A vacation or cruise to Oman is a popular getaway for those living in Dubai. In particular, Oman’s capital, Muscat, has a variety of attractions, from glorious mosques to fascinating museums to tranquil beaches. In this post, we’ll go over the top 10 places to visit in Muscat.
This stunning mosque is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Muscat. It lives up to its royal name. The chandelier is plated with 24 carat gold and made with over 600,000 Swarovski crystals. Further more, the Persian carpet is one of the largest in the world. The entire building is massive, capable of hosting up to 20,000 worshippers, and the walls are adorned with intricate mosaic designs. This is one of the few mosques in the city that welcome non-Muslims to enter and tour. The mosque is open to tourists from Saturday to Thursday, from 8:00 to 11:00.
Seeing an opera is always a grand cultural event. But the splendour of Muscat’s royal opera house makes it well worth a visit just to see the beautiful building. The Royal Opera house is the leading arts and culture center in Oman. The style of the building pays homage to Eastern, Islamic and Western influences, in a nod to the different cultural events hosted here. The building also makes use of clever methods of sound projection, to ensure a vivid concert experience. For only 3 OMR, visitors can book a tour of the building to learn all about its construction. You’ll also get a chance to admire the Opera House’s collection of instruments, which spans across different decades and regions.
This is a private museum, funded by the prominent Zubair family of Oman. This local heritage infuses the museum’s collection – in fact, many of the artefacts on display are from the family’s private compilation. Some of the items on display include ancient weaponry, fabulous jewellery, historic stamps, household implements and traditional costumes. Outside of the museum, there is a garden that features an Omani village, a souk, a boat display and a traditional water distribution system. Getting to wander around this environment truly helps visitors immerse themselves in the traditional Omani way of life.
This is a quiet, charming beach in Muscat that’s great for a day of relaxation under the sun. It’s very easily accessible and boasts golden sands and crystal clear water. One of the main advantages of this beach is the tranquillity – it’s not excessively crowded, which allows for a peaceful visit. However, there are still opportunities for a bit of excitement, via the nearby cafés and restaurants.
Wadi Al Arbaeen
Technically speaking, this wadi is about 90 minutes outside of Muscat. However, it is well worth the trip. The oasis is a real treasure, with fresh water, craggy rock formations, singing birds and local plant life. You’ll need a minimum of three hours to explore the area, and longer if you really want to take it in. It’s a great way to see Oman beyond the sandy dunes and intricate architecture.
This perfume factory is not some harsh workhouse with cold machines. Here, the perfumes are the works of craftsmen and visitors can examine the delicate individual scent components that go into making some of the world’s most luxurious perfumes. Those on a tour have the opportunity to take home free samples, but anyone looking to purchase a proper bottle better have their wallet ready- these high-end perfumes can be quite dear. Perfumes are a huge part of Arabian culture, used to mask the sweat from the sun and provide allure for someone modestly covered up. Further more, learning more about Arabian perfumes provides insight into Muscat from a unique point of view.
Ghalya’s Modern Museum of Art
Interestingly, this is not a modern art museum in the traditional sense. There is a section of the museum dedicated to modern art as we currently understand the term. But the bulk of the museum is about exploring Oman’s past, particularly between the years of 1950 and 1975. The museum reconstructs what a house would have looked like during that time period. It shows an authentic layout featuring a majlis, women’s room, child’s room, kitchen and guest room. The artefacts within are also authentic to the time period, so visitors can really feel like that they have stepped backwards in time and have been invited to the home of an Omani gentleman. The museum is open Saturday to Thursday from 9.30am to 6pm, and the entrance fee is only OMR 1.
This lovely corniche is perfect for a leisurely walk or bike ride. The softly-lit buildings along the shore, with their latticed windows, make for a perfect backdrop. For most visitors, however, the corniche’s greatest attraction is its souq, which sells wares from all over the world and brings to mind the traditional Arabian bazaars. One can find antiques, textiles, hardware and jewellery in the stalls and haggling for a better deal is simply part of doing business there. Further more, it is a great place for a tourist to find souvenirs.
The Sultan’s Palace, or Al Alam Palace, is the ceremonial home of the Sultan, which he uses to welcome state dignitaries. The building is certainly eye-catching, with tall trumpet-shaped pillars painted in gold and turquoise. The interior of the palace is not open to the public, but the grounds are beautiful enough to compensate. The entire area is home to government buildings, many of which have unique architectural features that are interesting in their own right. The Ministry of Finance, for example, boasts a set of beautiful carved doors painted with phrases from the Quran.
Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque
The Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque is a relatively new addition to Muscat – it opened in 2014. However, it can proudly take its place as one of the city’s most beautiful mosques. It is especially spectacular at night, as the domes are light up to resemble golden-hued crowns on top of the building. It’s definitely worth making a trip at dusk to take a photo. Further more, if you want to see the interior of the mosque, you’ll need to make the trip in the morning, sometime between 8:00 and 11:00.
There’s a lot to see in Muscat, even for someone who is coming from Dubai. The city has its own unique charms that make the city special. We hope you’ve found our guide to Muscat helpful. Should you ever stop by, whether via a cruise, a drive or stopover, make sure to visit the unique heritage and nature spots of this great city ~the top 10 places to visit in Muscat.