Muscat City

Muscat City 800 x 400Oman’s capital might have the same scrubbed-clean streets as the major Gulf cities but it replaces their dehumanizing skyscrapers with fascinating historical sites. Prime examples include the 16th century Portuguese-built forts of Al-Jalali and Al-Mirani which make for spectacular views, especially when they’re floodlit at night.

The Grand Mosque, an elegant modern construction in sandstone, draws on classic Arab styles and boasts a vast prayer carpet and a similarly outsized Swarovski crystal chandelier. The pick of the museums is probably Bait al-Baranda (“Verandah House”), which contains exhibits relating to the history, people and natural phenomena of Oman, housed in a renovated hundred-year old building. The seafront, or corniche, is a popular spot in the cool of the evening when the lights of the waterfront buildings are reflected in the placid waters.

Practical Info

Muscat is in the north of the sultanate, on the Gulf of Oman. Some major airlines fly there directly, and most at least offer connections in Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the neighboring United Arab Emirates.