Sights & Landmarks in Muscat
- Al Mirani Fort, Al Mirani St. Built at the same time as Al Jalali Fort which it faces across the harbor. This fort has also been converted to a museum which is closed to the general public, but it can be freely appreciated from the outside.
- Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace. This is the office of Sultan Qaboos, ruler of Oman. This beautiful palace stands on the head of a natural deep water harbour and is guarded on either side by the twin forts of Mirani and Jelali. Visitors are not allowed to visit the palace, but they are allowed to take photographs at the entrance of the palace.
- Bait Al Zubair Museum, Al Bahri Rd, . Sa-Th 9:30AM-6PM. The museum itself features displays on Omani social history, while tours are frequently run of the neighbouring reconstructed townhouse.
- Omani French Museum, Qasr al-Alam St (in Bait Fransa near the police station). Sa-W 8AM-1PM, Th 9AM-1PM. This small museum has displays detailing the relations between France and Oman, with many colonial objects from the 19th century. OMR0.500.
- Muscat Gate Museum, Al Bahri Rd. Sa-Th 8AM-2PM. This museum marks the location of the old city wall, and has the original city gates which were used until the 1970s. The location offers good views of Old Muscat and the palace.
- Corniche, Al Bahri Rd. The recently renovated corniche area is a popular place for a walk and also for its many not-so-expensive eating places. There are also good view of the fishing dhows in the harbour.
- Fish market (fish souq), Al Bahri Rd(along the Corniche, across from the Marina Hotel). Daily 6AM-10AM. Visitors can watch fishermen unload and sell the catch of the day.
- Bait al-Baranda Museum, Al Mina St, . This renovated house from the 1930s has exhibits illustrating the history of Muscat. The lower level is devoted to pre-history and palaeontology, while the upper level is devoted to human history and ethnography. OMR1 (adults), OMR0.500 (children).
- Mutrah Fort. Built by the Portuguese in the 1580s, this fort is not open to the public, but visitors are permitted to climb up the hill to the outside for a good view of the area.
- Riyam Park, Al Bahri Rd. This park also has a small funfair with rides. Great views can be had from the giant incense burner perched on the hillside. Visited inThe Amazing Race 9.
- Old waterfront watchtower, Al Bahri Rd (across from Riyam Park). This restored Portuguese watchtower on the waterfront is a good place to catch views of the sunset.
- Old souq watchtower (near Mutrah Souq and Mutrah St). This Portuguese watchtower has also been restored, and although the tower itself is closed to the public, the hill can be climbed for some great views of Mutrah and the Corniche. There is no clearly-defined path to the top; the easiest access is from the northwest.
- Ghalya’s Museum of Modern Art, Al Wadi Khabir (on the Corniche, near Mutrah Fort), , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Sa-Th 9:30AM-6PM. Opened in 2011, this museum is made up of a cluster of houses and comprises three distinct sections. The Old House is set up with furnishings and displays appropriate to an Omani house between 1950 and 1970, i.e. before the accession of Sultan Qaboos. The still unopened Clothes Museum exhibits traditional Omani clothing as well as international costumes, and the Modern Art Museum displays modern artworks from Omani and international artists, hosting occasional special exhibits. OMR 1 (adults 12+), 500 Bzs (children 6-12).
Ruwi and Qantab
Ruwi is Muscat's primary commercial district, as well as the gateway to Qantab south of the city.
- Currency Museum, Al Bank Al Markazi St (within the Central Bank of Oman building), . Sa-W 09:00-13:00. Has interesting displays of Omani currency, both coin and notes, with specimens from early history to the present day. 250 Bzs , free for children under 6.
- National Museum, An Noor St (near Abdulridha Mosque), .Sa-W 09:00-13:30, Th 09:00-13:00. Houses jewellery, costumes, and furniture.500 Bzs.
