With its gleaming bay fronting the Gulf of Oman in the north and set against the dramatic Western Al Hajar mountain landscape towards the south, Oman's capital of Muscat is a port city like no other in the Middle East. The concave shorefront peering out across the water creates an image reminiscent of the French Riviera, whilst the old town's imposing mosques, narrow winding streets and centuries-old souqs offer a reminder of the city's long Islamic history.

Muscat is also is city of contrasts, with an ever-expanding Central Business District and lively port area forming two of the main driving forces behind the country's emerging economy. Although overlooked by many as a mere gateway to enter the country, Muscat deserves more time, with a sturdy list of cultural and historic sites providing ample reason to stay for that little bit longer.


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Al Jalali Fort

Etched into the rocky cliff-face overlooking Muscat’s port, this fort was originally built in the 16th century by the Portuguese to hold prisoners. After being converted into a museum, the fort has since closed, but you can still get up-close by taking the steep but short climb up the snaking path to the top - the views from here are well worth the extra effort.

Corniche Waterfront

A trip down to the city’s main waterfront is one of the most popular activities for day trippers, and this quaint bay becomes particularly enjoyable as the sun sets and the sea breezes pick up. Pick one of the dozen or so restaurants fronting the bay, or enjoy a cup of traditional Omani tea as you admire the views out into the the Gulf of Oman or across to the Western Al Hajar mountains that loom spectacularly over the city.


Muscat is fast making a name for itself as a top global diving destination, with the waters off the northeastern coast in the Gulf of Oman providing some particularly excellent diving conditions. Beginners can find a range of PADI centers dotted throughout the streets near the port, while those already qualified can rent equipment and hop on one of the daily excursions out.

Mutrah Souq (market)

The major district of Mutrah was once a small fishing village; this trade has now all but vanished, paving way for the capital’s biggest and busiest market - or ‘souq’ - to dominate the region. The maze of narrow alleyways under the timber-roofed building conjure up an exciting mix of exotic sights and smells, all to the sound of the bustling crowds and hawkers squabbling over prices.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

As both the capital and largest city of an Islamic country, Oman is in no short supply of mosques. The largest and most spectacular just happens to be the only one in the city that is fully open to non-Muslim visitors, allowing those of an alternative faith to appreciate the stunning architecture and design both inside and out. The whitewashed complexed topped off with a glowing golden dome is an icon of the country, and a must-see for all visitors to Oman.

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