Muscat stands out from many other Arabian cities for its dramatic mountain backdrop, old-style architecture, and well-preserved cultural heritage. With some smart planning, visitors can soak up its highlights and old-fashioned charms in 24 hours. Here are our tips for the ultimate morning, afternoon, and evening in the Omani capital.
Most Muscat tours run in the mornings and provide an overview of the city with a guide for background. Tours typically start with the modern Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque—a mix of glittering domes, minarets, and courtyards. From there, it’s on to Old Muscat to see its two Portuguese-built coastal forts and Bait Al Zubair Museum before time at Muttrah Souk to shop for specialities such as jewelry and perfumes. Private tours offer flexible itineraries, so you can tailor your sightseeing to suit you. Alternatively, if you’re eager to get out on the water, choose a snorkel or dolphin-spotting cruise on the Gulf of Oman.
This afternoon, absorb the city’s stunning coast-and-mountain setting from the upper deck a hop-on hop-off bus. Take photos as you listen to the audio commentary, and disembark at your choice of the eight stops. Hop out to visit Old Muscat, shop in Ruwi’s malls, or kick back on the sands of Qurum Beach. Alternatively, view Muscat from the water on a scenic boat trip. Sail by jagged cliffs, the majestic Al Bustan Palace hotel, and Muttrah Corniche.
Muscat comes into its own at dusk as the lights of its souks, streets, and forts glitter against the shadowy Hajar peaks. Make the most of the scene on a private city-lights tour that includes stops for photos, a visit to Muttrah Souk for last-minute shopping, and dinner at a local restaurant. Another option is to take a sunset cruise aboard a traditional Arabian dhow boat. Sink into cushions on deck and sip cold sodas as Muscat’s sights glide by and the sun descends behind the mountains.