Muscat, the grande dame of tourism for Oman, means “safe anchorage” in Arabic. This is where tradition and modernity go hand in hand. Explore its beautiful beaches, low-rise architecture, and fascinating cultural sites including the Royal Opera House Muscat and Grand Mosque. In the newer part of the city you’ll find upscale hotels and modern shopping malls, while a visit to the south or the old part of Muscat is considered the more scenic section of the capital.
The Royal Opera House Muscat
Take a trip to the celebrated Royal Opera House Muscat, the Gulf’s first concert theater. Check the website to book a ticket to one of the Opera House’s impressive performances, which include a diverse mix of opera, ballet, jazz, and Arab musical numbers. Even if you don’t manage to catch a show, the concert theater is worth visiting for its stunning Islamic architecture and dramatic soaring wooden ceilings.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
This Islamic architectural masterpiece, which was built from 300,000 ton of Indian sandstone, serves first and foremost as a functioning mosque. Therefore, the best time to visit is from Saturday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. as this is the longest gap between prayer times. Visitors to the mosque should dress modestly, which means women will need to cover their arms and legs and avoid tight or sheer clothing. Females over seven years old will also be required to cover their hair with either a scarf or an abaya, which can be rented from the mosque gift shop. Once inside, don’t miss the breathtaking carpet, which took 600 women four years to weave.
Tip: Bring a valid form of ID, which will be required for the abaya deposit.
The Amouage Factory
Get an inside look at what goes into making international, luxury fragrance (also known as Oman’s pride export), by stopping at the world’s most expensive perfume factory. Tours are available Sunday through Thursday.
Muttrah Fish Market
Muttrah is Muscat’s old commercial center and a great place to admire the sights and sounds of traditional marine-oriented Oman. To get the best of your experience, begin at Muttrah Fish Market from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to see fishermen and traders sell their fresh catches, which depending on the day might include tuna, hamour or octopus. You can continue your walk along the the Muttrah Corniche, which stretches along the harbor and offers beautiful views of the sea and bobbing dhows docked in the port.