20 hotels in this place
Muscat is the most populous city and the capital of the Sultanate of Oman.
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Points of Interest in Muscat
- Al Jalali Fort, Qasr Al Alam St. Built as a prison in the rocky mountains in the 1580s during the Portuguese occupation, now converted into a museum devoted to Omani heritage. Unfortunately the fort is only opened to visiting dignitaries and heads of state and not open to the general public, but it's still possible to climb the steep stairs up to the top and to enjoy the view.
- Al Mirani Fort, Al Mirani St. Built at the same time as Al Jalali Fort which it faces across the harbor. This fort has also been converted to a museum which is closed to the general public, but it can be freely appreciated from the outside.
- Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace. This is the office of Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour and is guarded on either side by the twin forts of Mirani and Jelali. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.
- Bait Al Zubair Museum, Al Bahri Rd, ☎ +968 24 736688. Sa-Th 9:30am-6pm. The museum itself features displays on Omani social history, while tours are frequently run of the neighbouring reconstructed townhouse.
- Omani French Museum, Qasr al-Alam St (in Bait Fransa near the police station). Sa-W 8am-1pm, Th 9am-1pm. This small museum has displays detailing the relations between France and Oman, with many colonial objects from the 19th century. OMR0.500.
- Muscat Gate Museum, Al Bahri Rd. Sa-Th 8am-2pm. This museum marks the location of the old city wall, and has the original city gates which were used until the 1970s. The location offers good views of Old Muscat and the palace.
- Bait Muzna Gallery, Saidiya St, Way 8662, House 234 (opposite Bait al Zubair Museum), ☎ +968 24739 204, fax: +968 24739205, e-mail: email@example.com. A gallery representing primarily Omani artists, and a few Oman-based western artists.
- Aquarium and Marine Science and Fisheries Centre (between the Al Bustan Palace Hotel and the Capital Yacht), ☎ +968 24 736449. Currently closed for maintenance, expected to reopen at the beginning of 2014.
- Corniche, Al Bahri Rd. The recently renovated corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many not-so-expensive eating places. There are also good view of the fishing dhows in the harbour.
- Fish market (fish souq), Al Bahri Rd (along the Corniche, across from the Marina Hotel). Daily 6am-10am. Visitors can watch fishermen unload and sell the catch of the day.
- Bait al-Baranda Museum, Al Mina St, ☎ +968 24 714262. This renovated house from the 1930s has exhibits illustrating the history of Muscat. The lower level is devoted to pre-history and palaeontology, while the upper level is devoted to human history and ethnography. OMR1 (adults), OMR0.500 (children).
- Mutrah Fort. Built by the Portuguese in the 1580s, this fort is not open to the public, but visitors are permitted to climb up the hill to the outside for a good view of the area.
- Riyam Park, Al Bahri Rd. This park also has a small funfair with rides. Great views can be had from the giant incense burner perched on the hillside. Visited in The Amazing Race 9.
- Old waterfront watchtower, Al Bahri Rd (across from Riyam Park). This restored Portuguese watchtower on the waterfront is a good place to catch views of the sunset.
- Old souq watchtower (near Mutrah Souq and Mutrah St). This Portuguese watchtower has also been restored, and although the tower itself is closed to the public, the hill can be climbed for some great views of Mutrah and the Corniche. There is no clearly-defined path to the top; the easiest access is from the northwest.
- Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, Al Wadi Khabir (on the Corniche, near Mutrah Fort), ☎ +968 24 711640, fax: +968 24 711620, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Th 9:30am-6pm. Opened in 2011, this museum is made up of a cluster of houses and comprises three distinct sections. The Old House is set up with furnishings and displays appropriate to an Omani house between 1950 and 1970, i.e. before the accession of Sultan Qaboos. The still unopened Clothes Museum exhibits traditional Omani clothing as well as international costumes, and the Modern Art Museum displays modern artworks from Omani and international artists, hosting occasional special exhibits. OMR 1 (adults 12+), 500 Bzs (children 6-12).
