If you’re looking for the best things to do in Muscat – I’ve got you covered!
After one week of exploring Oman’s capital city, Muscat, I have enough recommendations for sites and attractions you could visit on your itinerary. From exploring the rich cultural heritage to hiking Muscat’s surrounding mountains, in this blog, you’ll find 16+ Muscat sites and attractions to visit if you travel to Muscat for 2, 3, or more days.
*Before or after introducing yourself to the top things to do in Muscat, make sure also to check out my Muscat FAQ blog, which covers everything you need to know before visiting the city, from the best time to visit and how to get around to safety and budget.
Table of Contents
Top things to do in Muscat, Oman
Admire the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The main attraction of the city and a place that should be on any visitor’s things to do in Muscat list is the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The mosque was completed in 2001 and is named after the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, who was the leader of Oman for over 50 years.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an architectural masterpiece and is considered one of the world’s largest and most beautiful mosques. It can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers at a time and features several stunning design elements. It includes a massive chandelier in the main prayer hall that weighs over 8 tons and is made of Swarovski crystals. The mosque also features a beautiful courtyard with landscaped gardens, a library, a lecture hall, and several ablution rooms for worshippers. The exterior of the mosque is made of white and pink marble, and the interior features intricate Islamic calligraphy and artwork.
*You’ll need to dress modestly to visit. Women must cover their heads, arms, knees, and ankles. Men should also wear long trousers and cover their shoulders.
Opening hours: The mosque is closed to Non-Muslim visitors on Fridays and open from Saturday to Thursday from 8 am to 11 pm.
Explore Mutrah, the heart of Muscat
Exploring Mutrah is, without any doubt, one of the best things to do in Muscat. Many of the other places on the list are located in the Mutrah area too, so if you only have one day in the city, I recommend you visit Mutrah with all its attractions. But apart from all that you can do and see in Mutrah, simply wandering through its alleys must be my favorite. Make sure to explore the narrow streets away from the tourist attractions.
This area is also full of restaurants and is home to the Mutrah fish market – one of the country’s oldest and most famous fish markets. The market is open every day in the early morning, and it is recommended to visit it as early as possible to see the fishermen unload their fresh catch of the day.
Visit and shop at the local Mutrah Souq
Dating back over 200 years, the Mutrah Souq is one of the city’s main attractions and the top thing to do in Muscat. The souq features a labyrinth of narrow alleys lined with small shops and stalls selling a variety of goods, including traditional Omani handicrafts, textiles, spices, perfumes, jewelry, antiques, souvenirs, hand-woven carpets and pottery to incense burners and silverware. One of the highlights of Mutrah Souq is its unique architecture, with arched doorways, wooden balconies, and ornate designs.
Opening hours: every day from 9 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 10 pm
Walk the Mutrah Cornice
Perhaps one of the most pleasant things to do in Muscat is simply walking the Mutrah Cornice – a picturesque waterfront promenade stretching along the coast of the Mutrah district, overlooking the Gulf of Oman. The corniche is lined with palm trees and benches, creating a charming and relaxing atmosphere for strolling and enjoying the beautiful views of the sea. Along the way, you can find a variety of small shops selling traditional Omani handicrafts, souvenirs, and local snacks.
Watch the sunset from Mutrah Fort
Built during the 16th century by the Portuguese as a military stronghold and later used by the Omanis for defensive purposes, preserved today as a museum, the Mutrah Fort is one of Muscat’s top attractions. Visitors can explore the interior of the fort, which features several exhibition rooms displaying historical artifacts, weapons, and traditional Omani costumes. The fort also has a courtyard, a mosque, a cafe, and a watchtower from where you can enjoy the sunset and views of the Mutrah Corniche and the Gulf of Oman.
Opening hours: every day from 8 am to 9 pm
Tickets: OMR 1
Relax and play at Riyam Amusement Park
We accidentally stumbled upon the park as we were walking the Mutrah Cornice on the way to the hike I will be talking about next. The Riyam Amusement Park is situated on a hill overlooking the Mutrah Corniche and offers panoramic views of the city and the Gulf of Oman. According to different information resources, the park features a variety of rides and attractions for all ages, playgrounds, a water park area for younger children, and several food stalls.
