Manama City Guide

Manama City Guide
Quick Facts
Known Names:
Population:Approx. 157,474
Religion:Islam (most common)
Area Code:+973
Currency:Bahraini Dinar (BHD)
Time Zone:Arabian Standard Time (AST) - UTC/GMT +3 hours

General Information / Guide

Manama, the capital and largest city of Bahrain, is a cosmopolitan metropolis that serves as the country's political, economic, and cultural hub. Located on the northeastern tip of Bahrain Island, in the Persian Gulf, Manama has a rich history that dates back to ancient times, with its roots in the Dilmun civilization. Today, it is a modern financial center known for its diverse cultural landscape, with a mix of Arabic and Persian influences, alongside a significant expatriate community. The city offers numerous attractions as the traditional Manama Souq, offering a taste of local life and goods, and the Bahrain National Museum, which showcases the region's history and art. Manama's skyline is dotted with modern skyscrapers, reflecting its booming economy based largely on banking and finance. 


Climate / Weather / When to Go

Manama experiences a desert climate, marked by hot summers and mild winters. The best period to visit Manama extends from December to March when temperatures fluctuate between 15°C and 25°C. This season provides a pleasant atmosphere for outdoor activities, enabling tourists to delve into the city's sites and culture comfortably, away from the extreme heat prevalent in the summer months.


How to Get There

Bahrain International Airport (BAH), located approximately 7 km northeast of Manama city center, is the main gateway to the Kingdom of Bahrain. This airport connects travelers to various global destinations and offers multiple transportation options for reaching downtown Manama.
Taxis are available right outside the terminal, offering a quick and direct service to the city center with an average travel time of about 15 minutes. The fare typically ranges from BHD 5 to 7 (USD 13-18), providing a prompt yet somewhat expensive option. For those seeking an alternative, ride-sharing services like Uber are operational, with fares usually a bit lower, around BHD 4 to 6 (USD 10-16).
Public transport options include buses, which offer a more economical route to the city. The journey takes roughly 30-45 minutes, with fares ranging from BHD 0.5 to 1 (USD 1.3-2.6), making it a budget-friendly but slower choice.
Car rental agencies are at the airport for travelers who prefer having their own vehicle. The drive to Manama's city center is short, and rental prices vary based on the vehicle type and rental period. A valid driver's license is required.


Food / Restaurants / What to Eat and Drink

Manama, the capital city of Bahrain, is a melting pot of diverse culinary influences, offering a wide range of dishes to please any palate. The city's cuisine reflects a blend of Arabic, Persian, Indian, and even Western culinary traditions.
Seafood plays a significant role in Bahraini cuisine, with dishes like machboos, a fragrant rice dish seasoned with baharat spice mix and served with fish or meat. Another must-try is the traditional Bahraini breakfast of balaleet, sweet vermicelli noodles with savory omelet.
For a taste of local beverages, don't miss out on trying gahwa, Arabian coffee, often served with dates. Manama's modern cafes and traditional coffee shops provide the perfect setting to enjoy this aromatic drink.
Dessert lovers will delight in halwa showaiter, a sticky, sweet treat made from cornstarch, saffron, and nuts. This dessert is a staple in Bahraini households and a must-try for visitors.
For an authentic dining experience, visit Block 338, a vibrant dining district offering everything from upscale restaurants to charming cafes, or the traditional souq areas for street food.


Important Places / Places to Visit

  • Al Fateh Grand Mosque: As one of the largest mosques in the world, Al Fateh Grand Mosque is a stunning example of Islamic architecture, open to visitors seeking to learn about Bahrain's religious practices and architectural beauty.
  • Bahrain National Museum: Explore Bahrain's rich history and cultural heritage at the Bahrain National Museum, where ancient artifacts and contemporary art pieces tell the story of the island's past and present.
  • Bahrain Fort: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bahrain Fort (Qal'at al-Bahrain) offers insights into the ancient Dilmun civilization and picturesque views at sunset.
  • Manama Souq: Dive into the bustling lanes of Manama Souq for a traditional shopping experience. Here, you can find everything from spices and sweets to gold and textiles.
  • Tree of Life: Standing alone in the desert, the Tree of Life is a natural wonder believed to be over 400 years old. Its survival in harsh conditions has made it a symbol of resilience and a popular attraction.


