The best things to do in Oman are out of this world

by Rubi Ahsan Associate S.E.O Consultant

On the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is the third-largest nation. It is renowned for its endless miles of coastline, formidable mountain ranges, rough canyons, lush oases, and vast deserts. It is also noted for the warm welcome given to visitors.

Due to the remarkable variety of its landscapes, Oman has long attracted adventurous travelers. However, easing visa requirements have made this desert sultanate more accessible to a wider range of people. In addition to Oman's natural beauty, you'll find strong traditions, a rich heritage, and cities that blend history and tradition with a modern perspective.

Looking for an epic adventure? These are the best experiences in Oman that you shouldn't miss.

Stroll the Mutrah Corniche in Muscat

Oman's capital, Muscat, is probably the closest you'll get to stepping back in time to the Arabian Peninsula. Unlike its opulent neighbors, Dubai and Riyadh, which are renowned for their glass-and-chrome-encrusted skyscrapers, this historic port city has a legal ban on tall buildings. Low-rise, whitewashed structures are what you'll find in its place, with unhindered views of the rough Hajar Mountains that flank the city to the south.

A stroll along the Mutrah Corniche, the wide promenade that stretches along the Gulf of Oman at the northern tip of Muscat, is a great way to get acquainted with the city's picturesque waterfront. Along the way, you can browse the stalls of Mutrah Souq, stop for a cup of sweet cardamom tea known as karak chai, and admire the impressive Masjid Al Rasool Al Adham, a blue-domed 15th-century Shia mosque.

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Be humbled by Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Oman's massive mosques are notable exceptions to the country's "no tall buildings" laws. In the heart of Muscat, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, with its 91-meter-high minaret, is surrounded by beautifully kept gardens and a labyrinth of intricate archways.

The mosque was opened in 2001 to mark Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said's 30 years in power. Oman was brought into the modern era by Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said after abundant oil reserves were discovered in the 1970s. The Grand Mosque used to house the world's largest Swarovski chandelier and the world's largest hand-woven carpet, but those titles have recently been snatched from the chandelier and carpet at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

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Snorkel with whale sharks in the Damaniyat Islands

A short drive and boat ride from Muscat, Damaniyat is a chain of nine uninhabited islands off the Gulf Coast. The islands are home to an impressive variety of wildlife, both above and below the water, and are dotted with calm, shallow coves and immaculate beaches.

Sea turtles, sharks, migratory birds, and historic coral reefs coexist in great numbers in the protected archipelago of Damaniyat. This makes it a great place for snorkeling and diving. The peak season for seeing whale sharks is from September to November, and it is an unforgettable experience.

Stop for fresh fish at Qurayyat

The small fishing village of Qurayyat is a must-see on the way to the eastern coastal city of Sur to experience the fishing culture of the Omani coast. Throughout the year, fishermen catch a wide variety of fish in the Arabian Gulf and Sea, including grouper, snapper, yellowfin tuna, and mackerel.

The busy fish market in the town center is the place to look at the day's catch, and any fish you buy can be grilled at a nearby roadside café. As part of a large development project, new hotels and restaurants are planned to be built along the coast of Qurayyat, giving tourists more of a reason to stay for an extended period of time.

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Float in the Bimmah Sinkhole

One of Oman's most beautiful natural sights, the Bimmah Sinkhole plunges 20 meters, creating a serene spot for swimming and snorkeling from the cliffs inland from the coast on the road to Sur. In contrast to some locals who think the sinkhole was created as a result of a meteorite impact in the area, geologists think this culvert was created through a more logical process of erosion as water ate away at the limestone bed.

Fresh water mixed with the salty waters of the Arabian Sea gives Bimmah its stunning turquoise hue. Getting a free pedicure from the army of Garra Rufa fish that inhabit the well is a bonus.

