Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
With the Gulf of Oman along one side and vast expanses of mountains and deserts surrounding the other three, Muscat is Oman’s port capital and the country’s largest metropolitan city. But don’t let its glittering high-rise buildings and upscale shopping malls fool you- this modern city has a past steeped in history and culture, and that’s precisely why you should add Oman to your must-see list. With roots dating back to 1490 AD, Muscat proper is often referred to as the “Walled City,” home to royal palaces and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, the world’s third-largest mosque. As you continue to explore, you’ll likely make your way to Matrah, an old fishing village that is now home to Muttrah Souk, a winding maze of vendors selling local spices, aromatic frankincense, pashminas, and more. If you’re hoping to enjoy some adventures that take you outside of the city, Muscat is the perfect home base for a day trip to the cities of Nizwa and Bahla, and snorkeling excursions in the Arabian Sea. And at the end of the day, there is nothing better than settling in a local cafe, steaming mug of kahwa in hand, and reminiscing about your day as you soak up the ambiance of local life around you.