Manama (Arabic: المنامة, transliteration: al-Manāma) is the capital and largest city of Bahrain with an approximate population of 157,000 people, roughly a quarter of the country's population.
Manama emerged as the capital of independent Bahrain after periods of domination by Portugal and Persians. Today, it is a modern capital with an economy based on the sales promotion industry as crude oil takes a less pronounced role in the economy.
Bahrain Public Transport operate a network of bus routes across the city, with route A1 linking the airport and Manama every 20 minutes.
As of September 2019, a paper single ticket bought on the bus costs 300 fils, or there is a "pay as you go" option using a Go Card (card price 500 fils, sold at ticket machines including at the airport, then load with credit up to BD 50 maximum, but note that credit you load is not refundable) which reduces the fare for a single trip to 250 fils and offers a daily cap of 600 fils. Transfers are not offered (a fare is charged on each bus), and there are no discounts for children, students or elderly people.
Weekly passes (BD 3) and "monthly" 28-day passes (BD 12) are available, but these can only be issued on a Personalised Go Card sold at bus terminal ticket offices, not the anonymous card sold at ticket machines.
Taxis are expensive. Extra charges are added to fares starting from the airport (BD 2) and any hotel (BD 1). Always use the meter or you will, guaranteed, get ripped off. A ride to the central parts of city will cost around BD 5-6.
Renting a car is far less costly than paying for taxis, but beware of driving styles you might not be used to in your home country. Manama is a small city on a small Island, you won't get lost for very long. Make sure to buy a map: it should cost BD 0.50-1.00.
- 1 Bab Al Bahrain. 8AM-noon and 4:30PM-6PM. The Gateway of Bahrain, located in the Customs Square in Central Manama. The ground floor houses the tourist information office and a handicraft shop. Sightseeing bus tours depart from here daily at 9:30AM and 3:30PM.
- 2 Manama Souq (Behind Bab Al Bahrain building). 10AM-1PM and 4PM-9PM. The souq is network of small lanes that houses small stores selling everything from souvenirs and gifts to electronic products. The souq is also home to many gold and jewelry shops and tailors.
- 3 Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Jufair. One of the largest mosques in the world, capable of accommodating over 7,000 worshippers at a time and is the largest place of worship in Bahrain. It is also one of the top tourist attractions in Bahrain. The dome is the world's largest fibreglass dome and weighs over 60,000 kg. Al-Fateh includes the National Library which opened to the public in 2006. Tours are available in English and you are allowed to take pictures.
- 4 Corniche al-Fateh. On the east coast of the city, this pleasant seaside promenade offers good views of the skyscrapers to the south and planes taking off from the airport nearby. Plenty of fun fair rides for the kids and shisha bars for the older set.
- 5 Museum of Pearl Diving. Considered to be the most important historic building in Bahrain, it is the first official center for Bahrain Courts. The building was inaugurated by H.H. Sh. Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the past Governor of Bahrain in 1937. At that time the building comprised of four Supreme Courts, and three Directorates. In 1984 the building was transformed into a Traditional Heritage Center. The Museum of Pearl Diving is under the control of Directorate of Archaeology and Heritage, one of the major Directorates of Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Information.
- 6 [dead link] Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Highway, ☏ . 8AM-8PM. Natural and cultural history of Bahrain.
- 7 Bahrain Fort. 8AM to 8PM. Bahrain Fort, on the island’s north coast, was built in the 14th century but excavations have revealed it was built on the site of Dilmun settlements, dating back to 3,000 BC. Renovated, and with new lighting at night, the Fort is an outstanding example of Bahrain’s varied and ancient history. Bahrain Fort, known in Arabic as Qalat Al Bahrain, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
- 8 [dead link] Bahrain Fort Museum (Qal'at al-Bahrain site museum). The first building comprises an exhibition hall and a child learning and training room whereas the second is made up of a conference hall, a cafe overlooking the sea, offices, a technicians suite and a dormitory for archeologists.
