Oman is a modern and wealthy country that has successfully retained its traditional charm. The low-rise towns give visitors an authentic Arabian experience without the view of extravagant wealth. Lush green oases, gorgeous long coastlines, and fascinating desert, it may take a long time to really explore every part of this beautiful country.
Day 1: Muscat
Muscat is the capital city of Oman and where half of the country’s population resides. Despite its modernization, big highways, and shopping malls, this city is nothing like neighboring Dubai. The glitz and glams are not showcased in tall skyscrapers. Squeezed between mountains and the ocean, the city is laid-back, historical, exotic, and stunning. Although there are not many major attractions here, it is still worth a full-day tour.
Start with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, a glorious mosque with modern Islamic architecture. This mosque was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos. Every aspect of it is breathtakingly beautiful. The striking Persian carpet is the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world. If you want to learn about Oman’s history and culture, head to the National Museum. It consists of selective displays showcasing Oman’s heritage, with huge screens and high-tech devices bringing the artifacts alive. Not far from the National Museum is the Sultan’s Palace. It is closed to the public, but you can admire its beauty from outside of the gates.
Day 2: Bimmah Sinkhole, Wadi Ash Shab, and Spend the Night around Ras Al Jinz Beach
Bimmah sinkhole is located about an hour and a half south of Muscat and it is a small lake filled with pristine turquoise waters giving a spectacular view. The local legend says that the sinkhole was created by Hawaiyat Najm, which literally means “falling star.” You can dip your toes or swim into the sparkling water to cool off, but if you do not want to swim, the Sinkhole is surrounded by a small park. When you are done enjoying Bimmah Sinkhole, take a forty-minute drive to Wadi Ash Shab.
“Wadi” means valley in Arabic and Oman has plenty of them. One of the most popular and closest one to Bimmah Sinkhole is the Wadi Ash Shab. Once you have arrived at the parking area, you will have to cross the river on a small boat. Then when you have crossed the river, you can begin the hike. There are various pools in the wadi and you need to hike and swim to reach some sections. The swim can be quite difficult, but if you are confident with your swimming skills, you can easily explore further in the wadi and the experience will be worth it. If you are not a good swimmer, you can just relax in the low depth pool. After exploring Wadi Ash Shab, it’s time to continue your trip to Ras al Jinz.
Ras al Jinz will be your last destination for the day. The beach is a turtle reserve where thousands of turtles migrate to the shores every year. You cannot really camp at Ras Al Jinz beach because it is a reserve, but you should camp on nearby beaches for the night and wait for the turtles. Remember to use red lights on your headlamps to search the beach for nesting turtles because normal light disorients them. When you are done searching for the turtles, walk back to the water and watch the glittering blue light in the waves. The blue light is phosphorescent plankton. Then, it’s time to rest and watch the night sky above from your tent.
Day 3: Omani Coastline and Camping at the Wahiba Sands
Continue from the area of Ras Al Jinz along the coastline to discover the cliff sides and beautiful beaches. The beaches in Oman’s long coastline have a variety of sand colors from white to dark orange. Every time you see something interesting, just pull off the road and check it out because it is guaranteed to be incredible. On your trip, you will pass many pretty little villages. You can, of course, stop at any of them and explore. You will also pass some forts. And then, you will arrive at the remote Wahiba Sands. The Wahiba Sands is a sand dune stretching for as far as the eye can see. The area is super remote that a phone signal is nonexistent. Relax and appreciate the magical atmosphere of the desert. Wahiba Sands is the perfect place for anyone who loves stargazing. There is only slight light pollution and the night is dark.
Day 4: Wadi Bani Khalid and the Ruins of Ibra
After spending the night in the desert, visiting an oasis is the best thing to do. Wadi Bani Khalid is filled with rocky ravine and date palms. You can have a refreshing swim in one of the pools, from the main pool, you can choose to swim or walk into a narrow canyon where you will find many other small pools. If you walk further, you will arrive at the Muqal cave. Then, when you have finished exploring Wadi Bani Khalid, continue northwest to Ibra.
Ibra is an old city packed with ancient mud buildings. A few kilometers from Ibra is Al Munisifeh, the ruined village of old Ibra. Here, visitors can see a glimpse of a wealthy period of the village when magnificent mudbrick mansions were built. You will see impressive large mansions with beautiful arches and detailed decors. Spend the rest of the day wandering around the village and spend the night in Ibra or camp near to the city.
Day 5: Nizwa Fort and Al Hajar Mountains
When the morning arrives, drive to Nizwa to check out the Nizwa Fortress. It is a combination of a castle, a fort, and a museum. The area is also the Sultanate’s most visited national monument. It is obviously something that you should not miss on your Oman itinerary. The fort was built in the 17th century by Imam Sultan bin Saif Al Yarubi and took around 12 years to complete while the castle was originally built long before that, in the 9th century and renewed in 1624. After wandering around Nizwa, head out to the Al Hajar Mountains.
Al Hajar Mountain range houses Oman’s highest peak, Jebel Shams. It is also known as the Grand Canyon of Arabia. The view into the Wadi Ghul lying alongside the mountain is spectacular and breathtaking. You can picnic or camp here if you want to, but if you feel like you need a hotel room, there are several hotels around Jebel Shams.
Day 6: Balad Sayt and Mussanah
Drive to the picturesque Balad Sayt, tucked between the Western Hajar Mountains. It is a tiny village where you can stroll around its alleyways and see vibrant traditional houses. Walk to the ruined watchtower to have a fantastic view of the entire village. Take your time to explore the village and immerse in its fantastic neighborhoods and surroundings. From Balad Sayt, head to Mussanah. You will pass the city of Rustaq along the way. It is a beautiful city to explore. When you arrive at Mussanah, you can camp at the beach or stay at the luxurious Millennium Resort Mussanah.
Day 7: Back to Muscat
On the last day, you can enjoy the day in Mussanah and return to Muscat in the late afternoon. Check in to a hotel and relax for a while. Then, wander around the Corniche and eat dinner in one of Muscat’s amazing restaurants.