24 hours in Muscat

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Stretched over 70 km between the magnificent Hajar Mountains and the turquoise Indian Ocean, Muscat is a picturesque city that has stayed true to its Arabian heritage.


Low-rise pale buildings with arches and decorative gates reflect the desert heat and give Omans capital a unique charm, making it a jewel on the Arabian Peninsula. For centuries Muscat has been a meeting place between India and Africa, so its multicultural population has a rich history and an openness to the world. Yet its mystique can still be felt in its old markets, stunning mosques, and world-class opera house.

For pancakes, eggs or an English breakfast, D'Arcy's Kitchen, in Shatti Qurum and Madinat Sultan Qaboos, is a local favourite. Its paper placemats, complete with Omanis in dishdashas and abayas, are a fun bonus.

One of the most exquisite examples of Islamic architecture, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque celebrates cultural diversity, with decorative styles from across the Muslim world. It's open to visitors between 8 and 11, except on Fridays.

A visit to Muscat isn't complete without a trip to Muttrah Souk. This traditional market is a labyrinth of alleyways filled with Omani frankincense, silver, pashminas, and many Omani shoppers making their usual purchases.

Wander through the curving streets of Old Muscat, home to two 16th-century forts from the city's Portuguese era, andAl Alam Palace, a royal residence known for its blue and gold façade.

Try a shawarma sandwich and fruit, lemon and mint, or pomegranate juice at Gulf Fast Food along the Muttrah Corniche. Shawarma isn't indigenous to Oman, but it's certainly popular.

Avoid the heat with a visit to Bait Al Zubair in Old Muscat or Ghalya's Museum of Modern Art in Muttrah. Both museums showcase Oman's history, fashion, and contemporary art.

Spend some time browsing the boutiques at the Opera Galleria, where you'll find the finest European jewellers, Omani perfume makers, and the best Omani and regional artists at Bait Muzna Gallery.

The Royal Opera House Muscat opened in 2013 with a Franco Zeffirelli and Placido Domingo production of Turandot. Septembers line-up includes The Barber of Seville, the National Ballet of Uruguay, and Youssou N'Dour.

Finish your day with Omani shuwa – tender, spicy meat cooked underground for 24 hours – and fresh fruit shisha at Kargeen. Its Bedouin décor and trees trimmed with sparkling lights provide an unforgettable atmosphere.


Muscat, Oman
Distance: 739 km
Flight Time: 1 hour, 20 mins
Frequency: 31 flights a week

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