Muscat

Muscat (Arabic: مسقط) has been inhabited since at least 1000 BCE and for centuries was an important trading port on the Maritime Silk Road. Today it is the the capital of the Sultanate of Oman and its most important and populous city (at 812,000).

153 things to do

All Places



Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art

Opened in 2011, this museum is made up of a cluster of houses and comprises three distinct sections. The '''Old House''' is set up with furnishings and displays appropriate to an Omani house between 1950 and 1970, i.e. before the accession of Sultan Qaboos. The still unopened '''Clothes Museum''' exhibits traditional Omani clothing as well as international costumes, and the '''Modern Art Museum''' displays modern artworks from Omani and international artists, hosting occasional special exhibits.

SEE   —  +968 24 711640 —  Al Wadi Khabir

Trekking path C38

This short hike takes the walker away from the modern world of Muscat and also offers fantastic views of the rugged mountains surrounding the capital city. The path begins in Riyam Park, and follows a 5000-year-old trail used by miners to an abandoned village, then finally finishes near Mutrah Souq. Allow for 1.5-2 hours, with an additional 20-minute return walk along the Corniche. A decent trail map can be found [http://www.trekkingoman.com/content/tio_c38.html here].

DO   —  Map


Sabco Centre

A collection of about half a dozen medium sized shopping centres which is very popular with locals. The actual Sabco Centre has a small souq-like collection of shops that contains many of the handicrafts that are available in the Mutrah Souq. There is also a '''Godiva Chocolates''' shop (tel. +968 24 562367). Opposite the Sabco Centre is the '''Omani Craftsman's House''' that only sells guaranteed Made in Oman crafts at fixed (but relatively high) prices.

BUY   —  Map

Oman Dive Center

This German-operated center conducts diving trips and PADI certification courses. The private beach is open to day visitors (OMR2 on weekdays, OMR4 on weekends), and it is possible to stay overnight in one of their beach bungalows (OMR49-176, depending on season and size of party; breakfast and dinner included). There is no public transportation to this area, so visitors will need to take a taxi or rental car.

DO   —  +968 24 824240 —  Map


Mutrah Souq

The maze-like souq (marketplace) is often described as the best in the Gulf region. The souq has many shops for jewellery, traditional Omani handicrafts and Omani food at reasonable prices. Some specific items to look for include Arab hand-embroidered mussar (shawls intended to be worn as turbans, OMR10+), garments, nuts, spices, incense, and earthenware. A few shops accept credit cards.

BUY   —  Map

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

This is the third largest mosque in the world and mostly the entire complex is open to non-Muslim visitors; ladies are however expected to keep their heads, ankles and wrists covered while visiting the mosque. Must-sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made Persian carpet in the world, and the marble panelling.

SEE   —  As Sultan St


National Ferry Company

Ferries arrive weekly from Khasab to the main port in Mutrah, departing every Saturday at 11:30 and arriving five hours later. Ferries departing from Mutrah leave every Thursday at noon. All ferries have free Wi-Fi, with lunch, snacks and beverages included in the ticket price. You should get your ferry ticket in advance to ensure your place on the boat.


Al Jalali Fort

Built as a prison in the rocky mountains in the 1580s during the Portuguese occupation, now converted into a museum devoted to Omani heritage. Unfortunately the fort is only opened to visiting dignitaries and heads of state and not open to the general public, but it's still possible to climb the steep stairs up to the top and to enjoy the view.

SEE   —  Qasr Al Alam St


Air India Express

Flights from Amritsar on Wednesday and Friday (duration of flight 3hrs 15min, from Delhi on W, F (duration of flight 5 hrs 20min), from Kochi on Tu, Th and Su (duration of flight 3h35), from Kozhikode on F, Sa, Su (duration of flight 3h25), from Thiruvanantahapuram on Tu, Th-Su (duration of flight 3h45, or 5h20 if flight goes via Cochin).

OTHER   —  Map

Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace

This is the office of Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour and is guarded on either side by the twin forts of Mirani and Jelali. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.

SEE   —  Map

Marjan Public Beach

This beach is quiet during the day, and more lively in early evenings. There are some small, excellent coral reefs just a short distance from the shore, suitable even for novice snorkelers. Clown fish, parrot fish, sea cucumbers, and occasionally sea turtles and rays can be spotted here.

