Here’s a movie about Muscat. This movie will give you a quick impression of the destination. The movie is produced for IFLYtheworld.com by bluepig.nl.
Grand mosque (1 hr)
A highlight you absolutely have to visit in Muscat is the Grand Mosque. It is a huge complex and it is absolutely beautiful. The Sultan of Oman paid for this complex and they didn’t save on expenses.
A major feature of the design of the interior is the prayer carpet, which covers the floor of the prayer hall. It is the second largest single piece carpet in the world. It contains, 1,700,000 knots, weighs 21 tones and took four years to produce.
Another great thing to see is the second largest chandelier in the world, which weighs 8 tones and has a spiral staircase inside to change the bulbs.
The mosque is open to non-Muslim visitors every morning from 8 am to 11 am. It is located at Sultan Qaboos Road in between Muscat and the airport. The entrance is free. It’s ok to take pictures and for sure you have to do that.
Women need to wear a long skirt, have to cover their arms completely and should wear a kerchief, which has to cover the hair and neck completely. There is staff walking around to check if you dress appropriate. If you don’t have the right clothes you can rent them at the entrance.
Al Bustan palace (2 hrs)
One of the most beautiful hotels in Muscat is the Al Bustan Palace. The Sultan of Oman, who has his own Royal floor, owns the hotel. The complex houses an auditorium where the Oman Philharmonic Orchestra plays.
Al Bustan Palace is located 8 kilometres outside Muscat and is set against a dramatic mountain backdrop on 200 acres of private beach and lush green gardens. Every taxi driver will know where it is. And if you’re driving yourself, it’s very easy as well. From old Muscat you don’t go in the direction of Muttrah but follow the road to the other side and you’ll get there.
If you can’t afford to stay in the hotel but still like to see the wonderful places, there’s a daily tour 4.30. The tour is free and will take about 45 minutes. While waiting for the tour you can enjoy a free Arab coffee ceremony in the lobby.
The hotel has a beautiful garden, beach and pools. Unfortunately it’s not possible to use that only for a day if you’re not a hotel guest. But there are some monthly memberships though.
Fish market in Muttrah (1½ hr)
The fish market in Muttrah is one of the places where tourists love to stop by and watch the live activity of the boats unloading their catch and the fishermen selling their fish. The variety of different types of fish gives an idea how the Omani Sea is rich of marine life.
You will find the market nearby Muttrah Cornish in a huge white building. Next to the building you will see many boats and birds flying around, waiting for their share. Best time to visit the fish market is in the morning from 6 am to 10 am when all the ships come in and there’s a lot of activity.
Inside the market you can also visit the vegetable market, which sells all fresh type of vegetables and fruits. There are special areas where the cutting of the fish is done.
Scuba diving (½ day)
Diving is a good option in Muscat as the sea around Oman is very rich of marine life. You can go diving at several places around Muscat but if you really like to see something beautiful you have to go to Daymaniyat Islands.
The Daymaniyat Islands helped place Oman on the world dive map. This string of offshore islands North of Muscat has been placed under the protection of UNESCO and provides divers with pristine coral gardens, walls and abundant fish life. Various shark species are encountered here, including the black tip and leopard sharks.
There are many dive centres. Just twenty minutes away from Muscat’s historical centre, Oman Dive Center is nestled inside one of the bays of Bandar Jesse. A really good dive centre to go to Daymaniyat is Global Scuba, which is based in the Civil Aviation Club close to most of the major hotels.
Dolphin watching (½ day)
The waters of the Gulf of Oman are rich in fish and have long been home to dolphins. Curious and friendly, these marvellous sea mammals often come very close to the boat. Though it’s not guaranteed you will see them, pods of hundreds of dolphins are regularly spotted during dolphin trips.
There are several tour operators who try to sell you a dolphin tour year-round, but they only try to make money. Dolphins are very efficient hunters and they are mainly seen during the tuna season, which is from September to January. The rest of the year chances of spotting dolphins are small.
So there are many operators, but mind the season. A nice operator is Gulf Leisure as they have a wonderful glass bottom boat, which gives you great views.
Wadi Al Shab (½ – 1 day)
A wadi is a dried up riverbed found in the mountain valleys. Wadis come into their own after heavy rains, when the rivers start running again and the vegetation is restored. But some wadis are worth a visit during the whole year.
Wadi Shab lies in Niyabat Tiwi, a two-hour drive from Muscat in the direction of Sur. It is easy to reach this wadi from the Qurayyat-Sur highway. It has at least seven pools of shimmering emerald green water studded beautiful boulders. One of the pools is in a cave where light streams in dramatically from above and there are fantastic echoes as you swim and splash.
Normally when you go to a wadi you have to go by four-wheel drive vehicle. But this you can go to Wadi al Shab easily by normal car. Just rent a car and the drive along the coast is beautiful. Bring a lot of water and a picnic if you like.
Visit Nizwa (½ - 1 day)
Nizwa is one of the oldest cities in Oman and it was once a centre of trade, religion, education and art. The main tourist attractions in the city are Nizwa Fort and the traditional Souq
Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’rubi built Nizwa Fort in 1668 A.D. It is Oman's most visited national monument. The fort reflects the military engineering prowess of fort-builders of a bygone time. It is also one of the Sultanate's finest historical edifices.
The city, famous for its handicrafts and agricultural products, has an expansive souq with an array of products, which is located around Nizwa Fort. It is one of the most important in the country besides Muttrah Souq. The souq bustles with vendors selling everything from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables to spices, dates, gold and silverware. Nizwa is renowned for its silver jewelry, which is considered to be the best in the country. The souq is open from early morning to late evening.
Nizwa is about two-hour drive from Muscat. It’s easy to rent a car. This can be a normal car as the roads to Nizwa are of good quality. The fort is open daily from 7.30 am to 4 pm. There’s no admission fee.
Muttrah souq (1½ hr)
The traditional Arabic market place is called the souq and these are found in many of the towns throughout the Sultanate. A souq is still the source of many Omani families' daily household needs.
One of the oldest preserved souqs in Oman is in Muttrah a few minutes away from old Muscat. The main entrance is on Muttrah Corniche but there are many small streets in the village behind the Corniche that lead into the souq.
It’s a place where you will have many nice picturesque scenes, and it’s also the place to buy your Omani souvenirs like Omani pots, paintings, hookah pipes, framed khanjars, leatherwork and incense. The mixed smells of frankincense, perfume oils, fresh jasmine and spices are dominating the souq and of course you have to bring some home.
Muttrah Souq is open all day but best time to go there is in the evening. And don’t forget to bargain of course.
Dune Bashing (1 - 3 days)
Oman has a lot of beautiful dessert and if you like to discover it you should go Dune bashing. There are many operators who can arrange that for you. There are options where you can drive yourself, which is fun of course, but the most thrilling experience you’ll get in a four-wheel drive car with a professional driver.
A trip from Muscat and back will take you a whole day, but it’s definitely unforgettable. You’ll experience both the tranquility of breathtaking scenery and the excitement of the dune bashing. If you have time, there are options of several days as well.
It’s advisable to book your tour with a professional operator. There’s Gulf Leisure for example or Sun and Sand Tours.
Prices vary on the amount of passengers and your personal demands. You will find the prices and options at the web pages of the mentioned operators.
IFLYtheworld.com tries to be up-to-date with all travel information. If you despite our effort experience some things we need to know to update our tips, send us a message.
Prices of tips and articles are shown in local currency. To see it in another currency convert it here.
Prices are of course subject to changes. If you experience another amount as shown in this tip, let us know.
Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Muscat.