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The best things to do in
Manama

Language:   Arabic

Currency: BHD

Sales Tax: 10%

Bahrain is an island nation located in the Persian Gulf. Situated off the northwest coastline of Qatar and the eastern seaboard of the much larger Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is home to over 1.5 million people. Before the discovery of oil, Manama was known for pearl exports as it was one of the key contributors to Bahrain's economy. However, with the oil wealth the country currently enjoys, the relevance of the pearl trade has diminished. Although it is relatively small, (just 268 square miles making it the third smallest nation in Asia) Bahrain is a rising tourist destination.

The country’s capital, Manama, is a gorgeous, modern Arabic city similar to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Skyscrapers and high-rise buildings dominate Bahrain’s skyline. The city is home to a number of historical sites and museums that share the culture of the nation with visitors. Perhaps the most well-known event travelers will be familiar with prior to visiting Bahrain is the Grand Prix. Since the inaugural race in 2004, the Bahrain GP attracts tourists to the country every year to see the event.

Bahrain is still a relatively under-visited country. However, thanks to some extraordinary sites and attractions, the country will likely see more people than ever in the future.

Some of the best things to do in Manama

National Theatre of Bahrain

National Theatre of Bahrain

The National Theatre of Bahrain, is a cultural landmark and a beacon of artistic excellence in the Gulf region. Officially inaugurated in November 2012, this state-of-the-art facility stands as one of the largest theaters in the Middle East, reflecting Bahrain's commitment to cultural development and international arts.

Inspired by traditional Arabian dhow sails, the theater's striking architectural design seamlessly blends modernity with heritage. It features an expansive glass façade that offers stunning views of the surrounding lagoon. Inside, the theater boasts a grand auditorium with a seating capacity of over 1,000, equipped with cutting-edge acoustics and lighting systems that enhance the experience of every performance, from operas and ballets to symphonies and theatrical productions.

The theater provides a rich and varied cultural experience for tourists and art enthusiasts. It regularly hosts performances by internationally acclaimed artists and prestigious productions from around the world, contributing to Bahrain's growing reputation as a cultural hub. The theater's diverse program also includes local and regional talent, offering visitors a chance to explore the rich artistic traditions of the Arab world.

Bahrain World Trade Center

Bahrain World Trade Center

The Bahrain World Trade Center (BWTC) is a striking symbol of modern innovation and architectural excellence in the heart of Manama. Completed in 2008, this iconic twin-tower complex stands 240 meters tall. It is renowned for its unique design, which integrates three massive wind turbines, making it the first skyscraper in the world to incorporate wind turbines into its structure.

Designed by the architectural firm Atkins, the BWTC's sail-like shape is inspired by Bahrain's maritime heritage, evoking the image of traditional Arabian dhow sails. The integration of sustainable technology enhances its aesthetic appeal and underscores Bahrain's commitment to renewable energy. The wind turbines, which are capable of generating up to 15% of the building's energy needs highlight the BWTC as a pioneering project in eco-friendly skyscraper design.

The Bahrain World Trade Center is more than just an architectural marvel; it is a bustling hub of business and commerce. The complex comprises two 50-story towers with high-end offices, luxury shopping outlets, and a five-star hotel. The connecting bridge between the towers offers exclusive retail and dining experiences, providing a perfect blend of work and leisure.

Bahrain National Museum

Bahrain National Museum

Opened in 1988, the Bahrain National Museum is one of the oldest museums in the country. The two buildings that make up the National Museum contain a variety of historical artifacts from the region. The museum showcases around 5,000 years of Bahrain’s history. Car lovers must see the 1932 Buick donated by Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa. The gorgeous, fully restored car was a gift from the United States government.

Bab Al Bahrain

Bab Al Bahrain

Bab Al Bahrain (Gateway to Bahrain) is a historic landmark located at the entrance of the Manama Souq. Built in 1949 by Sir Charles Belgrave, the advisor to the Emir, Bab Al Bahrain originally served as the main gateway to the city and housed various government offices.

The building's architecture blends traditional Islamic design and colonial influences, featuring grand arches and intricate detailing. Over the years, Bab Al Bahrain has undergone several restorations, the most significant being in the 1980s, when modern additions were removed to restore its original splendor.

