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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Oman > Muscat

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Things to see in Muscat

Attractions

Royal Opera House

Mixing Islamic and Italianate architecture, the Royal Opera House is a wonderful 1,100-seat concert hall that also hosts theatrical performances. Its season runs from September to May and all concertgoers must adhere to a smart dress code. No jeans or trainers are allowed, but overalls are available to hire at the venue.

Address: Shatti Al Qurum, Al Kharjiyah Street, Muscat,
Telephone: +968 2440 3300.
Opening times:

Dpendant on show.

Website: http://www.rohmuscat.org.om
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Mutrah Souk

This wonderful old souk runs through a warren of alleyways off Mutrah Corniche, with cupboard-sized shops selling everything from home-grown frankincense, gold and myrrh to plastic trays and Omani khanja (ceremonial daggers). Stop to look for strings of semi-precious 'gems' in bead shops festooned with handicrafts from Afghanistan to India.

Address: , Mutrah Corniche, Muscat,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Sat-Thu 0900-1300 and 1600-2100, Fri 1600-2100.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Mutrah Corniche

This sweeping arc of old, balconied buildings and tiled mosque domes, souvenir shops and carpet vendors begins with the early-morning fish market, is punctuated with 18th-century Mutrah Fort and ends with musical fountains overlooking the harbour. It's a popular evening stroll for Muscat's citizens keen on catching the sea breeze.

Address: , Mutrah Corniche, Muscat,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

A masterful piece of modern Islamic architecture, the comparatively unassuming Indian sandstone exterior of the Grand Mosque belies an almost overwhelmingly beautiful interior that's rich with hand-loomed Persian carpet, elaborate tile work and a huge chandelier. It's also the only mosque in Oman open to non-Muslims. Dress modestly during your visit.

Address: Al Ghubra, Sultan Qaboos Street, Muscat,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Sat-Thu 0800-1100 (for non-Muslims).

Website: http://www.sultanqaboosgrandmosque.com
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Bait Al Zubair

Muscat has several small museums dedicated to Omani heritage, but this collection of antique weaponry, jewellery and furniture is its best. With early maps, photos and prints as well as coins and stamps, it gives a flavour of life before the 1970 coup. It also includes a restored house, Bait Al Dalaleel.

Address: , , Muscat,
Telephone: +968 2473 6688.
Opening times:

Sat-Thu 0930-1800.

Website: http://www.baitalzubairmuseum.com
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Qurum Beach

Muscat's uninterrupted beach of pale sand is bejewelled with shells and ornamented with sea birds. It stretches for 20km (12 miles) and is great for gaining a feel for the soul of Muscat as lady joggers in their abayas (black clothing) exercise in the morning, football teams gather at sunset and families picnic into the early hours.

Address: , , Muscat,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Bait Al Baranda

Part of the capital's cultural offering, this imaginative and informative museum charts the city's development from the prehistoric era to modern times. Located by the fish roundabout at one end of the corniche, it also doubles as an exhibition space and is housed in an attractively restored old Muscat villa.

Address: A Mina Qaboos, Al-Mina'a Street, off Mutrah Corniche, Muscat,
Telephone: +968 2471 4262.
Opening times:

Sat-Thu 0900-1300 and 1600-1800.

Website: http://baitalbaranda.mm.gov.om
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Al Alam Palace

Although you can't enter this flight of architectural fancy, a stroll around the perimeter fence from the grand esplanade at the building's entrance to its seafront back garden on Mutrah harbour is a must. The graffiti scratched into the harbour's rocks is a virtual logbook of naval vessels that have docked in this port.

Address: Al Ala, , Muscat,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Omani Society for Fine Arts

More than just an art museum, the Omani Society for Fine Arts is the driving force behind the emerging slew of painters, sculptors and photographers in Oman. Expect intermittent exhibitions of the best contemporary art from the country that runs the gamut from ceramics and caricatures to calligraphy and graphics.

Address: Shatti Al Qurm, , Muscat,
Telephone: +971 24 694 969.
Opening times:

Sat-Wed 0930-1330 and 1800-2000.

Website: http://osfa.gov.om/Default.aspx
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Muscat Gate Museum

Once the grand entrance to Muscat itself, this charming turreted gate was still locked shut each night until 1970 – despite an opening being made for passing traffic. Today it houses a small museum, which traces the history of Oman through municipal highlights like the Falaj irrigation system and local architecture. It's the corniche views you're really visiting for.

Address: , Al Bahri Road, Muscat,
Telephone: +968 99 328 754.
Opening times:

Sun-Thu 0800-1400.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Ministry of Tourism

Address: Ministries District, Thaqafah Street, Muscat,
Telephone: +968 800 77799.
Opening times:

Sun-Thu 0730-1430.

Website: http://www.omantourism.gov.om

There are not any dedicated tourist information centres as such in Muscat but you can pick up some brochures from the helpful desk at the Ministry of Tourism or find information on its website. Alternatively, National Travel & Tourism (tel: +968 2466 0300; www.nttoman.com), along Al Wutayyah Street, acts as an unofficial tourist desk.

Featured Hotels

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Ibis Hotel Muscat

By far the best budget accommodation option in Muscat, you can count on the Ibis chain to deliver a cheap stay to a decent standard. This 3-star hotel might be no frills, but the rooms are modern, clean and comfortable, and have all the necessary amenities, including decent Wi-Fi.

Marina Hotel

For this price don't expect the Ritz. Overlooking Mutrah fish market this is a simple harbourside hotel offering great views of Muscat's famous corniche. It's basic and its basement bar can be a little noisy but its location is within walking distance of Mutrah Souk making it convenient for sightseeing.

Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa

Though just a short drive from the city centre, you'll feel a world away from the hustle and bustle of Muscat at this secluded 5-star gem. Actually encompassing three luxurious hotels, it's an oasis of calm, beauty and fantastic fine dining. Its tastefully decorated rooms are huge and come with air-con, Wi-Fi and flash TVs. A real treat.

Grand Hyatt Muscat

With exotic marble flooring, indoor palm trees, stained glass windows, Bedouin tents and a revolving Arab on horseback, the decor of this luxurious and quirky beachside Hyatt was the inspired by its owner, a Yemeni sheikh. It offers some quality Arabic and Italian dining, along with the elegant ambience of the John Barry bar.

The Chedi Muscat

The Chedi is the original luxury hotel in Muscat, and arguably still the best. A true icon of the city, it combines traditional Arabic design elements with Asian-inspired minimalism, so a stay here feels like a true escape from the city. It also boasts the longest (and one of the loveliest) swimming pools in the Middle East.

Crowne Plaza Muscat

With cliff top views over the Gulf of Oman, this 4-star resort is popular with holidaymakers intent on working on their tans – and no wonder, given the sparkling swimming pools, private beach and sun-soaked terraces. Its fitness centre has tennis and squash courts as well as a sauna and steam room.