Lombok's capital is a sprawling amalgam of several once-separate towns with fuzzy borders: Ampenan (the port), Mataram (the administrative centre), Cakranegara (the business centre, often called simply 'Cakra') and Sweta to the east, where you'll find the Mandalika bus terminal. Mataram stretches for 12km from east to west.
There aren't many tourist attractions, yet Mataram's broad tree-lined avenues buzz with traffic, thrum with motorbikes and teem with classic markets and malls. If you're hungry for a blast of Indo realism, you'll find it here. Sights around Mataram include the old port town of Ampenan – if you pause you'll discover a still-tangible sense of the Dutch colonial era in the leafy main street and the older buildings.