Al Ghubrah, Al Khuwair, Al Qurm, and Bawshar
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, As Sultan St (Al Khuwair). Sa-Th 8am-11am (for non-Muslims). This is the third largest mosque in the world and mostly the entire complex is open to non-Muslim visitors; ladies are however expected to keep their heads, ankles and wrists covered while visiting the mosque. Must-sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made Persian carpet in the world, and the marble panelling.
- Natural History Museum (across the highway from the ice-skating rink). Sa 8am-1:30pm; Su 8am-1:30pm, 4pm-6pm; M-W 8am-1:30pm; Th 9am-1pm.
- Children's Museum, 2601 Way (Al Qurm). Sa-W 8am-1:30pm, Th 9am-1pm.
- Omani Museum (Medinat Al Alam, on top of Information Hill near the Ministry of Information), ☎ +968 24 600946. Sa-W 9:30am-1:30pm, Th 9am-1pm. This small museum has a good collection of archaeological exhibits, and is worth visiting for the excellent views. 500 Bzs.
- Qurm National Park (Qurum Natural Park) (Al Qurm). Has extensive rose gardens, a large manmade waterfall, a lake and an amusement park which is a must to visit during the Muscat Festival.
- Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre, Seih Al Maleh St (on the right-hand side at the end of the street just before PDO Gate 2), ☎ +968 24 677834. Sa-Th 7am-12am, 1pm-4pm; Th 7am-12am. This private museum has six permanent displays explaining the formation of, and modern extraction of oil and natural gas.
- Planetarium, Seih Al Maleh St (adjacent to the Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre (see listing above)), ☎ +968 24 675542, fax: +968 24 675553, e-mail: planetarium.pdo.co.om. Su-Th. A full-dome digital system, which can accommodate up to 60 visitors. Two shows a week are presented in English; call or email to confirm times and to make reservations. Free.
- Bait Al Makham (Bait Al Magham) (Bawshar), ☎ +968 24 641300 x142 (call ahead). S-W 8am-2pm. A fortified house built at the beginning of the 20th century, now restored and with excellent views from the top of the building. 500 Bzs.
- Bawshar Fort, Al Safa St (Bawshar). A large, photogenic ruined mud-brick fortress in a scenic location. Behind the fortress are scattered ruins and a long rampart wall, still unexcavated. Along the ridgeline in the hills are some prehistoric beehive graves. Free.
Ruwi and Qantab
- Currency Museum, Al Bank Al Markazi St (within the Central Bank of Oman building), ☎ +968 24 796102. Sa-W 09:00-13:00. Has interesting displays of Omani currency, both coin and notes, with specimens from early history to the present day. 250 Bzs , free for children under 6.
- National Museum, An Noor St (near Abdulridha Mosque), ☎ +968 24 701289. Sa-W 8am-1:30pm, Th 9am-1pm. Houses jewelry, costumes, and furniture. 500 Bzs.
- Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, Al Mujamma St (Bait al-Falaj), ☎ +968 24 312648. This excellent museum is housed in a building built in 1845 as a royal summer home. The lower level has displays on Oman's history, and the upper level examines Oman's international relations and military history. All visitors are given a mandatory military escort. OMR1.
- Sohar boat, Al Bustan Roundabout (near the Al Bustan Palace Hotel in Qantab). This boat was built in the dhow yards of Sur, south of Muscat. In 1980 Tim Severin and a crew of Omanis sailed in this vessel from Oman to Ghangzhou, China in an effort to recreate the legendary voyages of Sindbad. Severin wrote about the undertaking in his book 'The Sindbad Voyage'.
The city referred to as "Muscat" is in fact three smaller towns which have grown together over time. These are:
- Muscat - often referred to as the "walled city", Muscat proper is the site of the royal palaces.
- Matrah (Matruh) - originally a fishing village, and home to the maze-like Mutrah Souq.
- Ruwi - generally considered the commercial and diplomatic centre of the city.
