Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, open early mornings, is a must on holidays to Muscat. Home to Swarovski chandeliers and the second largest Persian carpet in the world, it’s a beautiful insight into Islamic architecture and religion. The historic weaponry on display at the Bait Al Zubair Museum is worth a visit and, although closed to the public, you can still get a close-up peek of the Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts that protect the walled city. The Muttrah souk is Oman’s most famous – a labyrinth of tiny stalls and shops where you can haggle for spices and perfumes, gold and silver and handicrafts and textiles. One of the city’s newer treasures is the Royal Opera House, where illustrious stars like Plácido Domingo have performed and concerts usually sell out months in advance. Stay at the Al Bustan Palace and you have access to the longest private beach in the country with kayaking, snorkelling and sailing all available, but you’ll also find lots of other pretty beaches including Quantab, Sifah and Kalbuh.
Where is Muscat?
Muscat, capital of the Sultanate of Oman, is situated in the north of the mainland on the coast of the Gulf of Oman. From Muscat, it’s 4¼ hours’ drive north-west to Dubai, or an hour’s flight.
If your holiday involves making the most of your luxury hotel and solely exploring the city, taxis are the most convenient way to get around. If you fancy venturing further afield to mountain villages and desert, a hire car is recommended. Taxis are orange and white and unmetered, so we advise securing the fare before getting in. 4x4s are needed for the Omani terrain, roads are well signposted in both English and Arabic with brown signs pointing to the major attractions.
Food and drink
You’ll find an enticing blend of Arabic, European and Indian cuisine, and plenty of fresh seafood. Luxury hotels deliver fine dining experiences with everything from pan Asian to international and beach dining to spice market-style eateries. Dates are renowned here and for a traditional Omani meal order the shuwa, a traditional dish of lamb or goat marinated and wrapped in palm leaves and then slowly cooked in a pit.