UAE National Day 2019: 10 reasons to visit Bahrain for the long weekend

The Kingdom has plenty to offer visitors from the UAE this December

November 12, 2019 2:49 PM

Manama Skyline Time Out Abu Dhabi

Picking where to go for the three-day public holiday in December isn’t easy: there are dozens of places around the GCC, or even further afield in India or Sri Lanka, that might have caught your eye.

There are also lots of hotels and restaurants in the UAE putting on deals for the 49th National Day too, meaning you might even end up enjoying a staycation this December 1-3.

Here at Time Out, we want to make the decision easier for you, which is why we think you should head to Bahrain for the long weekend next month.

The Kingdom has plenty of things to do, top restaurants and bars you just won’t find in the UAE, and it even has a brunches to rival the ones you’ll find in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Read on for our top reasons you should pick Bahrain for your next trip.

The history
The main draw of Bahrain is undeniably its rich cultural history. Humans have lived in the area since around 3000 BCE, and the archipelago of islands is believed to have once been the capital of the Dilmun Empire. You can explore this rich past at one of the Kingdom’s three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Dilmun Burial Mounds, the Qal’at Al Bahrain, and the Bahrain Pearling Path, each of which gives an insight into the development of Bahrain from the reign of the Dilmuns, to the occupation by the Portuguese, to the monopoly of the pearling industry prior to the 1930s.

To dive into the world’s largest underwater theme park
If you’re a keen diver, Dive Bahrain is one attraction you simply can’t miss. Once complete, the underwater theme park will be the largest in the world, with submerged structures including a pearl merchant’s house for you to explore. The first stage of the development opened in September, so if you head there now you’ll be one of the first to swim inside a submerged Boeing 747. If you’re after something more traditional, you can also try your hand at pearl diving and can keep whatever sea bounty you find.

For the home-grown music scene
The UAE certainly attracts some of the world’s best artists, from Dua Lipa to Lionel Richie, and from Lana Del Rey to The Killers but if you’re looking for alternative music, it can’t hold a candle to Bahrain’s scene. The Bahrain Underground Music Movement champion home-grown artists in the Kingdom through its events, as do Museland which has hosted parties with music ranging from hip-hop to 70s and 80s punk. You’ll also find plenty of live acts performing every night across the Kingdom.

For the amazing traditional food
It’s perfectly acceptable to think with your stomach when choosing where to visit. Luckily for you, Bahrain has plenty of restaurants serving up traditional dishes from machboos to emmawash. You can go for a proper hole-in-the-wall experience at Haji Gahwa, which doesn’t even have a menu, or head to Saffron by Jena which puts a modern twist on recipes passed down the generations (and won several Time Out awards while doing so!). And for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can pick up halwa at a souq, too.

To be amazed by the traditional craftsmanship
You can learn all about the traditional handicrafts practised over the centuries at the Bahrain National Museum, and then head out into the Kingdom to actually see it in practice. The pottery district in A’Ali is lined with vases and other crockery that you can buy, and, as long as you don’t disturb anyone, you can watch them at work at the kiln. Plus, the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre is filled with Bahraini artists who are tasked with saving traditional methods from extinction and educating others about them.

To visit the first Grand Prix circuit in the Middle East
The Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, which opened in 2004, held the first Grand Prix in the Middle East. While the next Formula 1 race won’t be held here until March, you can still go on a tour for just Dhs64, or try your hand at the corners in your car on one of the open track nights.

For the island hopping
Depending on who you ask, the Kingdom is made up of between 33 and 84 islands, and you shouldn’t restrict yourself to just Bahrain and Muharraq. Hop on a boat from Sitra and you’ll be on Al Dar Islands in just eight minutes, where you’ll find gorgeous beaches, and plenty of activities like kayaking, volleyball, or dolphin watching to take part in. Or you could head out to Jarada Island, a patch of sand that is one of the most pristine beaches in Bahrain as it disappears and reappears with the tide.

To go camping under the stars
Camping in Bahrain is a big deal. Every winter, thousands of Bahrainis head to the Sakhir desert and set up camp for the season, which runs from November to March. The lack of light pollution means you’ll get the best view of the stars possible, and as a bonus, it’s super romantic if you’re looking to treat that special someone.

It’s just an hour and 15 minutes away by plane
The flight to Bahrain is just an hour and 15 minutes, meaning you’ll probably spend more time in the airport than you do in the air. Then, from Bahrain International, you’ll be in Manama in 15 minutes, meaning you have plenty of time for sight-seeing even if you’ve got just 24 hours or 48 hours to explore.
Flights from Dhs800 return. Gulf Air, Emirates and Flydubai all fly direct to Bahrain.

You can keep up-to-date with all the latest happenings with Time Out Bahrain
You’ll be able to find everything you need to know about Bahrain, from the best rooftop bars to the cheapest spots for a bite to eat, on our sister website Time Out Bahrain. Head here to find even more reasons to visit the Kingdom next month.

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