If you’re looking for a unique travel experience that offers a blend of rich history, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant culture, then Oman should be at the top of your travel list. Located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a gem hidden in plain sight. It boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Middle East. Most of the top places to visit in Oman take advantage of its geography and natural beauty, making it a must-see destination.
From the rolling sand dunes of the Wahiba Sands to the crystal-clear waters of the Arabian Sea and the rugged mountain ranges of Jebel Shams, Oman has something to offer every type of traveler. But with so many incredible places to explore, it can be overwhelming to plan your itinerary.
I explored Oman for ten days in the spring of 2022 with my friends at Oman Travel. Along the way, I explored its dazzling culture, natural wonders, and fascinating history from Muscat to Salalah. In this travel guide, I’ve curated a list of the top places to visit in Oman to help you make the most of your trip. These are the top places to visit in Oman!
Oman’s capital, Muscat, is a thriving city located between the Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman. Visitors can experience the grandeur of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, one of the most stunning mosques in the world. It boasts a huge central dome made of marble and intricate Islamic calligraphy. Traditional Omani food can be found at Rozna Restaurant, where visitors can try camel bone soup, shuwa, and classic Omani sweets.
Mutrah Souq is a traditional Arab market where visitors can buy clothing, souvenirs, home goods, and street food. It is similar to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and offers travelers an authentic looks at Omani culture. I recommend the local Omani food, as well as Pakistani, Indian, and Zanzibari fare if you want to switch things up! Try the delicious halwa puri and chana dal! When it comes to places to visit in Oman, Muscat should be at the top of everyone’s list.
The Wahiba Sands in eastern Oman is a vast and breathtaking desert that covers around 10,000 square kilometers. It offers a unique adventure, from dune bashing to camel riding, and boasts an array of stunning landscapes. The Bedouins who live in the desert have a unique lifestyle that blends tradition and modernity. Despite the challenges of living in the desert, they have developed a mindset to prepare for and accept nature’s fury.
The optimum season to visit is during the winter months between November and February. When staying in the Wahiba Sands, visitors can enjoy traditional Omani Bedouin cuisine. Try the kabsa, which combines basmati rice with chicken and vegetables. You’ll also how the Bedouins survive the harsh environment while meeting their camels and exploring the desert via a thrilling dune-bashing ride. Overall, the Wahiba Sands is a fascinating destination that’s easily among the best places to visit in Oman.
Sur, Oman is a charming city located on the Arabian Sea coast. It boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning beaches, and warm hospitality. The city’s history dates back to the 6th century and was an important center for maritime trade, shipbuilding, and producing frankincense. Today, Sur is a bustling city that offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. Visitors can indulge in the delicious local cuisine at Al Hawash Restaurant, which is known for its succulent seafood dishes.
Sur is also famous for its traditional dhow boats. These historic boats are mainstays at local seaports. You can also have a unique experience by taking a ride on one. Another attraction, Bilad Sur Castle, serves as a history and culture museum. Hawiyat Najm Sinkhole Park is a popular natural attraction with crystal clear turquoise water that visitors can swim and snorkel in. Sur is a phenomenal city that offers everything curious travelers could want and more! It’s a highlight on any list of places to visit in Oman!
Without question, one of the top places to visit in Oman is the city of Nizwa. Located 90 miles from Muscat, this city boasts a history dating back to at least the 6th century. It was a center for trade, art, education, and religion, and offers a unique blend of history, heritage, and culinary adventures. Nizwa Fort is a must-visit local landmark. It served as a military stronghold and played a significant role in defending the city against invaders. The museum inside showcases Omani history and culture with exhibits on traditional clothing, weaponry, and crafts.
Nizwa Souq is one of the oldest souqs in Oman. It offers an immersive cultural experience, with its lanes lined with various shops and vendors. There, you can find vendors selling jewelry, clothing, daggers, incense holders, pottery, and lamps. The halwa market is another great stop for visitors with a sweet tooth. Trying the different types of halwa is a must! Visitors should also try the lamb and kabuli at Nizwa Al-Khair Restaurant. It’s out of this world!
One underrated destination I highly suggest visiting is the village of Nakhal. Located one hour north of Muscat, it’s easily one of the top places to visit in Oman. There, travelers can learn how to make Omani halwa. Halwa is a sticky, sugary treat that often contains nuts and various warming spices. It’s popular throughout the Middle East and South Asia. The For Omani Halwa factory, located in Nakhal, is a family-owned business that has been making halwa since 1937.
Factory visitors can watch the workers make halwa. They typically use ingredients like sugarcane, cardamom, figs, walnuts, saffron, rose water, and ghee. You can follow the entire process, from the boiling of the ingredients to the cooling and thickening process. Fresh halwa is sublime and pairs extremely well with Omani coffee. I also recommend visiting the nearby hot springs nearby for a relaxing dip in the warm water. The springs house little fish that nibble at your toes!
Just outside of the city of Salalah in southwestern Oman is the town of Taqah. This coastal town is home to beautiful beaches and the famous Taqah Castle. It’s also among the top places to visit in Oman for its traditional Omani food. There, I tried qashat, a coconut and sugar-based porridge, as well as a mix of beans boiled and cooked with rice.
I also sampled fish coconut curry, grilled chicken, camel meat, tuna biryani, and various types of rice. The camel meat and fish coconut curry in Taqah are insanely delicious. One of the natural highlights of Taqah is a gorgeous waterfall called Wadi Darbat. The pools in the area are home to lots of snails, and you’ll find domesticated camels in the area. Just remember, I do not advise going into the water due to drowning risks and illness-causing parasites.
Salalah, a city in southern Oman, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Known for its pristine beaches, banana plantations, and rich maritime history, Salalah offers something for everyone. The city’s history is filled with archaeological treasures dating back to antiquity. The city has been ruled by various dynasties such as the Ajuuraan, Shirazi, and Al-Hakim. One of the top things to do in Salalah is to visit a camel farm. I highly recommend trying fresh camel milk, which comes out hot and frothy.
Omani seafood is also a must-try, with fresh shrimp, mussels, octopus, and shrimp on offer at the fish markets. Another unique experience is to enjoy a grilled camel feast. Finally, visiting a frankincense souq is a must-do activity in Salalah. Frankincense is one of the most popular ingredients in perfumes and aromatherapy. The frankincense alone makes Salalah one of the top places to visit in Oman!
Oman may not be a destination many people are familiar with, but it should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s a gorgeous, peaceful country with thrilling urban adventures, stunning Arabian beauty, fascinating culture and history, and mouthwatering food.
I suggest spending ten days there, minimum, which will give you at least one full day in each city. I guarantee you’ll love it. Book a flight to Muscat to explore all of the top places to visit in Oman today!