21 amazing places to visit in Oman

Oman is a celebration of the true meaning of traveling, a place that is not flooded with tourists (yet, hopefully, for long), a place where you can find the true beauty of an unpolished diamond. Harsh natural conditions, prospering country, and authentic lifestyle – that’s the headline of our trip to Oman. Here we want to share 21 amazing places to visit in Oman.

Places to visit in Oman, Jibreen castle

1. Jebel Akhdar, the Green Mountain

Al Jabal al Akhdar or Jebel Akhdar is a mountain that turns green every spring – something very special for a country that is mostly a desert. The entry point to explore Jebel Akhdar is the village Birkat al Mouz, where you can rent a driver with 4X4 jeep. Or if you’ve already rented such a car, then you’ll pass the military checkpoint and go the steep curvy roads. We had so many nice stops for viewpoints on the way. It was quite windy so bring a jacket to enjoy the harsh desert mountain views.

Places to visit in Oman - Jebel Akhdar

2. Sayq plateau

When you go up higher and higher in the Green Mountain, you’ll reach Sayq plateau. The views over terraced fields and old-time villages, some of which are still not abandoned, are priceless! Even in winter, you can see the green terraces with rose and fruit bushes, together with the typical for Oman date palms. Dare to take a hike on one of the many trails while the sun is not too hot!

Places to visit in Oman - Jebel Akhdar

3. Misfat al Abriyyin

Misfat al Abriyyin (or Abreyeen, or Abriyeen) is one of those villages with an old part that is still livable and you can visit it. Of course, you need to be super respectful to the local people and their houses, so please dress modestly and pay attention when you walk the tiny stone streets – it’s easy to get confused and enter someone’s private house. The typical houses in the village are build of mud but their foundations are of stone. You can easily spend lots of time wandering the streets, admiring the facades, following the spring and reaching the agricultural terraces with bananas, pomegranates, papayas, mangoes, citrus trees, and palms.

Places to visit in Oman, Misfat al Abriyyin

4. Jebel Shams, the Mountain of Sun

Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman and one of the highlights of our visit to the country. The highest peak is 3009 m high and is occupied by a military base, but you can climb the second-highest peak at 2997 m above sea level. Or you can stay at one of the resorts that are way above 2000 meters and enjoy smaller hikes and amazing views.

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We drove with our sedan rental car (we rented through rentalcars.com) up the Jebel Shams Resort (there are 7 kilometers of dirt road, but it’s passable with a non-4X4 car) and stayed in a tent. The surroundings are perfect for relaxing and hiking, you can do stargazing of the clear night skies, the campfire and the electric heater managed to keep us warm at 5 degrees Celcius at night. That was our favorite place for mountain desert romance.

Places to visit in Oman, Jebel Shams

5. Wadi Ghul, the Grand Canyon of Arabia

One of the most stunning views, when you’re in Jebel Shams, is to the Wadi Ghul, or the Grand Canyon of Arabia. The gorge is up to 1000 meters deep so no wonder how we admire the skillful moves of the many mountain goats. There are exploiting every branch of grass in this desert area and often go up and down the rocks as if there isn’t a huge abyss below them. If you decide to go camping somewhere around the canyon, don’t forget to pick up all y our trash when you leave. The Balcony Walk is a 6-kilometer-hike you can take to absorb all the amazing views.

Places to visit in Oman, Jebel Shams, Wadi Ghul

6. Bahla Fort

Situated at the foot of the Jebel Akhdar highlands, Bahla Fort is Oman’s only UNESCO-listed fort. It was built between 12th and 15th centuries by the Banu Nabhan tribe and plenty of the citadel and the fort itself is still standing like a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert. The tribe was in charge of frankincense trade and their fortress shows how they used to store their goods as well as guard the area from the many towers. You can easily spend some time chasing the shade and cooling down in what used to be storage rooms of Bahla Fort. We recommend taking in the views of date palms and the neat Bahla town.

Stay in Bahla: Jibreen Hotel

Places to visit in Oman, Bahla Fort

7. Jibreen Castle

Jibreen (or Jabreen, or Jabrin) Castle was constructed in the late 17th century so some can say it’s the most beautiful in the country. It is true that the then Imam did a great job and nowadays you can admire numerous reception halls, dining areas, meeting rooms, a courtroom, a library, and classrooms. The interior design of the castle features decorated windows, wooden balconies, traditional pottery, arches with inscribed Arabic calligraphy, and stunning ceiling artwork. What we enjoyed the most were the colorful pillows on the carpets that are just so inviting for you to sit comfortably and lose yourself in a book with a cup of Omani tea or coffee. It’s time to stop dreaming though, but you can still walk around the castle and even get an audioguide to compliment your experience.