DO   —  Map

Starbucks Coffee

Located on the beach road that goes between the Crown Plaza Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel. It is so close that if you cross the road, you are on the beach. The larger drinks are about OMR2-2.2, but the view through the glass wall of the waves coming into the beach is excellent.

DRINK   —  Map

Sohar boat

This boat was built in the dhow yards of Sur, south of Muscat. In 1980 Tim Severin and a crew of Omanis sailed in this vessel from Oman to Guangzhou, China in an effort to recreate the legendary voyages of Sindbad. Severin wrote about the undertaking in his book 'The Sindbad Voyage'.

SEE   —  Al Bustan Roundabout

Sultan's Armed Forces Museum

This excellent museum is housed in a building built in 1845 as a royal summer home. The lower level has displays on Oman's history, and the upper level examines Oman's international relations and military history. All visitors are given a mandatory military escort.

SEE   —  +968 24 312648 —  Al Mujamma St

Old souq watchtower

This Portuguese watchtower has also been restored, and although the tower itself is closed to the public, the hill can be climbed for some great views of Mutrah and the Corniche. There is no clearly-defined path to the top; the easiest access is from the northwest.

SEE   —  Map

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa

Part of the international luxury chain. In Bar al Jissah, which is about 30 minutes outside central Muscat. The hotel can be challenging to find, so make sure you have a good map if you are driving. The Shangri-La is on a beautiful section of the coastline.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 776666 —  Map

Al Ansab Wetlands

Nearly 300 avian species have been spotted here, some during migrations and others living here year-round. The wetlands were developed by the Haya Water company, which offers guided tours, bookable [http://www.haya.com.om/tabid/121/Default.aspx online].

DO   —  +968 800 77111 —  Map

Al Ghubrah Public Beach

This is a family-oriented beach, with picnic benches and shaded areas. In the evening near the desalination plant there are several food trucks which offer good and inexpensive fare, including grilled meat and fish, lentil soup, and potato salads.

DO   —  Map

Trekking paths C52 and C53

These two easy treks offer beautiful views over the coastline. Both trails begin in Bandar Jissah. Trail map for [http://www.trekkingoman.com/content/tio_c52.html C52]; trail map for [http://www.trekkingoman.com/content/tio_c53.html C53].

DO   —  Map

Crystal Suites

78 rooms, each a 32” LCD TV, DVD player. Amenities include a restaurant serving Mughlai and Afghani dishes, an open to sky Atrium with children’s play area and dining facilities, and ballrooms for wedding receptions and functions.


Bawshar Fort

A large, photogenic ruined mud-brick fortress in a scenic location. Behind the fortress are scattered ruins and a long rampart wall, still unexcavated. Along the ridgeline in the hills are some prehistoric beehive graves.

SEE   —  Al Safa St

Oman National Transport Company

Runs buses to Muscat from Dubai (duration of journey: 6 hrs). Within Oman there are daily buses to Muscat from Buraimi (via Sohar), Nizwa (2hrs 20min), Salalah (13 hrs, reservation required), Sanaw and Sur (4 hrs 15 min).


Kargeen Caffe

Traditional Omani food served in a traditional setting. There is an outdoor seating area for shisha smokers, and a surprisingly good selection of vegetarian options. Reservations are recommended, particularly on weekends.

EAT   —  +968 24 699055 —  Al Bashair St

Omanta Scuba

Conducts diving trips and a full range of PADI courses, as well as dolphin-watching tours. Diving destinations include the Damaniyat Islands, Fahal Island and Bhandra Kharan, with other destinations depending on demand.


Amouage Perfume Factory

Amouage perfume is the most expensive perfume in the world, and visitors can learn about its production. It is recommended (but not required) to call beforehand to ensure that someone is available to show you around.

BUY   —  +968 24 534800 —  Map

Bait al-Baranda Museum

This renovated house from the 1930s has exhibits illustrating the history of Muscat. The lower level is devoted to pre-history and palaeontology, while the upper level is devoted to human history and ethnography.

SEE   —  +968 24 714262 —  Al Mina St

Al Mirani Fort

Built at the same time as Al Jalali Fort which it faces across the harbor. This fort has also been converted to a museum which is closed to the general public, but it can be freely appreciated from the outside.

