10 Places to Take in the Wonders of Muscat

Far from being an ultra-modern desert city, Muscat is where turquoise waters meet old-world charm.

Don’t mistake Muscat as just another glitzy desert destination. Sitting on the Gulf of Oman, this charming city is surrounded by mountains and is home to many impressive works of architecture, stunning natural landscapes and friendly locals.

With the city’s best mostly within a 25-minute drive from Fraser Suites Muscat, it’s easy to experience Muscat’s history, nature and modernity no matter the length of your stay.

Discover Natural Muscat

Qurum Beach

Beaches might not be what you’d immediately associate with Muscat, but you’ll be surprised to know that many pristine beaches surround the city, complete with plenty of restaurants, cafes and shops to check out. With temperatures rarely dipping below 20°C (68°F) in the day, it’s no wonder Muscat’s beaches are popular all year round.

Head to the well-known Qurum Beach and grab a meal at Arax Falafel. Just by the beach in Shatti Mall, tuck into some chicken shawarma (slow roasted seasoned meat slices shaved off a vertical rotisserie and usually served in a wrap) and fresh falafel while you work up a tan. In search of water activities? Several boat tours offer snorkelling, fishing or dolphin-watching trips out from the beach.

Muttrah Corniche

Muttrah Corniche in Muscat, Oman

One of Muscat’s most vibrant areas, the recently redeveloped Muttrah Corniche is a popular promenade lined with 19th-century merchants’ houses and colourful minarets. Stretching from Old Muscat to Muttrah Fish Market, take a leisurely 40-minute stroll overlooking the Gulf of Oman or hire a bike for free near Riyam Park.

If time permits, visit just before sunset – the shadows cast on the corniche by the surrounding mountains as the sun dips make for a spectacular evening view.

Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab in Muscat, Oman

Have time to spare? Then take a 90-minute drive to Wadi Shab, the ‘Gorge Between Cliffs’ on the outskirts of the city. Here, you’ll find clear, turquoise waters surrounded by palm trees and even a cave with a waterfall!

The journey to the cave is not without some effort though. At high tide, you’ll have to take a short dinghy ride from the carpark to where you’ll start a 45-minute hike through rocky cliffs and palm groves before finally reaching the cave.

Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit – while swimming in the lower pools is forbidden, you can opt to wade in the cave or in the numerous pools along the hiking route. For the brave hearted, try jumping off the 6m-high cliffs.

Experience Old Muscat

The National Museum of Oman

The National Museum of Oman is a contrasting, contemporary addition to Old Muscat. Once inside, take time to explore the rich heritage stories on display. Using carefully selected artefacts, the story of Oman’s journey from the first human settlement some two million years ago to present day is meticulously woven together in this impressive museum.

Designed such that space, light and height are used to enhance the displays in the museum, the museum is also equipped with a learning centre, conservation facilities and an ultra-high definition cinema screening a variety of short films on the country.

Muscat Gate Museum

Muscat Gate Museum in Muscat, Oman

Located above the gate to Old Muscat, learn more about the history of Oman and the city’s journey of development through the years at the Muscat Gate Museum. Once part of the old city wall, it offers an excellent view of both Old Muscat and the Corniche.

Bait Al Zubair Museum

This private museum in the heart of Old Muscat is home to a vast collection of traditional Omani handicrafts, furniture, ancient weapons, jewellery, clothing and more. The Bait Al Zubair Museum also functions as a cultural centre, hosting a variety of art exhibitions within the museum’s grounds all year round.

The cultural experience doesn’t stop there. Before you go, have a meal at Bait Al Dalaleel, the museum’s in-house cafe. Set in a carefully restored Omani house, you’ll also find a bedroom, guest lounge and even a date store in here!

Muttrah Souq

Pottery wares at Muttrah Souq in Muscat, Oman

Possibly one of the oldest marketplaces in the world, Muttrah Souq is a buzzing traditional Arab market located right in the centre of Muttrah Corniche.

It’s easy to get lost in here. The labyrinthine alleys will take you past shops selling a wide range of eclectic goods, including copper coffee pots, frankincense, traditional garments and even khanjar – a traditional ceremonial dagger that is also the national symbol of Oman. You’ll also find an array of Omani snacks such as sambusa (triangular fried pastries with a savoury filling) and kebabs here. Don’t forget to bargain and pay in cash to get the best deals!

Al Alam Palace

Go back in time with a visit to the 200-year-old Al Alam Palace, or more commonly known as the Sultan’s Palace, the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos.

Sitting at the end of a wide, palm tree-lined avenue, the palace is especially spectacular at dusk with dramatic lights reflecting off the blue and gold façade and its iconic mushroom pillars. While the palace is not open to the public, you’re free to roam the grounds and snap a couple of photos.

See Modern Muscat

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman

This opulent, marble-clad Islamic architectural masterpiece was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark his 30th year as the Sultan of Oman. Completed in 2002, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque can accommodate up to 20,000 people!

The mosque is the only one in Oman open to non-Muslim visitors, so don’t miss the chance to visit its prayer halls. The grand prayer hall houses the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world which took 600 women four years to weave, while you can find a 14-metre high chandelier adorned with 600,000 Swarovski crystals in the men’s prayer hall. If you don’t wish to enter, the grounds of the mosque are great for capturing a couple of photos too.

After your visit, break for a meal at Bin Ateeq. Favoured by locals for their shuwa – spicy marinated lamb or camel slow roasted in an underground oven – and traditional carpet seating, you can be sure of an authentic Omani culinary experience here.

The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House in Muscat, Oman

Even if you’re not intending to catch a performance here, The Royal Opera House is well worth a visit. Completed in 2011, this majestic music and arts venue is the first of its kind in the region. Don’t be fooled by its understated exterior – the use of inlaid wood and arabesque designs for its interior makes for an exquisite work of art.

For a truly luxurious Omani culinary experience, make a reservation at Al Angham just next door. Similarly decked out in intricate woodwork, the contemporary dishes coupled with charming Omani hospitality makes for an unforgettable, posh pre-performance dinner.

 

Cap off a day of exploration with a well-deserved rest at the newly opened Fraser Suites Muscat, a luxurious serviced residence offering a host of business and relaxation facilities in the heart of the city. With an enviable location just moments away from attractions and historical sites, doing business and leisure in the Omani capital could not be easier.

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