Oman, a beautiful and peaceful country bordering a set of three very interesting neighbors …the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia… offers some must see destinations in the Middle East. Curious about where to go in Oman? I’m sure you’ve noticed the proximity to Yemen when browsing the world map but Oman couldn’t be further… in so many ways. We’ll get into where to go in Oman below. But first I have to say, I’ve been to Oman on various occasions and I have never felt more safe.
Oman is a rugged, mountainous country with natural and stunning coastline and little desire to be known for any superlatives. The government is looking to increase tourism revenues but in an organic and gradual way.
Omanis are humble and low key, peppered throughout every strata of society. You’ll see them working as taxi drivers, servers in restaurants, fishermen, teachers and executives in the hospitality sector. Their culture remains largely undiluted and the best of Arabia can be experienced in this desert oasis still blessed with untouched sand dunes, rocky canyons and wadis, green mountains, bustling souks and small shisha cafes.
Ever wonder where to go in Oman? I’ll fill you in on the major attractions and where to stay. Point to Note: In general, driving can be more of an adventure with sheep, goat and camel crossings being a common occurrence.
Where to Go in Oman
It’s easy to spend a whole week here, even more. Since I’m close by, I tend to discover Oman city by city over long weekends. Let’s refer to the map on the right to further understand where to go in Oman. The top green portion is an exclave of Oman, completely surrounded by the UAE, known as the Musandam Peninsula with points of interest being Khasab and Dibba. The peninsula is also home to the fabulous Six Senses, Zighy Bay (click for my review) resort located near Dibba.
Other popular accommodation includes the 4 star Atana Khasab (formerly The Golden Tulip) and Atana Musandam. Camping outdoors is very popular as well. The drive from Dubai is about 2-2.5 hours by car depending on which border crossing you use. A visa is necessary if you don’t have UAE residency but can be obtained on arrival if your passport belongs to a well sized list of permissible countries. We’ll get to the What To Do portion of this post in a bit.
Read: 7 Awesome and Must Try Things to Do in Musandam
Next point of interest is Muscat, the port capital. A short flight from Dubai or approximately four hour drive, Muscat is a good starting point from which to discover other points and cities of interest. Home to 16th century Portuguese forts, shopping malls, museums, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and various upscale hotels (including the Chedi, Muscat, Ritz Carlton’s Al Bustan Rotana and Shangri La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa), its a must visit. And don’t forget the corniche and Muttrah Souk. Within driving distance are Wadi Shab (located to the east near the port town of Sur) and Wadi Bani Khalid where many love to take a refreshing swim. Closer wadis of smaller size and equal beauty exist.
About a two hour drive inland from Muscat, sits Nizwa, Oman’s most historic town. Be a bit careful on the roads here, long stretches of highway with trucks and sometimes fast drivers. The roads in the mountainous area are unpaved and may require a 4×4. Mountain trekkers and nature lovers will have much to enjoy with Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest peak, situated in the Western Hajar. Discover the traditional villages of the Saiq plateau or take a 2-3 hour thrilling, stomach churning off-road drive down to Wadi Bani Awf. Also close by is the highly featured Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel. Near Nizwa is the picturesque village with mud brick houses of Misfat Al Abryeen aka Misfah.
Further down, about 1,000km from Muscat and 880km from Nizwa lies Salalah, Oman’s second largest city and the jungle of Arabia. Many come to visit during Khareef season where the monsoons allow dense vegetation and highly coveted and sparse in the region green landscapes. Driving can take 10 hours from Nizwa on Rt 31 and requires slowing down for construction here and there. Keep your passport and vehicle registration ready as there are random checkpoints and make sure your refuel at any stop you see as petrol stations are limited.
What To Do in Oman
Musandam Peninsula (2-3 days)
- Omani Dhow Cruise – handful of operators that operate this cruise in half day, full day or overnight tours with swimming, snorkeling and dolphin watching. Witness tobacco and electronics smugglers take off in the Strait of Hormuz back to Iran. Usually buffet lunch is included.
