Best Muscat itinerary and tips to visit the city
Muscat is Oman’s capital city, a beautiful white and vibrant town 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, and if you don’t want to go itinerant, many Oman spots are reachable on a day tour from Muscat.
Let’s go to discover the Top attractions in Muscat
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 Sultan Qaboos’ order, a music lover, the Royal Opera House is another architectural masterpiece of Muscat, a mix of tradition and modernity. It was officially opened in October 2011, with the Turandot opera production by Plácido Domingo and it has hosted numerous international and regional shows including worldwide classics.
You can visit the building’s interior and its beautiful theatre with a 30 minutes guided tour (2 OMR). There is a free covered car park next to the building.
Opening time: 8.30 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
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 Fishmarket.
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 jewellery, pashminas, turbans, traditional khanjar (the Omani silver dagger), genie lamps, and any souvenir.
Opening time: 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. / 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. (the best moment for a visit is in the late afternoon). There is a free car park next to the fish market, 5 minutes 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 fish: sardines, tunas, squids, king mackerel fish, giant prawns and much more. Fishers start arriving at dawn, and the activity is mainly during the first half of the morning. A free car park is located in front of the building.
6) Mutrah Fort
An 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 the Ottoman army’s attacks. It’s worth climbing up the hill to visit the fort but above all to have a fantastic view of Mutrah (pic of the cover).
7) Forts and Palace
Perched on neighbouring cliff tops in the old quarter, 3 km south of Mutrah, are located two enormous 16th-century forts: Al Mirani and Al Jalali. Al Mirani Fort is one of the main structure remaining from Portuguese colonisation years and was restored in the 19th century. Al Jalali Fort was built to protect the harbour after Muscat had twice been sacked by Ottoman army. Even though this imposing structure is a must-see, at the moment it’s not allowed to visit their interior.
Few minutes walk from Mirani Fort, and there is the Sultan Palace (known as Al Alam Palace), a modern building with a flat roof and gold and blue pillars (not allowed to visit).
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 popular among joggers, bikers, kitesurfers, and people who want to enjoy water sports and local families looking for peace and relaxation. Here you’ll also find cafes and restaurant facing the water.
Muscat boasts a significant number of museums. The most visited are the National Museum of Oman, Bait Al Zubair (heritage and cultural centre) and the Armed Forces Museum (Weapons, clothing, instruments and defence systems).
Need to Know about Muscat
1) How to get around Muscat
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 always have to haggle the fare with the drivers. Alternatively, we suggest downloading 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.
If you are in Muscat for a short layover or for a day, you can also book a guided tour. We suggest using the web platform Klook.com where you’ll find a wide choice of activities through the city.
2) 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 choice is Ruwi neighbourhood. 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.
3) Where to eat
Muscat is a big city, so you’ll find restaurants everywhere. Usually, the average expense is around 4 OMR. Anyway, our favourite place is Mutrah. Close to the souk, you’ll find some good local restaurants. In Mutrah we tried Corniche Restaurant, Fast food juice centre, and La Brasserie restaurant. Find your restaurant here on Trip Advisor!