What to do on a Bahrain stopover
Ordinarily six hours wouldn’t really give you enough time to do anything, but you’re in luck, as Bahrain’s airport is less than four miles from the city centre, and is parked on historic Muharraq Island.
Depending on how tired you feel, how scorching it is when you arrive, and how adventurous you are feeling, I’d suggest the following, in order of intrepidness. Don’t worry though, Bahrain is a small friendly place – you won’t come unstuck whichever you chose.
The lazy option is to catch a taxi to the Novotel Al Dana Resort (00 973 17 298008). It’s right by the causeway that separates Muharraq from the Bahrain Island proper, and while it isn’t in the same league as Dubai’s showcase hotels, it’s a nice low-rise in old Arabian style, with a small beach and good pool. There are plenty of shaded areas for an outdoor meal, or you can seek out some aircon in the excellent Moroccan restaurant.
A day pass for the pool and beach costs £13.50 (for men from Saturday to Tuesday, and £27 for a weekend day Wednesday Friday), and £8, and £13.50 for women, respectively.
For a simple one-stop introduction to Bahraini culture though, grab a cab to the National Museum (entry 68p). It has an impressive collection of artefacts and information on the Kingdom’s 6,000 years of recorded history.
Finally, if you fancy a wander in a genuine Gulf neighbourhood, then just a few minutes walk to the southwest of the terminal is old Muharraq, where you’ll find some atmospheric streets and superb mansions.
The finest, with an early wind tower to keep the interior coo, is Beit Sheikh Isa Bin Ali’s place: built in the early 1800′s, it shows how the other half lived before the discovery of oil. Almost opposite is the Beit Seyadi (clearly signposted), another fine house (free entry). Walk southeast and you’ll come to the waterfront and a Dhow building yard. Across the water is the 15th century Portuguese-built fort, and if you turn right you’ll come to the single watchtower fort of Qala’at Abu Mahir. Just in time for a taxi, or stroll back to the airport.
A taxi from to the city costs about £4, less if you are just staying in Muharraq.