On the edge of the Arabian Peninsula lies Oman. Often overlooked by travelers, Oman is a destination full of exotic attractions and beautiful cities. The capital city of Muscat is the most popular tourist destination, but it is only a small part of Oman’s splendor.
If desert landscapes, stunning mountain ranges, historic forts, and year-round warm beaches inspire you, Oman should be the next destination on your travel bucket list. Here’s a roundup of the best places to visit in Oman.
10. Misfat al Aberdeen
While Oman’s big cities are modern, small towns like Misfat Al Abriyeen have a more traditional feel. As a result, this mountain village may seem more like an Italian mountain village than the Arabian Peninsula, composed of stone buildings in shades of orange and brown.
However, Misfat al Abryeen is a beautiful example of Omani mountain life. One can walk among the buildings on the mountain’s steep slopes and admire the plants and lush vegetation. There is an old watchtower above the village, from which you can climb to see Misfat al Abryeen, the surrounding fields, and the water-filled dam.
9. Masirah Island
Located off the coast of Oman, Masirah Island is a unique destination for travelers seeking sun, beaches, wildlife, and history. Although Masirah Island is home to Oman’s air force base, the village is relatively small. This means that there are fewer crowds and plenty of places to hide away.
There are regular ferry services to and from the mainland. The main things to do on Masirah Island include swimming, checking for shipwrecks offshore, and observing the annual hatching season of more than 30,000 sea turtles.
Another attraction of Oman is the city of Bahla, located in the north. Bahla has been an oasis in the desert and a stopover for travelers since ancient times. Bahla is only 40 km (25 miles) from Nizwa and is also home to a magnificent and historic fort.
The history of Bahla Fort dates back to the 13th century, when the Banu Neban tribe primarily ruled it. In addition to walking around the Bahla Fort, visitors can also see the 7-kilometer-long fortification wall made of adobe. Bahla is also known for its wide selection of local pottery.
In the south of Oman lies Salalah, the second largest city after Muscat and the ancestral land of the Qaboos, the reigning Sultan of Oman since 1970, and a place of particular importance today. In Salalah, you can visit the Palace of the Qaboos and the old architecture of the old city, known as Hafa.
Go further back in time by visiting the ruins of Al-Bared. Salalah is known for its incense trade, so be sure to pick some up in Hafasouk as souvenirs; from June to August, monsoon clouds from India bring steady rains, and as a result, the coastal areas around Salalah are transformed into a green oasis of seasonal waterfalls and streams.
6. Jebel Akhdar
Jebel Akhdar is part of the Al Hajar Mountains, which translates to “Green Mountains. Do not expect traditional mountain peaks, and do not be misled by the misnomer “green. The Jebel Akhdar region is predominantly limestone and contains the highest points in all of Oman.
It is not richly forested, but the high elevation allows for cooler temperatures and better crop growth than the desert below. Now protected, one can walk through beautiful terraced fields and see trees bearing fruit in profusion. Hiking may not be a very appealing activity in the Omani desert, but in Jebel Akhdar, it is the perfect pastime.
5. Ras Al Jinns
Located on the eastern edge of Oman, Ras Al Jins is a sea turtle sanctuary that contributes to the protection of sea turtles in the Indian Ocean. If you visit during the summer, i.e., between May and October, you can see turtle nests along the coast and even watch the hatchlings hatch and head out to sea.
Day trips from Muscat are possible, but many visitors stay overnight at this facility and tour other attractions such as the Turtle Visitor Center and Museum.
4. Musandam Fjords
The Musandam Peninsula is located in the northernmost part of Oman and is separated by the United Arab Emirates. Parts of this region are very isolated and have long been inhabited by mountain villages and coastal settlements. The Musandam fjord stretches to the north and offers spectacular views.
In Musandam Fjord, visitors can explore the coast and mountain peaks by boat, watch dolphins from a dhow (a traditional Omani boat), and enjoy deep-sea diving. The region’s low population and abundance of wildlife make it one of Oman’s best spots for nature lovers.
3. the Wahiba Sands
The desert known as the Wahiba Sands stretches for many kilometers in the heart of Oman. It is home to the Bedu people and is a popular destination for those seeking an authentic, traditional Oman.
Take a camel ride in the Wahiba dunes, join a desert camping tour under the stars, and experience the nomadic lifestyle. The town of Ibla is the main gateway to the Wahiba dunes, and many guided tours depart from here.
The city of Nizwa was the capital of Oman during the 6th and 7th centuries. Today, the city is best known for its splendid fortifications, built in the 17th century under the leadership of Sultan bin Saif Al Yaribi. However, parts of the fortress date back to the 9th century. The highlight of Nizwa Fort is its massive cylindrical tower.
The fort also has interesting defensive mechanisms such as honey traps and oddly shaped windows for firing on approaching enemies. The fort is also a museum dedicated to 17th-century Omani life. In Nizwa, also visit the open-air market called the Souk, and the rare goat market held two days a week in the city center.
If you only visit one place in Oman, it would be Muscat. Muscat has something for everyone: fortresses, palaces, museums, and markets. While you cannot visit the interior of the Royal Palace of Qasr al-Alam, you can get an up-close look at its stunning architecture by going to the port.
Fort Al Jalali and Fort Al Milani, which stand guard over the palace, are open to the public as museums. Non-Muslims can also visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque each morning to admire the huge crystal chandeliers, marble wall panels, and the second largest Persian carpet in the world.