The centre of the city is an obvious place to start: here you’ll find Bab Al-Bahrain, the entrance to Manama Souq. You can spend many an hour just wandering around, smelling all sorts of spices and picking up some sweet treats.
You’ll find some fantastic restaurants inside the souq and the surrounding streets such as Haji Gahwa, and often they will be cheaper than expected as they cater to locals rather than just tourists.
If you’re looking for a place to set up base, this is the perfect spot – nearby hotels include Downtown Rotana, the InterContinental and Merchant House.
Next up is the Diplomatic Area in the north-east of the city. This is where most of the government offices, such as the Ministry of Justice, are and a number of banks have offices here.
The area is filled with skyscrapers and very much caters for business types – you’ll find plenty of very expensive restaurants dotted about. This is also a good base for visitors as it’s just a 10 to 15 minute drive from the airport. Hotels in this area include the Crowne Plaza and the Golden Tulip.
Visit any restaurant or bar in Juffair and you’ll almost certainly run into a few American sailors. The US navy base, which is responsible for activities in the Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, is located here.
You’ll find plenty of sports bars and late-night spots here, such as Grand Yard House and CODA Jazz Lounge, with many of these places offering discounts for naval folk. As one of the few areas in Bahrain where foreigners can buy property, Juffair is popular among expats. There’s a thriving restaurant scene serving up fine fare to expats and the navy so you’ll never be too far away from some great food.
Adliya, which is next to Juffair in southern Manama, is a cultural and foodie hotspot. Here you’ll find the best art – both in galleries and spray painted on walls – and the top restaurants. Block 338 is Bahrain’s dining district, playing host to spots such as Gallery 21, Japanese restaurant Meisei and Italian eatery Masso as well as the more casual Blaze Burgers and Café Lilou. Again, this area is incredibly popular with expats so you’ll find lots of bars and clubs to hang out in.
The Sea Front area in northern Manama is home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including the World Trade Centre, the Wyndham Grand and the Four Seasons. In Bahrain Bay you can visit the Blue Moon Lounge on the 50th floor of the Four Seasons for some of the best views of the city, or head across the water to the Avenues mall where you’ll find all kinds of restaurants including IHOP and P.F. Changs.
Seef in north-west Manama is a bit further out than other areas in this guide but still has plenty to offer. The district has one of the few public beaches in Bahrain, Karbabad, and is home to two resort hotels that also have private beaches – the Ritz-Carlton and the Jumeirah Royal Saray.
Seef Mall is the second largest in the kingdom and will satisfy all your shopping needs, while City Centre Bahrain isn’t too far away either. There are some fantastic food spots here such as the Japanese restaurant Bushido and casual eateries NOMAD Urban Eatery and Crust & Crema.
Albareh Art Gallery
Head here for works by great Bahraini artists and by painters from across the entire GCC.
Open Sat-Thu 9.30am-2pm, 4pm-8pm. Road 3601, Adliya (1771 7707).
Al Fateh Grand Mosque
One of the largest mosques in the world, holding up to 7,000 worshippers at a time. There are guided tours, or you can just explore this stunning place of worship on your own.
Open Sat-Thu 9am-4pm. Awal Avenue Corner, Al Fatih Highway (1772 7773).
Bahrain City Centre
This mall has everything you could need retail-wise, and more. It’s also home to Wahooo! Waterpark.
Open daily 10am-midnight. Road 4650 (1717 7771).
Bahrain National Museum
This massive history museum covers everything from the Dilmun civilisation until the modern day.
Open daily 8am-8pm. Shaikh Hamad Causeway, Manama (1729 8777).
This centre is dedicated to the Islamic arts and has a museum, library, and a mosque.
Open Sat-Wed, 9am-1pm, 4pm-6pm; Thu, 9am-1pm. Hoora, Manama (1729 0101).
Sample the sights and smells of a traditional Arabian bazaar. Give bartering a go or pick up some local food.
Open 24 hours. Manama Centre (no number).
This huge waterpark is located inside Bahrain City Centre, and is well worth a visit if you’re here with kids.
Open Mon-Wed 11am-8pm; Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-9pm. BHD12 (adults), BHD8 (children). Bahrain City Centre (1717 3000).