However, at the time of our visit, there were no rides and food stalls working. Not sure whether that was because of the time of the day that we visited or they have been permanently out of business. Either way, the park is once for a walk and just to sit and relax in the shadow of the trees.
Hike the Mutrah – Riyam Park trail
One of my favorite things to do in Muscat was hiking. I love that Muscat is surrounded by small mountains and hills where you can escape from city life. The Mutrah – Riyam Park trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in the city and is a must for all nature lovers. The trail is well-marked, so you shouldn’t worry about getting lost. One of the start/end points is the backstreets of Mutrah, and the other one is just beside Riyam Park.
You pass through rocks and a river, and you get super nice views of the Gulf and the mountainous area, and it is so quiet that you completely forget you’re actually in the capital city of Oman.
Here are a couple of pictures to get an idea of how nice this hiking trail is:
See and tour the Royal Opera House
Only opened in 2011, the Muscat Royal Opera House is a world-class performing arts venue that has become a cultural landmark of the country, attracting artists and audiences worldwide. Designed in the traditional Omani architectural style, the white marble and stone front facade is stunning to see. You can walk around the area and admire the view of the building from the outside, as well as you can go in and join one of the guided tours. The tour lasts approximately 20 minutes, and you get introduces to more about Omani culture and shown around the beautiful auditorium.
Opening hours: Saturday to Thursday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Tickets: OMR 3.15
Watch a performance at the Royal Opera House
If you have a free evening and are interested in arts and culture, I strongly recommend you book a ticket for one of the performances they have on schedule at the time of your visit. The Royal Opera House hosts a diverse range of performances, including opera, ballet, classical music, jazz, and world music. Also, the venue is strongly committed to promoting local artists and culture, with several performances and events highlighting Omani heritage and traditions.
We happened to be visiting Muscat during the annual Folk Music Festival and enjoyed watching Oman, Romania, the Philippines, and Brazil presenting their folk music traditions.
*The Royal Opera House follows a strict formal dress code – no jeans, shirts, or tennis shoes are allowed. Men must wear a suit or a jacket with a tie or the traditional dishdasha (a long robe), while women are recommended to wear a dress or a skirt suit (nothing that reveals the shoulders and knees). Women could also wear an abaya. However, it is always best to check with the specific event or performance you will attend, as some may have a slightly different dress code.
Explore Qurum & Qurum’s beach
Qurum is a coastal neighborhood popular among ex-pats for its beautiful beaches and upscale residential areas. One of the main highlights of Qurum is its stunning coastline, which is lined with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. The Qurum Beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and watersports. In addition to the beach, Qurum is also home to the Royal Opera House, Qurum Natural Park, Al Qurum Mosque, and my favorite restaurant in Muscat.
Enjoy the view from Ruwi’s viewpoint
Situated in the heart of Muscat, the district of Ruwi is known as one of the busiest areas in the city. Formerly a separate village, Ruwi is now primarily home to the Indian, Pakistani, and Bengali populations of Muscat. Nowadays, Ruwi houses diverse businesses, including banks, shopping centers, cheaper hotels, and a wide range of budget-friendly Indian and Pakistani restaurants. You could walk around Ruwi to see how the locals live in this area and maybe find a charming valley or local people to talk to, but apart from that, there’s nothing really interesting in Ruwi until you get on the rocks on top of the district. The Ruwi viewpoint gives you a sight of Muscat (Ruwi) from above and is a nice place to walk/drive to any time of the day.
Take a day trip to historic Nizwa
Known for its rich history and traditional architecture, Nizwa is one of Oman’s most popular tourist destinations. Nizwa attracts visitors with its rich history, cultural heritage, traditional markets and architecture, and natural beauty, but what draws in the majority of people is the fascinating 17th-century Nizwa Fort. The city of Nizwa is quite different from Muscat, making it an exciting day trip destination. You can easily explore the main attractions of Nizwa in one day. If you plan carefully and depending on your transportation, you could also explore more of Nizwa’s surrounding areas, such as the town of Bahla or the village of Tanuf.