- Take a 4Wheel Drive adventure to Jebel Harim, the highest peak of the Musandam Peninsula at 2,087 meters above sea level
- Camp overnight on the beaches of Musandam
- Kayaking and paragliding are also available
Photos from the Dhow Cruise
Muscat (2-3 days)
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – the only mosque in Oman open to non Muslims. Females must cover their hair
- Royal Opera House
- Muttrah Fort and Muttrah Souk
- Bait Al Zubair – museum showcasing Omani history and culture. Don’t forget to check out the stamp collection
- Al Alam Palace
- Qurum Beach
- Boat trips and snorkeling
- Luxury hotel hopping
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Pics from the Shangri-La
Nizwa and Surrounding Area (3 days)
- Hike through Jebel Shams – Oman’s highest peak
- Hike through Jebel Akhdar
- Nizwa Fort
- Saiq Plateau
- Misfat Al Abriyyin – old picturesque village
- Wadi Bani Awf and Wadi Bani Habib
- Nizwa Souq – famous for silver jewelry and handicrafts
- Friday Goat Market
Many of the above are accessible by foot
Jabal Akhdar Mountain
I hope you found Where to Go In Oman useful. Please feel free to share the article! Here is a short video from one of our recent trips to Oman. We camped and saw dolphins, a great weekend.
[…] Mosque is incredible. If we’re talking about a few extra days to spare, you must must go to Oman. A guide on what to see and where to go is included in the […]
[…] living in Dubai for the last 9 years and return to Musandam at least a few times a year. Read Where To Go In Oman for advice on other cities to visit in the […]
Sheep, goat and camels crossing? That sounds like something to see! That cruise looks amazing and I’m in love with the dolphins! Do you think Oman is a place suitable for a solo traveler or best with a travel buddy/group?
Hey Katie, sorry for the late reply! Glad you enjoyed the post. Dolphins are indeed amazing. I think Oman is certainly suitable for solo travel, Ive had a number of girlfriends do it. And the tour companies that do the cruises and camping on the beaches will put you in groups with similar aged travelers or other solo travelers if you ask. Either way, its really fun.
To be honest, Oman had never popped up on my “travel-radar” until recently. I guess I didn’t realize how accessible most of the that region of the world can be (because news outlets sensationalize stories and it had always sounded like an area to just avoid, ya know?). The appeal of a country that has a fairly undisturbed culture AND sounds to be hospitable to visitors is very strong. Now I definitely want to visit Oman some day! 🙂
Thanks for the comment Katie! Yeah I hear you, lots of news out there. But both Oman and the UAE are generally untouched in that respect, no incidences here as they are well protected. Been living in Dubai for 9 years and I go to Oman at least 10x a year. Omanis are incredibly hospitable and I would say solo female travel is not a problem. If you like natural and rugged landscapes, clear blue sea and some culture thrown it, its your kinda place 🙂
Oman looks so magical! Haven’t been to the Middle East yet but your photos are incredible!
Hi Tarah, Highly recommend Oman as a great starting point for exploring M.E. I know there is so much crazy news out there, some certainly exaggerated … but Oman is very much sheltered from that much like the UAE. You’ll love it
I haven’t explored the Middle East at all and your posts are always inspiring Ro. I love the thought of Dhow cruising around those clear blue seas looking for dolphins!
Thanks Katy, what a great comment! I can’t think of anything better than getting someone to visit a place via one of my posts. The dolphins are always such a treat…
Oman looks amazing! I’d love to visit this part of the world 🙂
HI Kiara, so glad you would like to visit. Cant recommend it enough. We go over every couple of months. Let me know if you ever need additional info! 🙂
Oman is one of my favourite destinations in the Middle East, it’s beyond beautiful indeed!!
i completely agree and so glad you got to visit! People look at a map and think I’m crazy when I suggest it. They have no idea how safe and incredibly beautiful it is.
[…] the feeling that my body is still floating in the tranquil and aquamarine rainbow colored Gulf of Oman and the question of How do I make this place a monthly weekend getaway? I rarely have the longing […]