Fairy tale gateway to the splendors of the Sultanate of Oman; a must-see stop on any cruise to the Middle East.
The pier is located in a subdivision called Muttrah, the original old town, with a large souq. A 3 minute shuttle will bring you to the port gate. After being dropped off by the port bus at the main gate, turn left along the path on the same side of the road and walk to the new fish and meat market (single story white building with modern roof. Keep walking on the pavement until you come to the traffic lights and cross over using these or the pedestrian bridge to the Muttrah souq.
At the port gate there are plenty of taxis. If you plan to use a taxi they are not metered but the rates are set by the government: 10 Rial (20 Euro) per hour for the first 3 hours, 7 Rial per hour thereafter.
Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the center of commerce in Oman (Muscat). It is still a center of commerce as one of largest sea ports of the region is located there.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Situated on a striking cove on the gulf of Oman, ringed by striking volcanic mountains and guarded by two ancient Portuguese forts, diminutive Muscat is the capital of the Sultanate of Oman. Its architecture is a picturesque blend of Arab, Indian, African and European styles. No highrises here, but a rather spread out city with buildings no higher than 8 floors.
The number 4 bus stop is near the souq entrance and will take you into Muscat for around 1 rial. You need to have local money. It drops back off at the new fish and meat market.
Taxi drivers are very nice in Oman. All of them are Omanis as this profession is reserved for nationals. These are very reasonably priced. See above. Taxis are in good shape, good A/C, drivers speak reasonable English and are really proud to show their stunning country.
Just tell the taxi driver how long you want to use his services (3 -4 hours recommended) , just lean back and enjoy a wonderful trip around Muscat, possibly one of the nicest and cleanest cities in the world. No need to tell him your itinerary, he will know all the highlights.
The only thing within walking distance are the Souk and the Corniche with some sidewalk cafes. It takes about 30-40 minutes to get to the Corniche; The pavement is flat and new so suitable families with buggies or those in wheelchairs. The big bus stops here
Hop on/off bus. If you also visit Dubai and Abu Dhabi get a ticket for all three of the destinations. The Hop on/off bus has a stop right in front of the ship, no shuttle needed. The buses have an interval of 30 minutes, but be prepared for longer intervals.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
From the water front enter the Muttrah Souk and bargain for some arab headgear (costs 1 rial), garments, nuts and spices, incense, earthen ware etc. 2km from the pier. In winter it is a nice walk, in summer an A/C taxi. The souk is more or less closed between 1PM and 5PM. If you have an overnight in Muscat, the souq becomes lively again after dark.
Muscat City center, Seeb. Currently the biggest mall containing a lot of shops, including a large Carrefour.
There are currency exchange shops and banks near the Souq entrance.
The currency in Muscat is the Omani rial (OMR). One rial is made of one thousand Baisa. Since 1986, the rial is officially tied to the US dollar at 1 rial = 2.6008 dollars;or 2 Euro. Exchange rates on the streets are a percent or two lower. The UAE's Dirham is accepted anywhere, so no need to get Rials. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Arabic is the national language, however most Omanis will speak good to excellent English, particularly in major tourist areas and cities.
Close to the soug are only a very few sidewalk cafes offering WiFi when ordering a drink or whatever. Soft drinks and coffees are very reasonable priced.
Shopping hours: Shopping establishments are open from 9am to 1 pm and 4pm to 9 pm. Department stores, supermarkets and shopping complexes are open throughout the day during Ramadan from 9am to 10 pm, with a short lunch break all through the week, except Fridays. These timings could vary with different shops.
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