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Muscat | Discover the capital of Oman

Along the Gulf of Oman, lies the picturesque old port city of Muscat. A dream for any history buff. The capital of Oman is known for its beautiful architecture, historical sites and mosaic-covered mosques. The inhabitants are warm and hospitable. They offer a smile and are happy to introduce you to Muscat's many modern museums, luxury hotels and colorful markets.

Muscat, the coastal capital of Oman, is a historic trading port that connected the spice routes of the Far East to the Arabian Peninsula for thousands of years. The city has retained the classic Arabian aesthetic with its architecture, traditional clothing and wooden dhows (boats), which still navigate the stunningly clear ocean.

The food and culture reflect the city's ancient ties to SouthernAsia, Persia, Africa and the Arab Bedouin, while the luxurious hotels and well-developed infrastructure are completely modern. In short, a surprising capital. These six experiences should not be missed when visiting Muscat.

What to do and see in Muscat

1. Muttrah souk

Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the commercial heart of the city with the souks where sailors from the Indian Ocean traded spices, incense, textiles and other goods. Today it remains one of Muscat's top attractions (location here).

Muttrah souk
Muttrah souk

The covered main souk is a labyrinth of alleyways, full of souvenirs and pashmina vendors touting their products along the central hall. You will also find smaller shops with perfume, oil and textiles.

The gold souk is tucked away on the right side of the main street. There, visitors can buy jewelry by weight. Designing a piece of jewelry is free.

Also read: 7x surprising facts about Oman

Just behind the covered souks, incense sellers from the southern region of Dhofar their fragrant incense and a few blocks away you will find the spice sellers.

Don't be afraid to haggle; every price in the market is negotiable and if one shop doesn't want to haggle, then the other stalls will.

The souk is a wonderful place to stimulate all your senses and get lost for hours. The shops are open daily from morning to evening, except Fridays. Then the souk is only open in the evening. Please note that the shops close between 12.00pm and 16.00pm every day. 

2.Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

De Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (Location here) is one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole country. Construction was completed in 2001 and is an architectural ode to Islamic tile work. Long corridors and niches with traditional patterns from different religious periods adorn this mosque.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque | Discover Muscat
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque | Discover Muscat

The main prayer room contains the second largest Persian carpet in the world and the second largest chandelier, decorated with 24 carat gold and 600.000 Swarovski crystals, weighing a whopping 8,5 tons.

The gardens, prayer room and library – with more than 20.000 books – are open to non-Muslim visitors every day (except Fridays from 8.30:11.00 a.m. to XNUMX:XNUMX a.m.). There is no charge to visit the mosque, but both men and women must wear clothing that fully covers wrists and ankles. In addition, women must also cover their hair.

Also read: Top 10 most Instagrammable places in Oman

3. The Museums of Old Muscat

Until 1971, the entire city was confined to the small neighborhoods Muttrah (Location here) On Old Muscat (Location here). Since the discovery of oil, the capital has grown in size, but to see what life used to be like, take a walking tour of the old city.

Al Alam Palace | Discover Muscat
Al Alam Palace | Discover Muscat

Here you find the Al-Alam Palace of His Majesty, it National Museum and with Bait al-Zubair art gallery. Also visit the smaller museums like it Omani French Museum. Then Bait al Baranda history museum and the Muscat Gate Museum, which is built in one of the old Portuguese gates that once separated Muttrah from Muscat.

4. The beach

The sea of ​​Oman is pleasantly warm and calm, which makes it great for swimming and snorkeling. Luxury hotels in Muscat offer day passes to their private beaches. These usually include sun loungers, towels, bottled water and sometimes lunch.

Visitors can relax and enjoy the oceanfront beverage service at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa (Location here) or Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton hotel on the north side of town (location here).

  • Prices and availability for Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa do you think here.
  • Prices and availability for Al Bustan Palace do you think here.

Looking for tranquility? Pay a visit Capital Area Yacht Club (Location here), a private beach where – contrary to the name – there are no yachts to be seen, but many umbrellas and beach chairs around a beautiful bay.

5. Omani cuisine

The best way to experience a destination is to taste the local cuisine. Omani cuisine is characterized by the use of halal meat, with Arabic and Indian influences. Some typical local dishes are grilled meat, shawarma and biryani. Due to its location by the sea, there is also a strong emphasis on seafood in the local cuisine.

While visiting it Royal Opera House Muscat stop by Al Angham (Location here) – this restaurant is completely Omani. From the architecture to the silverware and the tables. Taste the most famous traditional dish shuwa and for dessert order halwa: a sweet that is used in the whole Middle East loved.

For modern Omani cuisine, visit Ubar Restaurant (Location here) where they serve camel biryani to creme brulee with saffron. The staff here goes to great lengths to let their guests experience the best of Omani cuisine. So don't hesitate to ask for recommendations.

6. Traditional Dhow cruise

The very best way to relax after a day of sightseeing in Muscat is to board a traditional wooden ship: The Dhow. Muscat's coastline is spectacular, especially during sunset when the sunlight reflects off the ocean.

A Dhow Cruise | Discover Muscat
A Dhow Cruise | Discover Muscat

Most cruises offer visitors a true Omani classic – dates and Arabic coffee – while some also offer dinners featuring local food and drink.

For more information about Oman: see www.experienceoman.com.

Also read: Oman | Dive into the intriguing underwater world

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