Tips for visiting Muscat Forts, Jalali Fort, Nakhal Fort, Nizwa fort, Bahla Fort, Jabreen Castle and Rustaq

The country is dotted by beautiful old historic forts, towers and castles largely clustered in the northern one-third of the country, built as a network of defence for Sultanate. If you don’t have much time and you choose to stay only a few days in Muscat no worry! The most interesting spots are reachable from the capital city with a day trip.

During our trip we visited:

1) Muscat forts

Al Mirani Fort: perched on a rocky hill, it lies in old Muscat overlooking the Sea of Oman and it is one of the main structure remaining from the years of Portuguese colonization. It was restored in the 19th century. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to visit the Fort but you can just enjoy the amazing view from the seaside at the base of the hill.

al Mirani Fort
al Mirani Fort, Muscat

Al Jalali Fort: perched on the rocky cliff in front of Al Mirani Fort, it was built to protect the harbour after Muscat had twice been sacked by Ottoman army. The fort consists of two towers connected by a wall punctuated by holes for cannons. Also, this fort can be just viewed from outside.

Al Jalali Fort
Al Jalali Fort, Muscat

Mutrah Fort: located along the Mutrah Corniche in Muscat on a rocky and narrow hill, it was built by the Portuguese during the 1580s as a defensive measure against attacks from the Ottoman army. It consists of three circular towers and one of them still houses one of the old cannons. It’s worth visiting the Fort because it also boasts an amazing view on Mutrah corniche from above.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.); Friday (9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.).

Mutrah Fort
Mutrah Fort, Muscat

2) Nakhal Fort

Nakhal Fort is one of the most prominent historical monuments in Oman. The construction of the castle dates back to the pre-Islamic era and it has been expanded and renovated by many of the rulers of Oman throughout history. It is located on an irregular shaped rocky hill amidst palm orchards and its architecture does not follow a particular pattern. The fort is 90 km from Muscat.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Friday (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Fee: 0.5 OMR.

Nakhal Fort
Nakhal Fort, Nakhal

3) Nizwa Fort

It is one of the oldest forts of the Sultanate and was built by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Yaribi in the middle of the seventeenth century over the ruins of a 12th-century fort. The Fort has a large round shape with a height of 24 meters. It boasts seven wells and multiple openings for stationing the fighters defending the fort and its tower is also accessible with 60 steps for great views of the close oasis and mountains.

Near the fort and castle is the traditional Nizwa souk famous for its artefacts. Nizwa is 160 km from Muscat.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Friday (8 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Fee: 5 OMR.

Nizwa Fort
Nizwa Fort, Nizwa

4) Bahla Fort

The old historic Fort of Bahla (pic nr. 1), built around 13th and 14th century, was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 1987. It is one of the oldest and bigger Forts of the Sultanate and one of the greatest examples of historic Omani architecture. Its impressive structure of unbaked brick and stone foundations, boats many towers, an old mosque, many rooms and also wells.

Bahla is 200 km from Muscat and only 40 km from Nizwa.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and on Friday (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Fee: 0.5 OMR.

Bahla Fort
Bahla Fort, Bahla

5) Jabreen Castle

A few kilometres away from Bahla is located the Jabreen Castle, one of the most beautiful Omani fortresses, built in the 17th century. The castle boasts two towers, many receptions halls, dining areas, meeting rooms, a courtroom, a library, and classrooms. The most interesting particular characteristic of the castle is its interior design with decorated windows, wooden balconies, arches with inscribed Arabic calligraphy, sculptures, and amazing ceiling artwork.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and on Friday (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Fee: 0.5 OMR.

Jabreen Castle
Jabreen Castle

6) Rustaq (we didn’t visit)

Rustaq is famous for two impressive and historically important landmarks: the Rustaq Fort and Al Hazm Castle.

The imposing Rustaq Fort, dating back to the 13th century, is cradled by four tall towers, the tallest being more than 18 meters.

The al Hazm castle was built in the early 18th century and it is unique among other Omani castles for having its roof held by columns instead of the traditional wooden roof supports. Both structures are included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage.

Opening time: Saturday to Thursday (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Fee: 0.5 OMR.


Need to know

The best choice to visit these historic buildings is by your own rental car; alternatively, you can book a guided tour with the several web platform like GetYourGuide or Viator.


If you stay a few days in Muscat, we suggest these useful itineraries where you can enjoy some of these attractions:

1)  Muscat – Nakhal Fort – Rustaq Fort – Al Hazm Castle – Muscat.

The total length is around  280 km and considering the visits, a lunch stop and obviously a bit of relax, it takes around 7/8 hours to complete it.

2) Muscat – Nizwa Fort – Nizwa Souk – Bahla Fort – Bahla souk – Jabreen castle – Muscat.

The total length is around 400 km and considering the visits, a lunch stop, a bit of relaxing, it takes around 9/10 hours to complete it.

Check our Travel resources and tips to arrange your trip and our Itinerary through the country to discover more beautiful places. And don’t forget your Travel Insurance!

Nakhal Fort
Nakhal Fort
Bahla Fort
Bahla Fort

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