oman

Oman is often not considered as a destination.. But this is a huge mistake!

This country is one of the most versatile travel destinations out there, it has something to offer for every kind of traveller. You’ll not only see modern mosques and infinite golden dunes but also stunning wadis, canyons, quiet beaches and mud-brick villages.

Ready? We are going to share with you our 7 days road trip guide to Oman!

OUR ROADTRIP:

START – Muscat END – Muscat

DURATION 7 days

WHEN DID WE GO – December

HIGHLIGHTS – Ran on golden sand dunes during sunset in Wahiba Sands, met goats in Jebel Shams, swam in a Wadi

OUR ITINERARY

1 – Muscat

2 – Muscat

3- Bimmah Sink Hole and Wadi Shab

4 – Wadi Bhani Khalid and Wahiba Sands

5 – Nizwa

6- Jebel Shams

7 – Misfat Al Abriyeen and Jabreen Castle

GETTING AROUND

We highly recommend renting a car and discovering this country by road.

Public transportation in Oman is very limited and if you want to explore the country you’ll definitely need a car.

Don’t worry, the roads are in excellent condition and it’s very safe and easy to drive around on your own. So, no need to hire a guide or to join an expensive tour.

If you are planning to visit the desert by yourself remember to hire a 4×4 car: if not, you might rent a normal car as well.

Consider that, if you are going to spend a night in the desert, usually, the accomodation price includes the trasport to the hotel as well so, problem solved!

MUSCAT

This will probably be your first stop on your Oman itinerary. You should spend at least 2 days enjoying this city’s beautiful mosques, souqs and beaches! Let’s see the best things to do in the city:

#1 Admire the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque:

So here we are, the largest mosque in Oman. This architecture will blow your mind, its beautifully symmetrical and smooth white marble floors make it one of the biggest highlights of the city.

The main prayer room is impressive too, with its 21 enormous woven Persian carpet and 14 metre tall crystal chandelier.

The mosque is open to non-Muslims from 8am to 11am, Saturday to Thursday and the entrance is free.

Get there as soon as it opens because it starts to get very crowded starting around 9 am; it’s much more enjoyable to explore this place in peace and quiet.

Visitors are asked to dress modestly, women must be covered to their ankles and wrists and must wear a headscarf otherwise they won’t be allowed in. If you forget to dress appropriately, however, you can hire some clothes there.

#2 Don’t miss Mutrah:

This district is located by the port and has lots of things to offer.

You can join the locals for a stroll along the lovely seafront where white buildings and mosques stand out against the rocky mountains. Loose yourself in tiny back alleyways of the souq, stop for a fresh fruit juice before climbing to the top of Muttrah Fort for the breath-taking sunset views. We loved Mutrah, you should give it a chance!

#3 Visit Muscat Old city:

The Old quarter is separated from the modern one by the mountains. Bursting with old Arabian charm, it’s the place to come to discover history and the true culture of Oman’s capital. Stroll around the quarter and don’t forget to take a look at the strangely modern and colorful architecture of the Sultan’s palace.

#4 Relax on the beach:

The city offers numerous beaches. We were looking for a non-touristy and quiet spot to relax and we’ve found the perfect place! Qantab beach, around 15 minutes drive from Old Muscat, is a tiny fishing village with a beautiful beach, crystal clear water and scenic mountains on the background. A great place to recharge for a few hours!

#5 Visit Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque:

We’ve found this place by mistake, be prepared to have your mind blown.

This white marble mosque is out of tourist route so we had the chance to visit this amazing place all by ourselves. We absolutely recommend to go there, you’ll thank us later!

BIMMAH SINK HOLE

Roughly 1.5 hours drive from Muscat you’ll reach Bimmah Sinkhole (known locally as Hawaiyat Najm).

This is a 20m deep natural turquoise freshwater pool created by erosion, although it is believed by locals that Bimmah Sinkhole was created by a meteorite. You can pick your favorite version of the story!

We had a “Instagram vs Reality” moment here. In our minds, we pictured this crazy hole in the middle of the desert but the reality was a little bit different. There is a park built all around the sinkhole, with a gate, toilets and a children’s playground.

The park is open from 8 am to 8 pm. The Bimmah sinkhole gets very crowded so we recommend you to come very early in the morning.

WADI SHAB

Wadi Shab is on most people’s list of places to visit in Oman; and for good reasons!

