Transiting through Oman’s Muscat International Airport with 24 hours or less between flights? Be sure to make the most of your layover in Oman by exploring Muscat, the country’s vibrant capital. This 24-hour suggested itinerary will lead you to the city’s famous tourist attractions and will help you make the most of your layover. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs. Enjoy Muscat!
Things to know before traveling to Muscat, Oman:
Language – The official language of Oman is Arabic, which is spoken by the majority of population. Most Omani in Muscat speak English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking Arabic. However, not all people in Oman can speak English so learning a few basic Arabic words and phrases is recommended. Just like in other countries, speaking at least some Arabic phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency of Oman is Omani Rial (OMR). Exchanging money in Muscat is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in the Middle East. Being a premiere business or leisure destination, Muscat is dotted with foreign exchange providers in all corners of the city. You can also get your currency exchanged at the airport. International debit cards and credit cards are widely accepted.
Clothing – There’s no need for a foreigner to feel obligated to dress in traditional Arabian clothing. Modesty is the key in Oman. For women, avoid revealing clothes so you won’t get unwanted attention. Jeans and shorts not higher than mid calf, knee-length skirts partnered with T-shirts or blouse are acceptable. For men, loose cotton shirts, T-shirts and pants are okay. Lastly, while visiting places of worship, you should be fully clothed. Don’t forget to remove your footwear before entering a mosque.
Transportation – Getting around Muscat is relatively easy. Taking a taxi is the best and easiest way to get around. Buses are also a good choice as they comfortable and affordable. If you are on a luxury vacation, consider hiring a driver to take you around Muscat. This option is expensive but it will give you complete control of the trip.
Accommodation – Muscat has some of the best villas and luxury hotels, hostels and guest houses ideally nestled in the heart of the city. The most frequently asked question from first time travelers is, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting Muscat?” If you are going to follow our suggested itinerary, we recommend hotel options in Al Qurum, since all of the main sights are so close to each other and can be easily reached on foot. If you don’t plan to stay overnight and go straight to the airport after your layover tour, then you may stay for a few hours at one of the airport lounges like Plaza Premium Lounge and Majan Lounge.
Hotels to consider in Muscat:
Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa
Coral Muscat Hotel & Apartments
Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Detailed itinerary: Layover in Muscat: How to make the most of your layover of 24 hours or less
After your arrival at Oman’s Muscat International Airport, check in to your preferred accommodation. If you arrived early enough, rent a car or hire a taxi driver to take you to Khasab, a port city located in northwestern Oman. Known for its dramatic fjords and dolphin sightings, the city is a popular layover destination for tourists. Here you can hop on a traditional Dhow boat to experience the fjords of Oman, and if you have enough luck credits, you might see a pod of dolphins cruising through the waters. Do not miss to pay a visit to Khasab Fort, a 17th century Portuguese fortress.
If you are not ready for a little road trip on your layover, then may explore Muscat’s top tourist attractions instead. There’s no better way to get acquainted with the city than by the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque also known as the Grand Mosque of Muscat. Home to the world’s second largest carpet and chandelier, the mosque is the best place to get an insight to the locals’ religious practices. Although it is open to non-Muslims, dressing appropriately is required.
Make you way along the corniche to get to Mutrah Souq, Muscat’s s old traditional souk. Here you can bargain the best price for a good piece of souvenir, medicinal herb or exotic seasonings, jewelry, traditional textile and more. Even if you are not buying much, a walk through the souks is definitely worth it as it offers plenty of sights to photograph.
Spend the afternoon at Al Qurum Beach, the most popular beach in the city. Large hotel chains, shopping mall, and restaurants are near so this beach if the perfect place for layover tourists. In the evening, enjoy a luxurious seafood dinner at the Beach Restaurant at the Chedi (18th November Street | Al Ghubra).
Today is your international flight out of Oman. If you still have time, fit in an amazing breakfast or lunch in the town. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to the airport. Head to the airport in time to check in for your international flight or you may opt to continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in Muscat. The decision is all yours!
Have you been to Muscar or anywhere else in Oman? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Duty Free zone within the new terminal of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman *Chris worldwide / Shutterstock)