- 9 Barbar Temple. This is an archaeological site located in the village of Barbar. Three temples have been discovered there, the oldest dating back to 3000 BC. The temples were thought to have been constructed to worship gods, as it contains two altars and a natural water spring. During its excavation tools, weapons, pottery, and many small pieces of gold were discovered.
- 10 Bait al Quran. Islamic museum, library and art complex. It is paricularly famous for its collection of rare Qur'anic manuscripts from different periods, and from different parts of the Muslim world.
Manama is a getaway for Arabs and expats residing in Arab countries where alcohol is banned. Tourists, particularly Saudis and residents of Saudi Arabia, come to Bahrain mainly for the nightlife.
- Dolphin Watching, ☏ . Take a boat trip and you can watch the dolphins and manatees playing in the warm Gulf waters, and see local fisherman head out in traditional wooden dhows to catch the prized local hammour - a type of grouper. Dolphin watch trips take place three times daily. BD 6 for adults, BD 3 for children under 12 years..
- Scuba Diving, Bahrain Yacht Club & Al Bandar resort, ☏ , .
- Horse riding, Saar, ☏ , . For anyone wanting riding lessons or an occasional hack, the Twin Palms Riding School and the Dilmun Club are good places to start.
- Horse racing. Arabia is famous for its horses. The national racecourse at Al Sakhir hosts races every Friday from October to March. The grandstand holds up to 3,000 spectators and entry is free. Betting is prohibited.
- Pearl Diving. Bahrain is also famous for its pearls. Try your hand at pearl diving and maybe take home one of these natural gems of the sea.
- Bird Watching, Hawar Islands, Boats depart from Ad Dur Jetty, ☏ . 10AM daily. The Kingdom and the Hawar Islands are a haven for native and migratory birds including flamingos, bulbuls, ospreys and sooty falcons. Any twitchers are strongly advised to take the 20 km boat trip to the islands.
- Ice Skating The only ring in town is located at the Fun-land centre along the Marina corniche.
- 1 Manama Souq. Manama Souq should not be missed by any visitor.
- 2 Al A'Ali Mall, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, Seef District, ☏ . Sa-F 10AM-10PM. A'ali Mall has the look and feel of a traditional open air souk within its air-conditioned confines. A glass roof, stores with old-fashioned Arabic wooden doors and carts selling souvenirs all add to the atmosphere. Outlets include top designer stores.
- 3 City Centre Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, Seef District, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-W 10AM-10PM. Bahrain City Centre is the first and biggest mixed-use development in Bahrain offering the shopping, leisure and entertainment experience to its customers under one roof. Bahrain City Centre has 150 of its over 350 internationally reputed brands making their debut in the country. The centre includes the region’s first indoor/outdoor temperature-controlled 15,000-m² Wahooo! Waterpark, Bahrain’s biggest cinema complex Cineco 20, and a family entertainment centre for children and young adults, Magic Planet. Over 50 food court outlets offer choices from all over the world.
- 4 The Bahrain Mall, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. F-Th 10AM-10PM. The Bahrain Mall is situated in the heart of Bahrain's new retail district. It is easily accessible from the main highway and all parts of the city. It covers an area of 750,000 square feet and has more than 120 international brands and specialty stores.
- 5 Dana Mall, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway, Seef District, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. F-Th 10AM-10PM.
- 6 Moda Mall, located on the ground floor of the landmark Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC), Diplomatic Area. Sa-F 10AM-10PM. Moda Mall is an ultra-exclusive shopping complex located on the ground floor of the landmark Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC). The mall is home to some 160 exclusive brand name boutiques, including lots of famous international ones.
- 7 Seef Mall, Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway / Seef District, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 10AM-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-midnight. Magic Island, the largest indoor amusement park in the Middle East, is located on the first floor.
- 8 Yateem Centre, Manama Downtown, Diplomatice Area (To get to Yateem Centre, approach the Suq from Government Avenue, under Zamil Tower and follow the road in. Air Arabia on the corner announces that you have arrived at the Yateem Centre.), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Management Office Su-Th 9AM-1PM, 2PM-5:30PM.
