Manama, the bustling capital city of Bahrain, is a vibrant metropolis known for its rich history, diverse culture, and modern skyline. For those pondering things to do in Manama, exploring the Bahrain National Museum, which offers a deep dive into the country’s past and culture, and visiting the Al-Fateh Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, are top activities.
The city’s lively Bab el-Bahrain Souq offers a traditional market experience, with numerous vendors selling spices, textiles, and handicrafts. Nearby, the Bahrain World Trade Center stands as an architectural marvel, with its wind turbines showcasing a commitment to sustainable development.
Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Manama is also renowned for its culinary scene, with numerous restaurants serving Bahraini and international cuisine. For those seeking the best places to visit in Bahrain, Manama’s blend of ancient history, cultural richness, and modern amenities makes it a must-visit destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Manama, Bahrain
1. Bahrain National Museum
The Bahrain National Museum in Manama stands as a testament to Bahrain’s rich cultural heritage and history, showcasing artifacts from the Dilmun civilization that thrived on the island thousands of years ago, along with Islamic manuscripts and traditional crafts.
Travel Tip: Allocate at least a couple of hours to thoroughly explore the museum and don’t miss the traditional shops inside for unique souvenirs.
2. Al-Fateh Grand Mosque
Al-Fateh Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world, capable of accommodating over 7,000 worshippers. The mosque is open to visitors of all faiths and offers guided tours that provide an insight into Islamic culture and architectural heritage.
Travel Tip: Ensure you visit during non-prayer times and dress conservatively; women are required to cover their heads, and clothing covering arms and legs is necessary for all.
3. Bahrain Fort (Qal’at al-Bahrain)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Bahrain Fort is an archaeological site that contains the remnants of past civilizations, including the ancient Dilmun and the Portuguese in the 16th century. The site also offers stunning views of the Manama skyline.
Travel Tip: Visit during the late afternoon or early evening to enjoy the cooler temperatures and a beautiful sunset over the fort.
4. Manama Souq
The Manama Souq is a bustling marketplace where you can experience the vibrancy of Arabian commerce. It’s a place to find everything from gold and spices to local handicrafts and electronics.
Travel Tip: Be ready to haggle for the best price, it’s part of the experience and expected in the souq.
5. Bahrain International Circuit
For motorsport enthusiasts, the Bahrain International Circuit is a state-of-the-art racing track that is the proud host of the Bahrain Grand Prix. The venue offers tours and driving experiences in professional racing vehicles.
Travel Tip: Check the event calendar before visiting; you might have the chance to watch a race or even book a track experience on off-race days.
6. Tree of Life
The Tree of Life in Bahrain is a natural wonder, a lone mesquite tree that stands in the middle of the desert, miles away from any other vegetation. It is estimated to be over 400 years old and is a unique and mystical sight to behold.
Travel Tip: Since it’s located in a remote area, make sure to bring water and protection from the sun, and possibly visit as part of a guided tour.
7. Bahrain National Theatre
The Bahrain National Theatre is an architectural masterpiece and a venue for a variety of cultural performances. It’s the third largest opera house in the Arab world and has hosted numerous international acts.
Travel Tip: Plan ahead and book tickets for a performance during your stay to experience the acoustic brilliance of the theatre.
8. Bab Al Bahrain
Bab Al Bahrain is the historical gateway to Manama, located at the entrance of the Manama Souq. It has been the center of major trade activities and continues to serve as a commercial and cultural hub.
Travel Tip: Visit the tourist information center located here before exploring the souq for helpful maps and recommendations.
9. The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park
The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park is one of the largest in the Middle East, offering a refreshing escape with a variety of water rides, slides, and wave pools designed to mimic the ancient Dilmun period, from which Bahrain draws much of its historical significance.
Travel Tip: Visit during the weekdays to enjoy fewer crowds and consider renting a private cabana for a comfortable family experience.
10. The Royal Camel Farm
The Royal Camel Farm is a unique attraction that allows visitors to get up close with hundreds of camels, learning about their importance in the Gulf region’s history and economy. The farm provides a family-friendly excursion and offers insight into these fascinating animals.
Travel Tip: The farm is free to enter, but bring some loose change to purchase feed for the camels, making for a memorable experience.
11. Bahrain Financial Harbour
Bahrain Financial Harbour is a modern waterfront development that symbolizes Bahrain’s rapid economic growth. It houses numerous businesses, but also offers dining, shopping, and leisure activities.
Travel Tip: Take a walk along the harbour during the evening for a beautiful view of the skyline, especially when the buildings are illuminated.
12. Arad Fort
Arad Fort is a 15th-century fort in the town of Arad, near Manama. The fort is made of traditional Islamic architecture with an impressive display of defensive strategies of the time.
Travel Tip: The fort looks particularly magical at night when it’s lit up, making it a perfect backdrop for photographers.
13. Bahraini Farmers Market
For a taste of local life, the Bahraini Farmers Market offers a wide variety of fresh produce and is a lively place to experience the local culture.
Travel Tip: Go early in the morning for the best selection of fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies, and don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with the vendors for a more authentic experience.
FAQ About Things to Do in Manama, Bahrain
What are some must-visit places in Manama, Bahrain?
Manama is known for the Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Grand Mosque, Bahrain Fort, and Manama Souq for a taste of local culture and history. The modern Bahrain Financial Harbour and the Bahrain World Trade Center are also notable landmarks.
Can visitors experience pearl diving in Manama?
Yes, Bahrain has a rich history of pearl diving, and there are organized tours that allow visitors to experience pearl diving and even keep any pearls they find as souvenirs.
Is the Al Fateh Grand Mosque open to non-Muslim visitors?
Non-Muslim visitors are welcome to visit Al Fateh Grand Mosque outside of prayer times. Guided tours are often available to introduce visitors to the architecture and practices of Islamic faith.
What family-friendly activities are available in Manama?
Families can enjoy the Adhari Park, which is an amusement park with rides and games, the Wahooo! Waterpark for water-based fun, and the Bahrain National Zoo for a diverse range of wildlife.
Are there any cultural events or festivals in Manama that tourists can attend?
Manama hosts the annual Bahrain International Music Festival, the Spring of Culture festival, and the Bahrain Grand Prix for Formula One, each offering a unique experience of the country’s culture and entertainment.
What are some good shopping destinations in Manama?
The Manama Souq offers traditional markets and modern shopping experiences at the City Centre Bahrain mall, which houses international retail chains and local boutiques.
Can tourists visit the Bahrain Fort?
Absolutely, the Bahrain Fort, also known as Qal’at al-Bahrain, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is open to tourists. It provides a historical journey through Bahrain’s rich past and offers stunning views at sunset.
What dining experiences should not be missed in Manama?
Manama’s culinary scene is diverse, ranging from traditional Bahraini cuisine at local eateries to fine dining at upscale restaurants. Seafood is a specialty, and many restaurants offer a view of the Persian Gulf while you dine.