Top Places To Visit in Muscat
Hotels and Homestays in Muscat
Weekend Getaways from Muscat
Muscat, Oman’s port capital, sits on the Gulf of Oman surrounded by mountains and desert. With history dating back to antiquity, it mixes high-rises and upscale shopping malls with clifftop landmarks such as the 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al Jalali and Mirani, looming over Muscat Harbor. Its modern, marble-clad Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, with 50m dome and prodigious Persian carpet, can accommodate 20,000 people.
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Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Muscat, the capital city, is a great place to start your Omani adventure. Head over to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque for a spiritual start to the day. The only mosque in the entire country that allows non-Muslims inside, this place is a true wonder. Set against the commanding Hajar Mountains and clad in smooth marble, the mosque is one of the largest and most impressive structures in Oman. Where the outside sparkles in polished marble, the inside has a massive eight-tonne chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The domes and pillars are equally stunning, covered in mosaic tiles in cobalt blue, sea green and shimmering turquoise.Price: Entry is free, but you need to cover your head. A scarf or abaya is available for rent for 2.50 OMR (Omani Rial) or ₹425Time: Saturday to Thursday, 8am to 11am, for non-Muslims
No trip to Muscat is concluded without a visit to the famous old-world Muttrah Souk. This is an antiquated local bazaar with shops arranged in confusing maze-style pathways. The souk sells everything from fresh local produce to regional spices, nuts, jewellery, antiques, fabrics, articfacts, footwear, paintings, ceramics and a host of other items.This is THE place in Oman to get your souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home. I picked up the token miniature gold camel and a stunning dagger embedded with colourful stones.
Omani Agraba – Muttrah Legend has it that Oman was mistaken to be India by European Travelers and they made Muttrah their main port for trade, back in time. Even today, in spite of the onslaught of modernity, Muttrah seems to be in a time wrap. Muttrah is an antique freak’s and shopper’s paradise. It has the oldest traditional market of west Asia called Muttrah Souq that flaunts an ambience built with Turkish lamps, spices and incenses. You can also see a large part of the city flaunting the old mud houses – similar to the ones shown in Aladdin. But it is not just about the old heritage; Muttrah is also known for its Corniche with lavish yachts and deep blue sea. Sounds like modern Agraba doesn’t it?
Before being a driver I always aspired how great it would be to roll a 4 wheeler on these shiny roads of Oman. My dream came through when I passed the road test on the third attempt with flying colours. Bismillah, what a feeling of emancipation.I come from a city where you get public transport for 18 hours a day, however in Oman the scenario is quite different. Without a driving licence in Oman, life is cut short, as public transport is almost non-existent. However recently the municipality has started Mawsalat Bus Service from Ruwi to Mubaila and back. However most folks still rely greatly on their personal vehicle as their only reliable mode of transport.So for my future fellow-mates and future inhabitants of this great city, I have sat down today to pen down my experience of learning to drive in Muscat. I will try to describe and enunciate as much as possible, but as rules and regulations often change in Oman, so I would request new drivers to consult a professional trainer before taking any decisions.I have often travelled miles on road, but this shortest and the most tense road trip was worth mentioning as it was the only one so far with an Arabic cop sitting beside me. As I look back now I can still feel the sense of adrenaline that rushed through my veins when he said "Start the car..lets hit the roads".Nitty–GrittyStep 1. Eye Test/Signal Test: Go to the nearby Royal Oman Police driver License department. Currently two are there. One in Al Khoudh another in Al Qurm. Get hold of a learners book for which you will need two passport size photographs with blue background and undergo an eye test. Also mug up the road signs then and there and give the signal test. These two tests are easier to pass, just take a day off for these two. Even you can go alone to the ROP license department and take these tests. All you need as paperwork is a valid civil id.Step 2. Drum Test:
4. Qantab is my favorite beach in Muscat. We rented a speed boat here and went for a cruise around. I could at times compare the experience with Capri island in Italy. The water was crystal clear - different shades of blue and green and there were many cave like structures. We discovered a secluded bay and asked our boat guy to drop us there and pick us after a few hours. This was such a narrow stretch of sand in the middle of the sea, with no-one to be seen around. I am not sure what we would have done if the boat guy would not have come to picked us up. This was one of the highlights of our trip. Do carry snorkeling gear and barbecue to complete the experience.
The National Museum of Oman
A few steps away is the National Museum, a classic place to understand the history and culture of Oman through the ages. There are interactive exhibits and a few short films that explain the history and keep you engaged. A couple of hours and you will have a full account of what Oman is all about. Do try the dates and qahwa at the museum cafe.Price: 5 OMR (₹850) for adults. Free for children and students, aged 26 or below.Time: Saturday to Thursday, 10am to 5pm. Friday, 2pm to 6pm.
After getting a taste of spirituality and culture, it's time to head over to experience some age-old customs. Muttrah Corniche of Old Muscat is the city's old commercial centre where you can see the impossible blue of the Gulf of Oman in beautiful contrast with sepia-coloured buildings constructed with arched doorways and latticed windows. You can end the day with a walk along the waterfront, some people-watching or simply feeding the seagulls.
Istanboly Turkish Restaurant
Let’s talk food – Istanboly! Okay, this might confuse a lot of Omanis as Istanboly is in Muscat, then why make it a separate destination? Well the reason is my friends. They way they talk about the Istanboly Shawarma is as if it comes from some different planet and no matter which Shawarma they eat from which country, they end up comparing it with Istanboly’s product and consider the shawarma as “nowhere close to the delicious Istanboly Shawarma”. So this would be my must eat at destination in Oman. There are a lot of other places that the sultanate has to explore like the Masirah Island, the fabled lost city or Atlantis of the sands, Queen Sheba’s palace and city ruins and many more; but these 10 top my list of “Experience Oman.” Hopefully, I will get to visit all these places some day and have a lot of Baklava, Omani halwa and Chocolate Dates - Yay to my sweet tooth!
End your day navigating through labyrinthine alleys of the famous Muttrah Souk. The streets of this traditional market are sheltered from the sun with carved timber roofs and stained-glass domes. Shop for traditional daggers, copper pots, gold and silver. You can also spot some exquisite Indian merchandise such as kajal and pashmina wear. Must try while shopping on the streets is Omani halwa, a wobbly, jelly-like sweet flecked with nuts and flavoured with rose. It is available with many street vendors throughout the market.Time: Saturday to Thursday, 8am to 1pm and 5pm to 9pm, Friday, 4pm to 9pm.
Wadi Wonders It won’t be wrong to call Oman the land of Wadis. Oman is known for its Ocher yellow and rust shade mountains hiding aquamarine pools and lush green terraces within them – called as Wadis. From the serpentine Snake Canyon aka Wadi Bimah to the gorgeous Wadi Bani Khalid, from the submerged cave and perennial waterfall of Wadi Shab to the peaceful Wadi Tiwi, the Wadis of Oman are a must visit. The best time to visit Wadis though is the Khareef season till late February as in the other season the heat and the comparatively dry pools steal the main essences of these places. The important thing to remember to travelling to Wadis is four wheel drive, normal vehicles won’t do you any good.
Bait Al Zubair
Next, visit the Bait Al Zubair Museum (about half an hour away from the mosque) for a peek into Oman’s rich heritage. Originally the residence of Sheikh Al Zubair bin Ali, an advisor to the former sultans, it has now been converted into a museum. Here you can see a fine collection of Omani artefacts, from jewellery to weaponry and even traditional attire.Price: 2 OMR (₹340) for adults, 1 OMR (₹170) for kids aged 10 and above, free for kids under 10Time: Saturday to Thursday, 9.30am to 6pm