Discover the history of boatmaking in Sur

Oman's rich seafaring traditions date back to at least the 3rd century BC. Omani ships are mentioned in Sumerian texts as transporting copper to Mesopotamian markets from the kingdom's former capital, Sohar. Although historians have theorized that the renowned sailor Sinbad the Sailor may have come from Oman, there is ample proof that Omani explorers have navigated the choppy waters of the Indian Ocean for the majority of the past two millennia, even if Sinbad were just a legend.

At the height of its glory, Oman's trading empire stretched from present-day Pakistan to Zanzibar, and the coastal city of Sur was the epicenter of its trade in slaves and spices, supplying the sultanate with long wooden ships called dhows. The tradition of dhow-building lives on in the dhow-building yards of Sur, and visitors can stop to see the boat builders in action.

Watch the turtles hatch in Ras Al Jinz

Seeing sea turtles' nests and hatchlings on Oman's remote beaches is an experience not to be missed. Five of the seven species of sea turtle are found in Oman, and the endangered green turtle comes to nest on the beaches of Ras Al Jinz, the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula and one of the largest turtle nesting sites in the Indian Ocean.

While turtles visit Omani waters year-round, summer is when these giant tortoises emerge from the sea to dig their nests in the sand. A few months later, tiny puppies crawl back into the water, making the most perilous journey of their lives. A stay at the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, an eco-lodge with tented accommodations and a science center devoted to marine research, will make turtle watching in Ras Al Jinz an even better family activity.

Swim and have a picnic in Wadi Bani Khalid

Carved into the eastern flank of the Hajar Mountains, Wadi Bani Khalid is one of Oman's most picturesque wadis (gorges). This small valley is a true oasis, known for its emerald waters, numerous waterfalls, amazing rock formations, luxuriant vegetation, and vibrant villages.

Unlike most other river valleys in the Sultanate, Wadi Bani Khalid and its tidal pools have a constant flow of water, making it a hugely popular spot for swimming and picnics all year round, especially on weekends, weekdays, and public holidays. Walking to the pools further out in the wadi offers a more private experience.

Haggle for halwa at the Nizwa Friday Market

The Nizwa livestock market, held every Friday on the fort ramparts, is a fixture in the community. Nizwa is Oman's historic capital and most vibrant cultural hub. The market works as it did centuries ago when buyers and sellers from the surrounding villages gathered under a circular tent to exchange cattle, goats, sheep, camels, and the latest knick-knacks.

By mid-morning, the Cattle Market gives way to the bustling Nizwa Souq, where you can find delicacies like Omani halwa, a sweet staple made from saffron, cardamom, rosewater, and walnuts. It's also a good place to buy a khanjar, the curved ceremonial dagger worn by many Omani men.

Find traditional pottery in Bahla

The clay-rich soil of Bahla turned this desert outpost into Oman's main center for pottery production in ancient times. Terracotta dating back to the 4th millennium BC was discovered here. Today, the traditional art of pottery is dwindling, but a few workshops remain in the alleys of the Bahla bazaar district, where you can haggle for pots made to hold water, honey, dates, and coffee.

Go from one fort to another in Al Dakhiliyah

The Al Dakhiliyah region of northern Oman has played an important role in the country's history. The imposing Hajar Mountains to the north and the dry desert to the south form its borders. Here, successive kings built fortified outposts to protect trade routes from the coast to the interior lowlands and highlands.

Today, the weather-worn remnants of centuries past dot the region. The UNESCO-listed Bahla Fort, the bizarre Jabreen Castle, the famous Nizwa Fort, and the more obscure Bait Al Radidah Fort are all within a short drive of Muscat.

Hike through the Grand Canyon of Oman

If you have time to see only one natural wonder in Oman, let it be Wadi Ghul, often described as the Grand Canyon of Oman. There are spectacular views of Wadi Ghul from 3,009 m (9,833 ft) up on Jebel Shams, Oman's highest peak, overlooking the Western Hajar Mountains.

