Muscat is the largest and the capital city of the Sultanate of Oman and is blessed by beautiful rugged brown mountain scape surrounds one side and deep blue Gulf of Oman on the other side. This famous port city is associated with interesting historical and cultural past. You will find 16th-century Portuguese hilltop forts, cliffs, fjords, whitewashed houses clustered in between the rugged mountains, arches, deep blue sea, as the prominent features of this city. These stunning sights form a beautiful skyline of Muscat. Experience Oman while reading about what to do in Muscat. In this post, I will list the best things to do in Muscat City Tour or read about the most important places to visit in Muscat.
Best Things To Do In Muscat City Tour | What to do in Muscat
SULTAN QABOOS GRAND MOSQUE – A modern Islamic styled architecture, a marble-clad mosque with 50m dome is the most beautiful attraction of Muscat. The major features of this mosque are stunning and rich interiors with famous prayer carpet which is used to be the largest single carpet but now second in the world after the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. The beautiful chandelier in the central dome is also the world’s second largest chandelier and this mosque have a capacity to hold 20,000 worshippers.
ROYAL OPERA HOUSE MUSCAT – Muscat’s elegant, stunning and the premier venue for musical, arts & culture. Built-in Omani styled contemporary architecture this Opera can hold approximately 1100 people. Click here to book your favorite show at this beautiful building of Muscat.
AL ALAM PALACE – A ceremonial residential palace of Sultan of Oman which is located in old Muscat has rich exteriors of golden and greenish-blue. With a rich history of 200 years, this palace is surrounded by two Portuguese forts from the 16th century. This palace is not open for visitors for an inside tour but you can enjoy the exteriors, palatial gardens from outside.
AL JALALI FORT – A Portuguese fort located in the harbor of Old Muscat was built in 1580 to protect Oman from Ottoman forces. During the 20th century, this fort was used as a prison but now transformed into a private museum. This fort is located less than a kilometer from Al Alam Palace.
MUTRAH CORNICHE – It is the most historic part of this city with an ancient commercial center running to date. One of the most important ports of Oman, where you find the houses, buildings, and shops of traders/merchants from the 19th century. Evenings at Mutrah corniche are very beautiful with the backdrop of mountains, an ancient style of Arabic buildings with special lightings, lanterns styled street lights all along the blue sea.
MUTRAH SOUQ/SOUK – The local name of this souq is Al Dhalam(means darkness in Arabic) and is one of the oldest souqs in the Middle East or the Persian Gulf. The strategic location of Oman port between India and China plays an important role in developing trade in this region. From ancient times, mostly all trades were done through here and therefore this area is merchant or traders area. Narrow streets with colorful shops are spread like a maze. So get lost into this interesting maze and shop for beautiful Arabic style items like Arabic oil based perfumes known at Attar, readymade embroidered garments, spices, Omani silver articles and jewelry, Omani dagger known as Khanjar, embroidered traditional caps, clay pots, paintings, miniature wooden arches/doors, at very affordable prices.
AL MIRANI FORT – Overlooking Sea of Oman, this fort forms a beautiful skyline of Muscat city. Built in the 16th century by Portuguese is located on the rocky hilltop. This fort played an important role in ending the Portuguese empire from Muscat in the 17th century. Not open for visitors for internal tours but can be admired externally.
BAIT AL BARANDA – Baranda means Veranda(balcony) is located beside Mutrah Souq in an old city area. It was the house of a famous merchant from the 19th century but now transformed into a private museum which depicts the geological information to the present day with the display of tectonic plate movement past 750 million years ago. It also includes the history of the Sultanate of Oman where you can the glimpse of rich Omani heritage and cultural items.
ENTRANCE FEE – Adults 1 OMR
Children – 0.5 OMR
THE CITY GATES – From 16th century till 1970’s the gates of the walled city of Muscat were locked after sunset. Now the doors/gates are removed and preserved in the National Museum of Muscat but arches are still there which are at the threshold of old Muscat city and new Muscat city. These gates stand at the border of the old and new city and through these arches you pass from old to new or new to old.
