The archipelago of Bahrain lies in the Persian Gulf, flanked by its larger neighbours, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. With a rich culture and history and a picturesque coastline with beaches galore, Bahrain is a great getaway with a Middle Eastern twist. If you're interested in car racing, head to the country in April to check out the Bahrain Grand Prix, a F1 motor race. In 2013, the race is due to be held on April 21st.
Depending on where you are departing from in the UK, it can take between seven to nine hours to reach Bahrain via a direct flight. Bahrain flights land at Bahrain International Airport, which is less than 10 minutes from the capital of Manama by car.
Airlines such as KLM, Air France, British Airways, Gulf Air and Qantas all run flights to Bahrain and these flights depart from a number of UK destinations, including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, London City and Newcastle. The kingdom is a thriving tourist destination, so you will have no problem finding a hotel in Bahrain that will cater to your tastes and needs.
While you can use bus services to get to and from various cities and towns in Bahrain, it is arguably easier to rent a car and drive yourself, especially as the bus routes do not always go to direct points of interest. Bahrain car hire can be picked up at the airport, so you can start your adventures straight away. Be aware that the speed limits are strictly enforced. The other alternative is to rely on the taxis on hand; these can be useful for shorter distances and can be used in conjunction with the bus services.
For some lovely views of the Persian Gulf and the chance to see the country's major historical site, pay a visit to the Bahrain Fort. The fort has also been the site of archaeological excavations, as it was discovered that the fort is built upon a hill made up of rubbles from ancient civilisations dating back thousands of years. Admission is free.
Celebrating its long and varied history, Bahrain has many museums to explore. The Bahrain National Museum is located right on the waterfront and has many pieces of ancient jewellery and pottery amongst its collection, as well as several rooms devoted to artefacts from the Dilmun civilisation. A rather unique museum, the Museum of Pearl Diving, is dedicated to, you guessed it, Bahrain's maritime history of pearl diving. The Beit al-Quran Museum in Manama is the place to go for those interested in learning more about the Islamic faith and its historical place in Bahrain. Inside you will see a large collection of Quarans, wood carvings and manuscripts.
With a name like 'Tree of Life', you know you'll want to check out this tourist attraction. The tree in question is believed to be hundreds of years old and is a striking vision, standing alone in a sea of desert. Prosopis trees are believed to have extremely deep roots that allow them to flourish in a climate that is wholly unsuitable to other flora. Legend dictates that the tree is in the site of the Garden of Eden!