SEE   —  Al Mirani St

Bin Ateeq

This place is mentioned in various guidebooks as the only 'authentic' Omani restaurant in town - and its fame means that this is now popular with tourists. The food is acceptable, if a bit pricey.

EAT   —  +968 24 478225 —  Al Khuwair Rd

Muscat Festival

Held annually from late January to early February, this month-long event celebrates Omani culture and traditions with demonstrations, food, dance and music performances, and other entertainment.

DO   —  Map

Corniche

The recently renovated corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many not-so-expensive eating places. There are also good view of the fishing dhows in the harbour.

SEE   —  Al Bahri Rd

Royal Opera House Muscat

This stunning building is the venue for a wide range of performing arts, including western classical music, classical Arabian music, jazz and flamenco, and ballet and modern dance.


Muscat Gate Museum

This museum marks the location of the old city wall, and has the original city gates which were used until the 1970s. The location offers good views of Old Muscat and the palace.

SEE   —  Al Bahri Rd

Planetarium

A full-dome digital system, which can accommodate up to 60 visitors. Two shows a week are presented in English; call or email to confirm times and to make reservations.


Mutrah Fort

Built by the Portuguese in the 1580s, this fort is not open to the public, but visitors are permitted to climb up the hill to the outside for a good view of the area.

SEE   —  Map

Qurum Public Beach

No facilities except open showers. Clean and well-maintained, with places offering jetskis for rent near the Intercontinental. This beach gets very busy on weekends.

DO   —  Map

Al Bustan Palace Hotel

Built originally to house a regional conference in the mid-80s, the hotel is famous for its brunches. Worth visiting just to check out the lobby and hotel grounds.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 799666 —  Map

Riyam Park

This park also has a small funfair with rides. Great views can be had from the giant incense burner perched on the hillside. Visited in ''The Amazing Race 9''.

SEE   —  Al Bahri Rd

Souq al Jumaa

A bustling flea market with everything from jewellery, camping gear, carpets and even cars. There is a section with clothing, and food stalls are also nearby.

BUY   —  Map

Oman Avenues Mall

Oman Avenues Mall is the largest shopping mall in Oman. Offers shopping, dining, kid zones and entertainment to locals and international tourists.

BUY   —  +968 24 540200 —  Map

Oman Air

Operates flights to Muscat from many airports in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Domestically operates flights to/from Salalah and Khasab.


Qurm National Park

Has extensive rose gardens, a large manmade waterfall, a lake and an amusement park which is a must to visit during the Muscat Festival.

SEE   —  Map

Bait Al Zubair Museum

The museum itself features displays on Omani social history, while tours are frequently run of the neighbouring reconstructed townhouse.

SEE   —  +968 24 736688 —  Al Bahri Rd

InterContinental Muscat

Located directly on the beach, with onsite restaurant and bar, gym, tennis court, outdoor pool, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 680000 —  Al Kharjiya St

Turkish House

The most popular Turkish restaurant in Muscat, with excellent fish dishes. Take-away and delivery available in the Al Khuwair area.

EAT   —  +968 24 488071 —  Map

Al Fair Supermarket

A chain of supermarkets sells a wide range of items.. Many of them are on the main Sultan Qaboos highway making them easy to spot.

EAT   —  Map

Bait Al Makham

A fortified house built at the beginning of the 20th century, now restored and with excellent views from the top of the building.


Omani French Museum

This small museum has displays detailing the relations between France and Oman, with many colonial objects from the 19th century.

SEE   —  Qasr al-Alam St

Ruwi Hotel

A tired and run down hotel that is more the standard of a third world back packer establishment, but has an interesting bar.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 704244 —  Map

Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre

This private museum has six permanent displays explaining the formation of, and modern extraction of oil and natural gas.


Currency Museum

Has interesting displays of Omani currency, both coin and notes, with specimens from early history to the present day.


The Raymond Shop

Customs suits costing from OMR50-60 each in fabrics from pure wool, wool blends, Cashmere, Mohair, Angora and linen.


Marina Hotel

Has good views of the harbor, but with two nightclubs is quite noisy at night. Free wi-fi available only in lobby.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 713100 —  Corniche

Museum of Omani Heritage

This small museum has a good collection of archaeological exhibits, and is worth visiting for the excellent views.

