With Bahrain gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, many tour operators have begun offering package deals with charter flights and hotel stay. Check with your travel agent, there are some real bargains to be had!

Food and drink

Try the gahwa (and shake the cup when youre done!)

No visitor to Bahrain should leave without trying out the gahwa (Arabic coffee). It really is refreshing! A word of advice though ­ remember to shake the cup gently from side to side to indicate youre done, or else youll find your cup being constantly refilled!

Puff on a hubble-bubble at an Arabic coffee house.

Bahrains inner lanes are dotted with coffee houses where locals like to unwind after the days work. It is an opportunity for friends to meet and talk, play dominoes, sip endless cups of coffee, or simply sit on the rustic wooden benches and puff on the hubble-bubble (Arabic water pipe).

Fridays are for feasting at Bahrains top restaurants.

Friday brunch at restaurants has become a way of life for many Bahrain residents. Many restaurants offer sumptuous spreads, often accompanied by live entertainment. Among the more popular are the Jazz Brunch at Diplomats Al Fanar and Gulf Hotels weekly brunch.

Dish it up ­ Bahraini style.

Bahraini cooking, with its exotic spices and heavenly flavours, has won countless admirers. With the number of Arabic cookery books available today, theres no reason you cant try your hand at some of these. Just remember to buy some spices before you leave the country!

Dine under the stars in an old courtyard at Mezzaluna.

Soak up the atmosphere at Mezzaluna, located in an old villa where the dining room is actually a glass-ceilinged courtyard where you can see the blue sky by day and the stars at night.

Sit in the garden of Cocos and lunch on a quiche.

Sit. Relax. Enjoy. At Cocos, you can snack in a peaceful setting without worrying too much about the tab at the end of your meal.

Get a taste of the traditional at Al Sawani.

There is no more perfect place to sample the best of Arabic cuisine than at Al Sawani. The waterfront location, old-style windtowers and swaying palms set the mood even before you enter, and the authentic Bahraini fare is finger-licking good! Reservations are recommended.

Let Le Versailles transport you to Louis XIVs France.

For those with the most refined tastes, you cant go wrong with Le Versailles at the Regency. The elegant Louis XIV setting, a sweeping vista of Manama Bay and superb French cuisine will all combine to make this an evening to remember.

Pitch your tent at Khayma and get your fill of music, belly dancing and, yes, food.

Singing, belly dancing and food in the Arabian Nights style of an elegant tent. What more could you ask for?

Mamma Mia! Thats a real Italian mama cooking up delights!

For those staying in or around Manamas city centre, Riffa might seem a little out of the way to visit a restaurant. Mammamia, though, delivers what most other restaurants can never claim ­ genuine home-cooked meals. The fresh home-made pasta is a speciality.

Visit Spiga and follow in Clinton's footsteps

Trope loeil art and Romanesque columns give Spiga the feel of a genuine Italian palazzo. Well-travelled chef Luca Molteni (who is just 23!), shows the creative flair that has taken him to the kitchens of the rich and famous like US President Bill Clinton, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and pop superstar Madonna.

Enter the garden of a Chinese gastronomic haven.

Jade Garden is a true Chinese gastronomic haven. The Chinese touch is everywhere, from the Oriental sunken seating to the chef from China.

Breakfast at Jims is a real fry-up!

Jim Lawless is one of Bahrains most recognised restaurant personalities and the cheerful, laid-back setting is a reflection of the man himself. The restaurant features great food, including a homely European-style breakfast, and the ever-smiling Jim is always good company.

Learn why Cicos was voted Bahrains best.

This celebrated Italian dining place in Adliya took top honours at the Bahrain Restaurant Quality Awards 2000. The food and ambience are simply divine, though with the gregarious Ettore Cico Cicognini behind it, could it be anything else?

Krumz! If only youd discovered this place earlier!

Great décor and good food available in this French style bistro. The culinary delights include the biggest sandwiches in town to super seafood and delicious desserts, occasionally accompanied by live music.

Ventana is oh so Soho.

A visit to La Ventana is like going to a Soho café. That this popular eating house was voted Best Café at the Bahrain Restaurant Quality Awards will not surprise anyone who has enjoyed a snack here.

Upstairs or downstairs, the atmosphere is just great!

Upstairs Downstairs (tel 713093) has been a long-running success story among Bahraain's cafés. Set in an old house, a lot of effort has gone into creating a traditional atmosphere that you are certain to love.

Sink your teeth into some delicious seafood.

Holiday Inn's Seafood Nights (tel 531122) showcases just why Bahraini seafood is such a huge favourite. Fishmarket (tel 533336) is another place for some truly superb fish fare.

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