Grand mosques, impressive forts and great cuisine. The capital of Oman might not be top of many people’s travel wish list, but it has plenty to reward the more adventurous voyager.
If you’re thinking about heading to Muscat on your next vacation, then you’re sure to not be disappointed. To give you a good idea of what you can expect when you hit this thriving capital city, here is a tourist’s guide to Oman’s largest city.
The city of Muscat is actually three smaller towns that, over time, have meshed and grown into one city. The original city of Muscat is often referred to as the “walled city”. This area was initially the place where the royal palaces were built.
Matrah (Matruh), which was located just outside of Muscat, was a fishing village and is also home to the Matrah Souq.
The third city that makes up the preset day Muscat is Ruwi. This area has now become the more commercial area of the city.
There isn’t a whole lot of variation in terms of the weather in Muscat. If you’re looking for a tropical tourist destination, then this city is sure to not disappoint. Muscat is quite humid, the weather often being comparable to the Caribbean. With very little annual rainfall, the temperatures average from being in the mid 20C to 30C, to sometimes over 40C between April to October.
There are a number of ways to get around in Muscat, though the two most popular are via “maxi taxis” and cars. You’ll be able to find many international car rental agencies inside of Muscat, such as Hertz and Avis, though they also have other car rental companies such as Al Marskry Rent-A-Car and Al Maha Rent A Car. Given that Muscat is, in fact, three smaller cities now combined in one, travellers may need to commute quite a ways to get across town.
There are a ton of wonderful attractions inside of Muscat. The Corniche Area is a “must visit” area. Make sure that you convert your currency prior to leaving for Muscat so that you can enjoy some of the fantastic cuisine in this area. After a light lunch or dinner, visitors can then climb to the base of the Mutrah Fort to get a breathtaking view of this ancient city. Most of the attractions and shopping is reasonably-priced, but it can be pricey in places. .
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is also truly a sight to see. It’s the third largest mosque in the world and is open to non-Muslim visitors (apart from between 8am to 11am on Thursday and Friday). Check out the second largest hand-made Persian carpet in the mosque, or take in the Swarovski crystal chandelier and the luxurious marble paneling.
Some other must-see attractions include: Riyam park, Quarum National Park, Wadi Shab and Bait az-Zubair Museum.
And if you’re travelling longer in Oman, you won’t want to miss Wadi Nakhar, also known as the Omani Grand Canyon. Check our special report.