This tripartite division will sometimes cause the visitor an inconvenience, as distances between sites (and accommodation) can be very long.
As an alternative to the main CBD that collectively comprises these three areas, there are plenty of places to go to and things to see along the main highway that heads northeast out of the CBD. This main road, the Sultan Qaboos Highway, goes past many areas on its way out to the airport and further still to Seeb, Sohar and eventually the northern most tip of Oman.
Heading along this road you pass the districts of Qurum, Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Al Khuwair, Bausher, Al-Hail and Seeb. Each one has a range of sights to see and places to stay.
There is also a very long beach road from Qurum to Seeb, some 50 km. Situated along this are some of the large international hotel chains but, more importantly, you discover the true beauty of the Oman coast-line: kilometres of beaches, fishermen with drag nets and open space to walk for hours.
Festivals and cultural events
- Royal Opera House Muscat, Al Kharjiyah ST, ☎ +968 24 403300, fax: +968 24 403322, e-mail: email@example.com. This stunning building is the venue for a wide range of performing arts, including western classical music, classical Arabian music, jazz and flamenco, and ballet and modern dance.
- Muscat Festival. Held annually from late January to early February, this month-long event celebrates Omani culture and traditions with demonstrations, food, dance and music performances, and other entertainment.
There is some outstanding trekking in northern Oman, and for a taste there are a couple of easy treks within or very close to Muscat.
- Trekking path C38 (from Riyam Park to Mutrah Souq). This short hike takes the walker away from the modern world of Muscat and also offers fantastic views of the rugged mountains surrounding the capital city. The path begins in Riyam Park, and follows a 5000-year-old trail used by miners to an abandoned village, then finally finishes near Mutrah Souq. Allow for 1.5-2 hours, with an additional 20-minute return walk along the Corniche. A decent trail map can be found here.
- Trekking paths C52 and C53 (Bandar Jissah coastline). These two easy treks offer beautiful views over the coastline. Both trails begin in Bandar Jissah. Trail map for C52; trail map for C53.
- BlueZone Diving, Bander al Rhowda Marina, ☎ +968 24 737293, e-mail: Bluzone@omantel.net.om. This center offers diving trips, as well as a full range of PADI courses.
- Oman Dive Center (Bandar Jissah, 15 km south of Muscat), ☎ +968 24 824240, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This German-operated center conducts diving trips and PADI certification courses. The private beach is open to day visitors (OMR2 on weekdays, OMR4 on weekends), and it is possible to stay overnight in one of their beach bungalows (OMR49-176, depending on season and size of party; breakfast and dinner included). There is no public transportation to this area, so visitors will need to take a taxi or rental car.
- Omanta Scuba, Al Kharjiya St, Shatti (in the boat house at the InterContinental Hotel), ☎ +968 97 700564, e-mail: email@example.com. Conducts diving trips and a full range of PADI courses, as well as dolphin-watching tours. Diving destinations include the Damaniyat Islands, Fahal Island and Bhandra Kharan, with other destinations depending on demand.
With many excellent trails nearby, Muscat has a fast-growing mountain bike community. Bike Oman organizes weekly mountain bike excursions on Thursday, most of which begin within a 20-45 min. drive from Muscat. During the summer they organize weekly night time rides, usually on Mondays.
- Oman Bicycle Shop (behind the Radisson Hotel, Al Khuwair), ☎ +968 96773824. Sa 3pm-7pm; S-Th 10am-1pm, 3pm-7pm; F closed. Mountain bikes can be rented here by the day, weekend, or week.
On private beaches (i.e. those attached to hotels) western swimwear is acceptable. On public beaches, however, visitors should be mindful of Omani conservative norms. Women are advised to stick with one-piece suits, and men should opt for longer swimming shorts (not speedos); keep shoulders and knees covered unless you are actually on the beach. Women may find a parasol helpful to hide from prying eyes.
Beaches with a sign 'Family Beach' are closed to single or bachelor men.
