The “Hollywood of the Gulf” is no longer known only for oil. Tucked between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, this coastal country has more to offer than most people imagine. From history to shopping to dining, Kuwait is first class all the way. Here are the best places to visit if you’re planning a trip to Kuwait.
1. See Rare Historic Artifacts at Tareq Rajab Museum
The Tareq Rajab Museum is a history lover’s dream displaying an extensive private collection depicting various aspects of Islamic civilization stretching from its earliest periods to modern times. As the leading museum specializing in Silver Folk jewelry, it has around 12,000 pieces, but more impressively it houses more than 30,000 total items from calligraphy and ceramics, to costumes and musical instruments. The Gold Room is home to a rare collection of gold jewelry with some pieces dating back to the pre-Islamic period. There are even a significant number of Qur’ans and manuscripts from around the Islamic world. Opened to the public in 1980, the Tareq Rajab Museum is an intriguing stop to make during your time in Kuwait.
2. Reflect at the Mirror House
Welcome to the only house in the world covered with mirror mosaics. Italian born artist Lidia Qattan began transforming her and her husband’s private home in 1966 so that now each room has a unique theme with concepts ranging from Sea World and Planet Earth, to Zodiac and the Corridor of Nations. The first floor houses her and her late husband’s art galleries, each with a different theme. Some of Lidia’s themes are art therapy and recycling, while Khalifa Qattan’s themes range from evolution to the Iraqi invasion on Kuwait. Tours of this unique home are by appointment only. Tickets for adults are 3 KWD (or around 10 USD) and 2 KWD (or around 7 USD) for children two or older, and students. A tour of this famous home also includes tea, cookies, and quality time with Lidia.
3. Spend the Morning at Souq Al-Mubarakiya
For some traditional shopping head to one of Kuwait’s oldest markets. The bargains here are nearly unbeatable, and it’s easy to spend several hours wandering around uncovering them all. For those who love to shop, you’ll find everything from traditional costumes and Persian silk carpets to jewelry and authentic Arab antiques. When it comes to food, the shops here specialize in everything from spices and sweets to fish and fruit. In addition to everything going on in the market, there are also two free mini museums here – Sheikh Mubarak Kiosk and Kuwait’s first Islamic pharmacy. The perfect place to get authentic souvenirs, you don’t want to miss Souq Al-Mubarakiya on your trip to Kuwait.
4. Learn About Islamic Culture at the Grand Mosque
World renowned for its Islamic architecture, Kuwait’s Grand Mosque is the largest in the country. With a design borrowed from the Persians, the 141-foot central dome, arcades of pillars, and pointed arches are only some of the features visitors will marvel at. The mosque is a whopping 220,000 square feet, and there are free guided tours of this impressive building. If you’re going to take a tour, be sure to call ahead and dress appropriately. Head scarfs and abayas are available for women to borrow, if necessary. With such a magnificent interior, it’s no wonder the Grand Mosque is one of the most famous places to visit in Kuwait.
5. Take a Day Trip to Failaka Island
About an hour ferry ride away from the city is the Kuwaiti island of Failaka. The island was settled around 2000 BC by the Mesopotamians and was the country’s longest continuously inhabited location. Prior to the Gulf War the island was home to more than 2,000 residents and several schools. Once Iraq invaded, they forced all of the residents to the mainland. Today, homes and buildings remain empty and continue to decay. A visit to this island is an open-air monument to the devastation of war.
6. Go on a Desert Safari
Be sure to take advantage of this bucket list activity during your time in Kuwait. These seasonal safaris can typically be enjoyed between October and March. Several different companies offer this experience, but they typically all include food and transportation. Sights along the way include such things as Kuwait’s famous oil fields, and you can enjoy activities like dune bashing and quad-biking. You’ll also enjoy a delicious Kuwaiti dinner and tea followed by ancient stories before curling up under a canopy of stars or in a Bedouin tent.
7. See the City From Above from the Kuwait Towers
A landmark of modern Kuwait, these three towers stand on a cape overlooking the Persian Gulf. The main tower stands 614 feet high and includes a restaurant, lounge, café, and reception hall. Of the other two towers, one holds water and the other houses equipment to illuminate the larger two towers. The viewing sphere (or Discovery Ball) in the main tower sits at almost 400 feet above sea level and it revolves so you can get an incomparable view of the city and gulf. On a clear day you can nearly see the entire country. The viewing sphere is open from 9:00am – 11:00pm and it costs just 3 KWD (or around 10 USD) for adults and 1.50 KWD (or almost 5 USD) for children between 4 and 9. For more information check out their website.
8. Go Scuba Diving
Kuwait’s coastline stretches about 100 miles and is decorated by stunning seascapes and crystal clear waters, making it a favorite for divers. Kobar Island is among the most popular dive spots in the area, and is a place where one can experience an underwater world filled with stingrays, fish, and corals. Even if you’re not a big fan of getting into the water, Kobar Island is the perfect place to relax and catch some rays on the beach.
9. Shop ‘Til You Drop at the Avenues Mall
You can quite literally shop ‘til you drop at Kuwait’s largest mall which features around 1,100 stores along with everything from cinemas to spas and hotels. Thanks to the British influence in Kuwait, there are many recognizable British brands like Charlotte Tilbury and Jack Wills. There are also plenty of world-famous American stores like Pottery Barn and Tiffany & Co. When it comes to food here, the world is at your fingertips. Dutch, French, Swiss, and Turkish are only a few of the many options you’ll have to choose from. If you’re not looking to do any shopping, there is more than enough space to walk around, exercise, and people watch while you enjoy this enormous mall.
10. Learn About Kuwait’s History at the Kuwait National Museum
French architect Michel Ecochard is responsible for creating the former pride of Kuwait. Now recovered from the Iraqi invasion, it’s a great place to learn about the country’s history and past traditions. The museum is comprised of five buildings connected by elevated walkways and built around a central courtyard. It’s divided into four parts – Kuwait Heritage Museum, Archaeological Museum, Boom Al Mouhallab, and the planetarium. Artifacts include a 17th-century chess game, coins, a Bedouin tent, and much more. Museum entry is free, and there’s no better place to go to learn about the rich history of Kuwait than at their national museum.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Kuwait and if Kuwait wasn’t on your bucket list before, we’re sure it is now. As it’s continued to develop, Kuwait has drawn more and more tourists to this fascinating country where modern and traditional meet and mesh. Kuwait is a perfect getaway spot for people of all ages.