Oman is one of those places that tends to be overlooked by many travellers, but they don’t know what they’re missing out on! Oman is one of the most beautiful and underrated holiday destinations.
With its turquoise seas, copper-coloured cliffs and golden-red sand dunes, Oman is a country with remarkable natural beauty. Unlike the flashier parts of the middle east, Oman is filled with history and tradition.
The people here are also known for their openness and hospitality, and that’s always something I love when I’m exploring a new destination. Don’t be shy to try the local foods or partake in the weekly biddings in the town markets.
If you’re like me and thrilled by exotic natural beauty, epic landscapes, exquisite sunsets and stepping into the unknown, give Oman a chance to show off it’s potential.
With all the beautiful places in Oman, you’re going to want to make sure you don’t miss a thing. In this Oman bucket list I’ve narrowed it down to 20 of the best places to visit in Oman.
- 1 10 beautiful places to visit in Oman
- 2 4 places to visit in Muscat
- 3 6 other fun things to do in Oman
10 beautiful places to visit in Oman
You won’t run out of things to do in Oman. Given that it’s one of the oldest countries in the Sultan region, there are plenty of old forts, mosques, and museums to spend your days browsing at, besides the stunning natural locations.
Here are some of the tourist places in Oman that are on the top of everyone’s list.
Jebel Shams Canyon
Jebel Shams is one of Oman’s highest mountains and one of the best hikes you can do in Oman. It’s not only popular for its height, but also famous for the incredible views it has to offer.
Climb up to the top and you’ll witness the spectacular vertical cliffs that make up the canyon and drop about 500 meters deep.
Hiking the Jebel Shams Balcony Walk was one of my favourite things to do in Oman, and one of my favourite hikes ever. Even though it’s one of the largest mountains, it can be hiked by just about anyone.
That’s because you drive to the top, and the Balcony Walk is then along the edge of the canyon with a fairly small elevation gain.
The walk is pretty flat all along the canyon edge, with steep rock cliffs on one side and the drop into the canyon on the other.
For those of you seeking more adventure, you can take a dip in the waterfall at the end of the trail. You can even take a full-day tour through the Jebel Shams Canyon to see it all.
This one is a good one if you’re looking to plan a whole day activity. Wadi Shab has a beautiful waterfall and wonderful freshwater pools.
You need to hike around 45 minutes surrounded by steep rock cliffs to reach the main swimming area. From the main pool, you can swim your way through the valley to reach some of the smaller pools.
As well as spending the day at the pools, you can also take some time to explore the caves and rock formations around the area.
There are a few easy walking trails around the canyons that will lead you around the lovely scenery of the valley.
While you’re here, you’ll come across some large, flat stones that are great for setting up camp. Because this is a whole day event, I’d definitely recommend bringing along a picnic and spending the remainder of your time simply relaxing.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Bani Khalid is a must for anyone visiting Oman.
Oman’s own desert paradise and one of my favourite travel destinations. In the middle of the desert, you’ll find an oasis with an emerald green body of water.
As well as the main pool, the narrow valleys also create some smaller pools. A simple walk along the water will lead you to these pools, which tend to be less busy and more private.
A perk about this particular wadi is that it’s a short 5-minute walk from the parking space. Many of the other pools in Oman require you to walk quite a distance and can sometimes turn into a full day of hiking.
We ended up walking for around 30 minutes as we hiked all the way upriver to a more sheltered part of the river, but there are usually locals swimming in the main pool.
We had loads of fun swimming, sliding down natural made slides and cliff jumping into the deep parts of the river.
Wadi Bani can easily be explored, but there are full-day tours through the area that are worth the money!
Wahiba Sands Desert
Drive about an hour from Wadi Bani Khalid and you’ll find yourself in an ocean of golden dunes. With the sands seeming to stretch endlessly into the horizon, the Wahiba Sands desert is a must-see for your time in Oman.
The best way to experience the dunes is by spending the night in the comfort of authentic Bedouin tents, lux camps or a communal boma.
It’s a chance to deepen your understanding of the traditional lives of the nomadic desert travellers of Oman. I stayed at the Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp and loved my experience there.
