We recently flew with Gulf Air to Sudan (what an amazing place!) and decided to have a long Bahrain layover en route there. It’s quite a small island located to the east of Saudi Arabia and benefits from near all round year sunshine. If you’re headed to Bahrain with kids and you’re wondering what on earth you can do on a lay-over with them, we’ve compiled a list to help you.
Flying To Bahrain
We caught a flight from Heathrow to Bahrain with Gulf Air, thanks to Skyscanner. Flights cost nearly £400 less booking through them, than directly through the airline.
We flew at 10pm, arrived into Bahrain at 7am and had 17 hours in Bahrain.
How Much Do Bahrain Visas Cost?
There are two ways to apply for a visa; online and on arrival.
The Bahrain Government website is a bit 1990’s ‘I wrote it using dreamweaver‘. You need to select ‘Apply for evisa‘ on the top left hand side and fill in the drop down options. You need to click ‘apply for evisa’ then fill in the captcha code at the bottom of the page and then re-select ‘apply for evisa’ again. It took me a while to figure this out. You pay a deposit of approximately £4-5 and they send you an email requesting the payment.
Apply for your online visa here: https://www.evisa.gov.bh/
We decided not to apply beforehand and actually got a cheaper deal by applying on arrival, which took about 10 minutes. The cost was $65 (for all 5 of us), we paid in American dollars and he gave us Bahrain Dinar as change.
The Best Way To Get Around Bahrain
Bahrain is a tiny island and it takes just a few hours to visit in a car. Here’s some suggestions on how to get around:
Get a driver
You can not only rent a driver but you can book an entire day trip around Bahrain.
Pick up a taxi
There are loads of taxis around the airport. By law, taxis in Bahrain have to use a payment meter however many will hide the meter and make up prices.
If you wanted to pre-book a taxi, you can download the app Bahrain Taxi or pre-book one online. The cost of petrol is very cheap in Bahrain and in 2019 cost 27p a litre!
Hire a car
We decided to hire a car through RentalCars. Bahrain has a small airport and all of the car rentals are located in the arrivals hall which also has a Costa Coffee!
Renting was simple and we got a small hatchback for £59.88 which included full insurance of £31.60. The deposit was 150 Bahrain dinar which I paid with an AquaCard .
Where To Go & Things To See
This is a small selection of the major things to do on Bahrain, that our kids found interesting.
Most places kids are free although adults are charged. You’ll need cash to pay for all the historical and museum attractions. Visa & Mastercard is widely accepted throughout Bahrain and we paid for our meals with our Revolut Cards.
- Arad Fort – A very small fort near the airport. Great for an introduction to forts and a view over the city.
- Bahrain Fort – An enormous fort to explore and we loved the audio devices for learning more.
- Al Khamis Mosque – The Khamis Mosque is believed to be the first mosque in Bahrain.
- Al-Fateh Grand Mosque – Built in 1987, the Al-Fateh Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world, encompassing 6,500 square meters and having the capacity to accommodate over 7,000 worshippers at a time.
- Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House – residence of the former ruler in Muharraq. Isa ibn Ali Al Khalifa KCIE CSI (1848–9 December 1932) was the ruler of Bahrain from 1869
- Siyadi House – Consisting of three buildings, it was built for the pearl merchant Abdullah bin Isa Siyadi in the 19th century.
- Aali Burial Grounds – A set of seemingly erroneous bumps and lumps in the stoney desert that are ancient burial grounds.
- Sitra Bridge Walkway – An elongated walkway that houses small parks, play parks, work-out areas and small cafes. It has a great view over the city and is a hotspot for birds.
- Al Ghous Park – This corniche is perfect for kids as it has a large play-park and hugs the water’s edge. This is also a great park to watch the sun set from.
- The Tree Of Life – A very bizarre place that is situated in the middle of a gas field and a semi-permanent tent city. If you didn’t go here, you wouldn’t miss much but it is a total contrast to Bahrain’s glitzy image.
- Veranda Lagoon Park – An outdoor retail park that is encircled around a lagoon. Loads of restaurants and small kids can catch the train and hire small bicycles.
- Villa Mamas Restaurant – A slightly more upmarket restaurant that serves delicious middle eastern food. Plenty for vegans.
- Bahrain National Museum – A museum with different areas that highlight Bahrain’s history from skeletons right through to art.
- Museum of Pearl Diving – Celebrates the culture behind pearl diving and pearl art.
- Oil Museum – By appointment only, the oil museum delves into Bahrain’s history of discovering oil.
Beaches & Resorts
- Durat Al Bahrain – These 14 private islands are not open to the public however you can visit the Durrat Marina Yacht Club. Various AirBNBs in the area start at $600 per night!
- Hadd al Bahraym – You’ll need permission to enter the area for this beach but just explain that you want to go to the beach and not the islands!
Soak Up The Sun At A Hotel With Private Beach
If you’re not interested in sightseeing and fancy relaxing on a private beach with a few cocktails, head to the Amwaj Islands. Just a 15 minute drive from the airport, the Amwaj Islands host a range of hotels ranging from medium budget to luxury!
For the Ultra Adventurous
How about ticking off two countries at once during your layover? You can actually drive over to Saudi Arabia. The city of Al Khobar is the nearest and has a huge corniche waterfront with cafes and playgrounds. The city also has a Water Tower, a Science and technology centre and a museum exploring the Suadi oil industry.
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