- 9 Al Murjan Shopping Center, Jufair. Many stores in a large supermarket.
- 10 Juffair Mall. Mall in the centre of the Juffair residential area, has the regular shops as well as some restaurants, an atm and a taxi stand.
Restaurants in Manama run the gamut from cheap shawarma joints to 5-star restaurants.
Cheap restaurants abound in the Adliya district.
- 1 Al-Abraaj, Adliya St. Perfect introduction for non-Arab folks to become accustomed to the Middle Eastern hospitality charm. Food is generous and tasty, and primarily from Lebanese/Turkish and Persian cuisines. Good value at BD 2-4 per head.
- 2 Al-Suraj. The second-best shwarma in Bahrain for only 300 fils.
- 3 Habara Snacks & Fish, Osama bin Zaid Ave, Adliya, ☏ . Great diner that cheerfully serves cheap fish and chips and other assorted snacks.
- 4 Bahay Kubo, Bldg 822, Rd 723, Area 307, Gudiyabia (Behind the Middle East Hotel and across from the Indian), ☏ . Daily from 10:30AM to 10:00PM. Traditional style Filipino restaurant for dine in, take out and delivery. Bahay Kubo also offers a private function room with karaoke less than BD 5.
- 5 Café Lilou's, ☏ . Sa-Th 8AM-11PM, F 10AM-10:30PM. Paris style interiors, popular with ex-pats and locals. Excellent French-café fare, including large salads and delicious cakes. Caters for groups, take out, cateringservices, outdoor seating. Breakfast,lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks US$10-30.
- 6 Lanterns, ☏ , . An atmospheric Indian restaurant with great food and lovely decor next to Burgerland Roundabout in Budaiya.
- Nando's (Portuguese), Adliya, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Restaurant chain serving Mozambiquan cuisine, multiple restaurants.
- 7 Senor Pacos, Um Al Hassam (Oasis Mall), ☏ . An atmospheric Mexican restaurant with great ambience and lovely decor on the Road opposite KFC in Um al Hassam. They have their own guitarist and vocalist singing on most evenings.
- 8 Trader Vic's. Polynesian dining/drinking experience, on the grounds of the Ritz Carlton.
Manama has a busy nightlife by Gulf standards. The main districts are Adliya, Hoora, Juffair and Business District. Many places to drink are in hotels.
- 1 Digger's, Delmont Hotel. Australian-themed sports pub in the downtown. Popular with single male expats.
- 2 Golden Club. Arabic night club featuring Russian girls doing their interpretation of traditional belly dancing.
- 3 Harvesters, King Faisal Highway (Crowne Plaza). Very popular pseudo-British pub offering cold beer, pub grub and a Filipino band distinguished more by the singers' skimpy outfits than musical talent. Beers from BD 2.5.
- 4 JJ's, Building 581, Road 1807 (Al Bustan Hotel). The largest Irish pub in the city.
- 5 Sherlock Holmes (Gulf Hotel). Mock-British pub.
- 6 Warbler's. Expat sports pub. This is a private club, but the bouncers at the door seem more interested in keeping Arabs out than in checking membership cards.
- 7 Wrangler's, Best Western Juffair Hotel. American-themed bar and dance club. Popular with expats and US sailors.
- 8 Buffalo Bar, Avenue 22, Juffair (located in the California Hotel). Busy bar in Juffair, has a residend live band, serves drinks and pub food (burgers, fries, etc.).
- 1 Al Burge Hotel, Municipality Road, ☏ , fax: . Check-in: noon, check-out: 2PM. If cost is more important than comfort for you, then the BD 10 double room with bathroom should make you happy. Do not expect fancy stuff such as quietness or toilet paper, but it is fairly clean and fairly well located, in the street behind Gold City. Do try the bed before taking the room. Single females are not permitted. 10BD.