If you’re spending the night here, start your evening by climbing to the top of the dunes to watch the sun sink beyond the sand.
Follow this by dining on the local cuisine and enjoying the stillness of the desert. The rest of your night can be spent gazing under the stars, away from all the light pollution of the city.
Misfah Al Albryinn Town
A truly unique experience in Oman is visiting Misfah al Abryinn, Oman’s very own mud village. The village is built into the side of Al Hamra’s mountain range.
It was given the name ‘mud village’ for its incredible architecture (which makes use of hulking boulders).
With all the historic places to visit, it can be quite nice to take some time to explore a local town. It’s well known by tourists and locals because of the quaint narrow streets, rocky buildings, open terraces, and beautiful gardens.
I’d definitely suggest booking a night or two here. The town will give you a taste of local living, and you can spend your days getting lost wandering around the streets and eating the local dishes.
I spent a night at Misfah Al Abryinn Inn and loved it. They have a gorgeous rooftop where they serve meals with epic views over the town and surrounding mountains.
Of all Oman’s forts, Nizwa Fort is the most unique, due to its cylindrical shape and impressive size. It’s easy to spend all day and with air-conditioned rooms that form part of the museum, you’ll find yourself getting lost in a world of history.
It’s great for those wishing to explore what life was really like back in the 9th century. Take a walk around the fort and you’ll find numerous rooms which have been preserved to look as they did a few hundred years ago.
Once your tour of the fort is done, take a walk to the top of the tower for a full view of Nizwa, where you’ll be bale to appreciate the beauty of a desert oasis.
Sur is an ancient city in Oman that used to be the hub for trading, education, and art. Nowadays, the city is pretty laid back and offers a great place to visit if you’re looking for somewhere to wind down.
Walk around the little town and you’ll come across a lovely lighthouse, 2 forts and a small selection of restaurants and resorts. A few watchtowers also line the coastline.
Climb to the top and you’ll have a view of the rocky desert cliffs and white beach houses. Come evening time and things get a little more lively.
Dozens of fishermen set out to sea to fetch their catch and deliver it as far as Muscat and it’s nice to sit back and watch the city do its thing.
Although it’s previously been thought that this was the spot of a meteorite, Bimmah is actually a beautiful example of a naturally formed sinkhole. The water underground has eroded the rock and limestone, leaving a hole in the ground.
The giant hole has now filled with turquoise water, turning it into a water paradise. Many people travel here to take advantage of the natural beauty of the lake, as well as have some fun jumping from the the cliffsides.
The lake is about 20 metres deep, so it’s comfortable to jump in to. And if you’re not keen on getting in the water, you can always set up camp along the shore to admire the natural landscape.
Jebel Sifah beaches
Don’t get me wrong, the beaches in Oman are amazing. But if you’re looking for something a little different, Jebel Sifah is a picturesque escape from the city.
It’s situated along the Omani coast and has recently been turned into a lively tourist destination.
Here you’ll find some luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons, a golf-course and some beach resorts to spend the day at. Think of it as a mini-tropical holiday out in the Middle East.
If you want to stay somewhere really unique, you should try the Sifah Beach & Oasis Camp.
This is a “glamping” camp right on the beach, with big spacious tents and a grill where you can cook your own barbecue and dinner while watching the sunset over the sea.
After spending a night in the desert, spending a night glamping on the beach was an even more unique experience.
Fjords cruise & dolphin spotting in Khasab
Khasab is a bit out of the way, especially when compared to the other must-see places on this list, but it’s one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen and well worth a visit.
Khasab is known as the Norway of the Middle East, and once you see the fjords it will be easy to understand why.
The Arab Sea is too pretty to miss spending some time out in the water. Take a sailing excursion on the waters of Musandam, where you’ll be able to snorkel and swim. As well as watch the playful dolphins.
The fjord cruise will lead you through the narrow ocean that flows among the breathtaking red and gold cliffs made of ancient rock. The deep warm colours contrasting against the emerald waters is what makes the fjords unique.
