Muscat has plenty to keep intrepid travelers and sightseers happy, with everything from aquamarine seas and traditional Arabian architecture to expeditions into Oman’s mountains and dunes. With three days to play with, here are your options for enjoying the city and heading farther afield.
Cover Muscat on a hop-on hop-off bus tour around its coastline, old quarter, and bayfront Muttrah district, or take a city tour that visits the 2001-built Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muttrah Souk, 16th-century Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani forts, and more. Some city excursions include a cruise on the Gulf of Oman. Alternatively, set sail on a dedicated dolphin-spotting or deep-sea-fishing trip, or go snorkeling to view the gulf’s underwater world. This evening, combine dinner at a local restaurant with a city lights tour. Grab your camera to capture the Omani capital at its most enchanting, with the illuminated houses of Muttrah strung like a necklace under the Hajar Mountains.
Muscat is perfectly positioned for exploring Oman’s interior, either on single- or multi-day excursions. Adventure lovers can journey south to the Wahiba Sands, whose high dunes invite dune-bashing drives. Tours often include stops at other spots such as the wadi river canyon Wadi Bani Khalid. Other options include 4WD and hiking trips to Wadi Bani Awf and Snake Gorge. Trek the narrow canyon beds past waterfalls and pools, swim through caves, and picnic under date palms. Alternatively, choose a 2- or 3-day expedition farther into central Oman. Many trips cover multiple attractions, combining Wahiba Sands with turtle-watching at the Ras Al Jinz turtle sanctuary and time at the idyllic gorge Wadi Shab.
If you’ve already visited the Wahiba Sands, set aside today for Oman’s northwestern Hajar Mountains. History buffs will love the 17th-century forts at Rustaq, Nakhl, and the former capital of Nizwa. Many fort tours also cover Jebel Shams, Oman’s tallest mountain, to see what’s called the Grand Canyon—a gargantuan, millennia-old river gorge—before continuing to the pottery town of Bahla and Fanjah oasis. For scenery over history, head for Jebel Akhdar, often known as the Green Mountain. Zigzagging roads lead to this high mountain plateau, from which you can absorb unforgettable views of villages, fruit orchards, and rose farms clinging to the slopes far below. Back in Muscat, top off your trip with a sunset cruise. Admire the Omani capital’s floodlit minarets and forts as you sail the darkening waters on an Arabian dhow—a truly atmospheric finale to your 3-day stay.