Compact and enigmatic, Bahrain is a small sized wonder of the Middle East. Its harmonic name, anciently meaning ‘two seas’ in Arabic hides a land of shallow blue waters that once were the epicenter of pearl trade.
Nowadays, Bahrain is an archipelago with a vibrant multi-cultural society. The capital, Manama, has the atmosphere of a cosmopolitan city combined with a rich history and culture. Historical monuments, such as the Al Khamis Mosque and the Bahrain fort.
Despite its undeniable cultural heritage, is the sea that defines this country in all aspects. At the shores of Bahrein, there appears to be an endless range of water activities, from sailing to dolphin watching and kite surfing.
The Arad Fort Beach in Bahrain.
If there is one attraction not to miss when visiting Bahrain, that is the National Museum, which provides a clear and insightful introduction to Bahrain’s history. The highlights of the collection include archaeological finds from ancient Dilmun and Islamic era documents and manuscripts. The museum offers information and guided tours in both English and Arabic and is a wonderful start to familiarize with the history of Bahrain.
When planning your trip, try to avoid visiting the country during the summer months, as temperatures are extremely high, reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius. However, the use of air conditioning during the warmest months is widely spread, so it would exclusively difficult your walks during the day.
Visas are needed in order to visit Bahrain and, for citizens of most western nationalities, these can be conveniently obtained on arrival at Bahrain International Airport or at the border with Saudi Arabia. The cost of a three-month, multiple-entry visa, valid for stays of two weeks up to 30 days, costs BD25 (around US$66) and is payable in cash or credit card, either Bahraini dinars or major international currencies.
You can also apply for an e-visa online – follow the links on www.evisa.gov.bh – wihich allows you to avoid long arrival immingration lines. You can check your eligibility for a visa on arrival online, as there are some restrictions currently in place for certain professions and nationalities. Given the decreasing international interest about Bahrain in recent decades, and the fact that tourism outside of the Formula 1 Grand Prix has slowed to a trickle, expect to be questioned about your intentions if you're visiting the country as a tourist.
Once you are in the land you can extend your Bahrain visa by visiting the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports & Residents. The cost of a visa extension is currently BD5 and the government takes a minimum of 72 hours to process and approve extension requests. This new document allows you to remain in the country for two more weeks, with no exception. Foreigners who overstay are rigorously fined. Regarding customs regulations, Bahrein is not particularly strict. Unlike in other muslim countries, the importation, purchase and consumption of alcohol is permitted. Non muslim visitors are allowed to import 1L of wine or six cans of beer duty free.