Best Muscat itinerary and tips to visit the city
Muscat is the capital city of Oman, a wonderful white and vibrant city in contrast with the bare brown hills and the turquoise waters.
During a trip through the country it’s worth spending here a day to explore its attractions. It is also conveniently located, if you don’t want to go itinerant, many spots of Oman are reachable on a day tour from Muscat.
Let’s go to discover the Top attractions
1) Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
It is the absolute top thing to do in Muscat. Built in 1995, this mosque is an architectural masterpiece, a mix of Omani, islamic and modern architecture .
It can host 20.000 worshippers, including 6500 in the main prayer room.
Opening time for non-muslim: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. (except Friday). Dress code: Women and men must cover arms, chest and legs, women must also cover their hair and neck (in case you can rent an abaya at the entrance).
Time for visiting: 1 hour (or more). It’s easily reachable by car, there is a big free car park in front of the mosque entrance.
2) Royal Opera House
Built on the order of Sultan Qaboos, a music lover, the Royal Opera House is another architectural masterpiece of Muscat, a mix of tradition and modernity.
It was officially opened on October 2011, with the production of the Turandot opera by Plácido Domingo and it has hosted numerous international and regional shows including worldwide classics.
You can visit the interior of the building and it’s beautiful theater with a 30 minutes guided tour (2 OMR). There is a free cover car park next to the building.
3) Mutrah Corniche
It’s the lovely seafront where the old forts, white buildings and mosques are nestled between rocky brown mountains and the sea.
Don’t miss a stroll in this charming place when the sun glows golden the corniche in the late afternoon. There is a free car park right in front of the Fish market.
4) Mutrah Souk
Walking through the narrow street of this old traditional Omani market you’ll find a wide range of goods, especially frankincense and myrrh, ceramic incense burners, silver and gold jewelry, pashminas, turbans, traditional khanjar (the Omani silver dagger), genie lamps, and any kind of souvenir.
Opening time: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. / 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. (the best moment for the visit is in the late afternoon). There is a free car park next to the fish market, 5 minitues walk from the souk.
5) Mutrah Fish Market
The market takes place in a big new building bordering the beautiful coastline at the beginning of the north section of Mutrah corniche.
It’s a real glimpse of local life and where you can see any kind of fish: sardines, tunas, squids, king mackerel fish, giant prawns and much more.
Fish start arriving at dawn and the activity is mainly during the first half of the morning. A free car park is in front of the building.
6) Mutrah Fort
Only 5 minute walk from the souk, rising out on the top of a rocky hill, you’ll spot the Mutrah Fort. Built by the Portuguese during the 1580s, Mutrah Fort was a sturdy defensive measure against attacks from the Ottoman army.
It’s worth climbing up the hill to visit the fort but above all to have an amazing view on Mutrah (pic nr. 1 of the article).
7) Forts and Palace
Perched on neighboring cliff tops in the old quarter, 3 km south of Mutrah, are located 2 enormous 16th century forts: Al Mirani and Al Jalali.
Al Mirani Fort is one of the main structure remaining from the yeas of Portuguese colonization and was restored in the 19th century. Al Jalali Fort was built to protect the harbor after Muscat had twice been sacked by Ottoman army.
Even though this imposing structure are a must see, at the moment it’s not allowed to visit their interior. Few minutes walk from Mirani Fort, it’s located the Sultan Palace (known as Al Alam Palace), a modern building wit a flat roof and gold and blue pillars.
You’ll find a car park next to the Forts and the Palace as well.
8) Qurum beach and natural park
If you have time and you ‘re looking for a relaxing place, it could be nice a visit to Qurum beach. This long stretch of sand is popolar among joggers, bikers, kitesurfers, people who wants to enjoy water sports and local families looking for peace and relax.
Here you’ll also find cafes and restaurant facing the water.
Muscat boasts a great number of museums , the most visited are the National Museum of Oman, Bait Al Zubair (heritage and cultural center) and the Armed Forces Museum (Weapons, clothing, instruments and defense systems).
Need to Know
How to get around
If you stay a few days in Muscat and you also plan to do some excursions out of the city, the best choice is to rent a car. Around the Muscat main attractions you’ll always find a free car park. Taxis are a bit expensive and you have always to haggle the fare with the drivers. Alternatively we suggest you to download the app “Otaxi” for your mobile, a service cheaper than a taxi, where you can reserve your car, check the price of your ride and then pay with a credit card (pretty much the same of Uber). Other practical options are the Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour (with a circular route through the city) or a private guided tour.
Where to sleep
Muscat offers a wide range of accommodations. If you want to stay closer to the Old City the best choice is Mutrah (Naseem Hotel is along the corniche), whereas the cheapest is Ruwi neighborhood. We slept at Savoy Inn Hotel, 15 minutes drive from the airport, 10 minutes drive from the Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House, 30 minutes drive from Mutrah.
Are you looking for an accommodation in Muscat?
Where to eat
Muscat is a big city so you’ll find restaurants everywhere. Usually the average expense is around 3 OMR. Anyway, our favorite place is Mutrah. Next to the souk you’ll find some good restaurants. We tried Corniche restaurant, Fast food juice center and Royal House restaurant. Find your restaurant here on Trip Advisor!