12 Best Places to Visit in Muscat During a Stopover

Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is a destination that should be on every traveler's stopover list. I didn't know that until I got a chance to book a flight with Oman Air and ended up requesting a 2-day transit in Muscat before the next flight.

Not only does Oman Air cater to over 40 international flight routes, but the city is also pretty easy to explore if you have a stopover in Muscat for at least 6 hours. 

As Oman allows free visa for citizens from over 100 countries, it's also easy to leave Muscat International Airport to explore the best of the capital city during your layover. 

With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Muscat offers a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you have a few hours or a few days to spare, Muscat has something for everyone.

Not sure where to go during a stopover in Muscat, Oman? Here are the best tours to highlight the must-visit places in Muscat! 

Why You Should Visit Muscat, Oman

Muscat is known for its historical significance and architectural beauty. The city has been inhabited for over 2,000 years and has been influenced by various civilizations throughout its history. 

From the imposing Grand Mosque to the majestic Royal Opera House, Muscat's iconic landmarks are a testament to its rich heritage.

In addition to its historical attractions, Muscat is also blessed with natural beauty. The city is surrounded by rugged mountains and pristine beaches, offering opportunities for outdoor adventures and relaxation. 

Whether you're planning to hike in Wadi Shab, swim in the Bimmah Sinkhole, or simply enjoy the sun on Qurum Beach, Muscat's natural wonders will leave you in awe!

Where to Go in Muscat, Oman During a Stopover

Compared to its more popular neighboring countries like the UAE or Saudi Arabia, I had a really great first impression when I arrived in Muscat for the first time. 

Personally, I think Oman has become my favorite country in the Middle East for some reasons based on my first visit. Unlike Saudi Arabia, where I lived for a few years, people in Oman seem to be pretty laid back and friendly. Something that I rarely experienced in Saudi Arabia. 

Compared to the UAE, especially in cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi that seems to be a little bit too superficial with glitz and glam, Muscat offers some authentic Arab vibes where people seem to not really bother about what you do or what you wear, but with the locals that seem pretty modest in their everyday life. 

So, here are some of the best things to do in Muscat and its surroundings during a stopover in Oman

1. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman. | Credit: Simon of Backpack Moments.

One of the must-visit attractions in Muscat is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It's definitely one of the most iconic landmarks in Muscat, and the mosque is almost certainly included if you plan to join a Muscat city tour during your stopover. 

With its stunning architecture and intricate details, the Grand Mosque is a sight to behold. 

When visiting Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman, it's required to dress modestly, and women must cover their hair before entering the mosque building. Like pretty much all the touristic mosques (like Sultan Omar Saifuddien Mosque in Brunei or Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul), you can also find a corner to rent a hijab during your visit to the mosque. 

If you're a Muslim, you can enter the mosque at any time to pray or just admire the architecture in its surroundings. However, they have designated visiting hours for non-Muslim visitors who plan to visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque during their trip to Muscat. 

Except for Friday, you can visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat from 8 to 11 AM. There's no entry fee, so it's definitely one of the best free things to do in Muscat, Oman! 

2. Al Alam Palace

Al Alam Palace in Muscat, Oman. Al Alam Palace in Muscat, Oman | Credit: Kitty of Kitty Meets World.

Another iconic landmark in Muscat is the Al Alam Palace. Located in the heart of the capital city, this royal palace serves as the ceremonial residence of Sultan Qaboos. 

With its vibrant blue and gold facade, the Al Alam Palace is a symbol of Omani architecture and grandeur. While visitors are not allowed inside the palace, they can admire its beauty from the outside and take photos.

The Al Alam Palace can be visited at any time, but it's best to go during the day when the guards are present.

3. The Royal Opera House Muscat & Omani Heritage Gallery

Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman. Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman. | Credit: Diana of The Globetrotting Detective.

Muscat offers a rich cultural experience with its traditional performances and festivals. One of the highlights is the Omani dance and music, which can be enjoyed at various venues throughout the city. 

The Royal Opera House Muscat is a world-class venue that hosts performances by local and international artists. Alternatively, you can visit the Omani Heritage Gallery to experience traditional Omani music and dance. 

The distance between the Royal Opera House and the Omani Heritage Gallery in Muscat is approximately 5 kilometers, which is easily accessible if you stay at the Muscat Express Hotel in Al Ghubrah

4. Muttrah Souq

Muttrah souq in Muscat old town, Oman. Muttrah souq in Muscat old town in Oman.

