East meets west in this historical port city, home to lavish palaces, Portuguese forts and one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world.
Muscat has long played an important role in trade between the east and the west and its streets and attractions reveal its ancient harbor town history. Today, the city is made up of three main areas. Explore the ancient walled city of Old Muscat to discover its royal palaces and forts. Mutrah is a small fishing village in the harbor and the site of the famous maze-like market. The commercial heart of Muscat is in Ruwi.
Muscat lies between the rocky Western Al Hajar mountain range and the Gulf of Oman, giving the city a picturesque landscape of blue seas and dramatic mountains.
Start your day with an aromatic kahwa (Omani coffee), spiced with cloves and cardamom, in one of the city’s many coffee shops. Afterwards, learn about Muscat’s lively past as a prosperous trade town with ruling Omani sultans and as a part of the Persian and Portuguese empires.
Visit Old Muscat to see the extravagant official residence of Sultan Qaboos, called Al Alam Palace, nestled between two 16th-century Portuguese forts, Al-Jalali Fort and Al-Mirani Fort. Enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the harbor and the Gulf of Oman.
Get a taste for traditional Oman at the Mutrah Souk market, one of the oldest marketplaces in the world. Stalls overflow with glittering gold antiques, embroidered robes, incense, spices and fresh produce. Just a few minutes’ walk from the souk is the extensive Bait al Baranda Museum where you can immerse yourself in Muscat’s rich history and distinctive culture.
Muscat’s arid climate makes for long, hot summers and very warm winters with little rainfall. Drink plenty of bottled water and save the hottest part of the day for enjoying Omani dates and halwa sweets indoors.
Discover Muscat’s three districts by car. Sign up to a car rental service or take advantage of the affordable orange and white taxis that travel all over the city and beyond. Inexpensive buses also serve the city. Muscat International Airport is located approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Ruwi.