Written By The Sane Adventurer
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The strategic location of Oman makes it a great spot for connecting flights from the west to the Far East and an ideal layover destination. However, the country is still not able to capitalize on its potential with tourism but there are still many great spots around the city which are loved by the tourists. Oman is one of the most underrated and lesser visited destinations in the Middle East. Oman also happens to be the most naturally diverse countries in the region. From a long stretch of 3000km coastline to wide unexplored golden sand deserts, Oman has everything to offer to the adventure seeker. Unlike its ‘more happening’ neighbor Dubai, Oman is one of those very few countries in the Middle East that has stuck to its traditional roots of Arabian culture and Bedouin values. The low rise skyline of Oman gives a perfect vibe of vintage Arabia.
Oman is the second largest country in the Arabian Gulf after Saudi Arabia in terms of land occupation. To explore the entire country a minimum of two weeks are required, however, the capital city of Muscat, which is the epitome of Omani culture and architecture can be explored on a short layover too. Muscat is a port city and its marvels with some of the best Arabian architectural monuments in the region. Moreover, the quiet and calm beaches and natural parks in Muscat are a perfect spot to rejuvenate within nature and de-stress all the travel hassle during a layover.
Visa on arrival in Oman is available for people holding a residency from the US, UK, and EU countries. Though currently there are no airport tours arranged from the Muscat International Airport; most of the major monuments and best places within the city are in a close proximity within the airport. Just a little bit of research and planning can help you to explore the best of Muscat for a short time. Here is a list of some of the most popular monuments of Muscat which can be easily visited during a layover.
Things To Do In Muscat On a 3-hours Layover:
A short and sweet three hours layover is definitely not enough to explore the iconic Muttrah Corniche in Muscat or visit the Muttrah fort which was built by the Portuguese during the 16th century. However, As the Muscat International Airport is situated right in the heart of the city, there are still many things to enjoy and experience the vibe of this Arabian city.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque: Muscat is home to some incredibly beautiful mosques in the region. The stunning Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is situated in the heart of the city just a short 15 minutes’ drive away from the airport. It is the only mosque in Oman opened for people from different religious beliefs and values. Five brown high minarets surround the mosque, with several huge verandas and gardens inside to accommodate large numbers of people during the Friday prayers and Eid prayers. The main prayer hall features a huge fourteen meters tall chandelier, which is also the largest chandelier in the world. There are also many small chandeliers hung all across the mosque. The Sultan Qaboos mosque is a must visit for everyone visiting Muscat and wanting to get a true taste of Islamic Arab culture.
Al Mouj Marina: If you have been to the Dubai Marina than Al Mouj Marina of Muscat will not fascinate you much, however, it is a much smaller but equally beautiful Muscat’s version of the Dubai Marina. It can be reached by a ten minutes’ drive from the airport. You can stroll around the Marina enjoying the view of luxurious yachts parked or even dine-in at one of the many fine dining restaurants there. If you happen to visit Al Mouj during the evening time, look out for any fun activities or shows happening there as the place is always buzzing with people and various entertainment activities.
Things To Do In Muscat On a 6-hours Layover:
Five hours is a decently sufficient time to experience the architectural and natural beauty of Muscat. After visiting the above-mentioned places, you can enjoy the remaining time exploring the biggest natural park in Muscat or visiting the cultural center of the city.
Royal Opera House of Muscat: The Royal Opera House of Muscat is the center of all the arts and cultural activities in the city. If you have a couple of hours on hand, watching an opera show in one of the grand and luxurious auditoriums is a must-do activity! However, if you’re on a tight schedule, taking a small stroll around the majestic building is nothing short of amazing. The Royal Opera House is built with white stone marbles and its structure depicts the Arabian architecture from each and every corner. It is also one of the most instagramable spots in Muscat, so make sure not to miss this one during your short visit to Muscat.
Al-Qurm Natural Park: The Qurum Natural Park also known as Rose Garden in the area of Qurum is one of the largest natural parks in Muscat. It is a perfect place to rejuvenate and relax within nature. The park has extensive rose gardens, children playing areas, a huge artificial lake, fountains and also an artificial waterfall. You can also paddle in the huge artificial lake right in the center of the park. The park is also free of cost to enter.
Seeing Oman with kids? Check out things to do in Oman with kids?
Things To Do In Muscat On a 12-hours Layover:
If you’re lucky enough to spare a nice 12 hours layover in Muscat, then it is perfect to make the most out of this time and visit all the main monuments, natural places, and of course the most touristy and iconic district of Muttrah.
Muttrah Corniche and Souq: Muttrah can be reached within 30 minutes from the airport. It is the old city center of Muscat, which was a port and the trade center for all the business activities back in the end. Now the area has been converted into a tourist district. The old port is not changed into a beautiful corniche which is one of the main highlights of Muscat. All the cruise ships to Muscat anchor at the corniche; therefore, this is the only place where you will be seeing many tourists in Muscat. A stroll around the well-paved Muttrah corniche is a highly recommended activity followed by souvenir shopping in the Muttrah Souq. The Muttrah Souq (meaning Muttrah market in Arabic) is an old local market famous for souvenirs and Omani traditional artifacts. Get your hands on any of the many different souvenirs sold in the souq before leaving Muscat!
Or are you travelling with kids? Check out Oman with kids.
About The Author
Rahma Khan is the blogger behind ‘The Sane Adventurer’, a blog aimed