Bahrain skyline by day with the ocean in the foreground

Planning Your Trip

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Bahrain is a true mix of old and new, with everything from dazzling skyscrapers and a bustling business scene to fine centuries-old examples of Islamic art, culture, and architecture. Bring a few key items to ensure that you’re ready to experience all Bahrain has to offer.

Overview of the coast with two lagoons, open sea, lush greenery and palm trees
Overview of the coast with two lagoons, open sea, lush greenery and palm trees
What To Pack

A lightweight shawl is a great versatile piece for women traveling to Bahrain — it can be used to ward off any chill from indoor air conditioning as well as a covering for the head and shoulders if visiting a site like the Grand Mosque.

Business Travel
  • The small island kingdom of Bahrain has an outsized presence on the global economic and business scene. If traveling for work, be prepared with conservative attire.

  • A dark suit and tie are the standard for men, even in very high temperatures.
  • For women, a traditional suit or modest dress and sensible heels are most common. Alternatively, visitors can opt to wear traditional Arabic national dress such as the thobe or disdasha for men or the abaya for women.
  • Bring a plentiful supply of business cards — exchanging cards at meetings is customary and not having one available can be seen as a sign of disrespect.    
Exploring the City

Bahrain has much to offer visitors, from world-class shopping and fascinating old bazaars and souks to pristine beaches and premier museums. Pack thoughtfully to make the most of it all.

June through September are particularly hot, with temperatures soaring beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While air conditioning is plentiful indoors, be prepared with lots of lightweight layers in natural fibers as well as sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.

The winter months of late November to mid-April can see temperatures dip, so consider a scarf or light layer to ward off any chill.

It’s easy to spend hours walking through the souks or while admiring the exhibits at the Bahrain National Museum, so be sure to wear a sensible pair of shoes.

Cultural Considerations

Bahrain is a conservative society, and visitors, especially women, are expected to respect local sensibilities by dressing modestly in public places where locals and ex-pats are mixed.

At beaches and pools, swimwear is acceptable, but a more modest cover-up should be worn once outside of the area.

For women, full-coverage clothing like skirts that hit below the knee, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts are best. Women are not expected to cover their heads unless visiting a place of worship.

Shorts are acceptable for men, though long pants are far more common.  


Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
What To Reserve

With many mosques, minarets and mausoleums, there’s an endless array of things to do in Bahrain. In true Middle Eastern style, the country is a blend of the old and the new, with dazzling skyscrapers and majestic embodiments that speak of the fantastic Islamic art, culture, and architecture. And Bahrain is a small country, so a lot of the sights are within a short drive from the hotel.

The hotel’s 11 restaurants and lounges offer cuisine of all types, from Arabian favorites to Mexican cuisine. Make a reservation for a dinner at the vibrant Cantina Kahlo for traditional Mexican dishes like tamales, ceviche, and more. La Med offers extravagant buffets and inventive small plates with a focus on Arabic and Mediterranean cuisines overlooking the gardens. Plums focus on premium beef and fresh seafood. And Primavera is all about classic Italian dishes and fresh pastas. 

Relax in the private sanctuary of the property’s spa. It is recommended that women arrive 30 to 60 minutes before their appointment to unwind in the relaxation room, and enjoy the sauna, steam, and Thalassotherapy Pool. Arrange for a signature treatment like Her Secret Sanctuary — a 90-minute session that cleanses, exfoliates, and nourishes the body. Or consider the On the Banks of the Dead Sea treatment, which uses therapeutic water and mud of the Dead Sea to renew and soften the skin before a revitalizing massage.

For a truly relaxing getaway, there is so much to do without straying far from the property — arrange for a tennis lesson at the Peter Burwash International tennis academy; a round or two of golf at the par-72 championship course at the Royal Golf Course; or reserve a beachside cabana to relax the day away. Consider spending a day on the water and arrange for a boat tour departing from the resort and voyaging across the northwestern coastline of Bahrain to take in the skyline or head farther afield to watch dolphins play in the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Bahrain is a window to its historic past — a prosperous port from the time of the Phoenicians, Bahrain is home to various ethnic and diverse ex-pat communities, all of whom have brought in their own cultures and traditions. Explore its history with a visit to the Qal’at al-Bahrain, also known as the Bahrain Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a rich collection of the island’s ancient archaeological artifacts on display. No visit to Bahrain would be complete without a trip to the souq, with its profusion of colors, sounds, and aromas. Wares for sale include cloth of beautiful colors and textures; gold, pearls, and jewelry; and the traditional array of spices and local produce. Visit one of the many mosques like the striking Al Fateh Mosque with its enormous dome or the Al Khamis Mosque — believed to have been initially constructed as early as 692.


Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

Comprising more than 30 islands in the Arabian Gulf, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Bahrain is a country of trade, history, and culture. In fact, the country dates to the Bronze Age, when it was a major trade route between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Since, it has been ruled by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persian Empire, and the ancient Greeks, who made the nation a center of pearl trading. Today, the Al Khalifa royal family oversees the kingdom. And although its climate is primarily arid, Bahrain is well known as a major migratory bird corridor — more than 330 bird species have been documented on the islands.


Bon Appetit: Although Paris and Manama are separated by more than 3,000 miles, you’ll find a romantic Parisian-style breakfast at Café Lilou. This charming eatery includes outdoor seating and a menu that features fresh pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and inspired coffee beverages.

Private Island: After breakfast, journey by boat to the Al Dar Islands, where it’s possible for you to rent your own beach hut. Enjoy a morning under the palms and along the Gulf of Arabia’s turquoise waters. For a bit of adventure, consider renting a Jet-Ski or kayak from one of the beachside vendors.