As for the dolphin watching, I’m sure this one speaks for itself. When they told me there it was 100% guaranteed that we would see dolphins, I didn’t believe them.
But we spent the day cruising in the traditional Oman boats with dolphins following us for most of it. A day on the sea can reveal so much more of Oman’s potential, and it’s always worth exploring if you’ve got the time.
4 places to visit in Muscat
Muscat is the capital of Oman, scenically situated between the mountains and ocean. Discover the country’s history by visiting some of the lovely treasures in Muscat.
If you’re starting to wonder where all these spots are on a map, and how to put them together in one trip, be sure to check out my 7-day Oman road trip itinerary.
It’s helpful if you’re travelling here for the first time and don’t really have a set plan.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Found in the heart of the city, the Grand Mosque is one of my top recommendations when visiting Oman.
Tucked away in the city of Muscat, the mosque is an amazing piece of modern Islamic architecture, which is still being used for daily prayers.
It’s open daily to visitors (but closes at 11AM), offering you a chance to learn more about the Islamic religion (given that it’s one of the only mosques in Oman open to non-Muslim visitors).
It’s important to remember that you need to respect the culture you’re travelling in.
It’s customary for men and women to dress in long trousers and tops that cover the shoulders when entering the mosque. Women have to cover their heads too.
As well as being a hub for cultural activity, the Mosque has its own unique beauty.
Colourful mosaic patterns, hand-crafted details, and a world record-breaking chandelier made of Swaroski crystals are just a few of the astonishingly beautiful features.
Built during the 1580s, the Mutrah Fort served as the Portuguese defence against the Ottoman Empire. The fort still stands strong and reflects Oman’s great history. It’s now one of the most popular tourist places in Muscat.
Built out of the rock, the fort was designed to overlook the Arabic sea, and it offers 360-degree views of the scenic mountain landscape and Muscat harbour.
Although it wasn’t intended to be a tourist spot, the fort’s beauty and panoramic views make it a prime place to visit in Oman.
Entrance to the fort is free, but the walk to the top is a little steep so be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes and bottled water (it can get hot during summer).
The best way to get a proper feel of a new city is to live like a local. Mutrah Souq is a market embracing the chaotic and lovely Arab culture. It’s one of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back 200 years, and perfect for new travellers.
Mutrah Souq is located a short walk from the Mutrah Fort, so after spending a day admiring the views from the fort, it’ll be worth visiting and picking up some local souvenirs.
The market is filled with traditional items such as vintage gold and precious jewels. You’ll also find frankincense, hand-made textiles, and old war artefacts.
Like with all popular markets, bargaining is part of the fun. Although you can pay with your credit card, bringing cash along helps with the bargaining.
Because dining in a new country is always a memorable experience! Kargeen is an old Omani word that means little wooden cottage, and it certainly lives up to its name.
The cafe blends traditional eastern style with a slight western culture, leaving the atmosphere cosy and relaxed.
The wooden cafe is finished with wrought-iron features and exquisite decor. Bright and colourful rugs, a jungle of plants and candles offer a lovely opportunity to sit back and enjoy the tasty food.
Whether you’re there for breakfast, snacks or dinner, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious the food is. Cafe specials include refreshing salads, barbequed meats, and shawarmas. As well as traditional Omani and Arab food.
A common occurrence in Oman is to rent a shisha from the cafe and try flavours such as fresh lemon or orange. It’s a social tradition for friends to gather and tell tales around the shisha.
6 other fun things to do in Oman
Most trips in Oman begin with exploring the best tourist spots, but what’ll really make your time in Oman amazing are the off the beaten track adventures. Mountains in Oman, beautiful forts and wild turtles await you.
Al Rustaq Fort
The Al Rustaq Fort is one of the oldest, dating back to the 13th century. It’s also renowned for being the largest of all the forts in the Sultanate region.
The immaculate fort was built between surrounding hills and near to the city market when Al Rustaq was still the capital of Oman.
With 3 levels and 4 watchtowers, complete with hidden passages, and vertical stairways, it’s an adventurer’s dream come true. It also has a weapons room, mosque, and even a prison.
