Guide to Oman's Capital City of Muscat |

Guide to Oman's Capital City of Muscat

Muscat lies sparkling white, topped with golden minarets in the middle of a maze of brown pleated mountains.

Posted on

18 July 2013

Last updated on 14 June 2017
Guide to Oman's Capital City of Muscat

Muscat, the capital city of Oman lies sparkling white, topped with golden minarets in the middle of a maze of brown pleated mountains reaching down to the Arabian Sea. This city is a blend of the old and the new. Muscat is green as green can be, and defies being classified as part of a desert country. The roads are lined with well-manicured green lawns and trees. During winter this is interspersed with a profusion of multicoloured flowers.

The city that is refered to as Muscat today is actually three towns that have merged and created one larger Omani city. Originally there was Muscat which was often referred to as the walled city. It was oficially the town where the royal palaces stood proud and many a Sultan called the town home. The second town was Matrah (also known as Muttrah) which used to be a fishing village but is now known for its expansive souk and gorgeous corniche. Finally there was the town of Ruwi, which is considered the commercial hub of Muscat now. Due to this merger of cities many people find the distances between the three inconvenient especially the distances between accomodation and place of work. Ruwi is said to be heavily congested with traffic during peak hours as it is the place where a lot of business gets done.


The city has steadfastly retained its old-world character. Old Muscat has a quaint charm about it with many forts, castles, mosques and towers doting the landscape. Of particular note are Jalali and Mirani forts flanking Al Alam Palace. The Corniche, with its promenade and souqs (markets) is one of the highlights of the city. The old souq of Muttrah is an ideal spot for tourists to buy keepsakes and treasures. Greater Muscat boasts high-rise business properties (but not too high), world-class highways, upscale suburbs rooted in traditional Islamic architecture, elegant mosques, large green parks, archaeological sites, museums and world-class hotels.
While the whole of the Sultanate provides epic entertainment, both in and out door, Muscat offers many things to keep a visitor (or resident) occupied. Here is a list of things to see and do in Muscat:

Al Jalali Fort, Muscat - Al Jalali Fort and Al Mirani fort They are located in Qasr Al Alam Street. The forts were built as prisons in the rocky mountains in 1580 during the Portugese occupation, and have now been converted into museums. Update as of August 2012, the forts are now closed to the public. However, outside photography is allowed.

Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace - Guarded by the twin forts of Jalali and Mirani, this is the office of Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.

Corniche Area - The recently renovated Corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many eating places. Climb to the base of Mutrah Fort (at the east end of the Corniche walk) for a spectacular view of the city.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque - This is the third largest mosque in the world and mostly the entire complex is open to non-Muslim visitors. Non-Muslims may visit from 8AM to 11AM every day except Thursday and Friday. Ladies are however expected to keep their heads, ankles and wrists covered while visiting the mosque. Must sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made persian carpet in the world and the marble panelling.

Bait az-Zubair Museum - The museum itself features displays on Omani social history, while tours are frequently run of the neighbouring reconstructed townhouse

Nakhal Fort - Muscat also has a large number of small and large parks, the largest being the Qurum National Park or rose gardens which include a large manmade waterfall, a lake and an amusement park which is a must to visit during the Muscat festival. Other popular parks include:

Riyam park - also with rides and an Arabian watch tower. Visited in The Amazing Race 9

A number of factories are open for visitors such as the Omani halwah factory and the Amouage perfume factory. Amouage perfume is the most valuable perfume in the world.

Nakhal Fort - This splendid fort is about 40 minutes drive east of the city, located at the base of the Jebel Akhdar section of the Hajar Mountains.

Wadi Shab - This is perhaps the most spectacular of all the easily accessible wadis in Oman. It is located about 100 km southeast of Muscat, accessed from the main coastal road to Sur at the village of Tiwi. The pools here are a vivid Emerald Green colour, and the caves and sheer sides of the wadi really dramatic.


Bait Al Zubair
Bait Muzna Gallery
Children's Museum, Shatti al qurum
Marine Science & Fisheries Centre, between the Al Bustan Palace Hotel and the Capital Yacht Club.
National Museum, near Abdulridha Mosque-Ruwi.
Natural History Museum, in the Minstry of National Heritage and Culture. Al Khuwair
Omani French Museum, Near muscat police stn, Located at old Muscat in Bait Fransa.
Omani Museum, Medinat Al Alam (Information City) near Ministry of Information.
The Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, Bait al falaj.

Walk down the waterfront in the Corniche area to catch a cool sea breeze, and treat yourself to some sandwiches and Halib (tea with milk) or Sulaimani (black tea) at one of the wayside restaurants. A cup of tea costs about 50 baisa. From the waterfront enter the Mutrah Souk and bargain for Arab hand-embroidered mussar (shawls intended to be worn as turbans, which cost 10 rials and above), garments, nuts, spices, incense, earthen ware and the like. Before getting back to your hotel have dinner at one of the wayside restaurants on the waterfront.

Muscat is a city like no other. You can enjoy a five star meal in a world class restaurant and walk along an incrdibly lit cornice in the evening and then indulge in some rock climbing the following morning. It is one of the most diverse cities when activities are concerned, and not just sports activities. One can see a variety of art at one of the musieums of catch the opera or a dance troupe. It is all possible and if you are visiting Muscat try and squeeze as much as you can in.