Muscat is a city filled with museums, beaches and parks for you to explore, but it can be hard to know where to start if you’ve not visited the city before.
If you’re planning a trip to Oman this winter – and you really should as it’s a mere one-hour, ten-minute flight away – read on for our guide to the top 15 places to visit and activities to try out on any visit to the capital.
1 Visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the most recognisable aspects of the Muscat skyline thanks to its beautiful design. Inside you’ll find a huge (and very Instagrammable) crystal chandelier as well as stunning archways throughout.
Open Sat-Thu, 8am-11am. Sultan Qaboos Street, www.sultanqaboosgrandmosque.com (+968 2450 5170).
2 Catch a performance at the Royal Opera House
Tickets to performances at the Royal Opera House Muscat start at OMR5, so you have no excuse for not visiting this incredible place for a show. There are performances almost every weekend during the season, and you can find out more on the ROHM website.
Various dates and times. Shatti Al Qurum, www.rohmuscat.org.om (+968 2440 3332).
3 Admire Al Mirani Fort
Although you can’t actually visit this fort, it’s definitely still worth taking a closer look at this imposing 400-year-old building that juts out from the hilltop it sits on. This is the site of a famous military victory that saw the Portuguese kicked out of the Sultanate.
Old Muscat (no number).
4 Stroll along Muttrah Corniche
Put on your walking boots and head for a stroll along Muttrah Corniche for fantastic sea views. This is a popular spot for joggers and you’ll also find street food stalls and restaurants nearby should you get peckish.
5 Support local artists at Omani Heritage Gallery
This not-for-profit gallery gives local artists the space to sell their handiwork and includes items such as pottery, perfume and home furnishings. Pick up a genuine piece of art as a souvenir or just admire the pieces on the walls.
Open Sat-Thu 10am-8pm. Jawharat Al Shatti Shopping Centre (2469 6974).
6 Take a picture outside Al Alam Palace
This colourful residence was the official residence of Sultan Qaboos and is not open to tourists. Nevertheless, it’s well worth taking a peek through the gates and admiring the beautiful building while you’re there.
Off Saidiya Street, Muscat.
7 Pick up some fresh food at the fish market
Vegetarians, look away now. Everyone else: head down to the Mutrah Fish Market in the early morning for a look at all the fresh seafood. Pick yourself up a bargain or just absorb the atmosphere at this lively spot.
Off Mutrah Corniche.
8 Laze about on Qurum beach
If you’re visiting Muscat on holiday, you presumably want to do some relaxing. Head down to Qurum beach, one of the most popular strips of sand in the city, for a day of sunbathing and swimming.
Off Al Shati Street.
9 Indulge your need for speed
If you’re a bit of a thrillseeker, you should definitely visit the Muscat Speedway where you can race go karts or watch drifting demonstrations. The karts monitor your speed so you can get accurate results to show off
to your friends.
Open Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight. Oman Automobile Association, Muscat Speedway, Seeb, www.omanauto.org (2451 0239).
10 Go diving around the Daymaniyat Islands
The Daymaniyat Islands and their surrounding coral reefs are home to green turtles and a number of birds, so any diving enthusiast should make their way here.
Prices vary. www.divedaymaniyatislands.com
11 Haggle for a bargain at Muttrah Souq
No visit to the Middle East would be complete without a visit to a traditional souq. Head here for spices, souvenirs and sweets, or just admire the wonderful smells and sights.
12 Go dunebashing at Wahiba Sands
Another classic Middle Eastern experiencing is dunebashing in the middle of the desert. Wahiba Sands is a three-hour drive from Muscat but well worth a visit. You can head out on a tour or rent a car from Bediyah Safari Tours.
13 Swim in Bimmah Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole has to be one of the most recognisable places in Oman, and it’s well worth the hour-and-a-half drive from Muscat. You can swim in the impressive sinkhole, which some locals believe was caused by a falling star, for hours or take a quick dip before heading to a nearby beach.
Inside Hawiyat Najm (the Falling Star) Park.
14 Become an amateur astrologer at the planetarium
If you’ve always wanted to find out more about the stars or are an amateur star-gazer, head to the planetarium. During the day you can attend talks while the night’s sky is projected onto the 11 m domed ceiling, or you can join the team on a desert trip and view it at night with no light pollution.
15 Explore Wadi Al Arbeieen
There are wadis all over Oman, but Wadi Al Arbeieen lies just a two-hour drive away from Muscat. Here you’ll find beautiful waters for swimming, great hiking spots and areas to relax and enjoy a barbeque.
Al Sharqiyah region.