In a region where passengers are typically greeted by towering skyscrapers and cold, modern architecture, Muscat’s scenic coast, with its historic buildings and far-off mountain ranges, offers travelers a taste of old-world Arabia. This conservative port is close to vast deserts, ornate mosques, traditional fishing villages and bustling open-air markets, making it a perfect stop for travelers looking to explore well-preserved tradition.
How to Get to Muscat
Free shuttles take travelers from berth to the port’s exit gate. Visitors can hire a taxi to town, or take the steep climb on foot. Old city center, which is closest to the waterfront, is easily walkable.
One Day in Muscat
Groups of travelers can hire a guide and a car for a reasonable rate and explore the desert or the mountains of Muscat on popular private safaris. Those traveling alone should stick closer to port, where there’s still plenty to do and it’s easier to stretch a dollar.
Start exploring the city at Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is open to non-Muslims between 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The marble halls and beautifully kept gardens make it a regular stop for most tours. Next, visit Muttrah Corniche, near the harbor’s edge. This bustling promenade is a popular gathering place for locals and its lively cafes and tasty restaurants offer plenty of opportunity for people watching. Round out the day by heading inland to Nizwa, where ancient Portuguese forts offer tourists some of the best mountain views in Muscat.
Cruise ships dock in a mostly industrial area, so travelers must take free shuttles from the boat to exit gates. Arabic is the official language in Muscat and while tour guides typically speak English, most people working in Oman do not. The Omani rial is the accepted currency but some shops will take euros or dollars. Be aware--travelers typically lose out on the exchange.