An ancient port city picturesquely perched on the Gulf of Oman, Muscat is a history buff’s dream. The capital of Oman is renowned for its gorgeous architecture, historic sites and mosaic-covered mosques. The city is dedicated to preservation, so even modern buildings are required to maintain domes, arabesque windows and other traditional features. The result is a stunning destination that seems beautifully trapped in time.

But looks can be deceiving. Residents are famously warm and welcoming, offering smiles as well as directions to Muscat’s many modern museums, luxury hotels and thriving markets.

Thanks to its legacy as a trade city, nearly 40 percent of Muscat’s population is made up of expats, which creates a wonderfully unique culture of blended Middle Eastern, Indian and North African influences.

A desert location means that the capital is drenched in sunshine most days of the year, and its coastal setting allows for endless opportunities to swim, snorkel and sail around the turquoise harbor.