So, you’ve got your e-visa and are ready to explore what the Sultanate’s capital has to offer. Here are our top five things to do on a layover in Muscat.
The platform is set: you’ve just flown into the new Muscat International Airport terminal for the first time and you have 24 hours to kill before you hop onto your next flight. What are you going to do?
It’s no sin to say that you’d rather cozy up in a pre-booked hotel room but there are some who would prefer heading out for a little sightseeing or shopping.
Are you up for the challenge? Here are five ways you can spend time – while on a strict budget of under RO50 – galloping around Muscat.
Let’s break the cliché. Leave out the Muttrah souk and head straight for the National Museum. It’s a 45-minute drive that will cost you roughly RO8 by taxi but once you’re in the city, you can navigate it on foot. Entry into the National Museum will set you back RO5 (and RO1 and RO2 for citizens and expats, respectively) – and exhibits are aplenty. Some of the rocks in the museum date back 4,000 years while other rarities such as old weapons and cutleries also flank various sections of the museum. The tour will take you a good two hours even if you skimp through every section.
Distance from airport: 35.4kms (45 minutes)
Want to experience Oman in the span of a few hours? Take a walk across Al Mouj. Essentially an amalgamation of Omanis and expats from all around the globe, the township is now considered a mini-world of mixed cultures – all coming together to form a tranquil environment. The Walk and the Al Mouj Marina are two areas that you can explore. There are several restaurants you can visit (we highly suggest Angelina Paris) and other activities (think, shopping) you can enjoy in the area.
Price: Free entry
Distance from airport: 9kms (10 minutes – can vary depending on traffic)
Amusement parks in Oman aren’t built for adults – it’s a fact. But as it turns out, escape rooms are. This Hollywood-meets-Oman-themed game area takes things up a notch. So, put on your glasses and thinking cap, and reprise Sherlock Holmes – Omani style. The game is rather simple: you must escape from a room after solving intricate puzzles that would lead to your final exit. There are three options to choose from – one of which involves a murder-mystery of an Omani barber (also our favourite). The room is also situated at Shatti al Qurum, so you can tie in your visit with a trip to the beautiful Royal Opera House Muscat, and the iconic Love Road that is home to some of the most exotic cars in the world.
Note: The escape room requires a minimum of three players. However, if you’re travelling alone, you could join other teams. Pre-booking required.
Where: Shatti al Qurum
Distance from airport: 18.6kms (19 minutes)
Don’t pass up on a chance to catch glimpses of one of the largest mosques in the world. With a capacity of 20,000 and an area of more than 416,000 sq.m, it stands as one of the largest structures in the country. Non-Muslims are welcome to head to the mosque, though several tourists opt to park outside the mosque and simply click photos of the minarets (of which there are five). The true splendour of the mosque can only be experienced by those who have entered it. As of the time of publishing, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque houses the largest single-piece carpet in the world (at 70 x 60 metres) and the world’s largest chandelier that tips the scales at 8.5 tonnes.
Note: Dress gracefully as you would in a place of worship.
Distance from airport: 12.5kms (13 minutes)
Take adventure to the next level by heading to the Tiwi beach. With its white sands and azure waters, this is, by a mile, one of the most striking beaches in the Middle East. There’s also a wadi – flanked by tall rocks, lush greenery, and cool waters – that will make for the perfect camping spot. Since it’s a hub for tourists, you could also end up meeting new people. The drive to the location will take roughly two hours but there are several tour guides who will assist you in your stay for less than RO30 (with transportation).
Note: Pre-plan your trip and make sure you head back to the airport early to avoid missing your flight.
Price: (Roughly) RO30 along with transportation.
Distance from airport: 170kms (1 hour and 45 minutes).