Muscat's old town, also known as Muttrah, is a charming neighborhood in Oman capital city that offers a glimpse into the city's past. It's also the best area to stay in Muscat, as it's well-located near Muscat Corniche, which offers the best view of the city. 

One of the highlights of Muttrah is the Muttrah Souq, a traditional market where you can find everything from spices and textiles to jewelry and souvenirs. 

When shopping at one of the shops in Muttrah Souq, I'd definitely recommend haggling since I bought a small magnet for 1 OMR (around $3 USD), which sounds pretty excessive now that my brain has processed the conversion. LOL.

The souq is a bustling place with narrow alleyways and vibrant colors, making it a must-visit for shopping and cultural experiences. Even if you're not into shopping, it's definitely a great spot for people-watching to see the local ways of life! 

5. Al Jalali Fort

Al Jalali Fort in Muscat, Oman. Al Jalali Fort in Muscat, Oman.

Another attraction in Muscat's old town is the Al Jalali Fort. Built in the 16th century, this fort was originally used as a defensive structure and later served as a prison. 

While the fort was once open to visitors who wanted to explore its rooms and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the sea, Al Jalali Fort is now closed to the public. However, you can still see the view of the majestic fort from afar through Mutrah for some good photograph spots in Muscat!

6. Muscat Corniche

Muscat corniche in Muttrah area, Muscat. Muscat corniche in Oman. 

The Corniche is another popular spot in Muscat's old town. This waterfront promenade stretches for several kilometers, which offers stunning views of the sea and Muscat skyline. 

It's a great place for a leisurely stroll or a bike ride, especially during sunset when the sky turns into shades of pink and orange. You can also join this Muscat historical sunset tour to sail through Muscat old town during this time of the day for the best experience! 

7. Beaches in Muscat

A beach near Muscat International Airport in Muscat, Oman. The “Baby beach”, a beach near Muscat International Airport. 

Muscat offers a diverse range of activities for visitors to enjoy. If you're a beach lover, Oman capital city has several beaches you can visit with various activities to kill the time. 

I got a chance to visit one near the airport before my flight to Istanbul, but the beach was pretty much empty since I went there during Ramadhan. 

My Couchsurfing friend Ashfaq told me that the beach is called “Baby Beach”, though I'm not too sure if it's a legit name for the beach since I tried to check on the internet and I couldn't find the information about it. LOL. 

If you're looking for more popular beaches that are a bit further away from the airport, head to Qurum Beach or Bandar Al Khayran. 

Qurum Beach is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, while Bandar Al Khayran is known for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. Both beaches offer opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and other water sports.

8. Museums in Muscat

For those interested in history and culture, Muscat has several museums worth visiting. 

The Bait Al Zubair Museum showcases Omani heritage and traditions through its collection of artifacts and exhibits. 

The National Museum of Oman, located in the heart of Muscat, offers a comprehensive overview of the country's history, from prehistoric times to the present day.

9. Wahiba Sands

Wahiba sands in Oman. Wahiba sands in Oman. | Source: Unsplash. 

If you're looking for adventure, head to the desert for some dune bashing or camel riding. The Wahiba Sands is one of the best desert safari destinations in Oman, and you can even sign up for a hot air balloon ride in Wahiba Sands to make the most of your visit! 

Located a couple of hours away from Muscat by car, I wouldn't recommend Wahiba Sands if you only have a few hours stopover in Muscat. 

However, if you plan to stay 2 or 3 days in Muscat, you can definitely include Wahiba Sands in your Oman itinerary. 

It's a vast desert with towering sand dunes that are perfect for adrenaline-pumping activities. You can also spend a night in a desert camp and experience the magic of sleeping under the stars.

Whether you plan to rent a car or join a day trip to Wahiba Sands from Muscat, you can arrange the trip pretty easily. Due to its location, most tours from Muscat to Wahiba Sands also include Wadi Bani, which sounds like a great deal if you want to make the most of your stopover in Muscat!

10. Bimmah Sinkhole

Bimmah sinkhole in Oman. Bimmah Sinkhole in Oman | Credit: Valentina of BeBorghi.

Bimmah Sinkhole is another must-visit spot near Muscat. This limestone crater is filled with clear blue-green water and is surrounded by lush greenery.