- 2 Awal Hotel, Al Khalifa Rd. Located in the main commercial & business district, 10 mins drive from the International Airport and a short walking distance from the Bahrain seashore and the upcoming Financial harbor.
- 3 Bahrain International Hotel, Government Avenue Road، Block 304, Building 187, ☏ . Three-star hotel that is of average quality, but in a convenient location for travellers. Free airport transfer, breakfast and wifi. BD 30 single room.
- 4 Gulf Gate Hotel, Manama (10 min drive from Bahrain International Airport), ☏ . 125 rooms and suites. Located in central Manama, the commercial centre of Bahrain. Cafés, a restaurant, night clubs and bar. 2 minutes walk from the main souk and shopping centres. Business centre, gym, restaurants, spa, swimming pool. 24-hr room service, internet, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- 5 Gulf Pearl Hotel, Bldg. 169, Blk. 304 Rd.353, ☏ . A/C rooms and suites equipped with Internet connection, a private toilet and shower, mini-bar, and a cable television. Swimming pool, restaurant/café/bar, fitness room, and a business centre. Best rates on official website start at BD 19.
- 6 Al Safir Hotel, Building 670, Road 2411, Block 324 (Juffair), ☏ . Standard rooms with a choice of twin or double beds. It offers comprehensive business and banqueting facilities, including the latest audio-visual equipment, telephone and UPS points in every room and an inbuilt PA system. The hotel also has two restaurants, a swimming pool and a fitness centre. Babysitting service, bars, business centre, restaurants, swimming pool. 24-hr room service, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- 7 Best Western Olive Hotel, Building No 507, Rd No 2408 (Juffair), ☏ . Best Western Elite Hotel Bahrain is conveniently located just 5 min from downtown shopping complexes and 10 km from Bahrain International Airport. It is also close to the Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre and the US Naval Base. 96 guestrooms are spacious and well furnished with a coffee maker and internet access. 5 outlets for dining and entertainment. Conference and banqueting facilities for up to 140 persons. Health and leisure facilities include a rooftop swimming pool and a fully equipped health and fitness centre. Babysitting services, bars, gym, restaurants, swimming pool. 24-hr room service, mini bar, internet, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- 8 Golden Tulip Bahrain (formerly Hilton Bahrain), Old Palace Rd, ☏ . Standard hotel that maybe in need of a renovation. Rooms are clean and the staff are amiable however the dull façade and decor may be depressing to people who are lodging here for more than a couple of days. One of the few redeeming qualities is that it has the only authentic Japanese restaurant in Bahrain. The hotel was renovated in 2008.
- 9 Mashtan Hotel, Bldg 3578, Rd. 471, Blk. 304, ☏ . A/C rooms with private toilet and bath with shower, high-speed Internet connection, cable TV and mini-bar. Swimming pool, fitness room, business center, and airport transfer.
- 10 Mercure Grand Hotel, Road No 2827 (2 km from the city centre of Manama, and 6 km from Bahrain International Airport), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Recipient of 2007 MENA Travel Awards (Silver Best Four Star Business/Corporate Hotel Category). In the Seef business district. 72 suites and 48 family suites. Nearby to Seef and Al Aali malls. Restaurant, 2 bars, meeting rooms, health club, sauna, steam room, massage facility with gymnasium and a swimming pool. Private parking is available.
- 11 Novotel Al Dana Resort, Shaikh Hamad Causeway (5 km from Bahrain International Airport.), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Traditional Arabic architecture and design with contemporary fittings and comfort. 172 rooms. Close to the diplomatic area and business centre. The hotel offers a variety of restaurants, bars and meeting rooms. Babysitting service, private beach, watersports, swimming pool, fitness centre, kids’ club, kids’ pool. 24-hr room service, internet, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- 12 Pars International Hotel, Juffair, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Located in Juffair's commercial and residential area and overlooking Manama Bay. Standard and deluxe rooms to regal suites. Lobby bar, a disco, Arabic night club. Restaurant and 24 hr coffee shop. Conference and banqueting facilities including a ballroom suitable for functions and accommodating up to 300 people. Swimming pool, sauna, steam room and fitness centre. Parking is available for all guests. Swimming pool, spa, fitness centre, business centre. 24-hr room service, internet, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- 13 Phoenicia Tower Hotel, Building no. 299, Road no. 1910, Block 319, City Center, ☏ . Individually controlled A/C, private toilet and shower with bathtub, cable TV, and internet access. Swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna, fitness room/gym. From US$94.
