Everything to see and do on your trip to Kuwait.
Kuwait may be a small country, but it’s packed with things to see and do, plus it has a fascinating history. From taking in city views atop the Kuwait Towers to sleeping under stars in the desert, there’s something for every kind of traveler. This list of museums, markets, mosques, and more will give any visitor a mix of history, culture, dining, and entertainment on their trip to Kuwait.
See the City From Above at Kuwait Towers
This group of three towers is often seen as a symbol of Kuwait’s economic and cultural resurgence. Visitors can overlook all of Kuwait City from the two-story viewing sphere. The top floor rotates, so you can take in the skyline and bay from multiple angles. Guests can also dine in the separate restaurant sphere, featuring two restaurants and a lounge across two floors. Tip: save your dinner receipt for free entrance into the viewing sphere.
Learn About Islamic Culture at the Grand Mosque
Traditional Islamic architecture meets Persian design in Kuwait’s largest mosque, a sparkling beige building with a large central dome, interior pillars, and magnificent tiles. The inside is much more elaborate than the outside, and visitors can learn about the details on a free guided tour offered throughout the day on weekdays. Make sure to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders. Guests should bring a headscarf or one will be provided on entry.
Explore the Royal Bayan Palace
The massive Bayan Palace blends traditional Islamic design with modern elements. It is primarily a place of residence for the Emir, but guests can take photos from the outside. They can also visit the botanical garden on Thursdays. The gardens consist of three glass greenhouses filled with tropical plants and artificial waterfalls. It’s small, but a nice green oasis in the city. Fun fact: the fountains at the palace gate are meant to resemble those at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
Visit a Traditional Kuwaiti Home at Sadu House Museum
If you’re looking for souvenirs, head to Sadu House. The museum is modeled like a traditional Kuwaiti home and holds art and archeological relics. Most visitors come for the Bedouin crafts, especially woven rugs and bags made on Sadu looms. Sadu weaving focuses on storytelling through art and features depictions of nomadic life and desert landscapes.
See Rare Historic Jewelry at Tareq Rajab Museum
More than 30,000 items belong to the private Tareq Rajab Museum, with about 10,000 on display at any given time. Take in a large ancient pottery collection, Quran manuscripts from around the world, traditional musical instruments, textiles, clothing, swords, and more. The jewelry section is especially impressive. Visitors can see rare gold jewelry from the pre-Islamic period, as well as 2,000 pieces of ancient silver jewelry.
Spend a Morning at the Old Souq
Before oil was discovered in Kuwait, the 200-year-old Souq Al Mubarakeya was the hub of all trade. Today, visitors can shop for Persian rugs, perfumes, jewelry, Arabic handicrafts, and foods like dates, honey, and spices.
INSIDER TIPStop at one of the cafes outside the souq for some of the cheapest (and best) food in Kuwait.
Interact with Exhibits at the Scientific Center and Dhow Harbor
Dedicate a day to visiting the Scientific Center, home to an aquarium, museum, and IMAX movie theater. In the aquarium, guests are guided through three areas representing the desert, the coastal edge, and the deep sea. The Discovery Place museum is filled with interactive exhibits that teach visitors about physics, genetics, food science, and more. Outside on the Dhow Harbor, guests can learn about Kuwaiti heritage and explore a sailing ship from the country’s pre-oil era. This museum is great for kids and families.
Learn About Kuwaiti History at the Kuwait National Museum
The Kuwait National Museum is divided into four sections: the Kuwait Heritage Museum, an Archaeological Museum, a Planetarium, and Boom al Mouhallab, a dhow ship. In the Kuwait Heritage Museum, visitors can learn about Kuwait’s history and take in an extensive private Islamic art collection. The Archaeological Museum has fossils and other artifacts dating back to prehistoric times. The Planetarium features 3D storytelling and space exhibits. Visitors can also check out the Boom al Mouhallab, one of the major dhow ships from pre-oil days. The museum itself is shaped like a traditional Arab mud house.
Visit the Shipyards at Doha Village
Tourists interested in trade or maritime history should visit Doha Village, the place where fishing and trading ships were constructed in the past. Visitors can learn about how the ships were made and their role in trade across the world. You can also buy miniature versions to take home as souvenirs.
Take a Day Trip to Failaka Island
Mesopotamians settled on Failaka Island in 2000 BC, and the place has had a rich history since. In the 1990s the Iraqi military took over the island, but today it’s a quiet retreat for boating, fishing, sailing, and swimming. There are also a few archaeological sites. Visitors can reach the island on the Persian Gulf in 30 minutes via speedboat from Marina Crescent in Kuwait City. If possible, visit during the spring, when the weather isn’t too hot and flowers bloom across the island.
Relax on Green Island
This artificial island is surrounded by rock and filled with soft sand and colorful plants. It feels like a far cry from the desert that is Kuwait. Visitors can relax in the large swimming pool on the eastern side of the island, watch a show in the amphitheater, dine in one of the island’s restaurants, play in bouncing castles or playgrounds, enjoy serene walking paths, and more. Insider Tip: buy lunch or groceries on the mainland and eat at one of the numerous picnic spots.
Be Dazzled by the Breathtaking House of Mirrors
Mirrored mosaics of animals, planets, stars, and more adorn the walls, floors, and ceilings of this stunning house. The home is a private collection-turned-museum and holds 74 tons of mirrors. The artist and owner, Lidia Al Qattan, creates her mosaics with two types of knives, a file, and a spoon. Visitors must make an appointment, but once inside they can learn how the mosaics are made and hear the story behind the artist’s work.
Spend a Day at Avenues Mall
Kuwait’s largest mall is much more than just a shopping center, though it does have more than 800 stores. There are also fine-dining restaurants, cafes, cinemas, fountains, and areas for relaxing. The mall is split into seven “districts,” each with a different feel. The Soku district, for example, is meant to be edgy and urban, attracting young shoppers. The Souk district has a more traditional feel, while the Grand Avenue district is designed to look and feel like you’re shopping on European streets.
Visit the Kuwait House of National Works: Memorial
This museum was built to honor Kuwaiti citizens who died during the Iraqi Invasion in the 1990s. Visitors walk through dimly lit rooms while listening to audio about the invasion. There are also city models that help describe where attacks took place.
Feast on Fresh Seafood at the Fish Market
West of Sharq Mall, you’ll find the fish market, one of the most overwhelming sensory experiences in Kuwait. The large building has rows and rows of counters stacked with thousands of fish. Peruse the aisles, then pick a vendor, who can point out local fish and cook them up for you. It’s an entertaining place for a fresh, delicious lunch.
Kick Back in a Cafe
There are cafes on seemingly every corner in Kuwait City. Stop in as many as you please for a rest and a refreshing drink (especially welcome in summer months). Selling alcohol is illegal in Kuwait, so order a coffee, a mint tea, or a fresh mango smoothie. Vol. 1 is an excellent coffee shop, and CAF and Star Juice are local favorites.
Get Out on the Water
Kuwait is a fantastic place for everything from sailing to scuba diving. Take a fishing tour, explore coral reefs on a scuba trip, kayak on the gulf, go snorkeling, charter a yacht, or try your hand at kite boarding or water skiing. Kuwait Water Sports and Dive36 are both popular water sport companies that can get you set up with gear and tours.
Take a Desert Safari
Get out of the city and into the desert on an overnight desert safari tours to see camels, experience beautiful sand dunes, and sleep under the stars or in a Bedouin tent. Desert tours usually run from October through March, before it gets too hot to spend extensive time outdoors. Orient Travel offers an overnight tour that includes photo stops, a dune drive, dinner, and lodging.