A view of the mountains in Muscat

Things to do in  Muscat

The gateway to Oman

Sandwiched between the blue Gulf of Oman and the stark Al-Hajar Mountains, Muscat is one of Arabia’s most alluring and picturesque cities. Oman’s ancient capital has embraced modernity only sporadically, so its districts reflect a sliding scale between bygone and modern Arabia. Things to do in Muscat include exploring its bayside Muttrah and Old Muscat neighborhoods to see blue-tiled mosques, souks, museums, and 16th-century forts; enjoying dhow cruises along the scenic coast; and absorbing the city’s contemporary areas, where glossy malls, restaurants, and showpieces like the gleaming Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque personify the new Oman.

Top 15 attractions in Muscat

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Situated in western Muscat, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the city’s treasures. Built in 2001 on the orders of the late Sultan Qaboos, and the only Omani mosque open to non-Muslims, it’s impressive for its cream-marble courtyards, minarets, and prayer hall topped by a golden dome.More

Wahiba Sands (Sharqiyah Sands)

Stretching over 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to the Arabian Sea, the Wahiba Sands (also known as Sharqiyah or Sharqiya Sands) are Oman’s adventure playground. Named after the nomadic Wahiba Bedouin tribes, this desert region is known for its amber-colored sands and towering sand dunes, some standing up to 330 feet (100 meters) high.More

Royal Opera House

Opened in 2011, the Royal Opera House Muscat is Oman’s premier cultural institution and one of its signature sights. Visitors come to attend operas, concerts, and shows; enjoy its upscale shopping and dining mall; and marvel at its stunning Arabesque and Italianate design.More

Wadi Bani Khalid

The most-visited of Oman’s wadi, or river beds, Wadi Bani Khalid also is one of its easiest to access. Join locals at this picturesque oasis to swim in a string of natural aquamarine pools flanked by boulders and palms, and picnic along the rocky trails.More

Qurum Beach

Qurum Beach, famous for its soft golden sand and water activities, is the go-to destination for families and active visitors in Oman. The low tide allows for a delightful walk along the coast, and you can also enjoy perusing the amenities—beachside hotels, snack bars, and cafés. For extra enticement, there are also top-notch restaurants facing the water.More

Muttrah Souq (Mutrah Souk)

Thought to be one of Arabia’s oldest marketplaces, Muttrah Souk is a maze of shop-crammed lanes and squares hidden off Muscat’s Muttrah waterfront. Open day and night, the souk lures travelers with its Arabian Nights atmosphere and outlets piled with Omani handicrafts, household goods, clothes, and spices.More

Al Alam Palace (Sultan's Palace)

Occupying a waterfront spot on the harbor of Old Muscat, Al Alam Palace is the official ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman. Mushroom-shaped columns and a vivid gold-and-blue facade make it one of Muscat’s most arresting sights.More

Bait Al Zubair Museum

Tucked into Old Muscat just east of the modern city, the Bait Al Zubair shines the spotlight on Oman’s history and heritage. The privately owned museum occupies three beautifully restored Omani houses and attracts visitors with displays of photos, weaponry, jewelry, and artifacts that provide insight into Omani life and history.More


Muttrah is an enchanting district and former fishing village situated in Oman’s Muscat province. It is known as one of the country’s busiest commercial hubs, thanks to its bustling sea port and Muttrah Souq—a traditional bazaar (and one of the oldest marketplaces in the world) that has been operating since the age of sail.More

Amouage Factory and Visitors’ Centre

In 2012, the Amouage perfumery opened its Muscat factory to celebrate three decades of this niche luxury brand of fragrance. At the Amouage Factory and Visitors' Centre, discover the most expensive perfume in the world, which draws inspiration from the rich and colorful heritage of the Sultanate of Oman.For shopping fanatics, the Amouage Factory is best enjoyed as part of an Arabian shopping trip and souq experience. Once at the perfume factory, a guide will explain how the perfumes are made by hand and you can watch as the bottles are filled and packaged by the small team who work here, perhaps even purchasing a bottle to take home for yourself. If visiting as part of a shopping and souq tour, you’ll then get to visit two modern shopping centers, before finishing up at the most popular and largest bazaar in Oman, the Muttrah Souq.More

Al Jalali Fort

One of the two forts framing Old Muscat’s harbor—along with its sister, Al Mirani—Al Jalali is a defining sight of Oman’s capital. Built by the Portuguese in 1587, it served as a prison during the 20th century before being restored and becoming one of Muscat’s must-see landmarks.More

Al Mirani Fort

Perched high above the western walls of Old Muscat harbor, Al Mirani Fort gazes across the Gulf of Oman and its sister fort—Al Jalali—rising from the opposite side. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1550, its crenelated towers and walls make it one of Muscat’s most photogenic sights.More

Nakhal (Nakhl)

Set below Oman’s western Al Hajar Mountains, Nakhal takes its name—which means “palm”—from the lush date plantations surrounding it. Travelers come to this quaint town to enjoy its mountain-and-oasis setting, explore its rocktop Nakhal Fort, and experience the neighboring Al Thowarah hot springs and inviting wadis that call from nearby.More