Whether you want to swim in the sinkhole or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, it's definitely a great spot for a picnic or a day trip from Muscat, Oman! 

11. Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab in Oman. Wadi Shab in Oman. | Credit: Diana of The Globetrotting Detective.

Muscat is blessed with natural beauty, and there are several attractions that showcase this. One of the most popular destinations is Wadi Shab, a stunning canyon with turquoise pools and waterfalls. 

You can hike through the wadi, swim in the pools, and even explore a hidden cave. It's a great place to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature.

If you're a solo traveler looking to explore Muscat during your stopover, you can visit Wadi Shab by joining a day tour from Muscat. A lot of tour providers in Muscat also offer a bundle package like this Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole trip for a full-day trip from Muscat. 

12. Jebel Akhdar

Jebel Akhdar in Oman. Jebel Akhdar in Oman. | Credit: Valentina of BeBorghi.

Located in the Al Hajar Mountains, Jebel Akhdar is one of the best places to visit in Muscat for those who enjoy hiking and outdoor activities. 

It offers breathtaking views with terraced farms and traditional villages for those who want to immerse in the authentic side of Oman. 

Whether you plan to hike through the mountains or explore the villages, a day trip to Jebel Akhdar from Muscat can be pretty rewarding if you prefer a getaway from the big city! 

FAQs About Traveling to Muscat

As usual, I will also include some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling around Muscat and its surroundings. So, here we go! 

What's the best way to get around Muscat? 

The most affordable way to travel around Muscat is by public bus, as their public transport system is pretty reliable and quite cheap compared to taxi or other transport options in the city. 

You can check the Mwasalat website or app to check the bus routes and schedule, but based on my personal experience anything could change on the road since when I took the bus from Muttrah back to Muscat Express Hotel in Al Ghubrah, the bus changed their route and schedule for some reason. I was just lucky that the bus still passed my bus stop. 

Alternatively, you can also take a taxi. However, most taxi services in Muscat don't provide a taximeter in their fleet, so you certainly will need to haggle when you hail one on the road. 

The easiest way to go if you prefer to take a taxi to travel in Muscat and its surroundings is by installing Otaxi, where the rate and the routes are more transparent than the conventional one. 

Renting a car in Muscat can also be a great option if you have an international driving license. You can expect to drive on the right side of the road in Oman, so better check sites like RentalCars or DiscoverCars to arrange a car rental in Muscat. 

Is Muscat good for tourists? 

Honestly, I don't know why Muscat is pretty underrated compared to other capital cities in the Middle East. 

On my first day in Muscat, I felt at home right away, as the people I met on the road have been nothing but super helpful to me. 

From a bus driver to even a stranger I met on the bus, they were friendly and helpful. I remember one sign I saw at Muscat International Airport with the quote of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)… And I have to agree. Omani people are THAT kind! 

A quote about Omani people by Prophet Muhammad PBUH.A quote about Oman by Prophet Muhammad PBUH. 

Is Muscat cheap or expensive? 

When I first landed in Oman, I was a bit intimidated by how expensive it was to store my luggage at the airport. 

But as soon as I arrived at my hotel and explored the area to grab some dinner, I was surprised that outside the airport, Muscat is pretty affordable despite OMR being one of the strongest currencies in the world! 

The restaurants and local lives reminded me my old life living in Saudi Arabia, so I got some sense of familiarity as soon as I reached Muscat Express Hotel

I could find a local tea place and grab a cup of chai for as low as 400 paisha, and I never spent more than 3 OMR for dinner. 

Keep in mind that the meal portions in Oman, pretty much like other Arab destinations, are super generous that I could grab one thing for lunch and keep the leftovers for dinner! 


With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, Muscat offers a unique and unforgettable experience. 

If you plan to travel with Oman Air, I'd highly recommend planning a short trip to explore Muscat during your layover. Besides, everything in Muscat International Airport is ridiculously expensive, so if you could even leave the airport to grab a more reasonably priced meal, you should. 

From exploring the iconic landmarks of the city to immersing yourself in its old town charm, there is something for everyone in Muscat. Whether you have a few hours or a few days to spare, Muscat has plenty to offer. 

So, next time you have a stopover in Oman, make sure to add Muscat to your itinerary and make the most of your visit!

marya the beautraveler author profile
Marya The BeauTraveler

I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.


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