Kuwait Travel Guide

Seldom celebrated as a tourist destination in a region otherwise overflowing with historical sites, Kuwait is a small, friendly country on the Persian Gulf with a modern capital of the same name.

Having been the focus of the first Gulf War in 1991, the country has escaped the violence of the more recent war in its neighbor Iraq and remains a mostly safe destination for tourists and more frequently, business people. Budget travelers though are likely to find Kuwait an expensive shock to the system.

When to Go

Kuwait has a dry, desert climate and is very hot for most of the year.

The short winters from December to February are cooler. Short but intense rain showers are common from October to April, while during the rest of the year, the country sees strong sunshine and hot temperatures along with regular sandstorms.

Getting There & Away

Like a number of wealthy Middle Eastern city-states, Kuwait is a major hub for air travel with connections to many destinations in the region as well as to Europe and the Far East. Gulf Air is the national carrier.

Traveling overland to Kuwait is problematic given the situation in Iraq, but it is possible to enter the country via its only other neighbour, Saudi Arabia. Boats also navigate the Persian Gulf between Kuwait and nearby Iran. There is no rail system in the country so all overland travel is by car or bus, which is generally convenient given the high quality of the roads and the flatness of the terrain.

Health & Safety

Since the liberation of Kuwait at the beginning of 1991, Kuwait has remained largely insulated from the troubles of neighboring Iraq. The country has very low levels of crime and is spared the potential safety hazards posed by alcohol and illegal drugs given the very harsh stance taken against any forms of intoxication. Nevertheless, Kuwaitis are extremely reckless drivers, even in the absence of alcohol. The health system is generally good and the tap water drinkable.

Food & Hospitality

Kuwait City is well-versed in looking after businesspeople and is therefore home to a number of international hotel chains offering a high quality of service at a similarly high price—this is your chance to live like a sheikh. Budget travelers will find accommodation here expensive. The city offers a good selection of food from around the world, with Iranian and Lebanese food among the most popular. Kuwaiti cafés are a great place to hang out, drink tea and smoke a Middle Eastern pipe. Alcohol is banned in Kuwait on religious grounds so those looking for beer-fuelled beach holidays might like to look elsewhere.

Itineraries

  • Three days shopping and sightseeing in Kuwait City
  • Two days on Failaka Island
  • One day on the rides at Entertainment City

Additional time

  • Two days of water sports at Khiran Island

Highlights

Kuwait City: a modern capital built on the back of the country’s oil wealth, Kuwait City is a mix of expensive hotels and good, tax-free shopping.

Failaka Island: Kuwait’s most historic spot dating back to the days of Alexander the Great. The island’s temple is its highlight.

Khiran Island: one hundred kilometers south of Kuwait City, this resort town offers chalet accommodation on the seafront and a variety of water sports.

Entertainment City: Disneyland Kuwait-style, this theme park has been repaired after the Iraqi invasion and boasts more than 40 rides including a rollercoaster.

Activities

Shopping: the mix of modern malls and more traditional markets make tax-free Kuwait a good destination for shopping freaks.

Pearl diving: experience one of Kuwait’s traditional pearl-diving festivals, a celebration of the industry that provided the country with its main source of income before the oil boom.

Water sports: it may not be cheap, but water sports including sailing, jet-skiing and diving are popular in Kuwait.

Camel racing: they may be a bit on the smelly side and make some terrifying noises, but camel racing is ever popular here. Most tourists will be satisfied with a quick sit on one for the sole purpose of a photo however.