Are you looking for the very best things to do in Oman? Then this article will have you completely covered! I just returned from an incredible trip to Oman in the Middle East and this still rather unknown country completely blew me away.
Oman is a stunning country and so far it has stayed off a lot of people’s radar. This means that it’s still on the more unexplored side and tourism is nowhere near its peak. It also means that when you’re strolling through ancient forts and castles you’ll almost have the entire place to yourself.
So if you’re planning a winter getaway to the Middle East then please, take a look into visiting Oman instead of the overly popular and overpriced Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Oman actually has a rich and unique history and this can be seen and found throughout the entire country.
From relaxing by the seaside to hiking up in the mountains or from watching the sunrise in the desert to exploring the ancient cities. Oman is a country that has something to offer for everyone. Wether you’re traveling as a family, with your loved one, solo or with friends. You’re bound to have an amazing time.
And I hope this Oman travel guide with the top things to do in Oman will help you plan a fantastic holiday.
So without further ado, here are the top things to do in Oman!
Very Best Things To Do In Oman
How to visit Oman
The easiest way to reach Oman is to fly into Muscat International Airport and simply pick up your rental car at the airport.
I always use SunnyCars when I rent a car in a foreign country cause there are never any hidden costs with them. They also offer free cancellation for up to 1 hour before rental start and all of the necessary insurances are included in the starting price.
It’s also very easy to pick up your rental car at the airport cause their rental booths are open 24/7. When choosing a rental car for Oman I highly recommend booking a 4×4. Otherwise all of the places I listed below that are up in the mountains will not be accessible.
💡 TIP – Also pick up your local SIM card upon arrival at the airport. OmanTel has several tourist packages available and their shop is open 24/7.
Very Best Things To Do in Oman
1. Visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat
Visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat is definitely one of the best things to do in Oman! The mosque opened in 2001 and it’s the only mosque in entire Oman that is also open to non-muslims.
Besides that it’s also an architectural marvel that you definitely can’t miss during your visit to Oman. The main prayer hall is breathtakingly beautiful. The Persian carpet alone measures 70m by 60m wide, making it the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world.
Opening hours – Every day except Friday from 8am until 11am. Try to come at opening time cause tourist groups will start arriving from 8.30am and the mosque will become pretty crowded.
Entrance fee – Free to enter. There will be a lot of locals offering their guiding service but you’re not obligated to visit with a guide.
Dresscode – As a woman you need to cover up your shoulders and legs and also wear a headscarf. You can also rent an abaya at the entrance for 4 OMR.
Photography Tip – You’ll need a wide angle lense to capture the mosque and you can also take a tripod with you inside. You just can’t use it inside the mosque itself.
2. Visit the Mutrah Cornice in Muscat
Mutrah is the city’s old commercial centre and the perfect place to watch the sunset after a day of exploring. It’s by far one of the most beautiful parts of the city and one of its main draws is the Mutrah Souk. A maze of small stores where you can definitely find a souvenir or two.
To be fair, I found the souk in Nizwa a lot better and nicer than the Mutrah Souk. At times it felt like there was barely any air.
3. Watch the sunset from Mutrah Fort
Mutrah Fort is the best place to watch the sunset from in Muscat. This is also the best time of day to visit the Mutrah Fort cause during the day it can be sizzling hot.
Mutrah Fort is is located at the end of the Mutrah Corniche and the entrance is located behind the Place and People Museum. Simply walk up the street and the entrance will be on your right side.
Opening hours – Open every day from 8am to 9pm
Entrance fee – 2 OMR (cash only)
4. Go dolphin watching off the coast of Muscat
One of the most fun activities that you can do when staying in Muscat in Oman is to go on a dolphin watching tour. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and driven to the harbor in Muscat. From there you’ll set sail for a couple of hours to go watch dolphins and go snorkling as well.
Tours & Tickets
5. Hike the Balcony Walk at Jebel Shams
The natural beauty of Oman is what absolutely blew me away this trip and visiting Jebel Shams is one of the top things to do during your holiday here. Also known as Oman’s Grand Canyon, Wadi Ghul is a 500m deep canyon located alongside Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in the Hajar mountains.
The Balcony Walk takes you all along the rim of the canyon and will grant you incredible views during the entire trail.