- Sultan's Armed Forces Museum, Al Mujamma St (Bait al-Falaj), . This excellent museum is housed in a building built in 1845 as a royal summer home. The lower level has displays on Oman's history, and the upper level examines Oman's international relations and military history. All visitors are given a mandatory military escort. OMR1.
- Aquarium and Marine Science and Fisheries Centre (between the Al Bustan Palace Hotel and the Capital Yacht), . Currently closed for maintenance, expected to reopen at the beginning of 2014.
- Sohar boat, Al Bustan Roundabout (near the Al Bustan Palace Hotel in Qantab). This boat was built in the dhow yards of Sur, south of Muscat. In 1980 Tim Severin and a crew of Omanis sailed in this vessel from Oman to Guangzhou, China in an effort to recreate the legendary voyages of Sindbad. Severin wrote about the undertaking in his book 'The Sindbad Voyage'.
Al Ghubrah, Al Khuwair, Al Qurm, and Bawshar
As an alternative to the main CBD of Muscat, Mutrah, and Ruwi, there are plenty of places to go to and things to see along the main highway that heads northwest out of the CBD. This main road, the Sultan Qaboos Highway, goes past many areas on its way out to the airport and further still to Seeb, Sohar and eventually the northernmost tip of Oman. Heading along this road you pass the districts of Al Qurm (Qurum), Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos, Al Khuwair, Bausher, Al-Hail and Seeb. Each one has a number of sights and places to stay.
There is also a very long beach road from Al Qurm to Seeb, some 50 km. Situated along this are some of the large international hotel chains but, more importantly, you discover the true beauty of the Oman coast-line: kilometres of beaches, fishermen with drag nets and open space to walk for hours.
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, As Sultan St (Al Khuwair). Sa-Th 09:00-11:00 (for non-Muslims). This is the third largest mosque in the world and mostly the entire complex is open to non-Muslim visitors; ladies are however expected to keep their heads, ankles and wrists covered while visiting the mosque. Must-sees in the mosque include the Swarovski crystal chandelier, the second largest hand made Persian carpet in the world, and the marble panelling.
- Natural History Museum (across the highway from the ice-skating rink). Sa 09:00-13:30; Su 08:00-13:30, 16:00-18:00; M-W 09:00-13:30; Th 09:00-13:00.
- Children's Museum, 2601 Way (Al Qurm). Sa-W 09:00-13:30, Th 09:00-13:00.
- Museum of Omani Heritage (Medinat Al Alam, on top of Information Hill near the Ministry of Information), . Sa-W 09:30-13:30, Th 09:00-13:00. This small museum has a good collection of archaeological exhibits, and is worth visiting for the excellent views. 500 Bzs.
- Qurm National Park (Qurum Natural Park) (Al Qurm). Has extensive rose gardens, a large manmade waterfall, a lake and an amusement park which is a must to visit during the Muscat Festival.
- Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre, Seih Al Maleh St (on the right-hand side at the end of the street just before PDO Gate 2), . Sa-Th 08:00-12:00, 13:00-16:00; Th 07:00-12:00. This private museum has six permanent displays explaining the formation of, and modern extraction of oil and natural gas.
- Planetarium, Seih Al Maleh St (adjacent to the Oil and Gas Exhibition Centre (see listing above)), , fax: , e-mail:planetarium.pdo.co.om. Su-Th. A full-dome digital system, which can accommodate up to 60 visitors. Two shows a week are presented in English; call or email to confirm times and to make reservations. Free.
- Bait Al Makham (Bait Al Magham) (Bawshar), . (call ahead)S-W 08:00-14:00. A fortified house built at the beginning of the 20th century, now restored and with excellent views from the top of the building. 500 Bzs.
- Bawshar Fort, Al Safa St (Bawshar). A large, photogenic ruined mud-brick fortress in a scenic location. Behind the fortress are scattered ruins and a long rampart wall, still unexcavated. Along the ridgeline in the hills are some prehistoric beehive graves. Free.