Learn more about the city, how to get there on your own, and what are the top things to do when you arrive on my blog on visiting Nizwa on a day trip from Muscat.
Walk around Old Muscat
Known for its rich history and culture and as home to many historic sites and landmarks, Old Muscat is the historic capital city and a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Muscat. Some of the next places on the list are located in this area, but even if you’re not interested in visiting them, you’ll still enjoy just walking around here.
See the Al Alam Palace
Located in the heart of Old Muscat, the Al Alam Palace is the official residence of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the ruler of Oman. The palace was built in the early 1970s and has a distinctive design. From what I’ve seen, the palace’s blue and gold columns, arches, and balconies make it the most colorful building in Muscat.
Al Alam Palace is not open to the public, but you can admire its exterior and take photos from a distance.
Visit Muscat’s Top Museums
Here are Muscat’s top museums to visit:
- The National Museum of Oman: The largest museum in Oman, hosting more than 5,000 objects, focusing on the country’s maritime history, its currency, intangible heritage, and the role of Islam, among others.
- Bait Al Zubair: A complex of five separate buildings, including a gallery. The distinguishing thing about Baiy Al Zubair is its rich collection of artifacts and weapons. It also displays the many unique and distinctive cultures that vary from one region of Oman to the other.
- Muscat Gate Museum: Explores the history of Muscat and showcases Oman’s history and culture.
You could also visit Muscat’s galleries, the modern art museum, the planetarium, and more.
Muscat Gate is a historical monument that was built in the 19th century and served as an entrance to the walled city of Muscat. Nowadays, the Muscat Gate is an iconic landmark of the city and a popular tourist attraction. You can walk through the gate to see its traditional Omanis design. The monument is located at the eastern end of the Muttrah Corniche on the way to Old Muscat.
Tours in and around Muscat
Unfortunately, we didn’t explore much outside of Muscat, but once I return to Oman, I would love to see more of what the country has to offer. Here are some of the top-rated tours that you could consider going to in order to see more of Muscat and around:
- Nature and hiking: Wadi Shab & Bimmah Sinkhole Full-Day Tour
- Dimaniyat Islands Snorkeling Tour
- Muscat: Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling Tour
- Nizwa & Al Hamra Guided Historical Tour
- Muscat: Private City Highlights Tour
- Desert: Wahiba and Wadi Bani Khaled Private Trip
Where to eat in Muscat
I think Omani food is generally good, so you could not make a bad choice. We ate at different places and had lots of shawarma too, and everything was delicious. Anyways, here are a couple of suggestions on where to eat in Muscat:
Where to stay in Muscat
Muscat is a very spread-out city, and picking the right accommodation location is crucial. As places of interest and attractions are also spread out, regardless of where you choose to stay, you might be close to some but will still be away from others.
The most popular areas to stay at in Muscat are:
- Mutrah: In Mutrah, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops and a great variety of things to do, as mentioned in the list.
- Ruwi: Ruwi is also a good place to base yourself with cheaper hotels and restaurants. It is also convenient as the district serves as a transportation hub as well with the Ruwi Bus Station and the Ruwi Taxi Stand located in the area.
- Al Khuwair: This is considered one of Muscat’s most modern and vibrant areas. Al Khuwair is home to various businesses, including hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, and cafes, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The most notable landmark in Al Khuwair is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
- Qurum: If you could find or if you can afford to stay in Qurum, I think it is a very pleasant area of the city to locate yourself. Qurum is pretty and has a beach, which is always a bonus, isn’t it?
I think Mutrah is the ideal area to stay at. If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, then I would recommend Ruwi. We stayed in Al Falaj Hotel in Ruwi. We walked from the hotel to the viewpoint and, on the first day, walked from the hotel to Mutrah, did the Mutrah – Riyam hike, and then walked back. It was a lot of walking.
I hope that this article gave you a good overview of the best things to do in Muscat. If you have any additional questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section below, and don’t hesitate to contact me.