OLD MUSCAT CITY – Located at the eastern tip of Muscat, where you get the view of white houses in clusters on rugged brown mountainscapes. This interesting area forms a distinct Old Quarter of Muscat. This old quarter is bubbling with Arabian charm, 500 years old city walls, arches, forts, a maze of colorful streets, Arabic styled houses & shops.
SHIVA TEMPLE – It is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the Persian Gulf region. The Bhatia-Gujarati merchant community from Kutch settled in Oman about many years back built this temple. This temple was supposed to be built approximately 100 years ago with a well inside which never dries in the whole of the city.
AL QURUM BEACH – 4 kilometers stretch of upscale beach of Oman is famous among water sports lovers. The tides are not very high and the waves are small, so it recommended to swim or bathe here. This white sandy beach with palm trees is one of the centers of attraction of modern Muscat. Here you will find many famous beach resorts and many international dine-in options.
AL QURUM NATIONAL PARK – The public garden and nature reserve of Muscat which is liked by locals and tourists for picnicking.
There are also many interesting museums in Muscat – The National Museum, Bait Al Zubair Museum, Children’s Museum, National History Museum, Omani Museum, Sultan Armed Forced Museum, and many more.
As you may be knowing the OMAN is also called NORWAY OF GULF as there are many fjords in between the cliffs, there are many interesting day trips from Muscat which is recommended.
FIRST DAY TRIP – Muscat – Nearby beaches – Fjords – Wadi (prominent in Oman) – Bimmah Sinkhole – Muscat. 4WD is preferred for this trip as there are many rough patches while going to Wadis(dry riverbed with an oasis of water). You can also book your full day coastal tour by 4 X 4 vehicle by clicking here.
Oman also has many sandstone castles, forts, and many historical cities so go for the second-day trip to tour all these attractions.
SECOND DAY TRIP – Muscat – Nizwa Fort with souq – Al Hoota Caves – Hajar mountains (Great Canyon of Oman) – Al Bahla Fort – Jibreen Castle – Muscat. You can drive on your own and Google maps are always there to guide to reach these historic forts and castles. Or you can book full day Nizwa tour with castles and forts by clicking here.
TIP – For these day trips, start early as they the roads are on mountainous slopes and for some attractions you have to go by rough patch so preferably go by 4 X 4 vehicle.
GENERAL INFORMATION – BEST THINGS TO DO IN MUSCAT CITY TOUR
CURRENCY – Omani Rial (OMR)
LANGUAGES – Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and English (There is no language problem as English is widely accepted)
WHEN TO VISIT – OCTOBER TO APRIL
HOW TO REACH – 1.) Through International Airport at MUSCAT. Oman is very flexible for a Tourist Visa. Many nationalities get Visa on Arrival at International Airport or you can get Omani Visa online by clicking this. OMAN AIR is the official air carrier of this region. Read my review of Oman Air Business Class Fly with Style.
2.) And if you are self-driving from Dubai then
- take UAE – HATTA border to reach Muscat. At border, you will have to cross two check-points.
- First, you will exit UAE checkpoint and then after a few meters drive you will have to pass OMAN entry point.
- Here you have to get down from your vehicle and proceed to a small Immigration office where you get Omani Visa (for UAE Residents only). If you have already done with your online Omani visa, then this process becomes simpler and time saver.
- Keep your Car Insurance policy papers valid in Oman ready with you.
WHERE TO STAY – There are many luxury hotels or beach resorts where you can opt to stay. Also far away from the city, there are many hilltop resorts too. This time I stayed in city-center at Levatio Hotel and Fraser Suites.
There are more options like
Watch out my 4 Day 3 Nights Oman road trip from Dubai by 4 X 4
What to look out special in this city – Watch the lantern styled street lights of this city. The special lighting effect on mountains, forts and street lights makes this city more beautiful. Also, arched passages or arches everywhere in the city makes it very unique.
General Guidelines –
- Do not offend the social customs of Oman and dress decently with not too much of skin showing.
- Protect the flora and fauna. Don’t pollute the Falaj system which is a major irrigation system of Oman.
- During monsoon, it can be misty, so carefully drive on sloppy hilly roads.
- Oman is very safe and cost-friendly country. You can hire local guides, tours, book taxis to tour around the Muscat.
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So, till then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING……………………………………………………
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