Officially named the Sultanate of Oman, it’s a beautiful country that lies on the Southeastern coast of Western Asia. A visit to Oman gives travellers the opportunity to see the Arab world in a very authentic way.
I did a one week road trip in Oman in May and I was blown away by the beauty of the country. The towns in Oman offer traditional charm, whilst the natural scenery is unlike anything I had ever seen before.
Spectacular mountain scenes give way to wind-swept deserts and a beautiful coastline. Oman should feature on everyones travel bucket list.
If you’re wondering what to see in Oman during your stay, I’ve got you covered with this ultimate 7 day Oman itinerary!
I’ve included a day-by-day itinerary with the best activities to do in each location, where to stay, where to eat and some practical tips for travelling around Oman.
- 1 Road tripping around Oman
- 2 7 days in Oman itinerary
- 2.1 Day 1: Arrive in Muscat
- 2.2 Day 2: Driving on the Hajar Mountains – Al Rustaq & Misfah Al Abryinn
- 2.3 Day 3: Hike in Oman’s Grand Canyon & drive to Nizwa
- 2.4 Day 4: Explore Nizwa
- 2.5 Day 5: Go canyoneering in the Wadi Bhani Khalid & sleep in the desert
- 2.6 Day 6: Drive to Sur & visit the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Sanctuary
- 2.7 Day 7: Visit Wadi Shab & the Bimmah Sinkhole on the drive back to Muscat
- 3 Best time to visit Oman
- 4 What to pack for your 7 days in Oman trip
Road tripping around Oman
We travelled around Oman by car. Renting your own car is the easiest way to get around Oman, since there isn’t really an efficient public bus system to take you to all the highlights and main spots of this itinerary.
When you’re renting a car make sure to ask for a 4WD or land rover type car, as there’s a good chance you will find yourself driving on unpaved roads or at times completely off the road.
This 7-day itinerary is based on my own Oman self drive road trip.
7 days in Oman itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Muscat
When you first arrive in Oman you will probably want an easy day after your long flight.
There are lots of different things to do in Muscat, which will give you a taste of the Arab world you’re about to experience for the rest of the week in Oman.
Mutrah Fort is one of my favourite places to visit in Muscat. This magnificent fort was built by the Portuguese in 1580, and is a prominent feature of the eastern end of Mutrah harbour.
Once used for military activity, it’s now open to the public as a sort of museum.
Even if you’re no military fanatic, scaling the building to take in a scenic view of the harbour is a wonderful idea. Entry to the fort is free so you can climb up there to enjoy the view over Muscat and the surrounding mountains.
After enjoying a wonderful view, you should head to the Mutrah Souq market, a short walk away from Mutrah Fort. It’s an incredible experience for first-time visitors to the area.
You can find anything and everything at this market, so take your time browsing all the stalls before bargaining with a stall owner to ensure a great deal!
After a long day of travelling and touring, you’re sure to need a lovely wholesome meal to satisfy your appetite, and Kargeen is the perfect place to go.
Its name is taken from the old Omani word for little wooden cottage and it’s easy to see why.
Its cosy atmosphere and delicious food are sure to leave your mouth watering for more. I was visiting Oman during Ramadan so they had a “Iftar” buffet available which tasted great.
In Muscat we stayed at Riyam hotel. The hotel is simple but pretty, with a small private pool where you can relax and escape the midday Oman heat before heading out to adventure around Muscat.
It’s also located pretty close to the harbour so it’s a good base to explore the Mutrah Fort and Souq.
Day 2: Driving on the Hajar Mountains – Al Rustaq & Misfah Al Abryinn
On the second day of your one-week itinerary in Oman, immerse yourself in the culture and religious traditions of the land. Before hitting the road you will want to visit the Grand Mosque of Muscat.
It’s open from 8AM to 11AM and is on the road as you drive out of Muscat so it’s an easy detour to take. If you arrive early in the morning on day one you can visit it then and set off earlier on the secon day.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the main mosque in Oman and is located in the heart of the capital city. It’s ornate and very large, and incredibly beautiful.
You’ll learn plenty about the Mosque and the Islamic religion of the area during your time there.
After visiting the Mosque it’s time to hit the road! It will take you around 1.5 hours to reach the town of Al Rustaq.
Here you can visit the Al Rustaq fort, entry is 500 baisa per person.
The fort is very well kept and has some beautiful views over the town and surrounding mountains.
While you’re in Rustaq, be sure to visit also the Al Kasfah hot springs, the waters are said to have healing powers! It’s a natural hot spring, with temperatures that reach a scorching 45 degrees Celsius.
Unlike other hot springs in Oman, the water has traces of sulfur in it which is proven to have healing properties for those with joint pain.