The Balcony Walk is an 8km out & back hike with about 200m elevation gain. The trail is well marked and pretty easy to follow. Do make sure to wear proper hiking shoes cause the gravel can be slippery at times.
💡 TIP – You’ll need a 4×4 rental car to drive up to Jebel Shams. Please don’t try it in a regular car cause you won’t make it.
Tours & Tickets
6. Visit the mud village of Al Hamra
Al Hamra is a 400 year old town in northeastern Oman and you’ll drive passed it on your way up or from Jebel Shams. The Al Hamra ruins are estimated to be between 700 and 1000 years old and have been completely left untouched.
The most unique part here is that there are still some people living here among the abandoned homes. And these have been updated with running water and electricity.
To get to the mud village you’ll drive through a small oasis of palm trees. To visit the old Al Hamra village there are two options. You can either park your car in the main village and walk from there. Or you can try to squeeze your car through the narrow roads and try to find a parking spot inside the old village itself.
7. Explore Bahla Fort
Bahla Fort is one of the oldest and biggest forts in Oman and it’s also the only one that’s included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Official statements say that the oldest parts of the fort were built as early as the year 500 BC.
The fort was in a very bad situation in the second half of the last century, and the Omani government decided to start a serious restoration of project of it in the year 1988 which only finished in May 2012.
The compound of the fort is massive and can easily take two or three hours to see if you want to examine each and every room. But if you just want to catch a glimpse of it you’ll also see plenty in just 30 to 60 minutes.
Opening hours – 9am to 4pm
Entrance fee – 1OMR
8. Marvel at the spectacular Jabreen Castle
Jabreen Castle is only 15 minutes driving from Bahla Fort and a must visit place during your holiday in Oman. Jabreen Castle is the most beautiful historical castle in Oman.
Jabreen Castle is different from other Omani forts because it was not built in the times of war and is not a fortification that was expanded by different Imams overs centuries. It is basically a palace constructed in times of peace by a ruler who was passionate about science and art and that made it the most beautiful historic castle found in the Sultanate.
The interior design of the castle features decorated windows, wooden balconies, arches with inscribed Arabic calligraphy, and breathtaking ceiling artwork.
You could easily spend several hours exploring this beautiful castle, especially if you’re passionate about photography. There are so many beautiful corners and you really should take your time exploring all of them.
Opening hours – From 9 am to 4pm
Entrance fee – 1OMR
9. Go shopping at Nizwa Souq
Nizwa Souq is one of the oldest in the country. This extensive marketplace is dedicated mostly to fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, all of which are housed in separate blocks behind the great, crenellated piece of city wall that overlooks the wadi. Part of the souq (nearest the fort) is dedicated to handicrafts and caters specifically to the passing tourist trade.
If you’re looking for an authentic Omani piece to bring home with you then this. isthe place to search for it.
Nizwa Souq is open daily for two trading sessions, the first one from 8am to 1pm and the second from 4pm until 10pm.
10. Visit Nizwa Fort
Nizwa Fort as the place I was looking forward to the most for visiting during our vacation in Oman. And it’s definitely one of the very best things to do in Oman as well! Literally, my mouth fell open as soon as I set foot inside its fortified walls.
Nizwa Fort actually consists of two separate buildings. There’s Nizwa castle and then there’s ‘s the actual fort.
Nizwa Fort has seven wells, a number of prisons, and prosecution ground. The main tower features many defense mechanisms Omanis used in the past such as pitfalls, honey traps, and gun shooting windows.
Nizwa Castle is a wonderful maze of vantage points, intricate details and rooms decorated with local handicrafts.
We stayed around 2 hours exploring every nook and cranny and even in the afternoon it wasn’t busy at all. There were only a handful of other people and it was absolutely fntastic discoevring an ancient place like this.
Opening hours – From 8am until 8pm
Entrance fee – 5 OMR
11. Stop at the Birkat Al Mouz viewpoint
Birkat Al Mouz is another old mud village in Oman and just like the previous one you can also admire it from inside the village but if you’re a little short on time I would love to suggest you admire it from a beautiful vantage point.
Google Maps Location – Click here
12. Spend a night up in the mountains of Jabal Akhdar
Firstly, Jebel Akhdar refers not to a mountain as such, but to an area that encompasses the great Saiq Plateau, at 2000m above sea level. The cooler mountain air and greater rainfall encourages scented Damask roses, prize pomegranates, apricots and other fruit to grow in abundance.
