Bahrain's former capital and third largest city, Muharraq has a long history dating back to approximately 3000 BCE. From ancient times until the 1930s the primary economic activity was pearling; today the city is known as a center for the arts and as one of the most religiously conservative districts in Bahrain.
In 2012 parts of Muharraq Island were collectively inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of their association with Bahrain's long history of pearling. These sites include seventeen historic buildings, Abu Mahir Fort, and three offshore oyster beds.
- 1 Bahrain International Airport (BAH IATA). This is where Bahrain's international airport is located, and is the main base for Gulf Air with excellent connections throughout the region and London. The airport has good duty-free shopping; a Transhotel offering beds and showers (for a fee) to those awaiting flights is undergoing renovation.
From Manama you can easily get to Muharraq using one of the 3 modern causeways: 'Sheikh Isa Bin Salma', 'Sheikh Hamad' and 'Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman'. All of them will lead you to the airport.
- Pearl Trail. This is a self-guided walking tour connecting the 17 historic buildings included in the UNESCO listing. It is being developed by the authorities, marked with blue paving stones, recessed lighting, and signage.
- 1 Sheikh Isa Bin Ali House (Beit Sheikh Isa Bin Ali).
- 2 Siyadi House (Beit Siyadi).
- 3 Abdulla Al Zayed Press Heritage House.
- 4 Abu Mahir Fort (Bu Maher Fort, Muharraq Fort). Fort was built to protect against western approaches. It was constructed upon the ruins of a much older fort, on Abu Mahir island. Fort is rest against the coastline and give beautiful sea views.
- 5 Arad Fort, Road 4233 (close to Bahrain Airport). This fort was built by Arabs in the 16th century. It was captured by the Portuguese around 1559 and then in 1653, Omanis seized it. Today, cultural events and shows are frequently held in the fort.
- 6 Al Oraifi Museum, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Th 8AM-1PM, 4PM-8PM. This museum was opened by artist Rashid Al Oraifi in 2010 to display arts from the Dilmum era. It holds over 100 pieces. BD 1.
- 7 Dhow shipyard. Daylight hours. Traditional wooden Arabian dhows are built here by hand, in the last dhow shipyard in Bahrain and one of the few remaining in the Gulf. Free.
- 8 Bin Matar House: Place of Memory. The Bin Matar House is the latest in a series of projects by the Shaikh Ebrahim Center focusing on the restoration of traditional Bahraini houses associated with historic Bahraini families and leading cultural personalities. The house was designed by the well-known Bahraini architect Mussa Bin Hamad and built in 1905. It was used by Salman bin Hussein Matar as the venue for his permanent "majlis" (a room similar to a salon, used to entertain family and guests). By the 1940s, it was used a clinic by the famous physician Dr. Bandar Kab, and from the 1950s to the 1980s was used as the centre for the Eslah Club. The building then lay empty and in uninhabited, ready to be demolished to make way for a new construction. Today, the ceilings of the house are made of a combination of palm leaf and wood beam and the walls and floors have been authentically retouched.
Drive to Amwaj, a far more developed "western-friendly" residential compound that is 10 minutes away from the airport. It has top-notch hotels and resorts such as The Dragon, and pricey restaurants to choose from, such as Burger Lounge, or the more luxurious Mojo - which also comes with a bar and a nightclub. The city has shopping (at the Lagoon), restaurants, spas, salons, apartments and hotels are still on their way.
- 1 Muharraq Souq. 10AM-1PM, 4PM-9PM. Muharraq is known for its traditional market. Full of variety of shops selling fresh fruits and vegetables, local crafts and everyday products, you can also purchase traditional Arabic sweets, halwa which are made in Muahrraq.
- Jasmi's, ☏ . The most popular Bahraini fastfood chain. 2 BD.
There are no bars in Muharraq, which is a conservative city. However, you can enjoy a stay at the various Gahwas all around the city for Sheesha (Hookah), mint tea, Turkish coffee, Arabic coffee, or fresh juice.
- 1 Mövenpick Hotel Bahrain, 143 Road 2403 (Opposite the airport), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. BD 90+. Swiss flair and traditional Arabian hospitality. Overlooks a lagoon and features a fine dining restaurant, international bar, atrium lobby restaurant, pool bar, parking area and two outdoor tennis courts. 7 min driving distance from the city. Babysitting service, business centre, gym, spa, swimming pool, tennis courts. 24-hour room service, internet, mini bar, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities (on request).
- 2 The Dragon Hotel & Resort, Amwaj Islands, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A secluded getaway along the Amwaj Islands waterfront. Views of the sea and infinity pools. Modern rooms and stylish amenities. Suites, chalets and villas. Each suite has its own private terrace that overlooks the pool and sea. Deluxe chalets have two levels and 3-4 bedrooms. 3 level villas have 4 bedrooms and private terrace, garden, Jacuzzi and swimming pool and include elevators, 2 kitchenettes, multiple living areas and extensive storage space. Children's pools and play areas provided. Water sport activities offered by the hotel such as jet skiing. Onsite 2 dining establishments and 2 waterfront lounges that attract stylish visitors from across Bahrain.
It is best to dress "modestly" when in Muharraq City: avoid shorts and sleeveless tops.