Muscat, the capital of Oman since 1793, is situated on the North West Coast overlooking the Gulf of Oman and is surrounded by mountains and desert. Historically, it was a port of trade between the west and the east and architecture, culture and food retains Persian, Portuguese and Ottoman Empire influences. In the city explore the beautiful Sultan Qaboos Gran Mosque, an iconic structure which can accommodate 20,000 worshipers; the Moutrah Souq, a traditional Arab market antiques, traditional textiles and jewellery and the Bait Al Zubair museum which hosts international exhibitions of contemporary art. Qurum beach stretches 12 miles along the coast and is great for a walk or run and in the evening families gather with picnics to enjoy the sunset. Outside the city the desert and countryside await. Wadi Shab, a gorge through the undulating mountains, less than 2 hours from Muscat, is a spectacular visit – caves, waterfalls and crystal-clear pools often surrounded by palm trees growing as if by magic from the rugged ground provide a hike and swim to remember. Wani Bank Khalid, a day trip from the city, is often described as the mystical ‘Shangri La’ pools and caves loom over visitors who must take a dip in the natural waters and enjoy the unspoilt landscape. The former capital of Nizwa, at the base of the Hajar Mountains, 2 hrs from Muscat, has a spectacular 17th century fort to explore and a craft and souk market with fine silver treasures for purchasers. The local warm seas offer excellent opportunities for diving at Daymaniyat and Fahal Islands and can often be seen from a boat trip into the gulf where you can also enjoy a little snorkelling. Muscat celebrates its National Day on 18th November and patriotic fever is demonstrated with camel racing and flag waving.
Muscat is a fantastic Winter holiday destination from November through to March – the day temperature remains below 30⁰C and nights are cool. From April to September temperatures can soar to an average of 36⁰C. During the month of Ramadan, which vary yearly, Oman is quieter. Restaurants may close during the day so keeping snacks to eat in private is recommended. At night during Ramadan is exciting as life restores at sunset.
Your passport should have at least 6 months validity remaining on your date of entry. A visa is needed to visit Oman. Visit GOV.UK for more advice on passports, visas and travel.