From the Bimmah Sinkhole the Oman’s most popular wadi is only a 20 min drive away so you can combine these visits in the same day.

Wadi Shab stunning area, with impressive rock formations, wadi pools and hidden caves.

From the parking lot a small motorboat will take you to the starting point of the wadi hike (cost: 1 OMR per person, from 7 am to 5 pm). From there you can finally start the hike, it is not challenging but remember to wear comfortable shoes.

While walking, don’t forget to admire the canyon. As soon as you’ll reach the first turquoise pool jump in and start swimming in the refreshing water, a unique experience!

After a little bit of relax, if you want, you can continue the hike and go all the way to the end of the wadi.

WADI BHANI KHALID

While Wadi Shab is about adventure, Wadi Bani Khalid is all about relax.

This is not a wild place though, this wadi has been quite developed for tourists with bridges, a restaurant and a parking space.

The first pool is an easy 10-minute hike from the entrance but don’t stop there. Instead, start hiking a little bit further into the wadi to find some quieter and wilder pools.

This is literally an oasis in the desert, the crystal clear green waters are sorrounded by date palms, greenery and rugged mountains, a dream!

There’s a modest dressing code here: women must wear a t-shirt over their swimsuits and their upper thighs should be covered too, even in the pools. Please respect the local culture!

WAHIBA SANDS

This magical sand dunes are definitely a must do during your trip in Oman.

The best way to experience the desert is to book a night in one of the camps in the dunes. Usually, they will pick you up somewhere along the main road and drive you to the camp with a 4WD.

We stayed in a luxury tent at Arabian Oryx Camp and we loved this night of glamping; spending a night out under the stars, in the quiet of the desert, is pretty special.

There’s so much you can do to in Wahiba Sands, you can go dune bashing with a 4WD, watch the sunset from a dune, stargazing in the desert’s clear sky and drink a tea by the fire.

The best time to visit the desert is during their winter for sure. Summer temperatures can rise up to 50 degrees and it would be unbearable.

NIZWA

This is one of the most historical stops on your road trip in Oman.

The main attraction of the city is Nizwa Fort for sure, we suggest spending a few hours walking around the fort and the castle, don’t miss the stunning view of the city from the top!

Just outside the fort, you’ll find the colorful Nizwa Souq. It’s one of the oldest markets in Oman and a great place to get a taste of local life. It mostly sells authentic Omani antiques, textiles and pottery but there’s a section dedicated to food and spices too. In our opinion, this souq beats out the Muttrah one.

JEBEL SHAMS

Your Oman itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the mountains of Jebel Shams; this is the highest point in Oman, at over 3000 m.

It’s a long drive on steep roads to the top of Jebel Shams but it’s worth it for the breath-taking views deep down into Wadi Ghul, known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia.

The highlight is the Balcony Walk, an easy 2.5 hour hike which runs along the cliffs up the rim of the canyon.

Do you need a 4×4 to reach Jebel Shams? There isn’t a definitive answer. The road to Jebel Shams is mostly paved and in good conditions; towards the end, however, there are 7 kilometers which are still unpaved.

4WD is not mandatory to get up there but strongly recommended; the drive will be a long and bumpy adventure but you can make it. (By the way, we went with a regular car and me made it to the top).

Of course, it is up to you. Take the risk only if you up to it!

MISFAT AL ABRIYEEN

Misfat Al Abriyeen is a traditional Omani village set in the Al Hajar mountains, roughly 1,000m above sea level. This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Oman.

It’s a tangled village of crumbling mud houses in narrow alleys disappearing into the lush date palm plantation. Below the village you can follow the falaj irrigation channels and walk through the luxurious plantations— after seeing deserts for days this place will be shockingly green.

The best (and only) way to get around Misfat is by foot via a series of marked trails; at the entrance of the village you can read the rules on behaving in the village, so please be respectful with the locals.

JABREEN CASTLE

Jabreen Castle, probably, is the most beautiful historic castle in the whole Oman and is located in Bahla. This castle is trapped between mountains, desert and plantations, a unique setting that makes this place very special.

Jabreen Castle is different from other Omani forts because it was not built in the times of wars, it is not a fortification, it is basically a palace.

Visiting the indoor you’ll notice that Jabreen Castle is very well preserved. You’ll see numerous halls and rooms, decorated windows, stunning arches with engraved Arabic writings and wooden balconies.

Don’t forget to go on the top, from the terrace and towers you’ll have a breath-taking views of the sorroundings.