A few years ago, when I told my friends I was going to celebrate my birthday in Oman, I could not ignore some of their reactions: “Are you crazy?”, “Where’s that?” or “What are you going to do there?” and the classic “Is that in Jordan?”. Forgive some of my friends if they prefer to holiday in the Algarve or the Costa del Sol and don’t know about the many interesting places to visit in Oman.

Interesting Places to Visit in Oman

But such questions only confirmed that I should keep my plans and visit this not-so-well-known-to-most country, that surely does not top most people’s bucket list. Maybe that’s because of its fairly remote location, or perhaps because it is overshadowed by its glitzy neighbours in the Gulf. The fact is that visiting Oman was on my list for quite some time, and being able to finally visit the country, made me feel as excited as a child in a candy shop.

What originally drew my attention to Oman was its “old Arabia” feel, which I had never really experienced in any other Arab country.

Best Places To Visit In Oman

Muttrah Souk, one of the most authentic in the Middle East

Thanks to their head of State, Sultan Qaboos, who inherited the country in ruins in the early 1970s, the country now boasts an enviable educational system and has an infrastructure that most countries would fight for. Today, tourism is in full expansion and Oman is home to some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts in the Middle East.

Omanis, although descendants of several different tribes, are a very united, proud and friendly people. My experience with Omanis is that they are very genuine, tolerant and always happy to help some lost tourist – something I experienced several times in my many trips to the country.

Best Places To Visit In Oman

Historically, they were merchants that sailed all around the Indian Ocean and left their mark in places like Mombasa in present-day Kenya and Zanzibar.

A PLACE BEYOND ANY CLICHÉS

After my first trip to Oman, which was my best birthday present to date, I returned to explore more of this land and meet more of its people. It is hard to think of Oman as just a destination, without thinking about the locals. Meeting and interacting with Omanis has been a highlight of all my trips to the country.
A good example was during my first trip when I was out in Old Muscat and needed a taxi back to Ruwi district. The driver stopped, we started talking and talking until we arrived at my hotel. When I was going to pay for the journey, he didn’t accept my money – any more drivers like that around? 🙂

SOME INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT IN OMAN

The country has a variety of attractions and will appeal to the beach holidaymaker, the culture seeker and the adventure junkie alike. Among all the cool places to visit in Oman, I can highlight my favourite ones:

MUSCAT

To me, no trip to Oman is complete without at least a few days in the capital Muscat. Divided into several distinct districts, Muscat is worlds apart from any other capital in the Gulf region.

Interesting Places to Visit in Oman

Rather than tall skyscrapers, what you will find is lower buildings, many built in the traditional old style. Muttrah is home to the beautiful corniche and the busy souk (bazaar); Old Muscat is home to the Sultan’s Palace, several museums and is quiet residential area; while Ruwi is considered the business district and is the perfect place to get the best transport connections.

NIZWA

The old Omani capital is located 3 hours from Muscat and is an even more traditional place. The souk is small and busy. The fortress is one of the most beautiful and well preserved in the country.

JEBEL SHAMS

Jebel Shams, or the Mountain of the Sun, is the tallest mountain in Oman and is surrounded by a dry and rugged landscape. Sometimes it even snows up here and a visit is a must if you’re looking for a quiet time with spectacular views – so much so that some of the best brands in the hotel industry have made their mark here.

Best Places To Visit In Oman

The rugged landscapes around Jebel Shams

SALALAH

Oman’s second largest city is quite an interesting case. While the rest of the country enjoys scorching heat during summertime, Salalah receives part of the Indian Ocean monsoon. That makes the city (and the region) the perfect hideaway for those seeking more bearable temperatures.

Best Places To Visit In Oman

A beach just for myself in Salalah

The area also has many pristine beaches, some important archaeological sites and the country’s biggest frankincense plantations.

THE WADIS

I must confess this is one of my favourite parts of Oman. The Governorate of Sharquiya is home to several wadis, real oasis in the middle of the desert. Wadi Shab is the most famous one, but to me, Wadi Bani Khalid is the perfect place to swim, meet great locals and enjoy the scenery: think orange, dry rugged mountains, with bright green rivers running in between and several hidden caves only locals can show you.

Best Places To Visit In Oman

Wadi Bani Khalid, a real oasis in the desert

WAHIBA SANDS

Also in the Sharquiya Governorate, not far from the city fo Sur, is where you can find some of the highest sand dunes in Oman. Some Omani friends took me here, all the way from Muscat, for a true desert safari experience.

Interesting Places to Visit in Oman

Dune-bashing around Wahiba Sands

While in neighbouring countries you will be surrounded by other 4×4 cars, here we had the desert just for ourselves. During several hours we spent driving and dune-bashing, we only saw two other cars.

MUSANDAM

The peninsula of Musandam is an Omani exclave, easily reached by road from Dubai and connected to Muscat by a ferry. Among the main attractions are the dhow trips around the local fjords – think Norway with an Arab twist.

Add to all the above miles and miles of unspoilt beaches all along the coast – some miles long, others are hidden away in small coves.

Interesting Places to Visit in Oman

Sunset at Qurum beach, Muscat

As I share my love of Oman with you, I can’t help but live those great moments again. The difference is that now I’m sipping some tea in my kitchen. If only I could be there again to make even more experiences. Soon, inshallah!

Other Posts:
– Swimming in Bimmah Sinkhole, Oman
– The Omani Grand Canyon & Jebel Shams
– One Day in Muscat
– How to Travel from Muscat to Dubai

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