Muttrah Corniche

Sweeping from Muttrah Fish Market in the west to Riyam Park in the east, Muttrah Corniche lines Muttrah Bay on Muscat’s coast. Backed by the craggy Al Hajar Mountains and home to Muttrah Souk and Muscat cruise port; this popular waterfront is Muscat’s oldest commercial center and its most scenic and vibrant spot.More

Sultan's Armed Forces Museum (SAF Museum)

Located in southwest Muscat, the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum—SAF Museum for short—chronicles Oman’s military history and development. Housed in the restored Bait Al-Falaj Fort, it immerses guests in the story of the country’s forces from medieval to present times, with weaponry, uniform, and vehicle displays.More

Top activities in Muscat

Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole Private Full Day Tour
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Muscat Half Day City Tour with visit to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
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Discover the South and Wadi Shab from Muscat
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Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole Group Full Day Tour
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Desert Safari Sharing Tours

Desert Safari Sharing Tours

Private Muscat City Tour
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Private Muscat City Tour

Private tour evening

Private tour evening

per group
Authentic Omani Home Dining

Authentic Omani Home Dining

Group Muscat City Tour
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Group Muscat City Tour

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All about Muscat

When to visit

After Oman’s scorching summers, travelers understandably fix on November–March to visit Muscat. This is when the city revels in milder temperatures that only occasionally exceed 85°F (30°C), as well as bright, sunny days ideal for sightseeing, beach sessions, and boat trips. While public celebrations in the city are few and far between, January and February herald the annual Muscat Nights festival, when shows, carnivals, cultural events, and food pavilions fill the city’s main public spaces like Qurum Natural Park and Naseem Park.

Getting around

Muscat is sprawling, so walking around the sights isn’t feasible, especially in the heat. For sightseeing, it’s best to book a private guided tour or rent a car, the latter of which is relatively inexpensive. Alternatively, Muscat’s Mwasalat public buses connect the city’s primary districts (running from Ruwi Bus Station to Old Muscat, for instance), but it can be difficult to decipher routes and timings. Muscat’s orange and white cabs are easiest for short runs. You can hail them at hotels or on the roadside, but you should agree on a fare before setting off as they’re unmetered.

Traveler tips

Muscat’s Muttrah Souq, tucked behind an easy-to-miss archway along Muttrah Corniche, is the go-to for antique Omani silverware, one of the country’s best treasures. Head deep inside the souk and you’ll find stalls piled with vintage jewelry and accessories, including heavy silver rings, chunky bracelets, neckpieces, and intricately carved silver daggers (khanjars). This old silver is a great buy, but only if you haggle hard over prices: Don’t settle for anything less than 30 percent off what’s first quoted.


People Also Ask

Is Muscat worth visiting?

Yes, Muscat is worth visiting. Oman’s capital is one of Arabia’s most charming destinations, with its scenic mountain-and-sea setting, rich heritage, and welcoming atmosphere. The traditional quarters of Old Muscat and Muttrah exemplify a lost Arabia with their souks, mosques, and forts. Elsewhere, dhow cruises, shiny malls, and top-notch restaurants beckon.

How many days is enough in Muscat?

If you’re on a wider Oman tour, a day in Muscat lets you view highlights like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Old Muscat, and Muttrah Corniche. If you’re staying in Muscat, however, one to two weeks is ideal, with plenty of beaches, shopping, great cuisine, and dolphin-watching cruises around to keep you happy after your main sightseeing.

What are the top attractions to visit in Muscat?

Must-sees include Old Muscat, home to the blue-and-gold Al Alam Palace (Sultan’s Palace), the 16th-century Al Jalali and Al Mirani coastal forts, and the Bait Al Zubair Museum and National Museum, which trace Oman’s history. Star attractions elsewhere include the glittering Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House Muscat, and Muttrah Corniche’s merchants’ houses and souk.

Is Muscat safe for tourists?

Yes, Muscat is considered safe for tourists. Crime rates are low, although women travelers should be cautious if walking alone at night. While Oman is one of the region’s politically safe countries, it’s also best to avoid street demonstrations should they happen. Take extra care on Muscat’s roads, too—accident rates are fairly high.

Is Muscat expensive to visit?

Yes, Muscat is expensive to visit. Prices are high, particularly for accommodation, transport, and tours. It’s also easy to splurge at the swanky restaurants, bars, and shops inside Muscat’s international hotels. Consider cutting costs by eating at Muscat’s many small, family-run Asian restaurants and staying in B&Bs or self-catering apartments.

Can you drink alcohol in Muscat?

Yes, tourists can drink alcohol in Muscat provided they’re 21 or over. You can purchase alcohol at the airport, licensed hotels, restaurants, bars, and liquor stores. Most licensed venues are inside hotels, so don’t rely on finding many while out and about. Bear in mind that it’s illegal to be intoxicated in public.

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