Located in southern Oman, the city of Salalah is a hidden gem that is waiting to be discovered. The largest city in the country’s Dhofar Province, Salalah is known for its pristine beaches, and banana plantations, as well as its role in the spice trade and its rich maritime history. They all influence many of the incredible things to do in Salalah, Oman.
From the famous frankincense trees that have been harvested for centuries to the beautiful waterfalls that cascade down the hills, Salalah is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you are a history buff, an adventure seeker, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Salalah has it all.
So, pack your bags and get ready to explore this enchanting city that is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. I explored Salalah with my friends from Oman Travel and Salalah Fast Tour to get a deeper understanding of the city and the experiences it has to offer. But first, let’s dive into Salalah’s history.
Salalah is known for its archaeological treasures dating back to antiquity. Salalah has been ruled by various dynasties such as the Ajuuraan, Shirazi, and Al-Hakim, who all left their mark on the city’s history and culture.
The city is also the birthplace of the former sultan, Qaboos. Salalah also has a long history of trade and commerce, and it was an important port for the frankincense trade during ancient times. The city’s history, and that of the country, have shaped the top things to do in Salalah, Oman.
Visiting a farm of domesticated camels is one of the most unique experiences I had in Salalah. The camels have free reign, and roam across a road that cuts through the property to a nearby beach. There are dozens of them, including lots of babies!
Mother camels are aggressive when protecting their calves, so keep your distance. When the farmers milk the camels, they have to tie their legs so they can’t kick during the process. But it’s worth it, as the camel milk comes out hot and frothy, though it’s thinner than cow milk. It’s quite tasty and a must when exploring Salalah!
Because it lies along the coast, it’s natural that one of the top things to do in Salalah, Oman is to try Omani seafood. Check out one of the fish markets near the shore to see the fresh shrimp, mussels, octopus, and shrimp they offer before diving into a meal.
I visited a Bangali restaurant near one of the markets and enjoyed some incredible baked fish covered in Bangali masalas. On the side was a fresh salad of arugula, cucumber, and tomatoes, but the fish was the main attraction. It came with a spicy chutney that added a burst of heat and a unique flavor!
I learned earlier in my trip that camel farmers breed certain camels for certain purposes, including racing, beauty pageants, or milk. They breed others specifically for their meat, which is like a leaner, gamier version of beef. It’s also low in cholesterol and high in iron and protein.
I visited a restaurant where they butcher entire camel carcasses. The workers hang strips of the camel meat on a rack to dry in the sun. Elsewhere, you get to enjoy the aroma of camel and lamb cooking on a grill.
This restaurant offered camel along with lamb innards, including stomach wrapped in intestines. We tried camel and mutton mishkak with four different types of rice, along with arugula, onions, and dates.
The camel mishkak had a smoky, salty flavor and paired well with a camel-based gravy, camel stock, and rice. It’s one of the top things to do in Salalah, Oman for a reason, so give it a try when you visit!
No trip to Salalah is complete without diving into the world of frankincense. It’s one of the top things to do in Salalah, Oman. This natural product is an aromatic, hardened sap that comes from Boswellia trees native to the Arabian Peninsula. Since ancient times, people on the Arabian Peninsula have used it for medicinal, religious, and cultural purposes. Today, it’s a popular ingredient in perfumes, incense, and aromatherapy.
I visited a souq in Salalah that specializes in selling frankincense. You can buy frankincense nuggets, as well as the clay pots in which you light it on fire for aromatherapy. They also sold soap and oil made from frankincense, frankincense colognes mixed with rose, and even wet versions mixed with saffron and lavender.
Frankincense is edible, and many say it’s good for your stomach. It’s certainly an acquired taste at first, but as you chew it, the flavor gets better. Elsewhere, you can buy stuffed animals, turbans, hats, and more. And if you want to see the trees frankincense comes from, head outside the city!
If you drive roughly 30 minutes west from Salalah, into the hilly territory before you reach the mountains, you’ll find Mugsail Beach. Located roughly 45 kilometers from Salalah, this gorgeous, sandy beach is famous for its blowholes.
Not far from Mugsail Cafe, the water from the ocean crashes through hollowed-out underground caves. As the waves crash, the water flies shoots up out of the blowhole like a geyser! You can actually hear the water rushing through the caves below. It’s an exciting sight, and one of the many things to do in Salalah, Oman that makes it a worthwhile travel destination!
As much as I love seeing attractions and diving into history, my favorite travel experiences are the ones where I get to connect with the locals. My guide Khalid arranged an incredible opportunity to meet some local men in the desert for a unique mountain feast unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
We enjoyed our meal at night, in pitch darkness, by the side of a highway. There, the men prepared a camel-and-rice dish called kabsah, along with dried camel meat, Omani coffee, and bread. They boiled cow milk by blowtorching stones and dropping them into the pot. It made the milk smoky!
They also baked bread by torching stones and placing the dough directly on them. It turned out crispy with a smoky flavor. But the highlight was the kabsah, along with a pasty dish with honey called aseedah. You eat it with our fingers and dip it into a bit of cow oil! Don’t miss the dried camel meat and its bone marrow—it’s out of this world and easily one of my favorite things to do in Salalah, Oman!
I spent 48 incredible hours exploring the best things to do in Salalah, Oman, but I honestly barely scratched the surface. There are many other things to see and explore, including archaeological parks, the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, and its gorgeous caves and waterfalls.
It’s a coastal paradise in southern Oman and should be on any Omani itinerary. Book a trip to Oman to explore the wonders of Salalah for yourself!