The small island nation of Bahrain may be known internationally as a modern oil state, but it has kept many reminders of its long history. Besides the glass towers and shopping malls of the capital Manama, Bahrain also has historic sites such as the Khamis Mosque, one of the Gulf’s oldest places of worship, and the traditional architecture of the island city of Muharraq.
Sunny all year round, Bahrain’s coastline is also a major draw. Although lacking in public beaches, it’s nonetheless ringed with ancient forts such as Fort Bahrain, dating back as far as 2300 BC. It’s likewise an ideal place to see Bahrain’s wildlife, whether dolphin watching in the sea off Manama or spotting rare birds in the protected offshore sanctuaries of the Hawar Islands. Flights to Bahrain also take you to a Middle Eastern shopping haven. The competitive prices at Manama’s ‘gold souk’ attract customers from as far as India, while the warren-like streets of its main souk have stalls selling everything from hard-to-find spices to cut-price electrical goods. Following recent protests in Bahrain, the Foreign Office strongly recommends that visitors to the country avoid large crowds and protests, but does not otherwise advise against travel.