- Qurum Public Beach (Qurum). No facilities except open showers. Clean and well-maintained, with places offering jetskis for rent near the Intercontinental. This beach gets very busy on weekends. Free.
- Marjan Public Beach (PDO Public Beach) (near Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), Qurum Heights). This beach is quiet during the day, and more lively in early evenings. There are some small, excellent coral reefs just a short distance from the shore, suitable even for novice snorkelers. Clown fish, parrot fish, sea cucumbers, and occasionally sea turtles and rays can be spotted here. Free.
- Al Ghubrah Public Beach (between the Chedi Hotel and the desalination plant, Al Ghubrah). This is a family-oriented beach, with picnic benches and shaded areas. In the evening near the desalination plant there are several food trucks which offer good and inexpensive fare, including grilled meat and fish, lentil soup, and potato salads. Free.
- Seeb Public Beach (Seeb). This is a long stretch of beach, with some sections quite busy, and some sections accessible only with 4WD. Free.
- Al Bustan Public Beach (near the Al Bustan Palace Hotel). Named after the hotel, this beach has a good view of the mountains behind. Free.
There are some good areas for avian enthusiasts, within and around the city.
- Al Ansab Wetlands (off of the Muscat Expressway, next to the water treatment plant), ☎ +968 800 77111. Best in the early morning or late afternoon. Nearly 300 avian species have been spotted here, some during migrations and others living here year-round. The wetlands were developed by the Haya Water company, which offers guided tours, bookable online.
Food is relatively cheap in Muscat and for a couple of Omani rials you'll get a meal per person. For inexpensive Indian food, there are many restaurants catering to Indian guest workers in Al Khuwayr. In Mutrah you can walk down the waterfront in the Corniche area to catch a cool sea breeze, and treat yourself to some sandwiches and Halib (tea with milk) or Sulaimani (black tea) at one of the wayside restaurants. A cup of tea costs about OMR0.050.
- Al-exandria, Fanja House, Near Sabco Centre, Ruwi, Tel - 561611. The best Rotis (Indian Bread). Try the chicken Jalfrezi and Paneer aloo (potato).
- Automatic, (Cuisine - Lebanese). Try the Hummus (Chickpea paste), Fatoosh (Salad), Mutabel (Egg Plant paste), Falafel and mint tea. Even the waiters are not sure why the restaurant is named automatic. There is a branch of Automatic located on the side of the Sabco Centre facing away from the central car park. There are also branches in Ruwi, Al Khuwair and elsewhere in Muscat.
- Al Haikal Restaurant, 2996 Way (near bus stand, Ruwi). Pakistani food.
- Al-Hanan, Ruwi (Cuisine - Indian).
- Al Shaheen Restaurant, Honda Rd (Ruwi). Pakistani food.
- Al Tarboush (Al-Tarboosh) (opposite the Sabco Centre, Qurm). Fast Arabian/Lebanese-style food available for takeaway or eat-in on the first floor.
- Bella-Pais, MAM roundabout, just off the Nizwa turn off (Cuisine - Greek + Other).
- Bin Ateeq, Al Khuwair Rd (near Shell petrol station and Holiday Inn, Al Khuwair), ☎ +968 24 478225, fax: +968 24 488784, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9am-2am. This place is in all the guidebooks as the only 'authentic' Omani restaurant in town - and its fame means that this is now firmly a tourist joint. Food is acceptable if a bit pricey for what you get.
- Bin Ateeq, 2730 Way (Ruwi), ☎ +968 24 702727, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 9am-2am. Another branch of the popular Omani restaurant.
- Gujrat Bhojan Shala, Ruwi High Street, Ruwi (Cuisine - Indian).
- Muscat Light Restaurant & Coffeeshop, Al Bahri Rd (Old Muscat). Ideal place for a break during a walking tour of Old Muscat.
- Ofair Traditional Restaurant, Al Marafah St (Al Khuwair), ☎ +968 24 482965. Serves traditional Omani food.