- 14 Ramada Bahrain, Building 88 Road 351, ☏ . Airport transfers free of charge if you email in advance. Has pool on site but the cleanliness of the pool is questionable.
- 15 Somerset Al Fateh Bahrain, Juffair, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Its 118 apartments, which range from one to three bedroom and four two-bedroom penthouse suites, are furnished with contemporary décor and modern fittings. Wi-Fi is available in the apartment and lobby.
- 16 Swiss International Palace Hotel, Gudaibiya Avenue, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 84 rooms, a variety of dining options and evening venues. Free Wi-Fi is available in the guests’ rooms & public areas. There's an outdoor pool and a gym. From BD 24 per night.
- 17 Crowne Plaza Bahrain (formerly Holiday Inn), King Faisal Highway (Diplomatic Quarter, a few km east of the city center on the road to the airport), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Gracefully aging sprawling low-rise complex. The Astroturf-surrounded pool is rather depressing, and the hotel's main draw seems to be the popular Harvesters pub (see Drink). Largish gym (men and women have separate facilities), decent breakfast, service can be mixed. BD 100.
- 18 Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Bldg 112, King Mohammed VI Ave, Block 428, ☏ . 7 stories of luxurious rooms with a modern design. The Club Lounge restaurant features five different food presentations a day, and includes an American breakfast. Stunning views of the Arabian Gulf from the rooms.
- 19 The Regency InterContinental, King Faisal Highway (10 min from the airport.), ☏ , fax: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon, late check-out available. 321 rooms and a variety of suites, including the Summit, deluxe suites, royal and presidential suites. 5 restaurants offer a range of international and themed cuisine, plus a number of bars with live entertainment. Babysitting services, bars, business centre, gym, kids’ club pool, restaurants, spa, sports facilities, swimming pool, 24-hr room service, internet, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities (on request).
- 20 The Gulf Hotel, Aliya. (15 min from Bahrain International Airport and 5 min from City Centre), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The biggest 5-star hotel on the Island with more than 35 years of experience. Combines luxury, tradition, comfort and service. 366 rooms in total. 12 restaurants, lounges and bars.
- 21 The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa, Road 1701 (10 min from the airport.), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 246 rooms in three styles: Classic, Maritime and Italian. 3 exclusive "Royal Club" executive floors and a variety of suites. Claims to have Bahrain's biggest rooms, fully renovated and all with sea view. Meeting facilities, a selection of restaurants and entertainment options. Babysitting services, bars, business centre, gym, kids’ club,, sports facilities, swimming pool. 24-hr room service, internet, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities.
- Muharraq with world heritage listed places related to the history of pearl diving.
- Burial mounds from the Dilmun culture from the 4th century BC onwards, also on the world heritage list, are to be found around Bahrain but mostly around A'ali, some 10 km southwest of Manama.
- Hawar Islands Are a group of islands situated off the west coast of Qatar in the Gulf of Bahrain of the Persian Gulf. In 2002, Bahrain applied to have the Hawar islands recognised as a World Heritage Site, due to its unique environment and habitat for endangered species. This site is home to many wildlife species and a very interesting place for birdwatchers and divers. Hawar Islands used to be one of the settlements of the Bahraini branch of the Dawasir who settled there in the early 1800s and on the main island of Bahrain in 1845 in the areas of Zallaq and Budaiya.
- Saudi Arabia is just across the King Fahd Causeway — if you have the visa, of course.