Nestled between the rugged Hajar Mountains and the sparkling Gulf of Oman, Muscat, Oman is a city that boasts a rich history and a mix of Arab and Persian cultures. This city has a lot to offer visitors, from its stunning architecture to its vibrant markets and tranquil beaches.
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for a relaxing vacation, this city is the perfect destination. Explore the grandeur of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque or take a stroll through the vibrant Mutrah Souq. Experience the hospitality of locals in its vibrant restaurants or spend an afternoon enjoying its soothing hot springs.
With its warm hospitality, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking scenery, Muscat is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Arabian experience. I got to experience it all with my guides Ahmed and Ahmed from Oman Travel. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Muscat, Oman!
One of the must-visit cultural and architectural marvels in Muscat, Oman is Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It’s one of the most stunning mosques in the world. It opened in 2001 and can hold up to 20,000 worshippers at a time. The mosque gets its name from Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, the current ruler of Oman.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque features a huge central dome, which is made of 1,122 tons of pure marble. The mosque also has four minarets that are 45 meters high. The interior of the mosque features beautiful Islamic calligraphy and intricate white detailing. It also features the second-largest carpet and chandelier in the world! Visitors to the mosque are required to dress modestly and remove their shoes before entering.
If trying traditional Omani food is on your itinerary (and it should be), there are few places in Muscat, Oman better than Rozna Restaurant. The restaurant resembles a mud fortress with a massive dining hall and thirty smaller, private dining rooms branching off of it. It’s known equally for its design as it is for its expansive and tasty menu.
Eating in the private rooms is more traditional, as you eat on the floor rather than at a table. I recommend starting with rakhal, a thin bread that can be filled with eggs, chocolate, or chips. I also suggest the camel bone soup, Rocca salad, and a phenomenal pastry containing shuwa (a lamb leg cooked with spices).
But the highlights are the meat qalya and qabooli shuwa, which is slow-cooked lamb with rice and tomato salsa.
Dessert included luqaimat (a donut with sesame seeds and sugar syrup), date balls, khabeesa (a crumbly cake), and iced Omani coffee (karak) with halwa, cardamom, and saffron.
One of the best ways to get a taste of a Middle Eastern city is by visiting the local souq. Muscat, Oman is no different. Mutrah Souq is a traditional Arab market where you can buy clothing, souvenirs, home goods, and street food. It’s located near the Mutrah Cornich, an oceanside boardwalk.
There, you can explore shops selling jewelry, lamps, chess boards, knives, and more. At Saffron Leading Village, you’ll find vendors selling Indian and Iranian spices, including turmeric, black pepper, and saffron. I also recommend buying Omani-style sandals, traditional hats called kummas, and a massar (turban).
You can also sample Indian snacks at Al-Raha Fast Food and delicious rose milk at Abna Haji Bin Beri Traditional Coffee. Elsewhere, you’ll find beef and chicken shawarma, veg samosas, chapati and cream cheese sandwiches, and frothy karak tea made with milk and cardamom. Mutrah Souq reminded me of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Muscat, Oman!
As you explore Muscat, Oman, you’ll find a wide variety of cuisines to try outside of Omani fare. One you’ll likely come across is Pakistani cuisine at places like Punjab Restaurant & Sweets.
I recommend visiting for breakfast, where you can enjoy a flaky puri with crumbly halwa, savory chana dal, and a spicy omelet. Eat the omelet with some cooling yogurt and a rich tomato chutney.
The pani puri containing chickpeas, potatoes, onion, cabbage, raita, pani, and sweet chili chutney takes your taste buds on a wild and unforgettable ride! Finish up with some assorted sweets, including a hot and thick walnut halwa.
When you travel with my guides from Oman Travel, you’ll get the opportunity to dine at a camel meat restaurant in Muscat, Oman. Here, you eat on the floor, traditional-style, and share the dishes with family and friends. They served us a huge platter containing five different types of rice, and another containing fresh vegetables.
But the star of the show was the camel meat. We tried five different dishes, including stir-fried camel with peppers, camel with gravy, and camel with onions. I enjoyed them all, but the camel with gravy was almost like a rich camel curry containing cardamom. The camel stir-fry with chilies, bell peppers, and onions was also excellent!
Another highlight was the included the camel fat, which reminded me a lot of bacon. The rice soaked in camel fat was a flavor explosion in my mouth! Overall, it was one of my favorite food experiences in Muscat, Oman.
Outside of Muscat is another unique experience travelers shouldn’t miss, visiting a hot spring! To get there, you have to hike through a village, where you can see the locals’ irrigation channels as you pass private properties and palm trees.
Eventually, we reached a spring after climbing over some rocks. It is important to be cautious as there are several sharp rocks there. Be sure to mind your head! The waters of the hot spring are warm and soothing, and a great place to relax. There are even small fish in the water that nibbled at our feet, providing a similar experience to the one available in Thailand, but for free!