Places to visit in Oman, Jibreen castle

8. Nizwa City

We decided to skip Nizwa Fort as we needed to head to another part of Oman, so we did a quick car tour of the central part of the city. We were lucky to be there on Saturday and it was a market day! We’re still impressed by those huge and high-quality carpets that were sold on the street. If you want to go shopping in Oman and buy some authentic stuff, head to Nizwa.

Traveling to Oman, Nizwa carpet market

9. Wahiba Sands

It’s time to head to a sandy desert – Sharqiya Sands or the Wahiba Sands. We wanted to stay in the desert and not pay too much so we chose a camp at the border semi-desert area – Al Reem Desert Camp. That’s how we got all the perks of staying in the desert – an adventurous dune bashing and Bedouin villages visit tour, amazing sunset over the dunes and relaxing time drinking tea around the campfire, at quite the affordable price. The dune bashing was quite the excitement, as well as meeting racing camels and baby camels, learning about wells and how they can get water in those areas. Our guides did a beautiful prayer at sunset and we returned to the camp hearing stories and preparing for a peaceful night. No matter if you choose easily accessible or tucked in the desert accommodation, luxurious or budget-friendly – you’ll love Wahiba Sands! We’ve had our fair share of desert experiences (Lompoul in Senegal, the Atacama in Chile, Wadi Rum in Jordan, etc.) and we can say Wahiba Sands is definitely a top desert experience!

Beautiful laces to visit in Oman, Wahiba Sands

10. Al Reem Desert Camp

Ever since the warm-Bedouin-style welcome with Omani coffee and tea and dates at the camp, we knew it was going to be a blast. We spent time reading at the common areas, chatting on our desert house terrace, then enjoying hearty freshly-cooked meals and the caressing flames of the campfire. The breakfast was more than amazing. We couldn’t have asked for more! Note if you decide to stay in the desert – be mindful of the water as this is the most limited resource. Most of the hotels and camp will have som printed advice on how to save water and we think it’s more than cool to help them be more sustainable.

Check prices at Al Reem Desert Camp.

Beautiful places to visit in Oman, Wahiba Sands, Al Reem Desert Camp

11. Wadi Bani Khalid

Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the most popular wadis in the Sultanate of Oman. We even visited in on the weekend and still, it was hard to say it was crowded. The stream has a constant flow of water all over the year. You can take a dip in one of the pools (and leave the fish to massage your feet), or you can hike on boulders and stone trail to get to Mukal Cave and Pools. Wadi Bani Khalid is the perfect place for relaxation, sunbathing, or active adventure outdoors.

Beautiful places to visit in Oman, Wadi Bani Khalid

12. Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve

We skipped the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve as the season for spotting turtles is between May and October, but you can plan your responsible visit contacting the Ras Al Jinz Reserve. They were quite responsive and explained our turtle spotting tour options – you can choose between a dawn tour (starting at 5 a.m.) and a night tour (starting at 8.30 p.m.). In any case, spotting turtles is never guaranteed, photography without flash is allowed and you should follow the guide’s instructions at all times. If you’re lucky, you can see hatching or nesting green turtles, which are an endangered species. If your budget isn’t tight and if you book well in advance, you can stay at the reserve itself.

13. Qalhat beach

We decided quite spontaneously to spend a night in a newly opened guesthouse in the town of Qalhat. What happened (again!) was that we got spoiled for the view of the stony Qalhat beach, the fluffy clouds and the bitter Omani tea in a gazebo overlooking all of the above. We encourage you to stay at guesthouses and interact with local Omani people – they are natural at hospitality and will let you know some secret hidden gems in the area. The beach was home to our first encounter with the warm waters of Gulf of Oman, family picnics and playful birds, as well as a small take-away restaurant, where we had the best dinner with a view!

Beautiful places to visit in Oman, Qalhat beach

14. Wadi Shab

Wadi Shab turned out to be our favorite wadi in Oman. You have to get a boat to cross the biggest pool and it costs 1 OMR return for a really short boat ride, but on the other hand, you can chat with a friendly Omani boatman. Then you start your hike (it’s not as steep as the hike to Mukal Cave) passing pools of different sizes, taking curves as the gorge leads you through banana gardens and date palms. In the end, you start climbing boulders and eventually have to take a swim to pass caves and get to a waterfall. If you go there as early as before 9 a.m., you won’t meet a lot of people and Wadi Shab will help you fall in love with it!

