The local bus is comfortable and civilized, but it runs pretty infrequently, and there's always a fair amount of walking involved from the bus stop to the desired destination, which is not pleasant in the scorching heat. Therefore, we quickly rented a car for about 60 USD per day. The driving experience was no worse than in Saudi Arabia.
One thing worth seeing, and we comfortably fit it into our three-day stay (two nights), was the Bahrain Fort and Al Fateh Mosque, which are about a half-hour drive away, as well as Riffa Fort, Bahrain Bay, the bustling souk with its many shops and small restaurants in the evenings, and we also went to relax on Marassi Beach, which is a paid beach but includes sunbeds and umbrellas in the price, and the water is excellent 🙂
After two days, we took the evening bus back to Dammam, where we spent another night, and the next day we had plenty of time before the evening departure.
What was Bahrain like? It's a more relaxed place than Saudi Arabia, not just because you can get alcoholic drinks here 😄 but the dress code is much more European, and beach activities are more liberal, h However, not everywhere. As tourists, we did not stand out. The locals are just as kind and helpful.
In terms of appearance and atmosphere, it's most similar to Dubai. Prices are more comparable to those in Hungary. We ate well at excellent prices; even the grocery store wasn't expensive.
As an interesting fact, we learned and experienced that on weekends, Friday and Saturday there, Saudis flock to Bahrain for entertainment, meaning drinking and flirting. The hotels, bars, and entertainment venues are packed during these times. Then on Saturday evenings, they form long, crowded lines at the border to return home. (2023)
“Bahrain is a more easy-going tourist destination than Qatar or Kuwait, not to mention Saudi Arabia. As relaxed as Dubai, but with a more human scale and not so wildly money-centered. The locals are not as pretentious as the citizens of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Locals in Bahrain are happy to communicate with foreign visitors. The food and nightlife are both great. (Paul, 2016)
“However unremarkable its ‘sights’, overall Bahrain was a pleasant surprise. I sensed nothing of the internal tension between the Shiite majority and the Sunnis in this Sunni-dominated mini-state. And though the Emir recently had himself crowned king, and has absolute power in all areas of life, still there are some positive reforms as well. For one thing, women now have the right to vote. There is also a parliament, though only half the representatives are chosen by popular election.
The population is respectful of tradition, and many wear burkas, but more and more young people are choosing less restrictive clothing. Foreigners don’t need to worry about being criticized for wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt, though whether or not standing out will make you feel uncomfortable is another matter. (phica, 2019)