Posted 25 January 2023 in Travel Wanderlust

8 Things to do in Muscat, Oman on your next getaway in the Gulf

Muscat is the capital of Oman, which shares its border with the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. This port capital of Oman is fenced with desert and mountains. Muscat is known for its glittering market places, also known as souks, and delicious seafood. Muscat is famous for its ancient and modern structures, such as Portuguese forts built in the 16th century and the modern Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. One can notice the traces of Portuguese in Muscat. Also, its topography is one of the highlights that attract tourists to Muscat. Some of the best things one can do in Muscat are trekking deserts, enjoying lavish Omani hospitality and spotting dolphins at sunset.

Places to visit in Muscat

1. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Situated in Muscat, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the largest in the country. The mosque is named after the present ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. The mosque, one of the most famous tourist attractions of Muscat, is built in a contemporary Islamic design.

The highlight of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is its minaret which is 90 metres in altitude, along with a remarkable dome. The mosque is bordered by four exterior towers marking prime directions.

What attracts tourists is its German-built chandelier in the main prayer hall above the world’s 2nd largest hand-woven carpet. The mosque is one of the magnificent pieces of modern Islamic architecture.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is among the very few mosques in the country that grants entry to visitors in the prayer hall, irrespective of their religion. One of the things to note while visiting this mosque is to cover yourself properly. Hands should be covered to the wrist and long pants should cover your legs until the ankle. This rule is for both men and women.

2. Muttrah Corniche

This corniche is located down the Sultan Qaboos Street in Muscat where the city’s three seaside forts stand. These forts - Al Jalali, Muttrah, and Al Mirani are proof of the Portuguese traces in the Gulf. In fact, Portuguese were the first ones to develop Muttrah Souk.

Corniche is a rounded waterfront area that offers paved paths and crafty shelters. This Muttrah Corniche is sprawled over three kilometres alongside the harbour. There are interlaced buildings and mosques along the beautiful corniche.

Sunset is the best time to visit it. One can ride a bike or go for an evening walk at the Muttrah Corniche.

3. Al Dhalam

Al Dhalam is the part between Khour Bimba and Al-Lawatia Mosque. It is an old-fashioned marketplace. It is also known as Market of Darkness because of the tightly packed shops. Al Dhalam is a maze of shops and one of the popular places in Muscat. The shops at the place are so impassable that even sunlight cannot enter Al Dhalam. The shops at Al Dhalam have been running for a long time and mostly sell spices, household goods, antiques, and clothing, among others.

Al Dhalam is the native name given to Muttrah Souq. The souq is Arab’s one of the first marketplaces. The souq gained momentum when people started sailing as it is placed on the way to China and India.

To check the high temperatures of Oman, the souq was initially made of palm leaves and mud as it used to be the best for the climate of the country.

4. Al Alam Palace

Al Alam Palace is the royal abode of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said and was used as his ceremonial palace. Located in Muscat, the palace is one of the six residents of the Sultan. The structure is built in the modern Islamic style with a frontage of gold and blue. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in Muscat.

The Al Alam Palace was built under the guidance of Imam Sultan bin Ahmed who was the seventh grandfather of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. The palace is over 200 years old. The current palace was rebuilt in 1972.

Visitors are not allowed in the inner grounds of the palace. However, they are allowed to take pictures near the gates. The Jalali and Mirani Forts, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century surround this palace. The Al Alam Palace is the main location where official functions take place. Also, the palace is used for hosting eminent visitors.

5. National Museum of Oman

Located in Muscat, the National Museum of Oman was inaugurated in the year 2016. The museum was established by the Ministry of Culture. Known as one of the popular places to visit in Muscat, the National Museum of Oman features an extraordinary maritime gallery that has stunningly created scale models of antique boats.

There is also an exhibition on forts, prehistory, and irrigation technology. The National Museum is home to 5,466 objects, including ancient metallic artefacts. The museum boasts 43 digital immersive experiences, conservation facilities, a learning centre, discovery areas for children and an ultra-high-definition cinema.

Also, the National Museum of Oman is the maiden museum in the Middle East to approve Arabic Braille script for the visually impaired.

6. Omani French Museum and Bait Al Zubair

The Omani French Museum and Bait Al Zubair are regarded as the treasure of Omani heritage. Bait Al Zubair was the abode of the Zubair family that was transformed into a private museum in the year 1998. The museum displays coins, jewellery, weapons, attires, and other household items.

The garden of the museum has replicas of an old water distribution system, a palm frond hut, a marketplace (souq), various boats and Bedouin stone houses.

Shopping in Muscat

Muscat in Oman has always been renowned and popular for dates, frankincense and perfumes. Frankincense is a gum-like material used in perfumes and incense. These things have been traded overseas for a long time from Oman.

Some of the things that one can bring back home with them from Muscat are silver trinkets, Moroccan lamps, Turkish plates, some expensive perfumes, Khalas dates and camel milk chocolates among others.

Also, one can buy traditional and antique souvenirs like ornamental daggers, also known as Omani khanjars.

There are a lot of marketplaces in Muscat to buy these items from. Some of the popular ones are Muttrah Souq, Amouage Factory, LuLu Hypermarket and several other malls in the city.

Muttrah Souq is known as a shopper’s paradise. It is one of the first places that any shopper would like to visit in Muscat. Amouage Factory is for exclusive and expensive perfumes.

Muscat’s gastronomical affair

Muscat is the food capital of Oman. From street foods to dishes in the fine-dining restaurants, you can have it all in Muscat. Omani dates, coffee and meat are already famous in the outside world.

To have an experience of authentic Omani flavours and dishes, try the national dish of Oman, Shuwa. Shuwa is made from the bones of goat or lamb and sometimes camel or beef. The key ingredients used in the dish are chilli peppers, cloves, cardamom, coriander and cumin.

Some of the other popular Omani dishes that every tourist must relish during their stay in the country are Falafel, Shawarma, Mishkak, khubz ragag and every non-vegetarian’s favourite, kebabs.

Travel tips

  • Follow a dress code while visiting religious places in Muscat.
  • Bringing drugs and alcohol is strictly prohibited in Muscat.
  • Learn some of the basic Omani words while visiting Muscat.
  • It is advisable to know basic Omani laws before visiting Muscat.
  • Keep your identity proofs and other documents handy and safe.

How to reach?

  • By air: Muscat International Airport serves the city of Muscat. The airport is located 15 km from the city centre. IndiGo operates direct flights to Muscat.
  • By train: Oman does not offer railway connectivity. However, plans are underway to develop Oman Rail, which will provide connectivity to the Sultanate of Oman from other gulf countries.
  • By road: You can reach Muscat via a bus from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Buses run between these cities at regular intervals. Oman National Transport Company offers public buses to several nearby destinations.

Best time to visit Muscat

The best and ideal time to visit Muscat is from November to March as the weather is perfect to explore the city. After March, it is really hot to step out in Muscat.


Muscat’s climate is hot and humid as the Sultanate of Oman is located just above the Tropic of Cancer. Summer months are unbearable in Muscat whereas winters are pleasant. January is the coldest month in Muscat with an average minimum temperature of 17°C


Muscat is one of the popular destinations in the middle-eastern countries. From places to visit, its souqs and dishes, Muscat never fails to amaze its visitors. Plan your itinerary according to the weather conditions of the city as it can be very hot in summers. However, the winters would be best to travel to Muscat.

When in Muscat, soak in the bliss of the oriental world. The Middle East is a very fascinating place. Make sure to witness the mix of culture and technology, a rare find in the modern times today.

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