SEE   —  +968 24 600946 —  Map

Royal Jordanian

Flies from Amman to Muscat on Tu, Th, F and Su, arriving in Muscat next morning (from JOD535 return, Sept 2010).


Grand Hyatt

This is an opulent building designed by a Yemeni prince in what seems almost a parody of Arabian palace styles.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 641234 —  Map

Left Bank

Known for good drinks as well as good food. Reservations recommended if you come here for dinner. Expensive.

DRINK   —  +968 24 693699 —  Map

Seeb Public Beach

This is a long stretch of beach, with some sections quite busy, and some sections accessible only with 4WD.

DO   —  Map

Lulu Hypermarket

This location is particularly convenient if you're looking to stock up before heading to the mountains.


Austria

Embassy closed in 2011 for budgetary reasons; nearest diplomatic mission is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

OTHER   —  Map

Old waterfront watchtower

This restored Portuguese watchtower on the waterfront is a good place to catch views of the sunset.

SEE   —  Al Bahri Rd

Egypt Air

Offers flights from Cairo to Muscat M, W-F, arriving in Muscat next morning, duration of flight 4h.


Lufthansa

Daily flights from Frankfurt to Muscat with a technical stop in Abu Dhabi, duration of flight 8h.


H!

A free weekly newspaper offering light reading, published every weekend by the ''Times of Oman''.

OTHER   —  Map

The Chedi Pizza Restaurant

Offers less expensive food than the other Chedi outlets, with the same understated chic ambience.

EAT   —  Way No. 3215

Jawahir Oman Jewellers

Sells prized Omani silver, crafted into contemporary jewellery and gifts in a Muscat workshop.

BUY   —  +968 24 563239 —  Al Wilaj St

Oman Today

A small glossy magazine with tips on tourism, local trips and eating-out, published monthly.

OTHER   —  Map

Golden Oasis Hotel

In the centre of Ruwi and close to the main commercial area. A popular choice for tourists.


Lulu's

Oman's favourite supermarket chain with a branch off Sultan Qaboos Street in Al-Khuwair.

EAT   —  Map

Bait Al Bahr

Traditional Omani seafood. Reservations strongly recommended; smart casual, nonsmoking.

EAT   —  +968 24 776565 —  Map

Bait Muzna Gallery

A gallery representing primarily Omani artists, and a few Oman-based western artists.


Al Tarboush

Fast Arabian/Lebanese-style food available for takeaway or eat-in on the first floor.

EAT   —  Map

Omani Heritage Gallery

This gallery is operated by a non-profit group which encourages cottage industries.


Oman Daily Observer

One of Oman's most-widely distributed English newspaper, also available in print.

OTHER   —  Map

Pakistan International Airlines

Flights from Islamabad on M, W, Th, Sa and Su and from Peshawar on W, Th and Sa.


Times of Oman

Oman's oldest English newspaper, printed Sa-Th, available online and in print.

OTHER   —  Map

Ubhar Restaurant

Exceptional, traditional Omani dishes with a modern twist, very highly rated.


Carrefour Hypermarket

There is another Carrefour located in Muscat city centre (see listing above).

BUY   —  Qurum City Centre

Mumtaz Mahal

Indian cuisine. Smart casual dress, reservations and credit cards accepted.


Al Bustan Public Beach

Named after the hotel, this beach has a good view of the mountains behind.

DO   —  Map

BlueZone Diving

This center offers diving trips, as well as a full range of PADI courses.


KLM

Flights from Amsterdam to Muscat on M, W-F, Su, duration of flight 8h30.

OTHER   —  Map

Air Arabia

2 flights per day from Sharjah to Muscat, duration of flight is 55min.

OTHER   —  +968 24 700828 —  Map

Haffa House Hotel

Non-smoking rooms, gym onsite, free Wi-Fi, luggage storage available.

SLEEP   —  +968 2470 7207 —  Al Farahidi St

Muscat Daily

Oman's most widely distributed English newspaper, available in print.

OTHER   —  Map

Etihad Airways

3 flights per day from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, duration of flight 1h05.


Fish market

Visitors can watch fishermen unload and sell the catch of the day.

SEE   —  Al Bahri Rd

L'Espace Bed and Breakfast

A charming bed and breakfast just across the road from the beach.