If you don’t want to drive yourself there are a couple tour options that will take you to the places I’ve mentioned in day 2. You can do a half-day tour of Muscat that includes a visit to the Grand Mosque, or a day tour of the Rustaq area.
In the afternoon, it’s time to hit the road again, and this time, what a road it’s going to be! The Hatt mountain road is one of the craziest roads I’ve ever driven on.
The road is entirely unpaved and you’ll find yourself driving over rocks on very narrow roads, with cliff edges just next to you.
The mountain pass can get a little scary at times, so make sure you have a confident drive at the wheel! If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself you can always rent a car with driver for this part of the trip.
The drive takes from 3 to 4 hours, and there are a few panoramic spots where you can stop to enjoy the view.
One of these is Snake Gorge Canyon, a canyon that you can parly hike in. Driving the Hatt Mountain Road is well worth the thrills and one of the coolest experience to have in Oman.
While the Hatt Mountain Road is really cool, you’ve still spent a lot of time in a car and by now you’re probably ready to stretch your legs.
We stayed in the picturesque town of Misfah al Albryinn, a unique and mountainous village located 1000 metres above sea level, and loved it. The town is really pretty, with narrow streets and rocky buildings.
There are some walking trails that go around the town and neighbouring fields, or you can just wander around the town alone, just remember which way you went as there are no street name signs up to help you navigate the town!
Misfah Guest House is a great place to stay while you’re in town! It’s a unique guest house that will give you a taste of authentic Oman living, paired with an epic rooftop view.
We had both dinner and breakfast on the rooftop, enjoying the local food prepared by the Misfah Guestt House staff, while watching the beautiful view over Misfah al Albryinn.
Day 3: Hike in Oman’s Grand Canyon & drive to Nizwa
We started our third day in Oman with a challenging hike and some pretty spectacular views. About a 1.5 hour drive away from Misfah al Albryinn lies the Jebel Shams and Wadi Ghul, also known as Oman’s Granc Canyon.
With its 3,028 metres Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in the Hajar range. Here you can find the Wadi Ghul, a canyon that is about 500 metres deep, hence the name Oman’s Grand Canyon.
There is a hiking trail known as the “Jebel Shams Balcony Walk” that goes all along the side of the Wadi Ghul canyon, and that’s where you’re headed today!
To find the start of the hiking trail you need to search for “Jebel Shams Resort” on Google Maps, then from there drive onwards to a small town where the road ends.
Just walk to the edge of the canyon and you will easily find the start of the trail, since it’s marked with red and yellow markers. The balcony walk has a very slight downwards incline.
It’s so gradual that we didn’t even notice we were going downhill until it was time to hike back up! It’s a return hike that goes all the way to the end of the canyon to a waterfall, and then you return back to the starting point.
The hike takes about 3-4 hours in total, taking into account for snacks and breaks. If you’re feeling adventurous you could also go for a dip at the waterfall at the end of the trail!
The stunning views are constant throughout the hike. The balcony walk is all along the side of the cliff, so you’ll be presented with steep cliffs on both sides. Don’t worry though, the path is wide enough that you never feel unsafe.
During the whole hike you will always have the steep 500 metre drop of the canyon to your side to admire as you walk. I found it more fun than hiking up hill to a viewpoint, since there were epic views all throughout the hike.
I was with a big group of mostly boys so we had no issues hiking alone. However we crossed no other tourists or locals during the whole hike so I can appreciate if you’re a solo traveller you might not want to hike entirely alone.
If you’re not too keen to venture out solo, why not take a Jebel and Green mountains hiking tour? This will make you feel at ease with the assistance of a professional guide.
Once we completed the hike we then drive on to Nizwa. There are some beautiful viewpoints over the Jebel Shams and canyon also throughout the drive.
Most of the road leading up to the canyon is unpaved so you will need a 4×4 also here. The drive to Nizwa takes around 2 hours. We stayed at the Al Diyar Hotel in Nizwa.
It’s a great place to stay during your time in Nizwa, it has a very traditionally Omani feel without skimping on the luxuries. It also has a pool where you can relax after your challenging morning hike!
Day 4: Explore Nizwa
We started our fourth day in Oman with an early morning at the Nizwa Souq and animal market. It starts around 6:30AM and until 9AM you can see the goat auctions, if you’re lucky you might even see some camels being sold!
Once the animal market dies down you can wander around the Souq and shop for all sorts of souvenirs. We found a lot of gold, silver and jewelry shops in Nizwa.
After visiting the Souq we went to Nizwa fort, a massive structure that was built in the middle of the 17th century.
Entry is 5 OMR and you can easily spend a few hours exploring the many staircases, pathways and intriguing rooms this fort has to offer.
The fort is well kept, with air conditioned rooms that serve as a museum, with explanations about the fort and history of the area. There are a few spots along the walls of the fort from which you get a great view of Nizwa.
