Muscat is a city that loves to celebrate its wonderful heritage. Festivals, events, and attractions throughout the year demonstrate their pride and love for their city and country. You can stroll through the historic walled city of Old Muscat or visit the Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts on Qasr Al Alam Street. Originally prisons, they are now museums at which tourists can experience more of the history of the great city.
Natural beauty abounds, and besides the stunning views of the sea, you can enjoy long afternoons at the areas parks, such as Al Riyam Park. Swim, snorkel, and just gaze at the brilliant sea. Muscat is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, carved as it is between mountains and sea. The architecture blends perfectly with the natural surroundings, creating an effect that is unified. Take advantage of the cooler winter months to sight see, stroll along the streets, and enjoy the fresh Muscat sea air.
If you are fortunate enough – or smart enough – to arrive in Muscat during a festival, you will experience the best of Oman. Crafts, fairs, music, dancing, and food: the people of Muscat know how to celebrate. This love of their culture and city is seen throughout: in the food, in the parks and shops, in the wonderful Mutrha Souk, and in the many museums. Here are just a few highlights that you should include in your visit to Muscat:
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Route 1, Muscat
Muscat is home to the third largest mosque in the world. This beautiful house of worship is a wonderful place to explore the culture of the area. Muslims pray here, and the complex welcomes non-Muslim visitors from 8:00am to 11:00 daily, excluding Friday. As always when visiting a mosque, church, or temple, be respectful of the faithful who gather. Women, including foreign visitors, should cover their heads, wrists, and ankles when visiting the mosque. Beautiful polished marble floors and stunningly modern architecture make this a gorgeous way to see the culture of Muscat.
Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace
Qasr Al Alam is a stunning palace and the office of the ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos. Fortified by Al Mirani and Al Jalali Forts and a natural, deep harbour, the palace is a wonderful sight to behold. While you cannot enter, you can marvel at the architecture and snap some pictures at the entrance. This is a special treat for visitors from countries without royal palaces! You can enter the Al Mirani and Al Jalali Forts. They were originally 16th Century prisons, but have long since stood ceremonial guard over the palace and served as museums for visitors.
Shoppers will have the time of their lives at the Mutrah Souk. Labyrinthine and crowded with goodies from jewellery to crafts to freshly caught fish, you can wander around this wonderful marketplace and do as much sightseeing as spending. This is the place to get a unique Omani-made craft or sample some of the city’s spectacular food at a low price. Many shops accept credit cards, so shop away.
Al-Bustan Palace Hotel
You don’t have to pay the 260 RO price tag to enjoy the beauty of the Al-Bustan Palace Hotel, recognized as one of the best hotels in the Middle East. Beautiful, lush gardens and a spectacular domed atrium make this a pleasant place to sip a cup of tea. Better yet, splurge on a night’s stay.
Al Bahri Road
Escape the bustling city in the beautiful Al-Riyam Park. This is the perfect site for a picnic or to sit and watch the view of the harbour. Relax and enjoy some of the beauty that makes this city so remarkable.
Get back into the action at the Fish Market. The city has not turned its back on its fishing village past, and fresh daily catches are still delivered to the Fish Market. Get some delicious ingredients for a grilled dinner and watch the hustle and bustle of the Muscat people.
Bait al-Baranda Museum
Al-Mina'a Street, just off Mutrah Corniche
At home in a beautifully renovated 1930s house, the Bait al-Baranda Museum gives an interesting look into the city and the region. Kids and adults alike will love the interactive exhibits, especially the “cut and paste” dinosaur display, which uses bones found in Al-Khoud, Muscat and some borrowed from international collections. Fun and informative, this is a great way to learn about the region.
Ghala and Al-Ghubrah (Grand Mosque)
Sultan Qaboos Street
The incredible architecture alone makes the Grand Mosque a treasure to the Muscat people. Stately and grand without exaggerated opulence on the outside, visitors will find a stunning main prayer hall featuring an exquisite Persian carpet. This 70 meter by 60 meter marvel took four years to complete. Six hundred women worked to make this priceless carpet, and it is in details like these that the Grand Mosque reveals its remarkable beauty.
Natural History Museum
Al Alam Street, behind the Ministry of Information, Way 1566
Beautiful things come in little packages: the small Natural History Museum, housed in the Ministry of National Heritage, features exhibits on the flora and fauna of Muscat and the region. The museum explores the geology and geography of Oman. For those who want a true understanding of this Middle Eastern country, this museum is an excellent place to start.
Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum
Al Mujamma Street
Here, you will find the expected displays on Oman’s military, but there are also wonderful exhibits on Oman’s international relations and its history. The building itself was built in 1845 as a summer home for the Sultan. It was mainly used to quarter his armed forces. Interesting architecture and insight into Oman make this a must for visitors.
More stunning views of the sea, but we promise you won’t get bored. The Watchtower was built by the Portuguese and visitors can enjoy the sights and the refreshing evening breeze. Colorful fountains light up the night. A perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of the city.
Al Alam Street
Going to the Oman Museum is a treat for visitors: there are beautiful artifacts and displays on the lovely and unique Omani architecture. But just as wonderful is the view of the sea from the hilltop the museum sits upon.
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Shatti Al Qurm PO Box 951 Postal Code 133 Muscat Sultanate of Oman
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Exhibition Street, PC111, Muscat
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