SLEEP   —  +968 9628 2472 —  77 Al Ezdehar St

Crown Plaza Hotel

Has a grand view north up the beach towards the Intercontinental.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 660660 —  Al Qurm St

Muscat City Centre

Contains a lot of shops including a large Carrefour Hypermarket.

BUY   —  Map

Oman Bicycle Shop

Mountain bikes can be rented here by the day, weekend, or week.

DO   —  +968 96773824 —  Map

Muscat Light Restaurant & Coffeeshop

Ideal place for a break during a walking tour of Old Muscat.

EAT   —  Al Bahri Rd

Spinney's

A Lebanese-based grocery store chain, has take-away options.

EAT   —  Al Khariyah St

Emirates

10 flights per day from Dubai to Muscat, flying time 1h.


Fast Food N Juice Centre

You can watch the world go by from the outside tables.

DRINK   —  Al Bahri Rd

The Chedi

Five star luxury with traditional Omani architecture.

SLEEP   —  +968 24 524400 —  North Ghubra 32

Khaleej Times

Published in Dubai and available throughout the Gulf.

OTHER   —  Map

The Chedi

Four open kitchens featuring international cuisine.

EAT   —  North Ghubra 32

Lulu Hypermarket

All Lulu's branches have delis offering takeaways.

BUY   —  Al Mina St

TheWeek

A free weekly newspaper published on Wednesdays.

OTHER   —  Map

Qurum City Centre

Recently opened at Qurum and contains Carrefour.

BUY   —  Map

Bin Ateeq

Another branch of the popular Omani restaurant.

EAT   —  +968 24 702727 —  2730 Way

Swiss

Daily flights from Zurich to Muscat via Dubai.


British Airways

Daily flights from London Heathrow to Muscat.


National Museum

Houses jewellery, costumes, and furniture.

SEE   —  +968 24 701289 —  An Noor St

flydubai

3 flights per day from Dubai to Muscat.

OTHER   —  Map

Al Khiran

Famous for their Friday brunch buffets.


Saravana Bhavan Restaurant

South Indian vegetarian restaurant.

EAT   —  +968 24 704502 —  Map

Delmon Hotel Apartments

Includes breakfast and free Wi-Fi.


Al Maskry Rent-a-Car

A well-established local agency.

OTHER   —  +968 99438661, +968 99381524 —  Map

Gulf Air

Flights from Bahrain to Muscat.


Ofair Traditional Restaurant

Serves traditional Omani food.

EAT   —  +968 24 482965 —  Al Marafah St

Al Ahli Coffeeshop

Also has fresh fruit juices.

DRINK   —  +968 24 713469 —  Map

Turkish Airlines

Daily flights from Istanbul

OTHER   —  Map

Taj Samarkhand

Indian Peshwari cuisine.


Al Meera

A Qatari-based chain.

BUY   —  +968 24 583444 —  Map

ABC

A local agency.

OTHER   —  +968 24 582663 —  Map

Al Haikal Restaurant

Pakistani food.

EAT   —  2996 Way

Al Shaheen Restaurant

Pakistani food.

EAT   —  Honda Rd

Qatar Airways

OTHER   —  +968 24 787070 —  Map

Oman Tribune

OTHER   —  Map

Greece

OTHER   —  +968 24 793072 —  PO Βox 175

Budget Oman

OTHER   —  +968 24 683999 —  Map

About Muscat

Wedged between the Arabian Sea and the rugged Western Hajar Mountains, the city referred to as Muscat is in fact several smaller towns which have grown together over time. These include old '''Muscat''' (also known as the 'walled city'), site of the royal palace; '''Mutrah''' (also spelled ''Matrah'' or ''Matruh''), once a fishing village and home to the labyrinthine Mutrah Souq; and '''Ruwi''', which is the commercial and diplomatic quarter of the city. The metropolitan area covers 3,500 km², and this tripartite division can be inconvenient for the visitor especially as much accommodation is located a fair distance from sights of interest. Unlike other cities in the Gulf, notably in the UAE and Qatar, Muscat does not have an ultramodern skyline. Following the preferences of the Sultan, modern construction is required to adhere to traditional Arabic architectural styles, resulting in a more low-key urban landscape.


Source: wikivoyage