Located at the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman may not be one of those places that are on your travel bucket list. However, it really should be. Not only is it one of the oldest places on earth.
It is also one of the safest of Middle Eastern countries to visit. It is an incredible travel destination, and as the tourist industry here is still in its infancy, then you will certainly find that you have plenty of the best places to visit to yourself. The summer sun here also makes it a truly fantastic destination.
If you’re not sure what’s in Oman, our ultimate Oman 10-day itinerary could give you all the inspiration you need.
The most important thing to consider when travelling in and around Oman to consider how you dress. Women should dress conservatively – legs and shoulders should be covered; loose-fitting floaty clothes are essential for the hot temperatures. Men will need to wear long trousers to visit mosques, and women will need to cover their heads.
Before you travel, familiarise yourself with the laws in Oman and what is and isn’t permitted so that you don’t fall foul of the police – ignorance of the laws is not an acceptable excuse. Some of the things you might get away with at home, like offensive hand gestures and swearing, are punishable under Omani law.
Day 1 and 2: Muscat
The capital city of Oman, Muscat, makes a good place to start your tour around the country. Depending on where you are coming from, you could arrive quite late, so staying here really makes sense. The capital is a bustling one and the largest of the cities in Oman. With beautiful, white-washed houses and a stunning coastline, there is plenty to see here. For a bit of relaxation, the city has a good number of luxury resorts.
What to do and see in Muscat?
With a rich history dating back over 900 years, there is plenty to keep you busy in Muscat. Some of the top things to see and do include:
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – a huge and stunning mosque that is open every day except Friday to visitors from 8.30 am to 11 am. Dress code is very important here. See our notes above. The grounds of the mosque are also worthy of a tour. This is one of the only mosques in the city that is open to non-Muslim visitors.
- Muttrah Souq – one of the oldest markets in the world. Take the opportunity to really immerse yourself in the culture of Oman. You will find all types of things in the market, from purses to furniture, hand-made jewellery to stylish lanterns and rugs and items made from Omani silver. There are also spice stalls and a few selling foods.
- Muttrah Corniche & Muttrah Fort – the fort stands on the top of a rocky hill and provides incredible views of the sea and the city. The three towers were built in the 1580s by the Portuguese. They were designed to defend the country against the Ottoman empire. Muttrah Corniche is a waterside area offering some gentle walking surrounded by white-washed houses, mountains and the ocean.
- The Royal Opera House – the main musical and cultural venue. This is the perfect place to take in a concert. However, it is actually worth visiting just for the architecture!
- Sunset Dhow Cruise – a great way to take in the sunset.
Where to eat in Muscat?
Whilst some people may prefer to eat at their hotel, there are plenty of places to eat out in Muscat that will give you a real feel for the city.
- Kargeen – one of the most beautifully decorated restaurants in Musca. If you only eat out once, then make this the place. They serve traditional Omani dishes and also have shisha with fresh pineapple and coconut flavours.
- Bait Al Luban – an upmarket restaurant again serving traditional dishes. The scent of Frankincense fills the entire restaurant. Plenty of vegetable dishes and flatbreads can be found on the menu.
- Welcome Restaurant – for a simple and cheap meal, this Indian restaurant offers vegetarian dishes for an incredible price. A great local favourite.
Where to stay in Muscat?
$$$ – The Chedi Muscat
$$ – Levatio Hotel
$ – Muttrah Hotel
Day 3: Road trip to Sur
Travel time: 2 hours
Sur is a port city on the eastern tip of the country that plays a significant part in Oman’s maritime history. There are a couple of incredibly picturesque places to stop along the way.
What to do and see in Sur?
- Bimmah Sinkhole – created when part of a cave collapsed. The sinkhole is one of the most popular places to see in Oman. A beautiful natural attraction, this is a great place for a refreshing swim.
- Wadi Al Shab – a stunning oasis. This is another great place for a swim, and a picnic. Once you park, you will need to take a short 3-minute boat ride and if you want to reach the third pool a 45-minute walk for some incredible views. Pack plenty of water.
This itinerary will see you arriving in Sur by the evening, when you will probably want to head to your hotel.
Where to eat in Sur
Sahari is a great place to eat for Arabic mezze and offers good views of the lagoon between Sur and Al Ayjah. This is, however, a little more expensive than most places. The Sea Sur restaurant offers a good choice of Indian dishes and fantastic local seafood. The Sur Star restaurant offers predominantly rice-based dishes in a traditional setting. It’s popular with locals and meals are eaten sitting on the floor for a truly authentic experience.
