Oman’s capital and largest city sits on the Gulf of Oman surrounded by mountains and desert. The climate is hot and arid with hot summers and warm winters. Annual rainfall is about 4 inches. Arabic is the predominant language, but there are people who speak English and a number of other languages.
Muscat has lots of traditional architecture, but also modern skyscrapers and upscale malls. There are 16th century Portuguese forts and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque that holds 20,000 people. Alcohol consumption is not allowed in public. Currency in Oman is the Rial. It takes $2.60 USD to equal 1 Omani Rial.
MUSCAT CRUISE PORT
The port is near the old-town area. It’s an industrial port with container ships so walking through the port is prohibited, but free shuttles take passengers to the gates and Mutrah is walkable from there. Shuttles may also drop people off at Mutrah souk, a traditional market. Dress conservatively as this is a traditional Arab country. Taxis are available at the port gates, and maybe a HOHO bus. They ran on cruise ship days pre-covid, but hop on hop off bus service got suspended due to the pandemic and is currently still suspended until further notice. There is wifi in the terminal building, but it is not always open.
The Corniche is a 4-mile long seaside walkway with access to one of Muscat’s main tourist attractions, the Mutrah Souk. A souk is a market, and this is a large one with numerous alleys winding through the market stalls. It’s one of the oldest souks in Oman having been there for about 200 years. Al Jalali Fort is visible on a hillside across the harbor.
If you are coming into Oman by cruise ship you may not need a visa even if the country you are from is generally required to have one. We had 3 ports in Oman on our cruise on the MSC Lirica. At each one people were given landing cards as they exited the ship, which substituted for visas for cruise ship passengers who are just coming ashore for a few hours. The cards were collected upon return to the vessel. If you do need a visa to visit Oman, be sure to get it from the official Oman Royal Police evisa website because the price if you get it directly from them is a fraction of what it costs through visa assist sites.
THINGS TO DO IN MUSCAT
Old town, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (to enter the Grand Mosque conservative dress is required including covering ankles, wrists, neck, head, and most of face for women. Open 9-11am) Mutrah souk, museums, Muscat Corniche (seaside promenade), dolphin watching cruise, beaches (Qurum Beach allows western style swimming suits), scuba diving, forts (Muttrah fort is open to the public), hotels (you can go inside even if you aren’t staying there. Some have restaurants or beaches.) Al Qurum Park (greenery in an otherwise desert landscape) Sultan’s palace (outside views only), water activities (tours available for diving, snorkeling, wake boarding, dolphin watching, or rent kayaks or jet skis).