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Travel: Beautiful Bahrain is an Arabian delight, a desert kingdom steeped in culture

Ahmed Al-Fateh Mosque (Getty Images)
Ahmed Al-Fateh Mosque (Getty Images)

LIKE the pearls it’s famous for, Bahrain is truly beautiful.

Touching down at 7am to 30-degree heat isn’t the only thing appealing about this place.

Bahrain is steeped in history and culture, not to mention a whole load of elegance.

I hadn’t done a lot of research before visiting Bahrain, so I went there with completely fresh eyes, which can actually be very refreshing when visiting somewhere new.

Too much research can sometimes leave you feeling like you’ve already had your trip before you’ve even stepped on a plane.

Bahrain Fort

But if you’re struggling to place Bahrain on the map, it’s a small island off the coast of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

With only a few days at our destination, I wanted to make sure we covered a lot of ground – both old and new.

First on my list was the Bahrain National Museum, which is deemed the crowning achievement of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s ongoing efforts to preserve the nation’s heritage and history. It’s probably the country’s most popular attraction, and no wonder!

Housed in a postmodern building and surrounded by water, the museum is split into six sections – the traditional handicrafts hall, customs and traditions hall, burial mounds hall, ancient documents and manuscripts hall, Tylos hall, and Islamic period hall.

I’ve never had a history lesson quite like it.

The World Trade Centre, Bahrain

Absorbing all that history can be hungry work, so I headed to Block 338 for dinner, which has been unofficially named as Bahrain’s dining district and, I can confirm, it’s the place to head if you’re looking for culture mixed with cool rooftop evening vibes.

With so many different eateries to choose from, we felt totally spoilt for choice.

We decided on The Meat Co, whose menu hosts a global selection of premium steak from Japanese Miyazaki to natural grass-fed Argentinian beef, and we were not disappointed.

After dinner, make sure to take some time to walk off your meal and take in the charm of Block 330 as it really comes alive a nighttime.

The following day, the Al-Fateh Mosque, otherwise known as the Grand Mosque, was the next spot on my list.

As we pulled up outside, I couldn’t help but notice how truly beautiful it is and just couldn’t wait to see what was inside.

Entrance to the mosque is free and the reception you’ll receive is nothing short of completely friendly and welcoming.

We were accompanied by a tour guide and shown the outside atrium, followed by the main prayer room (complete with an Irish wool carpet underfoot), before heading to the upper balcony to overlook prayer time.

The stunning architecture combined with the warm welcome made my visit to this mosque a truly breathtaking experience.

As with any other trip, I was keen to do some shopping while I was in Bahrain, so I headed to a souk.

The souks are where you will find absolutely everything, from sweets, scents and spices to toys, clothes and gold – the list is endless on what treasures you can discover.

If you’re an art lover, Bahrain makes for the perfect destination as it’s filled with art, almost everywhere you look.

If that’s not enough, there are also numerous arts and crafts centres dotted around to satisfy your arty needs.

Traditional shop, Bahrain

I tried my hand at some pottery painting at The Crafts Centre and, although my painting undoubtedly needs a little work, it was such a fun visit.

Bahrain Fort is another hit for all those culture vultures out there.

Dating back to 2300 BC and containing remains right up until the 18th Century, it’s an archaeological site that really must not be missed if you’ve made it all the way to Bahrain.

Here you’ll enjoy wandering around the ruins and looking out over the moat, and again, all free! Just make sure to take some water with you if it’s a typically warm day.

My visit to Bahrain was so much more than I ever could have expected.

From learning all about its history, to trying out their delicious cuisine and even the odd spot of sunbathing, I felt like there was nothing I didn’t cover when I was there.

But I can guarantee I’ll still learn more on my return.