You know that one friend who is always relaxed and seems to consistently be on top of everything? Well, the city of Muscat is that friend – meaning in 48 hours, you can get a lot done without ever worrying about getting stuck in crazy traffic or even getting lost! However, sometimes going off the paved road will lead to some fascinating discoveries.
Beach, sun and sand – beaches in Muscat are the stuff of legends. Most hotels have beach-access and the best beaches to try are The Chedi, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah, Al Bustan Palace and Crowne Plaza. If you do not have a beach at your hotel, head to Qurum Beach. Here there are a couple of cafés and a Shisha place. Qurum is a public beach where you can swim, picnic or simply enjoy a sea view with coffee (or cocktails).
In the afternoon, the weather gets cooler, so its a good time to go sightseeing and old souk shopping. Head to the regions oldest market, Souk Mutrah in old Muscat, for some epic finds. Souk Mutrah is a melting pot of products from all over the world. Expect to find traditional Omani products, such as essential oil perfumes, frankincense, handmade clay incense burners, handmade Omani hats, cashmere scarves and dresses from Kashmir, jewellery from Nepal, compasses from the World War II era, food stuffs, gold, gems and stones and more! The Souk is a must stop for anyone in Muscat.
At sunset head over to the Royal Opera House to check out the architecture. If you go at certain hours you can step inside to have a quick tour, or to spontaneously see a show. You should also go to the Opera Galleria, a place filled with different shops and cafés, and somewhere you can also enjoy afternoon tea.
If you are looking for something fancy, head to Angham Restaurant at the Opera Galleria. Headed by an Omani chef, who creates gourmet Omani cuisine, the interiors are divine as each section is named after certain Omani customs and words, even if you do not plan on eating there, it is worth the visit just for the interiors! Another option is the Orient Resto & Café – a restaurant which serves traditional Omani cuisine and other delicious Asian delicacies, also headed by Omani chefs.
After dinner head out to Bareeq Al Shati for dessert or just for a stroll. It is always busy and bustling with people of all ages, the area faces Qurum beach and is filled with a number of cafés and restaurants where you can get an outdoor seat, people watch and enjoy the weather.
Take a tour at the legendary Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – an Islamic Architecture masterpiece. The mosque is a brilliant site. It holds one of the world’s largest handwoven Iranian carpets and also has a library stocked with up to 20,000 books and manuscripts. After that check out the Bait Al Zubair museum – the Al Zubair family is one of Oman’s most prominent families and turned their old family home into a historical masterpiece.
For some culture, first head out to Stal Gallery, a super cool contemporary art gallery that holds exhibitions of international artists as well as many young and upcoming artists. Next, visit The National Museum and learn about the Sultanate of Oman from its beginnings till today – the National Museum is the latest addition to Oman’s cultural scene and filled to the core with rare artefacts and information about the history of the region and its inhabitants.
Pose with the beautifully lit Al Alam Palace. It has a 200 year history, and a façade of gold and blue. It is surrounded by the Mirani and Jalali forts which were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Finish the day with dinner and drinks at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah hotel. There are also a wide selection of restaurants to try out, many of which have outdoor seating – one to try is at The Chedi hotel. Here you can dine on the beachfront and indulge in exquisite seafood, fresh from the Gulf of Oman.