting times as they vary considerably.

Sports in Bahrain

Sports are well-loved in Bahrain, both to play and watch. This includes football (soccer), basketball, volleyball, and martial arts. Many of Bahrain's expat clubs offer social sporting teams and joining one can be a fun way to stay in shape and meet other like-minded expats.


During the winter months is the time to watch this sport at Bahrain Rugby Football Club. As to be expected, fixtures are played both at home and away, so make sure there is a match before venturing to the club. Of course, you may wish to become a member even if not interested in rugby because BRFC is one of the leading expat clubs on the island, with a good restaurant, fast food, and bars.

Horse racing

Another winter pastime is horse racing which is held on a modern track at Sakhir, between December and April. One thing you won't find is any bookmakers, as gambling is forbidden under Islam.


Sakhir hosts Bahrain's F1 circuit. Although it was built to attract the annual race, it is home to many motorsport events including car, motorcycle and drag races. A championship kart track is open to the public, and an off-road driving area is on-site. Track days are also available during the winter months, and for the ultimate adrenaline rush, take a passenger ride in a dragster.

Outdoor activities in Bahrain

Thanks to Bahrain's many islands, water sports are popular with expats and locals alike. Fishing, sailing, boating, and scuba diving are all on offer. Bahrain Dive is a recently opened underwater theme park featuring a specially prepared Boeing 747, submerged in 20 metres of water. PADI training is available from several dive schools.

Jet skis and boats are available for purchase or rent but be aware, they must be registered with the Bahrain Coastguard if you own one. 

Expats can also visit some of Bahrain's other islands for a relaxing weekend away, and to enjoy some of the country's luxury resorts and hotels. 

Fishing charters are popular excursions for people hoping to catch tuna, barracuda, or bream, to name but a few. Dolphins and tropical fish are also regularly spotted in the waters off Bahrain.


Bahrain, a nation made up of many islands, has more than its fair share of beaches, and a day at the beach is a popular way to relax for both expats and locals. 

The kingdom has both public and private beaches - at public beaches, it is necessary to dress modestly and wear swimming costumes that provide coverage of knees and shoulders. However, on private beaches, western-style swimwear can be worn. Private beaches are often part of closed communities or hotels and resorts, so may have a small admission fee if you are not a resident or a member. 

Swimming, snorkelling, diving, beach volleyball, and strolls along the waterfront are popular ways to enjoy the beach or have lunch in one of the many restaurants and cafes.

Popular public beaches include Amwaj, Arad Fort, and Al Jazair. Private beaches include Bahrain Yacht Club, Coral Bay, Al Dar, Marissa, Reef Island, and the beaches at the Ritz-Carlton and Sofitel hotels. 

Remember to bring your sunscreen and hat.

If you have children, you may also enjoy one of Bahrain's water parks, including The Lost Paradise of Dilmun, Adhari Park, or Wahoo in City Centre Mall.

Eating out in Bahrain


Whether at home or away, eating out is always a popular pastime, but for expats it often becomes a way of life. There are so many good quality restaurants in Bahrain, offering a multitude of cuisines, it would be unfair to recommend any in a guide such as this. 

The area of Adliya known as Block 338, is famous as a centre for foodies to try a variety of dishes, but don't be afraid to travel further afield. Saar and Janabiyah are fast becoming centres of excellence when it comes to restaurants. 

Then, of course, there are the brunches. Friday morning is the time to sample what can only be described as a glutton's delight. Often running for 3-4 hours, brunches vary in style from set courses to lavish, all-you-can-eat buffets. Prices vary tremendously depending on what's on offer, from around BHD12 to upwards of BHD35 per person, including selected alcoholic drinks. The best ones are usually found in the high-end hotels, but some gems can be found in the smaller establishments too.

 Good to know:

Many restaurants are not licensed to sell alcohol. Check with them if it is an important part of your meal.

Expat clubs

Expat clubs charge an annual fee which differs from one club to another. All have restaurants and bars, and many expats choose to eat out at the weekend in one of the clubs. These are also the only places you will be served alcohol during Ramadan.

 Useful links:

Al-Fateh Islamic Centre and Grand Mosque
Bahrain National Museum
Visit Bahrain
Coral Bay
Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park
Adhari Park
Al Dar Islands
Bahrain International Circuit
Bahrain Horse Racing
Bahrain This Month

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