What to Do

Manama invites visitors to experience its blend of modernity and tradition. Start your journey at the Bahrain National Museum for a dose of culture and history. Explore the architectural wonder of Al Fateh Grand Mosque and understand the religious significance of the region.
Wander through the Manama Souq to shop for traditional goods and savor local flavors. Visit the ancient Bahrain Fort at sunset for breathtaking views and a glimpse into the island's history.
For relaxation, enjoy the beautiful beaches of Bahrain or indulge in luxury at one of the city's many spas. The vibrant nightlife and diverse culinary scene in areas like Adliya and Block 338 offer a perfect way to end your day in Manama.


Nightlife / Bars / Entertainment

Manama's nightlife is as vibrant and diverse as its culture, offering a wide array of options for every taste. From the buzzing Adliya district, with its eclectic mix of bars and clubs, to the luxurious lounges in Juffair, Manama is a city that never sleeps. Music lovers can enjoy live bands ranging from traditional Arabic music to contemporary Western hits. Key spots like JJ's Irish Restaurant or the Bushido Lounge provide a perfect blend of atmosphere and entertainment, catering to both casual gatherings and upscale evenings out.
Craft beer enthusiasts will appreciate the selection at places like The Tap Room, while those looking for a unique night out can explore the city's array of rooftop bars, offering stunning views of the Arabian Gulf. Boat parties and beach clubs along the coast add a distinctive touch to Manama's nightlife, promising memorable experiences under the starlit sky. For a local experience, do not miss out on a traditional Bahraini café, where you can enjoy shisha and live music.


Shopping / What to Buy

Manama presents a shopping experience that ranges from traditional markets to modern malls, embodying the city's blend of the old and new. The Bahrain City Centre and Seef Mall cater to those looking for international brands and contemporary fashion, while the Bab Al Bahrain souk offers a more traditional shopping experience, with stalls selling spices, fabrics, and handicrafts unique to Bahrain.
For a taste of local craftsmanship, seek out Bahraini pearls, renowned for their quality, or explore the vibrant gold souk for exquisite jewelry. The Manama Souq is also a treasure trove for antiques, perfumes, and Arabic sweets, providing a sensory delight for shoppers.
Remember to bargain in traditional markets, and consider visiting during the cooler months for a more comfortable experience. With a mix of luxury and tradition, Manama's shopping scene truly has something for everyone.


Festivals/ Events

January: Bahrain International Music Festival, celebrating global and local music talents.
February: Spring of Culture, offering a range of cultural performances and exhibitions.
April: Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, a premier event for motorsports enthusiasts.
October: Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference, a significant event in the global defense industry.
November: Bahrain International Airshow, featuring breathtaking aerial displays and aviation innovations.
December: National Day Festivities, marking the kingdom's independence with fireworks, concerts, and cultural events.


Holidays / Festivals / Important Days

1 January: New Year's Day
1 May: Labour Day
16 December: National Day, commemorating Bahrain's independence.
Eid al-Fitr: Celebrating the end of Ramadan with feasts and family gatherings.
Eid al-Adha: The Festival of Sacrifice, observed with communal prayers and social charity.
Islamic New Year: Marked by reflections and religious observances.


Things to Pay Attention to / Important Information

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.
The Bahraini Dinar (BHD) is the currency, and ATMs and exchange services are readily available.
Public behavior is governed by respect for local customs; modest dress and discretion are appreciated.
Tipping is customary but not mandatory, with 10% being a standard gesture in restaurants and for services.
Alcohol consumption is permitted in licensed venues; however, public intoxication is frowned upon.
Smoking is restricted in public areas, with designated smoking zones in some places.
Understanding these nuances can enhance your visit, making your stay in Manama both enjoyable and respectful of local traditions.



Manama's transportation network facilitates easy exploration of the city. Public buses serve major routes and landmarks, offering an affordable way to get around. Taxis and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Careem are readily available, providing convenient door-to-door service. For those looking to experience Manama from a different perspective, boat tours around Bahrain Bay offer scenic views of the city skyline.
Renting a car is another option, giving visitors the flexibility to explore at their own pace, though it's important to be mindful of local driving customs and regulations.
For short distances, walking can be a pleasant way to discover Manama's districts, especially during the cooler months, allowing visitors to soak in the city's vibrant atmosphere firsthand.

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