- Oman Express, Tel - 7731329. Delivers Lunch - 18 rials for a month including Fridays or 15.6 Rials excluding Fridays.
- Saravana Bhavan Restaurant (Ruwi, opposite OC Centre), ☎ +968 24 704502. South Indian vegetarian restaurant.
- Subway, City Centre, Seeb, Tel - 542225.
- The Chedi Pizza Restaurant, Way No. 3215 (The Chedi Hotel, Ghubrah). Offers less expensive food than the other Chedi outlets, with the same understated chic ambience.
- Haffa House Hotel Restaurant, Al Farahidi St (Ruwi), ☎ +968 24 707207.
- Kargeen Caffe, Al Bashair St, ☎ +968 24 699055, fax: +968 24 695522, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional Omani food served in a traditional setting. There is an outdoor seating area for shisha smokers, and a surprisingly good selection of vegetarian options. Reservations are recommended, particularly on weekends.
- Turkish House (Al Khuwair), ☎ +968 24 488071. 11am-1am. The most popular Turkish restaurant in Muscat, with excellent fish dishes. Take-away and delivery available in the Al Khuwair neighborhood.
- Ubhar Restaurant, Al Sarooj Rd and Al Kharjiyah St (Al Qurm), ☎ +968 24 699826, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 12:30pm-3:30pm, 6:30pm-11pm. Exceptional, traditional Omani dishes with a modern twist, very highly rated.
- Al Khiran, Al Bustan Palace Hotel (Qantab). Famous for their Friday brunch buffets. OMR19.5 + 17% service charge.
- Bait Al Bahr (Shangri-La Hotel), ☎ +968 24 776565, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 7pm-11:30pm. Traditional Omani seafood. Reservations strongly recommended; smart casual, nonsmoking.
- The Chedi, North Ghubra 32 (Al Ghubra). Four open kitchens featuring international cuisine.
- Mumtaz Mahal (Al Qurm). Indian cuisine.
- Passage to India, Al Wutayyah (near Hatat House), ☎ +968 24 563452 (reservations). Indian cuisine.
- Taj Samarkhand, Oasis by the Sea Residences (Al Qurm), ☎ +968 24 602757. Indian Peshwari cuisine.
- Spinney's, Al Khariyah St (Al Qurm, by the Sultan Qaboos Expressway). A Lebanese-based grocery store chain, has take-away options.
- Al Fair Supermarket. A chain of supermarkets sells just about everything you want. Many of them are on the main Sultan Qaboos highway making them an easy place to spot.
Every road, street corner or little collection houses, huts or businesses has a 'Coffee-Shop' - basic but worth a go. Fresh fruit juices are delicious and available from a number of stalls and cafes in Muscat. Expect to pay between RO 0.500 and 1.500 for these juices depending on type and size.
- Al Ahli Coffeeshop (Mutrah Souq). Also has fresh fruit juices.
- Fast Food N Juice Centre, Al Bahri Rd (Mutrah). You can watch the world go by from the outside tables.
- Motif Beach Cafe (Motif Coffee Shop) (Al Qurm, next to the Intercontinental Hotel), ☎ +968 24 696601, e-mail: email@example.com. Directly on the beach where you can sit under palms and watch the sunset. Despite the location prices are moderate. Fresh juices are OMR1.1, a tea or coffee OMR0.800, a sandwich about OMR1 and grilled fish or squid OMR3. It is a great place.
- Starbucks Coffee (Al Qurm). Located on the beach road that goes between the Crown Plaza Hotel and the Intercontinental Hotel. It is so close that if you cross the road, you are on the beach. The larger drinks are about OMR2-2.2, but the view through the glass wall of the waves coming into the beach is excellent.
- Left Bank (ground floor beneath Mumtaz Mahal Restaurant, Qurm), ☎ +968 24 693699. Sa-Th 12am-3pm, 6pm-2am; F 2pm-1:30/2am. Known for good drinks as well as good food. Reservations recommended if you come here for dinner. Expensive.