Beautiful places to visit in Oman, Wadi Shab

15. Bimmah Sinkhole (Hawiyat Najm Park)

Bimmah Sinkhole is close to Muscat and therefore quite the popular place to take a dip in its clear blue waters. We got lost on the way, as the place is also called Hawiyat Najm Park, so keep in mind to pay attention to the navigation. It was a weekend so there were quite some visitors around the sinkhole itself. Most of them didn’t follow the “dress modestly” signs and it was too much flesh walking around, jumping and swimming in the hole. Oman is a Muslim country and as visitors, the least we could do is to follow the rules that don’t put us and locals in awkward and culturally-offensive situations.

Beautiful places to visit in Oman, Bimmah Sinkhole (Hawiyat Najm Park)

16. Muttrah Souq and Corniche

Probably the most scenic part of Muscat, the Muttrah neighborhood is home to the famous souq (market) and the famous corniche (promenade). The souq is like a labyrinth of different shops and stalls and it’s easy to get lost. But the aroma of those delightful perfumes in Oman will guide you – don’t forget to buy a perfume if you want to keep the magic for later. Another popular part of the Muttrah Souq is the gold market, if you can afford it or if you’re into window shopping.

Walking along the corniche is recommended at sunset for amazing colors and shades but we enjoyed it in the afternoon as well. You’ll see the two yachts of the Sultan, at least one cruise ship and many seagulls flying over where the sea meets the rocks, forts, and white buildings of Oman. Definitely a highlight of our time in Muscat.

Places to visit in Oman, Muscat, Muttrah Souq and Corniche

17. Muscat Royal Opera House

That was the first place to visit in Muscat that was recommended to us by our readers. And it is nothing short of lavish, rich, luxurious and magnificent. Tons of marble, fine gardens, and unique contemporary Omani architecture – even if you’re not a fan of opera, you should just visit to admire the art of the complex itself. You can also take a tour of the opera to admire the inside of it.

The former ruler of Oman Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said was a fan of classical music and a musician himself so he wanted to build the premier venue for musical arts and culture. We almost attended a performance ourselves, but the lack of proper formal clothes and shoes forced us to just admire the outside and hear the amazing stories on the opera tour. Next time we’ll definitely visit a concert!

Stay in Muscat: Al Ferdous Hotel Apartments

Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman

18. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Probably the most majestic mosque in Oman, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque has morning visiting hours and a strict dress code, especially for women. You have to cover wrists, shoulders, knees and ankles, all the hair. So this was the beginning of the story of how I got my own abaya. It’s hard to describe the images and emotions of visiting the complex, you have it experience it yourself.

There is a (kind of illegal) place where you can take a photo of the whole of the complex from the outside. It happens best at sunset, but you have to stop your car at a bus/taxi stop, a quick run down the street, take the photo and hope a police officer won’t be there to put a fine on your illegal parking. In this article, you’ll find the spot we believe is the best to take a photo of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque at sunset, but you should do it at your own risk.

Places to visit in Oman, Muscat, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

19. Al Alam Palace

Al Alam Palace is one of the Sultan’s residences and we believe it’s probably very beautiful to see from the inside if it wasn’t closed for the general public to actually go inside. You can admire the beautiful gate though and we think the best way to see it is when you pass with the car – there’s a roundabout that will give you the view straight to the gate.

Traveling to Oman, Al Alam palace

20. Snorkeling and dolphin watching from Marina Bandar al Rowdha

We were on the edge of going for a snorkeling trip just away from the capital Muscat. We’re so glad we did it – the abundance of underwater flora and fauna was amazing. The visibility at the end of December was not perfect but we could still see interesting fish and even a sea turtle at a small bay – the snorkeling spot and also a fishermen spot. The dolphin watching part felt quite unobtrusive to the several pods of dolphins we found. They were so playful and often chased our boat. You can book snorkeling and/or dolphin watching tour online or go straight to Marina Bandar al Rowdha and negotiate the price with the local provider (what we did).

Snorkeling from Marina Bandar al Rowdha, Muscat, Oman

21. Salalah

We left the ever-green city of Salalah for our next visit because it was too far south and we didn’t have time to drive or even fly there. But we hear it’s quite a different climate compared to the rest of Oman so it might be worth spending some time there enjoying the always green fields, the waterfalls, and the friendly locals.

Those were all the amazingly beautiful places to visit in Oman. We’re on the quest for finding more for our next trip to the country. Let us know of your favorites places in Oman!

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