Access to the fort costs 500 baisa. The fee also grants you access to an audio tour, which explains the rich history within the fort.
Located about 130 kilometres from Muscat, it’s possible to get there by car. If you haven’t rented a car, there’s also the option of joining a day tour which will take you through to the fort.
Al Kasfah hot springs
Locally known as Ayn Al Kasfah, the waters in these hot springs are said to have healing powers. The natural water runs all year round and comes from the nearby Al Hamam falaj.
What makes Al Kasfah special is that the waters here contain sulfur. Sulfur aids in body recovery, for muscle and joint pain (hence the baths’ healing powers).
It can also help the mind relax, improve sleep and the overall well-being of our bodies by releasing positive endorphins.
It’s recommended that you submerge yourself around 3 times in total, and around 10 minutes each time. The main baths next to the big pool are for men only, but there are springs also for women just around the corner.
Snake Gorge Canyon
You’re in Oman, so you have to check out Snake Canyon. It’s a natural haven for water lovers and adventure seekers.
Take a hike through the valley and you’ll discover pools of spring water, colossal desert rock cliffs and naturally formed water slides.
There are some things to keep in mind, though. While this is an incredibly magical hike and the pools are incredible, it’s quite a challenge to do in the scorching sun.
Remember to travel with reliable maps, good hiking shoes and a backpack with all your necessary supplies.
Hatt Mountain Road
Looking to see as much as Oman as possible? Well then rent a 4WD and head down the spectacular Hatt Mountain Road. This route zigzags through the rugged scenery and is quite a thrilling way to explore the Hajar Mountains.
There’s so much to see along this pretty mountain range and a few spots to stop at. Going for a hike, exploring natural water pools and barbequing at some of the viewpoints are popular activities with travellers.
The mountain road is a total of 70 kilometres, but given that the roads aren’t paved, it’ll take you about 4 hours to drive. It’s an exhilarating experience, but with the rocky roads along the cliffs, you’ll need to take extra precaution.
A travel & safety tip: Don’t attempt the drive when it’s raining or there’s a prediction of rain. The roads are easily flooded and rocks become slippery.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
Ras Al Jinz is a turtle sanctuary in Oman, renowned for the nesting of the endangered green turtles. Every year, thousands of giant turtles migrate from the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf to lay their eggs on Oman’s beaches.
And Ras Al Jinz is considered one of the most important nesting grounds on the Indian Ocean.
The conservation program here is devised to allow the turtles to thrive in their natural habitat, with little interference with human contact.
But don’t worry, you’ll still have the opportunity to experience the different phases of the egg-laying process. If you’re really lucky, you may even see some eggs hatching!
Tours are available at night, when it’s most likely to see the turtules, either before sunrise or in the evening. You won’t be allowed to turn on your phone or flash camera, the only light will be provided by the guide with a roft red light that doesn’t disturb the turtles.
Nizwa Souq is divided into different markets, all mainly dedicated to meats, fish, and vegetables. Even though the majority of the market stalls sell food, a few stalls are selling authentic, hand-crafted pottery goods.
This is the perfect time to collect some memorabilia from your time in Oman. Supporting the locals is by far the best way of giving back to the country you’re travelling through.
What makes this souq different is the animal auction. If you’re visiting on a Friday you’ll be able to see experience the auction of goats, and occasionally even a camel!
There are also loads date stalls, a favourite among the locals. With an incredibly wide range, spend your time tasting each type of speciality date. Finish your tasting with a cup of Omani coffee and you’ve got yourself the perfect local treat.
Final thoughts on the best things to do in Oman
Don’t let the road less travelled stop you from seeing some of the most beautiful places in the world! Oman stole my heart, and I’m sure it will steal yours too!
Oman really is a nature lover’s dream come true. It’s a chance to explore landscapes that haven’t been altered by the existence of humans.
The naturally occurring swimming pools, sand dunes and healing baths aren’t something you find just anywhere.
I hope this helped you see how great the Oman landscapes and cities can be.
Whether you’re taking a short trip, or planning to spend a couple of weeks here, this list of things to do in Oman is a great starting point to plan your Oman trip.