Today, it stands as a symbol of Bahrain's rich history and cultural heritage, welcoming visitors to explore the vibrant souq and the old parts of Manama. Beyond being a historical monument, the building is a bustling hub of activity. The surrounding area is home to the Manama Souq, one of Bahrain's oldest and most famous markets.

Manama Souq

Manama Souq

Manama Souq, located in the heart of Bahrain's capital, is a bustling marketplace that offers a captivating blend of tradition and modernity. Stepping into the souq, visitors are greeted by a labyrinth of narrow alleyways lined with a diverse array of shops and stalls, each brimming with goods that reflect the region's rich cultural heritage.

The souq is renowned for its eclectic mix of products, including traditional crafts, spices, textiles, perfumes, jewelry, and electronics. The vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by the lively haggling between shopkeepers and customers, the aromatic scents of exotic spices, and the colorful merchandise displays. Manama Souq is not just a shopping destination but a cultural experience that immerses visitors in the authentic sights, sounds, and scents of Bahrain.

Beyond its commercial allure, Manama Souq holds significant historical and cultural value. It has been a central hub of trade and social interaction for centuries, reflecting Bahrain's role as a key trading port in the Gulf region. The souq also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, adding to its dynamic and festive ambiance.

Driving Experiences at Bahrain International Circuit

Driving Experiences at Bahrain International Circuit

The Bahrain International Circuit offers opportunities for members of the public to drive different cars at the circuit. These include race cars like the Radical SR1 as well as street cars like the Jaguar F-Type, The Jaguar Experience gives car enthusiasts the chance to take the wheel of a Jaguar F-Type on a GP circuit.

Designed by Jaguar’s driving team and led by an official Jaguar instructor, the driving experience gives participants a hands-on F-Type experience. The Jaguar instructor will sit shotgun; giving drivers expert advice and tips to ensure safety. Following the 15-minute session, the instructor will take over and speed around the circuit on a ‘hot lap’ to ensure an unforgettable experience.

Car enthusiasts looking for something a little different can take a passenger ride in a dragster that travels a quarter mile in just 8 seconds.

Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve

Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve

The Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve was established by the Bahraini government to preserve wildlife from the Middle East. It is one of the only nature reserve projects in the entire Middle East, and Bahrain’s government hopes other Arabic nations will follow suit. Visitors will see a variety of animals from the region including the oryx, addax, and rhim gazelle.

Coral Bay

Coral Bay

Travelers looking to cool off can dive into the waters of Coral Bay. Whether it is scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, or water skiing, explorers can enjoy a relaxing day in the waters of the Persian Gulf. The average yearly high temperature in Bahrain is 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. It can get rather warm, so finding a place to cool off and participate in watersports can be refreshing and fun.

Al Fateh Grand Mosque

Al Fateh Grand Mosque

In the spirit of Bahrain's desire to modernize while holding firm on traditional Islamic and Arab characteristics, this beautifully designed mosque has Italian marble, stained glass, and teak wood decorative features. Attached to a center for Quranic studies, the Grand Mosque is a beautiful space for those practicing the Islamic faith while letting non-Muslims learn more about its practices and traditions.

La Fontaine Centre for Contemporary Art

Dating back 150 years, this monument is another Bahraini destination that brings several different aesthetics and cultural characteristics into one place. With the skeleton makeup of a European chateau but the design characteristics of the gulf area, the center provides an all-around experience for the senses. With several contemporary art galleries and an open-air amphitheater, you can properly immerse yourself in the exhibits before dining in its restaurant, enjoying the spa, or taking a Pilates class.

Bahrain is a rising travel destination. The continued increase in the number of tourists shows just how exciting and interesting Bahrain is today. While Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha are better known Middle-Eastern tourist destinations, Manama is a sleeping giant that wows visitors year-round.

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Machboos

Local Favorite: Machboos

Bahrain's most famous food is known as machboos. The dish is so widely eaten across Bahrain that it has been deemed the country's national dish. Machboos comes from the heavy influence of Persian and Indian biryanis but adds a flavor distinct to Bahrain. When making machboos, the cook reuses water previously used to cook fish or meat to spice the rice. This method gives the rice a flavor that blends all of the machboos spices for optimal taste. machboos can be made with lamb, fish, chicken, or beef. It is common for Bahraini families to eat machboos on Friday for lunch. Like other dishes from the Middle East, variations of the recipe are made all over the region to fit the tastebuds of specific countries.

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