Oman

24 hours in Muscat

Muscat, the capital city of Oman, is an Arabian gem; crammed full of opulence, intrigue and still off the beaten track enough to feel like an adventure. With majestic palaces, bustling bazaars and white sandy beaches, if you’ve got 24 hours to spare we’ve got just the itinerary for you.

Our travel experts at Black Tomato know the Middle East like the back of their passports so they have some worthwhile insights and tips, all of which we have woven into this skip and a hop through Muscat. So whether you’ve got an extended stopover or are looking for a weekend away somewhere a little different, Muscat is a dreamy destination waiting to be discovered.

Oman

The Grand Mosque

Visiting the Grand Mosque is an absolute must if you find yourself in Muscat. With a central dome towering 50 metres above the capital of Oman and a prayer hall big enough for 6500 worshippers; the Grand Mosque dominates the Muscat skyline. The impressive piece of architecture is the only mosque in Oman that opens it’s doors to non-Muslims which means visitors to the capital can catch a glimpse of how locals practice their religion inside the incredible place of worship. We advise visiting the mosque early in the morning before the crowds arrive to experience it truly for what it is, and remember that it is an active place of worship so dress accordingly.

Black Tomato Travel Expert Tip: Be sure not to miss the world’s second-largest chandelier, measuring a staggering 14 metres and weighing 8.5 tonnes. We’re convinced you won’t miss it, but it’s in the men’s prayer hall so make a mental note to look up!

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The Bustling Souqs

Pick up a bargain at the pulsating souqs of Muscat. Widely believed to be one of the oldest markets in the Arab world, Mutrah Souq is jam-packed with antiques, art and local handicrafts. Spend the rest of the morning wandering through the stalls, soaking up the atmosphere and picking up mementoes of your trip. Originally made of mud and palm leaves, the souk has been renovated to include modern day amenities, but still retains its old world charm. Haggle with the high-spirited traders who will happily barter with you over prices, all part of the experience. Looking to take a piece of Oman home with you? Check out the ornate hookah pipes and framed khanjars, locally made decorative daggers.

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Lunch in Muscat

After a morning at the mosque and the Mutrah Souq, stop for lunch in the heart of Muscat where there is certainly no shortage of local cafes and restaurants. For lunch with an atmosphere, we love Mumtaz Mahal. Perched on the hillside overlooking Qurm Nature Reserve; it really is dining with a view. This local favourite serves North Indian cuisine and gets very busy on the weekend when diners line up to enjoy live sitar performances by candlelight. For an unforgettable lunch, we recommend ordering the snake coffee – prepare to be entertained. We won’t give it away, but it involves fire…

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Hit the beach

After having taken in the culture, there’s no time to lose before exploring the natural beauty of Oman’s coastline. The journey here is almost as spectacular as the destination with sandy hills stretching out in front of you and the blue hues of the Arabian Sea in the distance. When you arrive at Qantab, jump on a boat with a local fisherman and explore the more remote spots along the coast. Speed through natural rock formations and pick one of the many deserted beaches to spend your afternoon. Bring a good book and a towel and relax at a spot where the desert meets the sea; your own little slice of paradise.

The Royal Residence

If we’re going to drag you away from the beach then we’re going to make sure it’s for good reason. Al Alam Palace, the ceremonial palace of Sultan Qaboos, has all the opulence you’d expect from Oman’s most important royal residence (there are six!). Originally built over two centuries ago, the iconic gold and blue façade were added in 1972, and although you cannot enter the palace itself you can get a great view of it from behind the iron gates. Spend the late afternoon walking around the palace gardens at dusk; taking in the sight of the sun setting behind the iconic palace.

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Last, but by no means least

For the best in fine dining, head to The Chedi. With its chandelier-lit dining room, open kitchens and beautiful gardens, this award-winning restaurant is second-to-none in Muscat serving the best cuisine from the Middle East, West, Asia and India. If you’re after for an authentic taste of Oman we suggest the hamour, a local white fish that is cooked to perfection and melts in your mouth. Whatever you do, make sure you save room for dessert. Moreish macaroons followed by a walk under the palm trees in the grounds is not to be missed. The perfect end to any evening in Muscat.

If you feel inspired to visit Oman and see it all for yourself, contact us and we’ll make it happen.