Whenever someone mentions Arabian peninsula, people normally thing of UAE and its famous city of Dubai, but just underneath the UAE lies mysterous and little known country of Oman (Sultanate of Oman).
Travel to Oman is perfect for all the real adventurists! There are plenty of things to do in Oman – even though the country is know for desserts, it offers so much more, like lots of sun, rich tradition and history, lively markets, amazingly friendly people, wild camping and miles and miles of unpaved roads, which are ideal for the off-road enthusiasts. No wonder traveling to Oman has been getting more and more popular recent years.
If you are still not sure, why traveling to Oman should be high on your bucketlist, read our TOP things to do in Oman.
TOP things to do in Oman
- #1 Muscat – when you travel to Oman, you will most likely arrive first in its capital city Muscat. I could say Muscat has nothing to do with the real Oman image. Here the roads are clean, wide and have street lightning, people are dressed according to the latest fashion trends and the city has full of green areas, which don’t really show us, that Oman has problems with lack of water. To get to know Muscat, visit one of the many shopping centers, which offer you everything from a Starbucks coffee to a 3D cinema. Take a walk along the Muttrah corniche and feel the real Arab spirit on its colorful and mystical market. Muscat has many things to do, but one of the best things to do in Oman in general, is a visit to the main city mosque – Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is the only mosque in the whole Oman country, where visitors, who are not Muslims, are welcome to enter. Before you leave the modern Arab life and continue with your Oman travel, take a pick at the amazing blue and gold palace of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Read more about things to do in Muscat here.
- # 2 Remote villages – Oman is rarely populated country and it feels the most beautiful places are always the one, which are hard to get to, so renting a 4×4 is one of the things to do in Oman. The most beautiful village of them all is called Bilad Said. It lies in the middle of Oman’s mountain range, but when you reach it, you will know your effort was well worth it! Just the road, which leads to Bilad Said is worth taking the trip – this was one of our favorite things to do in Oman.
- # 3 Deserts – Because of its many deserts, we could say Oman is a real desert country! One of the most famous and visited desert is Wahiba. Amazing sand dunes, which can be as high as 200 meters, are out of this world! For us one of the best things to do in Oman was wilderness camping in Wahiba desert, so don’t miss that either. Having peace and quiet and the amazing starry sky above you is priceless for sure and as well one of the most rewarding things to do in Oman.
- # 4 The Wadis – Even though Oman lacks of rain, we still can see many water pools in different Wadis during our exploration in January. Their vivid green water is so inviting, it’s ideal to take a short swim in them. If you decide to freshen up, please be aware, you are in a muslim country, where swimming and being in bathing suits are strange for locals. Especialy female travelers should watch to go swimming where there are no locals, to show respect to a foreing land, its tradition and also to avoid unecessary attention. One of the best Wadis and things to do in Oman is stopping at Wadi Shab – lots of trekking possibilities as well.
- # 5 Nizwa town – The mountains area of Oman starts with the town of Nizwa (historically Nizwa was a capital of Oman in 6th and 7th century AD). The town is most famous for its amazing fortress and tower. You can visit the fortress, explore its museum and get to know Oman’s rich history. Don’t forget to climb on top of the tower to enjoy splendid views over the town and area. Visiting local markets is one of the best things to do in Oman and Nizwa has one of the nicest ones in the country. Note that the markets in Arab countries are closed on Fridays!
- # 6 Coastal towns – The biggest part of Oman population lives on the coastal side of the country, where their main economic activity is fishing. To get an idea of Omani people and their lifes, one of the best things to do in Oman is visiting its fishing villages. We really enjoyed stopping at Sur and that’s not just because the town is the only places left in the country, where traditional fishing boats called “dhows” are still being hand-made.
- # 7 Fortresses – Due to its strategic location, Oman was continuously endangered and attacked threw-out the history. If we know this, more than 1000 fortresses in the country, are no surprise. We could say fortresses are one of the most recognized landmarks in Oman and with that visiting some should get on your bucket list for things to do in Oman. Many of them are perfectly rebuild, so don’t forget to visit the most famous like Bahla, Jabrin, Rustaq, Nizwa and Nakhla. The most beautiful of them all is for sure the Bahla fortress, which is under Unesco protection.
- # 8 Markets / bazaars /souqs – if you are like us, markets are an absolutely must see in each traveled country and the same goes for Oman. Arab markets are always full of colors and smells. Even though they seem chaotic, they are well organized and everyone knows their place. Oman travel is an absolute paradise for traditional Arab markets. Best towns to get to know the real market atmosphere are Nizwa, Rustaq, Sur, Quriat and Muscat. Bargaining for the price, is one of the things to do in Oman, so don’t forget that before buying anything.
- # 9 The Grand Canyon – Yes, also Oman has its own Grand Canyon. To reach it, you need to find the highest road in the country (2000 meters above the sea level). If you enjoy hiking, visiting the Grand Canyon is one of the things to do in Oman.
- # 10 Sea turtles – The most eastern part of Oman (Ras al-Jinz) is known best for the sea turtles, where they lay their eggs. Seven species of sea turtles can be spotted in Oman, but the most numbered one is the Green turtle. Every year Oman gets more than 20.000 sea turtles from Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia. Watching turtles early in the early morning can definitely be put on the list as one of the things to do in Oman.
- # 11 Kitesurfing and windurfing – Due to strong winds from May to September, Oman is an absolute paradies for kitesurfing and windsurfing. There are many good places, but experts say you cannot miss with the Masirah Island! If you like water sports, one of the best things to do in Oman, is to try these popular sports.
No matter what your interests are, I am sure travel to Oman will not disappoint you. Massive tourism has not discovered Oman yet and that is probably the main reason, why this Arab country is full with real, charming and hospitable people. We have completely fallen in love in Oman and we know we will be back again one day! There are many things to do in Oman, which we have not done and seen, so we cannot wait to be back.
More photos about Oman travel here.
You can read our article about Oman travel, published in an In-Flight Magazine Adria Airways here.