With its mix of Western liberalism and Middle Eastern traditions, the Gulf state of Kuwait is an attractive destination. The capital, Kuwait City, is awash with mosques and glittering palaces, while its downtown is dominated by towers that drag the city ever skyward. With shopping, sightseeing and a seafront to discover, Kuwait City has endless appeal for an out-of-the-ordinary weekend escape you won’t forget.
Shopping is an essential part of modern-day life in Kuwait, and The Avenues – a mall with over 800 stores – is the jewel in the city’s retail crown. Shimmering ceilings and palm-lined boulevards elevate the experience, positioning The Avenues as one of the most remarkable malls (and the second largest) in the Middle East. Browse designer boutiques in the Prestige district, contemporary stores in The Mall or the more traditional ambiance of The Souk, then refuel at trendy restaurants and cafés in SoKu, inspired by New York’s lively SoHo. With a spa, cinema and plenty of kids’ activities, this all-round entertainment complex is what Kuwaiti weekends were made for.
Souq Al Mubarakeya
At the other end of the shopping scale is Souq Al-Mubarakiya, a traditional market with its roots very firmly in Old Arabia. Established for over a century, it’s one of Kuwait’s oldest markets and remains a lively and bustling trading centre. Colourful stalls are piled high with spices, honey, dates and handicrafts, including hand-made jewellery and beautifully woven carpets. Perk up your browsing with a sip of super-strong, aromatic Arabian coffee, and be prepared for some good-natured haggling before making a purchase.
Add a cultural fix to your weekend break with a visit to one of Kuwait City’s museums. The Tareq Rajab Museum stands out for its precious collections of Islamic art, while the Kuwait National Museum showcases more in the way of archaeological treasures. For something more interactive, try the Scientific Centre (which also houses an aquarium and IMAX), or go full culture-vulture at the Abdullah Al-Salem Cultural Centre, where six distinct museums span Science, Space, Natural History and Islamic History, plus a Fine Arts Centre and Theatre. Plan your weekend wisely though, as some museums close on Sundays.
One of Kuwait’s most treasured landmarks, the Grand Mosque is an absolute stunner, filled with geometric patterns, elegant calligraphy and acres of gold leaf. Visit it on a guided tour that tells the story of its construction and shines a light on the region’s religious traditions. From outside, admire the mosque’s towering minaret, then head in to marvel at its lavishly decorated main hall – large enough to accommodate 10,000 worshippers beneath its vast dome.
Al Shaheed Park
For something a bit more al fresco, step outside to sprawling Al Shaheed Park, the largest urban park in Kuwait City. Spend a leisurely morning wandering through its botanical gardens, then admire the world-class sculptures dotted around this leafy expanse. In the evening, the space might host an array of concerts and performances staged in the park’s cavernous amphitheatre – a highlight of any weekend break.