One of the best places to experience the beauty of Jabal Akhdar is Anantara Jabal Akhdar. This luxurious 5-star hotel is absolutely incredible and if you can afford the splurge I highly encourage you to. do so. For instance, I have stayed at a ton of luxury hotels but let me just say, their breakfast buffet is the best I have ever seen in my entire life.
Click here to check out current rates and availability.
13. Discover the Omani desert at Wahiba Sands
Spending the night in the desert is something you should do at least once in your life. There’s something so calming and soothing about watching the sunrise over the sand dunes.
And Oman has its very own desert, only 2,5 hours driving from Muscat. In the heart of eastern Oman, the Wahiba Sands is an ocean of regular dunes that seem to stretch out endlessly. Pale gold at noon, the towering piles of sand shift between rich yellow and coppery orange when the sun is at lower angles.
We stayed at Desert Nights Resort and had the best time. In the evening they organize a complimentary drive up to the dunes where you can admire the sunset.
Besides that there are a ton of other activities tat you can choose from such as camel rides, ATV rides, private sunrise breakfasts and much more.
Click here to check out current rates and availability.
14. Cool off at Wadi Bani Khalid
Oman is known for its Wadi’s and there are a ton that you can visit. It’s definitely one of the top things that you can do during your stay in Oman.
Wadi Bani Khalid is pretty close to Wahiba Sands and can be easily visited on a day trip from the desert. There’s no entrance fee and Wadi Bani Khalid can be easily reached.
Do know that if you want to go swimming at one of the Wadi’s in Oman that you also need to cover up as a woman. Wearing a bathing suit or bikini outside of your hotel isn’t allowed. Simply wear a T-shirt and some shorts over your swimsuit and you’ll be fine.
💡 TIP – There are two Wadi Bani Khalid’s on Google Maps. This is the link to the correct one.
15. Visit the seaside town of Sur
Sur is a picturesque fishermen’s village on the seaside of Oman. It’s considered one of the most Omani ancient cities and it was introduced as the meeting point across the Indian Ocean, the Arabian sea and the Omani sea playing a vital role in forming a commercial business bridge between the Arabian Peninsula, India, South East Asia, and African continent.
Walk along the Sur corniche and pay a visit to the beautiful Al-Ayjah Lighthouse.
16. Go for a swim at the Bimmah Sinkhole
The Bimmah Sinkhole is a really cool phenomenon only a short drive away from Muscat. It’s located within a gated park that is free to visit.
I was however a bit disappointed cause I had seen a ton of photos of people posing right next to it and when we got there there was a big wall surrounding the sink hole. I soon learned that this wall has always been there and that people simply jumped over to take their photo. To me it looked a bit sketchy so I didn’t do it.
Nevertheless you can go down the stairs and take a swim in the emerald colored water.
17. Watch the sunset over Yiti
The area around Muscat is pretty mountainous and the perfect area to admire the sunset. This vantage point looks out over Yiti, a smaller town near Muscat.
18. Relax at a luxury hotel in Muscat
One of the top things to do in Oman is to indulge in a little bit of luxury and relax. especially since during the day it can be pretty hot it’s nice to be able to relax. atthe beach or by the pool.
During our stay in Muscat we stayed at the Shangri-La Al Husn. This 5-start adults only hotel was the perfect escape from the busy streets of Muscat but all of the main sights within the city are also only a short drive away.
Click here to check out current rates and availability.
Where to stay in Oman
Below you’ll find my top recommendations for a holiday in Oman and why.
Shangri-La Al Husn – The perfect place to stay for visiting Muscat and the surrounding area
SAMA Al Khutaim Heritage Home – The best place to stay when visiting Jebel Shams. There’s only 3 rooms available so you’ll have to make your reservations well from before.
Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort – One of the best hotels in entire Oman and the best hotel by far to stay at when visiting the Jabal Akhdar region.
Antique Inn – An authentic hotel in the heart of Nizwa and only 3 linutes walking from Nizwa Fort and Nizwa Souq.
Desert Nights Resort – A luxury desert camp in the heart of Wahiba Sands.
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