Muscat sits on the Gulf of Oman and its history dates back to the 16th century. Its marble-clad Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and dazzling souks are just part of the city’s charm. The cuisine is delectable and, thanks to its ports, a lot of traditional dishes are seafood based. Omani people are kind, polite, friendly and proud of their home and city.
The state has implemented laws to ensure that Muscat and its history is preserved; no skyscrapers or dark colours are allowed. This means the skyline isn’t what you would expect – similar to the low, white-washed buildings in Greece, Muscat is awash with pastel low-rise buildings that provide a captivating view. Wandering the streets and souks, or exploring the deserts and mountains, won’t give you the kind of view of Oman that these spots can provide of its enchanting capital city.
A 16-minute drive from Muscat will take you to the Portugese-built Mutrah Fort, dating from the 1580s. Originally for military use, the fort has now opened for visitors, providing a dose of history and a great view. It’s perched on a cliff edge and overlooks the largest sea port of Oman. Be sure to climb the 205 steps to the very top for the best view.
Muttrah Corniche is an 18-minute drive from central Muscat and makes the perfect day out. The harbour stretches for 3km (1.9mi) and boasts abundant pristine gardens, fountains and little eateries in which to while away the hours. There is also a fish market, supermarket, vegetable market and a souk selling antiques. The area has views of the port of Muscat and the ocean with the mountains in the background, and a view of the skyline from here is even more spectacular at night due to the low orange glow from the city lights.
A 23-minute drive takes you to Yiti Road. Have your hotel arrange a taxi for this one, as explaining the technicalities of stopping for the view and returning to Muscat to an Omani taxi driver may cause some difficulty. The road has a stunning view of Wadi Kabeer and Ruwi along with the mountains and the shore. If you’re a little short for time then this is a route you can request on the way to the airport as you can enjoy the views on the drive.
The Incense Burner of Muscat is situated in Al-Riyam park, just a 22-minute drive from the city centre. The monument isn’t actually a giant incense burner, but is in fact a lookout tower. Although the design does symbolise the wealth of Oman brought by the region’s oil, it’s essentially a tourist attraction in itself and the views it offers of the harbour are next to none.
On route to Bawshar heights and 15 minutes from Muscat is Al Amerat road. The road itself winds and twists up a hill and is lit by street lamps, yet from here you can get a view frequently found in travel features or on Instagram.
If none of the above appeal, then a boat trip might be more your style. Leave in the early morning to enjoy a full day on the water, choosing from an array of boat trips from Muscat to the islands. Tours provide views of the Muscat skyline with the sunshine gleaming down on it. Alternatively, there are sunset tours that showcase the skyline in all its glory before seeing the city fall into darkness and the stars illuminate the night sky.