- Mutrah Souq (main entrance along the Corniche, Mutrah). The maze-like souq (marketplace) is often described as the best in the Gulf region. The souq has many shops for jewellery, traditional Omani handicrafts and Omani food at reasonable prices. Some specific items to look for include Arab hand-embroidered mussar (shawls intended to be worn as turbans, OMR10+), garments, nuts, spices, incense, and earthenware. A few shops accept credit cards.
- Amouage Perfume Factory (near the airport), ☎ +968 24 534800. S-Th 8:30am-4pm. Amouage perfume is the most expensive perfume in the world, and visitors can learn about its production. It is recommended (but not required) to call beforehand to ensure that someone is available to show you around.
- Barka Omani Halwa Factory (between Seeb and Barka).
- Boraka Halwa Factory, Mutrah St (Mutrah).
- Jawahir Oman Jewellers, Al Wilaj St (Al Qurum Complex, Al Qurm), ☎ +968 24 563239. Sells prized Omani silver, crafted into contemporary jewelry and gifts in a Muscat workshop.
- Omani Heritage Gallery, Jawharat Al Shatti Shopping Centre (across Al Kharijiyah St from the Royal Opera House, Al Khuwair), ☎ +968 24 696974, fax: +968 24 696568, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This gallery is operated by a non-profit group which encourages cottage industries.
- Souq al Jumaa (Friday Market) (Wadi Kabir, Ruwi). Fridays 7am-9pm. A bustling flea market with everything from jewelry, camping gear, carpets, and even cars. There is a section with clothing, and food stalls are also nearby.
- Markaz al Bahja Mall (Seeb).
- Muscat City Centre (Seeb). Currently the biggest mall, containing a lot of shops including a large Carrefour Hypermarket.
- Qurum City Centre. Recently opened up at Qurum and contains Carrefour too.
- Sabco Centre (near the turnoff between Sultan Qaboos St and Qurm Heights Rd, Qurm). A collection of about half a dozen medium sized shopping centres which is very popular with locals. The actual Sabco Centre has a small souq-like collection of shops that contains many of the handicrafts that are available in the Mutrah Souq. There is also a Godiva Chocolates shop (tel. +968 24 562367). Opposite the Sabco Centre is the Omani Craftsman's House that only sells guaranteed Made in Oman crafts at fixed (but relatively high) prices.
- Al Meera (Azaiba), ☎ +968 24 583444. A Qatari-based chain.
- Lulu Hypermarket, Al Mina Street (Mutrah). All Lulu's branches have delis with takeaway options.
- Lulu Hypermarket Wadi Kabir, 63 St (Ruwi).
- Lulu Hypermarket, As Sultan Qaboos St (Ghubrah), ☎ +968 24 504504. This location is particularly convenient if you're looking to stock up before heading to the mountains.
- Carrefour Hypermarket, Qurum City Centre. There is another Carrefour located in Muscat City Center (see listing above).
- Sultan Shopping Center (Al Qurm).
There are numerous Indian run tailors. You may pay OMR5 to have 2 Italian suits tailored for sleeve length, trouser length and waist.
- The Raymond Shop (Assarain Textiles LLC), Ruwi High Street, Ruwi, ☎ +968 24830149 / 99267972, e-mail: email@example.com. Will make custom suits in the OMR50-60 range. In fact they have excellent fabrics from pure wool to wool blended with exotic fibers like Cashmere, Mohair or Angora and linen. Even Super 230s crafted out of 11.8 micron wool are found there. Ask them for their catalogue – you will find the latest Italian designs and styles in there and a really good suit can be really light on the pocket.
- Oman-UAE Exchange Centres - LuLu Hypermarkets, Ghala and Ruwi
- Global Money Exchange - Ruwi
- travelex - Seeb International Airport
- Purshottam Kanji - Ruwi
- Mustafa Sultan Exchange - Many outlets throughout Oman
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Muscat on Wikivoyage.