Lost in History: Upon your return from the islands, journey to the Bahrain National Museum to wander slowly among its nine elegant halls. Considered the pinnacle of the kingdom’s efforts to preserve its history and culture, the museum traces Bahrain’s 4,000-year story.


Table for Two: Airy and beautiful, Manama’s My Café offers a menu full of European-inspired fare. For lunch, salads and sandwiches are served, along with plenty of fresh seafood, pasta, and flatbreads. Linger as you enjoy the beautiful atmosphere and consistently solid service. 

City of Gold: Manama’s Gold Souq mall is a celebration of shiny. Discover a gift for your love in one of the souq’s many stalls — you’ll find everything from delicate gold filigree to cultured pearls to watches, silver, and more.


Swan Lake: Swans and ducks glide along the lagoon that serves as the entrance to Manama’s Water Garden. And although this themed amusement park had its heyday several years ago, you’ll find romance in the lights and sounds of the games and rides. Many visitors tout Water Garden as “a perfect blend of ancient and modern Bahrain.”

Plum Dining: Return to The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain for dinner at Plums. This modern, sophisticated restaurant serves the finest premium beef and seafood — much of which is locally caught. After an intimate meal, retire to Burlington Club for a glass of vintage wine or cognac.


Hit the Links: Wake early to pair up for a round at the Royal Golf Club. This Colin Montgomerie-designed course pays homage to its desert setting — indigenous plants and grasses are a major part of the design — while incorporating challenging water features. The par-72 championship course is both beautiful and daunting.


Brunch in Style: After your round, enjoy a decadent brunch at Links. Should you sit near a window, you’ll be afforded a spectacular view of the course you just conquered. Regardless, though, the international cuisine at Links is photo-worthy. What’s more, on weekends, the restaurant hosts “jazzy brunch,” which includes live contemporary jazz and blues music.

Make New Friends: At Manama’s Royal Camel Farm, visitors have an opportunity to meet hundreds of “ships of the desert” — camels. This no-entrance-fee park takes little time to explore, and although rides aren’t allowed, the camels will certainly give you a reason to smile. Guides provide more of an education about the hump-backed ungulates than you ever might have imagined.


Go Kart: The Bahrain International Karting Circuit is a madhouse on weekends when sponsored racing events entertain massive crowds. But during the week, you and your partner can suit up, take a bit of training, then race each other around the enormous, elegant facility. Even though love isn’t a competition, a friendly little contest could determine who buys dinner.

A Sweet Treat: Cool off with ice cream from Le Chocolat, a local favorite for breakfast, lunch, and pastries. If sharing a sundae isn’t your cup of tea, chocolate cake, decadent Nutella brownies, and fresh fruit tarts are also available. What’s more, an offering of coffee drinks makes for a pleasant afternoon pick-me-up.


Unwind: Return to The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain for treatment in the elegant, tranquil spa. After such an active, busy day, consider the Secrets of Argan treatment. This 90-minute session includes a deep cleanse and exfoliation using a variety of natural Arabic ingredients. Afterward, your therapist will massage you with argan oil, prized for its healing and hydrating properties. The treatment will leave your skin vibrant and soft, just in time for dinner.

By the Sea: Indulge in the most romantic dining experience in Bahrain. The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain’s Romantic Dinner by the Sea package includes a four-course meal, a bottle of wine, a welcome cocktail, flowers, and more. Enjoy the sea breeze as you’re cared for by your own private butler for the evening, and watch the stars begin to shine over the Arabian Gulf — the perfect end to a romantic getaway.


A Terrace Breakfast: Wake early to enjoy a quiet breakfast in the light-filled La Med restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain. The restaurant, which overlooks the property’s pool and garden and affords views of the gulf, highlights Arabic and Mediterranean cuisines.

Qur'an Collection: Just 10 minutes from the hotel, Beit al Qur’an, or the House of Qur’an, houses an extensive collection of manuscripts and also features a mosque, library, and museum. The complex’s design, based on a 12th-century mosque, includes a massive, intricate stained-glass dome. Abdul Latif Jassim Kanoo began construction on the House of Qur’an in 1984 to accommodate his own massive collection of Qur’ans and manuscripts. It opened in 1990.


Cool Comfort: Architecturally stunning and full of luxury retailers, Moda Mall at the Bahrain World Trade Center is a great place to shop in air-conditioned comfort. From jewelers and beauty shops to posh women’s wear and accessories shops, the mall offers something for everyone.

Lebanese Lunch: Mama Maya Restaurant and Café is a favorite among locals and visitors to Bahrain alike. Featuring authentic Lebanese cuisine served buffet style, as well as popular coffee and juice drinks, Mama Maya is touted for its excellent food and exceptional service.


Hit the Beach: As a member of The Ritz-Carlton’s Royal Beach Club, you and your family have exclusive access to The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain’s private beach. This sweeping white-sand crescent borders a private lagoon with its own island. What’s more, membership affords access to the adult-only infinity pool, fitness facilities, four tennis courts, a squash court, and steam and sauna rooms. 


East Meets East: At Bushido Restaurant, Japanese cuisine meets the Middle East. Richly appointed in dark wood and authentic silks, the restaurant includes a sushi bar as well as the main dining room. An upstairs lounge has one of the longest bar counters in the region, and servers are well known for creating elaborate cocktails — some of which they set ablaze for an extra bit of happy hour excitement. For dinner, try the Teppanyaki tiger prawns or decadent lobster tempura.

A Moonlit Walk: After dinner, wander the boardwalks of Reef Island. Although the area is touted as one of the newest residential areas on Manama’s north shore, an amble along its many walkways means you’ll see plenty of city lights along with the moon’s reflection on the gulf. Should you visit one of the island’s many restaurants for dessert, you’ll likely be treated to a waterfront table and a stunning view.