There are several hiking trails, including a challenging multi-day trek to the top of Jebel Shams. Less ambitious but still intimidating, the Balcony Walk is a 6-mile (9.6-kilometer) round-trip hike to an abandoned village that offers dizzying views of the deep ravine below. After the hike, Jebel Shams Resort is a good place to relax and calm your nerves.

Explore the mud village of Misfat Al Abreyeen

The mountain village of Misfat Al Abreyeen, on the western slopes of the Hajar Mountains, is so small that cars cannot enter its narrow alleys. Mud-brick houses are topped with giant boulders, and irrigation ditches known as aflaj crisscross the tiered streets, irrigating lush terraces of dates, pomegranates, bananas, and other crops.

Misfat Al Abreyeen, which is still inhabited unlike many other Omani villages, provides an intriguing look into Oman's traditional desert agricultural system. Spend a special night at the Misfah Old House, a conventional guesthouse where visitors consume meals prepared by neighborhood families while sleeping on mattresses and pillows spread across the floor.

Learn about the ancient irrigation systems at Jebel Akhdar

The central Hajar Mountains contain a remote region called Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain), where arid outcrops rise to a broad plateau. Jebel Akhdar gets enough rainfall to sustain a lush oasis because of its high elevation, which is how the plateau got its name.

A 5,000-year-old Ablaj irrigation canal system carries water to verdant terraces that produce pomegranates, apricots, peaches, figs, almonds, and saffron. The Damascus rose, which is harvested in March and April and distilled to create the renowned Omani rose water, is arguably Jebel Akhdar's most prized crop.

Stay with the Bedouins at Sharqiya Sands

Covering nearly 10,360 square kilometers (4,000 sq mi) of the desert, Sharqiya Sands (formerly known as Wahiba) is the perfect place for a family adventure. Up to 100 meters (300 feet) high, its shifting sand dunes are a playground for off-roaders and a popular spot for Omani youth to show off their driving skills.

The area's Bedouin camps provide the chance to sample the desert-dwelling nomad culture of Oman before it is supplanted by the conveniences of modern life for a change of pace. The women here take a more active role in tourism than in other parts of Oman, welcoming travelers to their desert tents, where they paint henna tattoos and share halwa and coffee treats with visitors.

Explore the land of frankincense in Salalah

In the desert of Oman, summer temperatures exceed 45°C (113°F), but the wild border region of Dhofar transforms into a tropical idyll with the arrival of the annual khareef monsoon. From June to September, humid winds from the Arabian Sea bring refreshing rains and pleasant temperatures to this remote region bordering Yemen.

The region's capital, Salalah, is flanked by the stunning Mughsail beach on one side and the grassy canyon of Wadi Darbat on the other. Nearby, the ancient frankincense forests in Wadi Dawkah are part of the Unesco-protected Frankincense Land; the locals still collect the precious resin from the trees that place this area at the center of ancient trade routes.

Taste the national dish of Oman

A fragrant combination of rice and spiced lamb or goat meat, shuwa is as quintessentially Omani as dates and halwa. Cooked over an open fire for two days, this communal meal is prepared for holidays, festivals, and other celebrations and is a must-try if you're in Oman at the right time.

Families serve it on a large platter and eat with their hands, circling the shuwa as they are served. More than a dish, shuwa is a symbol of Omani hospitality; Being invited to a family's shuwa meal is one of the greatest honors a guest can receive.

Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change quickly. Lonely Planet advises travelers to always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.

For the best discounts on Oman tours, visit Mountain Valley Holiday's Holidays section if you'd like to travel to Oman as well. For Oman Tourist information assistance, call +968-92333677, 24562230,

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About Rubi Ahsan Magnate I     Associate S.E.O Consultant

2,876 connections, 91 recommendations, 9,967 honor points.
Joined APSense since, February 11th, 2013, From New Delhi, India.

Created on Jan 29th 2023 08:42. Viewed 397 times.


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