If visiting Oman, a visit to the Old town in the Muttrah area is a must. The Muttrah Corniche and its Souq offer beautiful views and a local shopping experience. Plan some time to discover those 2 Muscat highlights, mix with the locals and explore this busy part of the Omani capital city.
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The Muttrah area in Muscat - Old town
One of the top things to do in Muscat, is to head to the old town in the Muttrah area.
Niched within hills, the white of the buildings contrast with the darkness of the rock, and reveal a long history.
This is where you can Muttrah Souq and walk along the Muttrah Corniche with ebautiful views.
Locally named Al Dhalam, the Souq with the nearby harbor is one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab World. It was indeed strategically located on the way to China and India.
If you go hiking on one of those hills, you can see the whole area around the bay from above:
Note: Muttrah is sometimes written Mutrah.
PLANNING TIPS - Muttrah Corniche and Souq
Getting to Muttrah
- Muttrah also written Mutrah is located in a cove East of Muscat. The main road (road 1) goes through it
- I recommend getting there via taxis, as the main road is often congested and parking not easily available
- The map below allows you to located the Muttrah area
Visiting the Muttrah Corniche and the Souq
- The corniche is a nice area for easy walking with nice views and the breeze from the see
- The area is very touristic area (the Souq is considered one of the most visited place in Oman) and restaurant terraces are often full
- Most of the goods you will find in the Souq are actually imported
- The Souq is not traditional anymore (from mud and palm leaves), it has been modernized and decorated to attract tourists and provide comfort to shoppers
- Bargaining is expected but not significant. Cards are now accepted in most shops but sellers prefer cash.
- You get easily lost in the Souq. In that case, choose a street that goes downwards and you will reach the water.
- Not far you can also visit the Fish market in the morning - see my article
- Along the Corniche you can also find restaurants that cater to tourists
- Muttrah beach - some people refer to the Muttrah beach - it is a small area on the next bay (to the East) where you can easily enter in the water near the Kalbuh park
Accommodations in Muscat
You can stay near: Al Qurum beach to enjoy evening walks on the sands, or in Muttrah for more traditional restaurant and experience, or in Ruwi for the cheaper options.
Walking the Muttrah Corniche
The 2 km long corniche is an easy walk with nice views.
It allows you to walk all around the bay by the water.
You can enjoy:
- the Sultan's boat, if in the harbour
- the Muscat Fort on top of the hill protecting the bay
- the contrast of the white buildings against the darkness of the bare hills
Take time to look at the water for schools of fishes. And if you really take your time you might see some birds fishing them.
Shiite Settelment in the Muttrah old town
My guide took me to the Shiite settlement of Al-Lawataya, above the Souq. Apparently there is a sign that visitors should not enter, but I was following my guide so I did not notice. Lonely Planet make it sounds like it is dangerous, but it is more of a privacy question. I had no idea at the time. However everyone was smiling at us. We stopped at a bakery, they allowed me to take pictures and we ate some delicious freshly baked bread...
Gold Souq in Muttrah
The Muttrah gold souq is not as impressive as the huge Dubai Gold Souq, but it has some charms. It is located at the west end of the Souq near the corniche.
You can see a lot of jewels on each side of the narrow street.
Here are a few pictures
But I am more of a silver girl...
Exploring the Mutrah Souq
I noticed that locals come to the Souq as much as visitors.
In the Muscat Souq you can find: household goods, shoes, ready-made garments, frankincense, perfume oils, fresh jasmine and spices, Omani posts, Hookah pipes and so much more. However, I am going to reapeat myself, many items are imported.
It gets busier at night.
I was there during the long weekend of the National Day so the Omani flag was everywhere
The Muttrah Fort
Erected in the 16th-century by the Portuguese, it has been mainly used for military purposes.
It is now open to visitors and offers magnificent views of the Muttrah bay.
Planning a trip to Oman?
Check out my travel guide to facilitate the planning of your itinerary:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Want to see more of Oman's beauty?
Have you ever got lost a Souq?
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