The capital of the Arabian Gulf state of Bahrain, Manama has more than enough to keep you entertained for a day. Occupying Bahrain island’s northeastern tip, its attractions span everything from futuristic skyscrapers and traditional souks to desert wonders and extreme water sports. Here’s how to enjoy a memorable day in the city.
Start by discovering Manama on a morning city tour—its sights are widely dispersed, and with public transport limited, a tour is the easiest way to explore without a rental car or long walks in the heat. Tours typically cover the modern Al-Fateh Mosque, 16th-century Bahrain Fort, Bahrain National Museum, the old Muharraq Souk, and other highlights. If you fancy traveling in style and cherry-picking the sights, opt for a half- or full-day private tour with a flexible itinerary that covers the main landmarks in the comfort of a private, deluxe 4WD or minivan.
After lunch, swap the city for the desert. Many desert tours include the Tree of Life—a 400-year-old acacia that sprouts from the arid expanses—Al-Areen Wildlife Park, and the Bahrain Grand Prix circuit, all with handy round-trip transport and a guide for information and context. Alternatively, escape the afternoon heat by hitting the Arabian Gulf. Fly high on a parasail, or try some exhilarating water sports with packages that include flyboarding, wake surfing, towable tubes, and the hot new sport of underwater boarding. For something more relaxing, admire Manama’s skyline on a cruise along the coast, or ride a motorboat around the Amwaj Islands—a cluster of artificial islets just offshore.
As dusk falls, make the most of the cool evening temperatures by enjoying more outdoor pursuits. Experience sunset in the desert on a horseback ride past Bahrain Fort, or opt for an evening motorboat trip to the Amwaj archipelago. Perhaps finish with a spell of souvenir hunting at Manama souk before relaxing over dinner at a hotel restaurant by the water’s edge.