After my week in the United Arab Emirates exploring Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it was time for me to explore some more of the Gulf, starting with a four-day trip to neighbouring Qatar. Qatar ended up being one of my favourites and I actually was completely blown away and impressed by the entire country. Buzzing off such a brilliant country, I was so ready to explore more of the Middle East.
From Doha, I flew north across the Gulf to Kuwait City, a small emirate tucked between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at the tip of the Gulf.
How to Get to Kuwait
Kuwait was definitely the hardest country to enter out to the five Gulf nations I visited, the only one which required a physical visa to be completed - although I could do this on arrival as a European. I had to complete some forms, give away my passport for about half an hour and then receive a printed form entirely in Arabic which I had to present as I exited and then also give back to passport control when I left Kuwait a few days later. I use passportindex.org to figure out which countries need visas (and which of my passports to use!).
Kuwait City is not a very touristy city - in fact, one of the staff at the hotel I stayed at told me their main client base is wealthy locals looking for a staycation, versus international tourists visiting the country.
As such, public transport is limited, although it does exist, and it's easiest to pre-arrange a hotel transfer to get from the airport to your hotel.
Things to Do in Kuwait City
I spent a very hot May day wandering nearly 11km around the city visiting as many things as I could. As I said earlier, Kuwait City is not exactly a well-known tourist city, so there isn't a ton to see, but I thoroughly enjoyed the key highlights that I made time to visit.
1. Wander the many halls of the Al Mubarakiya Market
The Al Mubarakiya Market is the largest market in Kuwait, with halls and halls of vendors selling their wares. You'll find delicious dates, fragrant spices, many perfume shops (scent is exceptionally important in the Middle East) and lots of spots for food and refreshments against the heat. Markets are the hub of many cities in the Middle East and where locals do the majority of their shopping. It's a treat to discover.[Google Maps location here]
2. Learn the history of Kuwait at the Kuwait National Museum
The Kuwait National Museum is a small museum dedicated to the heritage, culture and history of Kuwait and a good place to spend an hour or two avoiding the heat and learning about the traditional ways that Kuwaitis used to live. Kuwait is home to the world's sixth largest oil reserves, making the history and economy here a fascinating one.[Google Maps location here]
3. Walk the entire coastline of the city along the Harbour Walk
From the Kuwait National Museum, I walked the entire way along the coastline towards the end of the city where the famed Kuwait Towers are. The beaches were empty because the sand was far too hot, but the ocean was pretty and refreshing to dip my toes in along the way.
4. Take in the view of Kuwait City from the top of the glittering Kuwait Towers
Perhaps the most famous landmark of Kuwait are the three glittering blue spherical Kuwait Towers situated at the eastern tip of the city on the coast, with incredible views. You can go up inside one of the towers to the view deck (there's also a revolving restaurant) and you can watch as the city slowly ticks past you on the revolving viewing platform. It's well worth the small entrance fee![Google Maps location here]
5. Take a free guided tour of the exquisite Grand Mosque
A brilliant half-hour guided tour is available of the Grand Mosque, the largest in Kuwait City. Women must cover all skin and their hair; abayas are provided if you don't have suitable clothing. The inside is simply stunning, with a gorgeous inner dome and the traditional design and architecture facing towards Mecca in Saudi Arabia.[Google Maps location here]
6. Relax at the Noor Spa
After a hot day wandering around Kuwait City, relax inside the Grand Hyatt at the Noor Spa, free for guests to use (with additional charges for special treatments). It is simply one of the most stunning pools and spas I've ever seen.[Google Maps location here]