Oman?! Really?! That’s often the first reaction we get when we share our location. The Middle East is viewed as a monolith by many (Dubai excluded), with the majority of the mental picture coming from snaps of life in Saudi. It’s hard for people to understand why people would live here, and why they would love it…until you visit.
Oman is the 4th safest country in the WORLD. Women can drive, and while the expected dress is modest, I don’t find the act of covering my knees and shoulders to be particularly oppressive. (Although I must admit I never thought I would take shopping links from the Duggars.) The best time to visit is winter- November-February. December and January have fantastic weather, but also higher crowds.
The family life here is incredible. Affordability of help, acceptance of children, and easy access to free outdoor activities make it quite enjoyable for life with young children. Plus, it’s SO clean. Sparkling clean. Like the Switzerland of the Middle East. The locals are VERY kind. Their hospitality is second to none! Driving is simple here with Waze and a rental car. Taxis are plentiful and the Merhaba app (like Uber) is gaining popularity.
It’s not always easy, of course, living away from home. Goods are quite expensive here, summers are just a tad bit warm, and there’s a big lack of Mexican food, but overall it’s a fantastic place to be. Whether you are in Muscat for one day from a cruise or touring the country for an extended holiday, there is much to see. For more photos check #omanmustsee and #dayinmuscat on FB and IG. Here are my top places to visit in Muscat and beyond…
1 Day in Oman (Muscat)
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque– Non-Muslims can visit 8-11 Saturday-Thursday. Women will need to have their heads covered and body from wrists to ankles. Men will need shoulders and knees covered. Shoes will be removed to go inside each prayer hall. Signage says no children under 10, but our were welcomed. (Free)
Muttrah Souq and Corniche- From a cruise ship, this is the area where you will dock. An easy walk. The entrance to the souq is well marked. Visit all the shops and then go back for what you want. Decide what price you are willing to pay and haggle. Be willing to walk away as there will likely been plenty of other vendors with the same items. They will not let you buy it for a price that loses them money, so don’t believe the sob story! The souq officially closes mid day, but many shops remain open and parking is free during that time. (Free)
Al Alam Palace- Just down from the Corniche (through the old gate) is the Sultan’s colorful palace. While he doesn’t actually live here, it’s a beautiful showpiece. The grounds and surrounding area are stunning. (Free)
National Museum– Opposite the Al Alam palace is a very well curated museum of Omani history. Be sure to catch the short video (shown twice an hour in English) that gives a nice overview. Only cards are accepted for entrance fees. Price varies based on age and residency.
To Eat: Schwarma at Turkish House, Butter Chicken at Begum’s, Hookah at Kargeen, Drinks at Safari Grill, Brunch at Chedi ($$$$).
Have more time? See this post for more to do with 2 weeks in Oman.
Oman Tripper has detailed info on many of these sites and more (although timing and opening info can be out of date). The Lonely Planet Guide will have info on accommodations and great historical info on the region.