Muscat can be seen as a cultural Dubai or a modern Marrakech! It combines the Omani Muslim culture with modernity seamlessly and it is easy to spend one day in Muscat. It’s one of those cities that is doable within 24 hours and so makes for a perfect layout – BUT – here’s the catch – you need a private driver or a car. I’d recommend hiring a day trip with Idrees (AirBnB) or Ahmed Al Toubi (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here’s a great itinerary for one day in Muscat.
How to Spend One Day in Muscat – Video
You can also check out my video about Exploring Muscat on YouTube.
Sultan Kaboos Mosque
Start your one day in Muscat Itinerary at the Sultan Kaboos Mosque. The modern Sultan Kaboos mosque was built by the much loved late Sultan Kaboos. It is possible to visit as a non-Muslim and you can also go inside. A few things to not however – opening hours are 8am-11am (avoid prayer times) and you must cover up. Wear trousers and long sleeved tops (men and women) and women also should wear a head scarf.
Sultan Kaboos started being built in 1994 and opened in 2001 – it took 6 years and 7 months to build. The prayer hall has 6500 places for men and 750 for women (men and women worship separately) but in total it can take up to 20,000 worshippers. The carpet in the main prayer hall used to be the biggest in the world, but has now been taken over by the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. The big chandelier is from Austria with 600,000 Swarovskii crystals. Remove your shoes before entering and be covered up and silent inside.
The Royal Opera House
When the Grand Mosque opened in 2001 Sultan Kaboos decided to build the Royal Opera house from sandstone. It took 10 years to be built. The opera house welcomes many international performers. Stop off for a fresh juice before moving on to Mutrah Corniche.
Qurum Beach in Muscat
Drive along Al Shaati Street (love road) and stop for a walk and photographs along Qurum beach. There are some great cafes and restaurants along the front. I recommend having a Kanafa (Turkish cheese desert) at Le Makan.
Head to Mutrah Corniche for the markets, Mosques and views of the port. There is fish market and a vegetable market worth checking out. The fish market is a bit smelly, but worth seeing if you can!
You will see two of the Sultans ships docked in the port (unless he is away and they will go with him!). Along the seafront there are some lovely viewing points, Mosques and shops.
Next go into Muttrah souk to see the hustle and bustle of the Omani market place. You might like to buy local souvenirs including a lamp (for genie) or Frankinsence. Remember that you will need to barter hard! A good tip is to ask your Amani guide to ask for the price for you or at least get him to tell you how much roughly you should aim to pay.
National Museum of Muscat
You can then make a stop at the National Museum of Muscat. Inside you can find many objects including pottery, mosaics, traditional costumes and models of fishing boats that will help you to understand Omani history and culture.
Al Alam Palace
The beautiful and colourful Al Alam Palace is just along the coast from Muttrah Cornice (take the car). The palace was used as a ceremonial palace by Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. It is used by the current Sultan to accommodate his guests (the Sultan does not live there).
In this area, you can also see Ali Musa mosque and several other ministries including the Ministry of Finance and secretary General for taxation.
Jalali and Mirani Fort
Either side of the Al Alam Palace you can see two fortresses – Jalali and Mirani fort. They were both built by the Portugese in 16th Century and are more than 500 years old.
Bandar Beach and Bandar Al Rodah Park
Finally take a walk along Bandar beach or in Bandar Al Rodah park. You can get a wonderful sunset view from this location. Then you are ready to head back to the city centre for a bite to eat. I recommend a spot of fish or a lamb mandi.
Where to Eat in Muscat
If you’re looking for a good restaurant in Muscat, I can recommend a few. Rydan is a popular food chain that is found in Oman and Saudi Arabia. You will get the chance to try traditional food and sit on the floor if you would like to try. there is a cubicle with soft flooring for groups and families, and you press a button for your food to arrive! I recommend the Lamb Mandi.
All types of Middle Eastern and Turkish foods are popular in Oman. ‘Turkish Diwan’ is a great place to try a Kebab or Mixed grill.
If you would like to eat fish in Muscat (and you totally should!) then head to the ‘Turkish House’ where you can choose your fresh uncooked fish and they will cook it up for you.
A few foods and drinks that you should try in Muscat – the fresh fish definitely. Humous in Muscat is divine and popular with salads.
But the desert that you totally need to try is Kanafa – I think it might be originally Turkish or Syrian but it’s heaven for cheese lovers, The only way I can describe it is like melted cheese pudding in crunchy baclava style coating – mmmmmmm!
While you are in Muscat, make sure that you try some fresh juice – they really make the effort on flavours since alcohol is not widely consumed. Also try the Karak which is tea with milk – much sweeter than English tea and a special kick to it.
What to Pack for Oman
As well as the usual passport, money and clothing, there are some specific things that I’d recommend that you pack for Oman. Clothing is very conservative and both women and men should pack long trousers and long sleeved tops and T-shirts. Long sleeved light linen tops with cotton/linen pants or long walking trousers are perfect for Oman. Avoid the strappy dresses and vest tops.
For women, pack a scarf or shawl that you can wear as a headscarf and maybe some hair grippers to hold it in place. It shouldn’t have pictures of animals or people on it – a plain solid colour is best. Whilst you won’t be expected to wear it all the time, you will need it to visit certain places including Sultan Kaboos Mosque.
Also, there is a lot of trekking and swimming in Oman and so a good pair of walking boots and a pair of swimming shoes are perfect for day trips from Muscat including Wadi Shab. If you would like to take pictures in the pools and caves on treks then you might like to pack a waterproof phone case. Make sure that you also take sunglasses and a good water bottle.