Oman is a hidden treasure that has so much to offer. You can pack so many memorable experiences into such a short time. So to help you plan your epic Omani adventure, here’s our list of the Top Places to Visit in Oman. We’ll share staying in a luxury desert camp, visiting incredible mosques, swimming in oasis wadis, exploring ancient cities and free diving around pristine islands. There is so much natural diversity and culture to soak up with a trip to Oman!
Check out our full Oman Travel Guide for everything you need to know for your trip to Oman.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT OMAN
Before we share our list of the specific places to visit, here’s just a few reasons to travel to Oman:
- Stunning variety of landscapes – there’s sandy deserts, steep mountain ranges, grand mosques, old fortress towns, turquoise water beaches and oasis wadis. Oman has it all!
- Perfect for a road trip – safe roads and all the highlights can be reached without having to drive more than a few hours at any time.
- Amazingly warm, modest and generous people – I can’t say enough about this!
- Authentic cultural experience – there’s minimal development like neighbouring Dubai and the country is very proud of their culture.
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN OMAN
Now we’ll share with you our absolute favourite places to visit when travelling to Oman.
Nizwa is an ancient city surrounded by date palm plantations and set against dramatic jagged mountains. Inside the old part of town you can wander the narrow streets and explore the pastel coloured fortress castle at Nizwa Fort. This was our trip highlight! We visited several times and the sunset here is something that I’d highly recommend.
Travel Tip: Dress code is not as conservative as visiting a mosque but as it’s a public place, be sure to dress moderately. Entry is 5 OMR for a day pass.
Besides the fort, the old town of Nizwa has charming coffee shops and traditional restaurants to enjoy. There’s also the Nizwa Souq that you must visit. Largely an artisanal market you can expect terracotta vases, silverware and antiques as well as a huge selection of dates, spices and coffee. Just check out opening hours before you plan your visit as it closes in the afternoon (I recommend going early morning).
We stayed in Nizwa for a few nights and from here we could also access the nearby Jabreen Castle. The castle comprises stone walls and intricate wooden detailing. It was definitely worth a visit and we couldn’t believe how few tourists were visiting. Again, try to get there early for less people.
Wahiba Sands is a region of endless silken sand desert beyond the mountain regions. Here you can stay in canvas tents overnight for a unique desert stay. We chose to stay one night at Desert Nights Camp. Arriving to the camp was totally surreal. Passing through an ocean of sand dunes in our 4WD we saw nothing but wild camels, eventually laying eyes on the camp nestled between the massive dunes. Terracotta sand baked dunes as far as the eye can see. On sunset, 4WDs take you to the top of the dunes to watch the golden sky and matte sands. This was followed by dinner and music back at the camp. A totally memorable experience from start to finish!
It’s hard to believe that this place exists in Oman. Daymaniyat Islands are a cluster of uninhabited rocky islands surrounded by turquoise waters. These islands are part of a nature reserve for diving and snorkelling. And we’ve never seen so many turtles in one place!
We chose to take an excursion from nearby the Shangri-La Al Husn (where we were staying), however tours also leave from Muscat. The boat trip takes around 40 minutes to reach the islands. Swimming in clear warm waters was a totally unexpected highlight from our Oman travels.
A wadi is a freshwater stream or pool found in rocky ravines. They are little oases that can be found dotted throughout the rocky desertscapes of Oman. There are few popular wadis in Oman, but our favourite was Wadi Shab.
Wadi Shab is reached via a very short boat ride which costs 1 OMR (cash), followed by a 45 minute hike. At the end of your hot and dusty hike you’ll reach a refreshing clear crystal-clear pool, which is perfect to cool down and wash away the desert dust. For the slightly more adventurous, there’s a waterfall further upstream that is reached by a swim through a narrow cave! I would recommend getting to start of the hike early (around 7am) to make sure you claim a parking spot and avoid the crowds!
The other popular wadis are Wadi Bani Khalid and Bimmah Sinkhole. We didn’t try Wadi Bani Khalid as we were worried it’d be too busy. Instead our second wadi choice was Bimmah Sinkhole. This is nearby to Wadi Shab and much easier to access the sinkhole right next to the car park. We much preferred Wadi Shab if you can only do one!
This area of rugged coastline boasts spectacular views and beautiful little beaches. It’s also where you’ll find the Shangri-La Al Husn, the perfect luxury escape just outside of Muscat. Here at the Shangri-La you can soak in ornate Omani architecture with incredible comfort & service. Swim and relax on daybeds on the hotel’s private beach, or watch the sunset from a private cliff top dinner. Bliss!
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Muscat
The clean and bustling capital city of Muscat is where you’ll likely arrive when flying into Oman. And it’s here you’ll find the incredible Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This mosque is the largest in the country and is exquisitely grand with massive sandstone arches and towers.
Non-Muslims are allowed to visit the mosque every day, except Friday, from 8:30am until 11:00 am. Visitors are asked to dress modestly and in a way befitting places of worship. This means long sleeves, pants & closed shoes for men, and full covering including the hair for women.
Travel Tip: For women that are concerned your clothing is not 100% appropriate for this site, there is a small shop next to the entrance of the mosque where you can rent an abaya with head covering.
The ancient seaside port town of Sur is full of white washed architecture and traditional sailing boats. We chose to stay in Sur to access the wadis in the area, and loved exploring the town in between our adventures. We stayed at Sur Plaza Hotel at it suited our needs perfectly.
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