We then left Nizwa and headed to Ibra for the night. The drive takes around two hours.
There isn’t much per se in Ibra, we just wanted to be closer to our next exciting stop on the following day!
We slept at the SAJ Farm Inn, a stunning property with big private bungalows, a pool and football pitch.
Day 5: Go canyoneering in the Wadi Bhani Khalid & sleep in the desert
On the 5th day of your ultimate 7 day Oman itinerary, it’s time to visit another stunning natural wonder. Today you’re heading to the Wadi Bani Khalid.
Wadi Bani Khalid covers a large section of lowland in the eastern region of Oman. The landscape is beautiful with streams and many pools of water throughout the area, as well as beautiful mountainous views.
The drive from Ibra to the Wadi Bani Khalid takes around 1.5 hours. You should search for “Wadi Bani Khalid Parking Area” on Google Maps to make sure you arrive at the right starting point of the trail.
At first you’ll walk past a wide and slow flowing river, which gets progressively narrower as the steep rock cliffs of the canyon close in on it.
We hiked as far up as we could comfortably do so (it took us around 30-45 minutes) and we then set camp around a little pool of calm water.
From there we ventured a bit further upstream in the water, and found some cool spots where the water erosion over time has formed natural water slides.
We spent the vast majority of the day just relaxing by the water, swimming around the oasis-like pools and jumping off cliffs into the river.
You can easily explore this area on your own, but if you’d rather do a guided tour, there are a variety of full-day tours of Wadi Bani Khalid that will take your breath away!
One thing to note is that we were visiting Oman during Ramadan. During our entire time at the Wadi Bhani Kalid, and then the Wadi Sham and Bimmah Sinkhole later in the trip we saw very few other people, and primarily tourists.
We saw very few locals. If there are locals present when you’re visiting you should remember to respect the culture of the country you’re travelling in and dress modestly.
Once we were done exploring Wadi Bani Khalid we drove on to the Wahiba Sands Desert, for a special night amongst the sand dunes!
It took us about an hour to drive from the Wadi Bhani Kalid to Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp, where we spent the night. Remember to stop at a gas station to let some air out of your tires, if you’re going to be driving on sand you’ll need it!
Spending the night in the desert is one of the best things to do in Oman, and gives you a true feel for ancient Omani life. Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Here you can stay in authentic Bedouin tents, or a communal boma that gives you a view of the stars as you sleep. Surrounded by palm trees, you’ll feel as if you’re in the midst of a tropical vacation right in the desert.
We got to Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp in time for sunset. The camp staff showed us a rope just behind the restaurant of the camp, that we could use to climb up the sand dunes.
From here we had an incredible view of the sun sinking behind the sand dunes. The camp also offers a lovely dinner, and we then spent the night star gazing away from all the light pollution we are normally used to.
Day 6: Drive to Sur & visit the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Sanctuary
On your second last day of visiting Oman, you’ll want to catch the spectacular desert sunrise.
Yes that means waking up very early, but after all, when are you going to watch the sunrise over desert sand dunes again?
It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen before, so be sure to set lots of alarms. You can always go back to bed after.
We spent an easy morning in the desert before driving to Sur, an ancient city that was once the epicentre of trade, education and art in Oman.
The drive takes around 2 hours, and you can then spend the afternoon exploring Sur. The city contains many castles and old mosques, perfect for a day of exploring!
You’ll find many watchtowers along the harbour, that are great for climbing to find the very best views.
The view over Sur is pretty unique, with the low white houses on one side and the rocky desert cliffs falling into the sea on the other. We walked around the harbour and relaxed at the beach for a bit.
In the evening we visited the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, which overseas the nesting of the endangered green turtles in the area.
Here you’ll experience the unspoiled landscape and see the turtles in their natural habitat, thriving as they should!
I was a bit wary about visiting a turtle sanctuary in Oman, as I was concerned it would be a big show set up for tourists and not very ethical in how they treated the turtles.
However I was pleasantly surprised. You will be broken up in small groups and a guide will take you from the reception to the beach where you will see the turtles.
They will ask you to put your phones away as the light can disturb the turtles, and only the guide is allowed to use a soft red light.
Our visit lasted a couple hours during which we saw all the different phases of the egg laying process. We saw a turtle laying its eggs, one covering them in sand, one making her way back to the ocean and even some eggs hatching!
You might also be able to see bioluminiscent plankton on the beach. I was surprised at how huge the turtles were! It was definitely a unique experience and I can highly recommend it to everyone.
We then slept at Al Ayjah Plaza Hotel in Sur. The hotel has balconies with wonderful sea views as well as views of the mountainous desert.
Day 7: Visit Wadi Shab & the Bimmah Sinkhole on the drive back to Muscat
It’s your last day in Oman but worry not, there area still some awesome things to do before you head back to Muscat and leave!
