Oman is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, which is bordered by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Oman was occupied by the Portuguese and the Brits, before it gained its independence after Qaboos bin Said Al Said took control of the country. The Portuguese influence is still visible in the architecture of the country, especially when you visit some of the forts that still remain in some parts of Oman. Compared to the United Arab Emirates, Oman feels really natural and traditional and the fact that it’s not crowded with tourists and that you can still find some spots on your own, makes it a pleasant destination to visit. It is definitely recommended to hire a car to visit the country, as it can take a long time to visit the country by bus. Furthermore there are some beautiful spots, that are not served by buses, so that a car is the best way to experience Oman to its fullest. I spent nine days in the country and experienced crazy drives and swims in the Wadis, beautiful mountain sceneries, one night in the desert and interesting coastal cities. Here are my personal top things to see in Oman:
One of the most beautiful and adventurous places in Oman is definitely Wadi Shab. The Wadi awaits you with turquoise pools and waterfalls, and is the perfect location if you want to go hiking without being surrounded by crowds. Either you can walk around 45 minutes to reach the first pools or you can go further by walking along a steep way before reaching beautiful spots with turquoise pools and palm trees, where you will be all on your own. My personal highlight was the blue cave, which can be reached either from the top (for those who love some thrills ) or by swimming along the first pools.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the most beautiful Wadis in Oman. Its stream maintains a constant flow of water throughout the year. Large pools of water and boulders are scattered along the course of the wadi. It is a lot of fun to swim from one pool to another, so that you can easily spend a few hours at this place.
Rustaq fort, which is considered as the tallest fort in Oman, is an imposing structure built on three levels. It contains a mosque, separate houses, an armoury and 4 towers (red tower, wind tower, devil tower and modern tower). The tallest tower stands over 18.5m high and has a diameter of 6m.
Muscat is the capital of Oman and awaits you with many interesting and different districts. In Mutrah You can find the beautiful Corniche, Mutrah Fort and Mutrah Souq (the best in the whole country). In Old Muscat you will find the magnificent al Alam Palace and two other forts (al Jalall Fprt and Mirani Fort). The impressive Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of the tallest mosques in the world, can be found in Al-Ghubrah.
Misfat Al Abriyyin
Misfat Al Abriyeen is a beautiful mountainous village located 1,000 m above sea level. The village has become an attractive tourist destination in recent years due to its amazing agricultural terraces, beautiful alleys, and old houses built on top of solid rocks.
Nakhal Fort was built in 1834 and is dramatically located at the edge of the Jebel Akhdar Mountains in northwest Oman. The fort consists of two floors. On the ground floor you can find the mosque, different rooms and a water well. The second floor, which is dedicated for the governor “Al Wali” awaits you with beautiful decorative ornaments on the doors and windows and antique collections in different rooms.
Wadi Bani Awf
If you are a fan of off-road driving, then the road through Wadi Bani Awf is definitely for you. The road goes through beautiful sceneries and villages. If you are lucky you can also get invited by some inhabitants to a cup of coffee. Don’t miss the beautiful village Billad Sayt, one of the most picturesque villages in Oman.
Nizwa, the former capital of Oman, has an impressive fort, which dates back to the middle of the 17th century. The earth-filled central stone tower is astonishing and offers great views of the markets down below and the mountains. If you want to buy some souvenirs, Nizwa awaits you with many different shops just made for tourists.
Bahla Fort was built by the local Banu Nabhan tribe that ruled between the mid-12th and 15th centuries. As the fort sits atop a flat plain in the Omani desert at the highest point of Bahla, it offers amazing views of the surrounding oasis.
Jabal Shams is the highest mountain in Oman and often described as the Grand Canyon of Arabia. From the top you have spectacular views into the deep Wadi Ghul and vertical cliffs of 1000m and more.
In 1957 to 1959 bombings of rebel villages destroyed the old village of Tanuf, so that just ruins were left. Especially before sunset the wonderful and romantic mood comes alive while standing in the middle of the ruins that are facing the Al Hajar mountains.
Saiq Plateau is at an altitude of around 2000m and is famous for its fertile and productive region for cultivation of many types of fruits and and the area’s famed roses. Especially the traditional village of Al Ayn is worth a visit as you can walk over falaj irrigation waterways and see some families who still produce rosewater.
Old Town of Ibra
Ibra is worth a visit to see its old quarter, where you can still see some mansions once owned by prosperous merchants of the 19th century, that fell into ruin after the decline of Said’s commercial empire. There is also a tiny fort than can be visited.
No Oman trip is completed without a trip to the desert. Wahabi sands, a desert with sand dunes up to 100 meters high and 170 km long, is the perfect location. The best way to explore Wahabi Sands is to stay in a Desert Camp, so that you are able to walk up the dunes early in the morning to see the sunrise.
Sur is a town in the north of Oman with a really relaxed atmosphere. The watchtowers, majestic forts and the lively harbor take you back in time. Sur is also famous for its finely crafted model dhows, which are also for sale in several shops.
Bimmah Sink Hole
Even if earlier locals believed that the Bimmah sinkhole was formed by a meteorite, the truth is, that it was formed in limestone by a collapse of large cave chamber. Today it is possible to swim and snorkel in this approximately 50 by 70 m large hole.