Oman’s street food scene is a must-try for any foodie. One of the most popular street foods in the country is mishkak, a skewered meat dish, with street vendors selling it for as little as $0.50 per skewer. The beef and squid mishkak are the most common. I tried them with a chili tamarind sauce that adds a spicy sweetness to the tender meat.
Oman street food also includes unexpected treats like burgers, with the Cheetos burger I tried being a popular choice. The burger is made with beef and topped with cheese, red sauce, jalapenos, lettuce, and mayo. Dynamite fries are another favorite, and they come loaded with minced beef, sauce, and jalapenos. Grilled corn on the cob is also a beloved dish that’s served with tamarind sauce and lemon juice.
Cholo Burger is a more traditional burger joint that serves up tasty burgers with fluffy buns and toppings like lettuce, onion, mayo, and cheese. Overall, Oman’s street food scene offers a wide variety of delicious dishes that are both affordable and flavorful. I can’t recommend them enough!
Muscat, Oman is a beautiful city that offers varied and mouthwatering culinary experiences. One of my favorites was at Dukanah Cafe, a famous brunch spot in a traditional mud-style house. that offers a mix of traditional and modern decor.
Their shakshuka, consisting of scrambled eggs with tomato and vegetables, was full of bold and bright Mediterranean flavors. The ful (kidney beans in a thick gravy) and ful mudammas (fava beans) were hearty and satisfying. But my favorite was the lamb mishkak, served with a tart tamarind sauce and honey. The contrast of earthy meat and sweet honey blew my mind!
For dessert, we had qurus, small wheat pancakes, with date syrup and honey. The honey was better! We also had swaywieh, sweet vermicelli noodles with milk, sugar, and cardamom. Lastly, we enjoyed khabeesa, a sweet wheat pudding with milk, sugar, and pistachios.
In Muscat, Oman, Zanzibari cuisine is a must-try due to its cultural connection to Oman. The island of Zanzibar lies off the coast of Tanzania, over 2,000 miles southeast of Oman. But after the island became part of the Oman Empire in the 17th century, its cuisine found its way to Oman!
At Outer Space Restaurant, a Zanzibar cook prepared a mix of African, Middle Eastern, Indian, and Omani influenced dishes like kachori, chicken mishkak, coconut fish, biryani, chapati, and more. The chicken cutlet with coconut chutney and the crispy fish croquette were some of the highlights.
At Kilimanjaro Cafe & Restaurant, they served grilled octopus, michicha (stir-fried greens with coconut milk), kisamvu (spinach and nuts with coconut), nyama choma (massive grilled lamb chop), and mchuzi wa samaki (shark coconut curry) among others. I also loved the grilled octopus with mango chili chutney and the meaty, charcoal-flavored nyama choma with tamarind chutney.
Ugali is a starchy staple in East Africa made from corn flour. We enjoyed some with mchuzi wa samaki, which had an unreal coconut flavor. Lastly, finish with their tart and tangy passionfruit and lemon juice!
If you’re looking for Indian flavors in Muscat, head over to Kumar Restaurant. They make Indian fusion food, including Indian, Afghan, and Kuwaiti dishes with an Indian twist. My guides and I ordered tandoori prawns, barbecued short ribs, Hyderabadi beetroot salad, Delhi volcano fries, and potato & chickpea chaat, chili-mango tandoori chicken with parmesan, and even a banana-date lassi!
I’ve been a lover of Indian food ever since my first trip to India in 2018. I’ve eaten Indian cuisine more times than I can count, and this was one of my favorite Indian meals I’ve had outside the country.
I also recommend visiting Begum’s, a chain with three locations in Muscat. They offer Mughlai cuisine, including mutton seekh kebabs, tandoori chicken, paneer haryali tikka, butter chicken, various naans, chicken tikka biryani, baingan bharta, and kundan kaliya (mutton in fried onion paste gravy with green chilies, coriander, and cardamom). You can’t go wrong with anything on their menu!
One of the pinnacles of Omani cuisine is the dish known as shuwa. Omani shuwa is a traditional dish of slow-cooked, spiced lamb that is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an underground oven. You can enjoy the dish, which comes out juicy, fatty, and insanely tender, at Rozna Restaurant.
When enjoying Omani shuwa, it’s customary to eat it with rice . The banana leaf used to cook the meat adds an irresistible extra layer of flavor. The unique blend of spices is unreal, and the fatty and tender meat simply melts in your mouth. The addition of onions also adds a pleasant sweetness. It was the most incredible lamb dish I have ever had in my life!
From the food vendors that line its streets at night to the bustling lanes of Mutrah Souq, Muscat, Oman is a true sandbox for curious travel lovers. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly destination with a unique local identity, Muscat, Oman is the perfect choice. Its incredible food must be tasted to be believed, and its people are welcoming and open-hearted. Book a trip to Muscat, Oman to experience its people, food, and culture for yourself!