Bahrain's former capital Muharraq is a short hop across the water from Manama, making it easy to absorb the wonderful decaying reminders of old Bahrain before taking in the key highlights of the modern capital.
Start off wandering the narrow streets of Muharraq, where beautiful old residencies like Beit Sheikh Isa Bin Ali Al Khalifa whisk you back to a pre-oil innocence. Afterwards, cross the causeway and admire the capital's stunning Bahrain National Theatre building before heading into the Bahrain National Museum. After being thoroughly educated on the nation's history and heritage, pause for lunch in the museum's trendy cafe with its serene sea views.
Cross the highway for the finest collection of Qurans in the region at Beit Al Quran. Grab a taxi south to admire the majestic bicentennial statement of independence and victory at Al Fatih Mosque. It's then a short hop to uber-chic Adliya, where you can enjoy the buzz of Manama's most creative neighbourhood and the delicious pastries at Café Lilou. End your day in the bustling Manama Souq, where dining on Haji's simple, traditional food will transport you back to a bygone Bahrain.
After a day in Manama and Muharraq city, get up early in the hope of striking it rich on your prebooked pearl dive in the clear turquoise waters off the coast of Muharraq Island. Following lunch, head to the Unesco site of Bahrain Fort, which sits atop the ancient Dilmun capital, and later visit the Dilmun temple at Saar. Make your way south, saying hello to a camel or two at the Royal Camel Farm, before admiring the continuity of ancient crafts at Al Jasra. On your way back, complete the burial circuit atop a Royal mound in A'Ali.
Day three begins with a visit to where Bahrain first struck black gold at Dar Al Naft Oil Museum, before turning up the pace at the Formula 1 Racetrack, where you can reach speeds of 300km/h in a dragster. For a more gentle afternoon, head to the nearby Al Areen Wildlife Park & Reserve and try to spot the creature historically mistaken for a unicorn. As you head back north at sunset, stop at the Tree of Life just as the lights come on to end your trip beside this ancient relic at its enchanting best.