The drive from Sur to Muscat takes around 2.5 hours, but we will be breaking it up at two of the most iconic Oman attractions; Wadi Shab and the Bimmah Sinkhole.
Wadi Shab is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Oman. Similarly to Wadi Bani Khalid it’s a canyon with wonderful freshwater pools and steep rocky cliffs that you can climb along.
There are caves and rock formations worthy of exploring, as well as hiking trails around the area.
If you search for “Wadi Shab Parking” on Google Maps it will take you to the start of the route. Here you will park your car under a huge bridge, and you will have to cross the river by boat to the start of the hiking trail.
The return ferry crossing costs 1 OMR per person. The trail isn’t particularly well marked but it’s a straight forward hike, since you can only really walk along the river and go upstream.
We walked for around 45 minutes to one hour, till we reached a spot with a deep enough pool to comfortably swim in. From there we made camp and explored the rest from the water.
We swam up river, with the steep and smooth canyon sides on each side of the river, to bigger rock pools that you could also dive into.
It’s a pretty spectacular place and must see in any Oman 7-day itinerary. We had a picnic lunch and then hiked back, ready for the next stop on our last day. From Wadi Shab to the Bimmah Sinkhole it’s only a half hour drive.
The Bimmah Sinkhole is one of the most distinctive attractions in Oman. It’s a huge depression with a lake of turquoise water in it.
The water is a mix of salt and freshwater, and it has a small rocky area where you can relax if you don’t want to get in the water.
There is a free parking area and entry to the Bimmah Sinkhole is free. There are also toilets if you need to change.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing at the Bimmah Sinkhole, swimming around in the fresh water and jumping in from the cliff sides.
The lake is 20 metres deep so you can comfortably jump in! Just be careful not to climb too high and jump from too high up or you might injure yourself.
Muscat airport is merely a 1.5 hour drive from Bimmah Sinkhole. If you can get a late evening flight from Muscat, you’ll be able to do a full day of exploring before heading back to the capital city and flying out.
Best time to visit Oman
Oman has what you could call a reliably warm climate! Any time of year you decide to visit you can be assured that the weather will be suitably warm.
However, I would recommend that you avoid the summer months (June to August) which are usually scorching hot, leaving you feeling uncomfortable at the very least.
The weather is at its absolute best from October to April when it is still warm but considerably cooler than the sweltering summer months.
In January and February, you can expect short downpours of rain, but these shouldn’t affect your holiday too much and actually come as a relief from the heat.
Oman is a Muslim country, and as such observes Ramadan. This is in no way an issue, it’s just something you need to be aware of. I was visiting in May 2019 during Ramadan, but as long as you plan accordingly it won’t impact your trip.
You just need to be aware that a lot of shops or restaurants will be closed at certain times, so make sure to buy food beforehand to make a pack lunch, and you might have to wait for restaurants to open again after Iftar before having dinner.
We actually had most dinners at Iftar buffets and enjoyed this traditional experience.
We actually found that since it was Ramadan there were considerably less people around, both locals and tourists, so if you want a holiday away from the crowds that’s something you should take into account!
What to pack for your 7 days in Oman trip
Suitable clothes – Because Oman is a Muslim country, it’s important to wear clothes that are respectful of that religion. For the girls, make sure you pack tops that cover your shoulders, and shorts or skirts that cover your knees.
Comfortable walking / hiking shoes – During your Oman trip, you’ll be doing a lot of hiking and exploring, so be sure to take comfortable shoes with you that will be able to weather all terrains.
Appropriate swimwear – You’ll be visiting many natural pools during your stay, so be sure to bring a swimming costume that will allow you to cool off in the waters and escape the heat, while still being respectful if you can (eg. go for a swimsuit over a thong bikini!)
Fast drying towel – You will want one of these to take with you to the Wadis so you can dry off when you get out of the water. I love them because they dry quickly and take up very little space in your bag, without adding too much weight to your hiking backpack
Sunscreen – The sun can be pretty strong in Oman, you don’t want to get sunburnt!
Hat – Same as above, a floppy hat to shade your head during the hottest hours of the day is a good addition to your Oman suitcase
International adaptor – Depending on where you’re coming from you might need one of these. I prefer the international ones because even if they’re a bit more expensive and bulkier that way I only have to carry one everywhere I go.
Final thoughts on 7 days in Oman
Oman is the trip that surprised me the most this year. The natural beauty and variety of the landscapes we saw was beyond all of my expectations.
We only spent one week in Oman, but I could have easily stayed there more and explored more of that beautiful desert paradise.
This post is just a guideline of an ultimate Oman itinerary, based on how I spent my 7 days in Oman. It’s just to give you an idea of travel times and how to maximise your time so that you have the best Oman 7-day trip.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your Oman itinerary! What are you waiting for? Your desert paradise awaits you!