Where to stay in Sur
$$$ – Ras al-Jinz Turtle Reserve
$$ – Sur Grand Hotel
$ – Alafeeh Corniche Hotel Apartments
Day 4 and 5: Sur
Sur is a port city on the eastern tip of the country that plays a significant part in Oman’s maritime history. There are plenty of forts and museums to visit as well as a turtle reserve and plenty of stunning scenery to see so you could easily spend a couple of days here.
What to do and see in Sur?
- Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve – the leading conservation site for the protection and hatching of green turtles in Oman. The nearby Ras Al Jinz village is also worth a visit.
- Sur Maritime Museum – discover the history of the Dhow and see how they were built at this museum dedicated to this cultural element of the city.
- Bilad Sur Castle – the recently restored castle is a stunning example of architecture, and if you only visit one castle in Oman, this is possibly the best one to have on your list. It was built over 200 years ago to help defend Sur against marauding tribes.
- Sunaysilah Fort – a classic old Islamic fort with four towers. The fort offers some great views out over the city and the port. The views over the adjacent mosque are of particular interest.
- Dhow factory – the dhow factory offers a unique insight into the making of these iconic boats with tours and the opportunity to see different sections of the boats on display.
- Al Ayjah Fort – built in conjunction with the merchant houses that create its perimeters, the fort is plain in construction and architecture with a square structure simillar to many others in the region. However, the houses have lotus pillared porches and ornately carved doors which are well worth a look.
- The old town – in the Al Ayiah area of Sur, you will find the ancient abandoned old town. Culture, history and nature are surrounded by dilapidated houses and narrow streets. These offer an incredible insight into times gone by. This is best experienced on foot, and it is possible to go into some of the old buildings.
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Where to stay in Sur?
Unless you want to move to another accommodation within the city you may want to make the place you stayed at the end of day 3 the base for your next couple of days.
Day 6: Shargiya Sands (Wahbia Sands)
Travel time: 2.5 hours (174 km)
From Sur, you will be heading inland towards Shargiya Sands (Wahbia Sands), which is the vast desert area of Oman and the edge of what is referred to as the Arabian “Empty Quarter”. There is a lovely oasis along the way, which makes a good stop point.
What to do and see in Shargiya Sands (Wahbia Sands)
- Wadi Bani Khalid – this massive wadi runs the entire length of the Jebel Khadar mountain range. From the parking area, it is a good walk to the man-made swimming pools and a little further to the highly recommended isolated ravines. This is the perfect place for another swim and a great place to take in the landscape.
- Trips across the sand dunes
Due to its desert location, both places to eat and accommodation are limited, and this is something you will need to sort out before you set off. Camping under the stars with one of the companies who specialise in camping in the desert is, however one of the best ways to really experience the desert. You will find that everything from accommodation under canvas to food will be arranged for you as part of the price. They will also be able to arrange trips across the dunes.
Day 7: Al Hajar Mountains & Misfat Al Abriyeen
Travel time: 3 hours (230 km)
The longest day of driving on the itinerary but one that is very worthwhile. There are plenty of stops along the way should you prefer to break the journey (Ibra, Nizwa, Bahla and the villages near Al Hamra). The views along the way will be glorious and mountainous. However, the roads are all bitumen, so the drive will be a smooth one.
What to do and see in Al Hajar Mountains & Misfat Al Abriyeen
- Ibra – once the centre for trade, education, religion and art in Oman. This is one of the country’s oldest cities. The beautiful watchtowers and the Souq are worthy of a detour.
- Nizwa – A great place to break your journey with forts, a Souq and the Jebel Akhdar
- Bahla – home to one of the oldest Omani fortresses, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Bahla Fort.
- Misfat – set in the Al Hajar mountains, this tiny community is characterised by its mud houses built on the rocks. It has only recently become something of a tourist destination; however, it is an incredible place to explore and very tranquil.
There is only one place to stay in the village. Misfat Old House is a house that has been converted for tourists. The décor and accommodation are simple, and meals are made freshly each day by women from the village to offer a real taste of life in this mountain village.
Day 8 & 9: Nizwa
Travel Time: 1 hour (58 km)
A short drive to Nizwa, a town you may have stopped at briefly on day 7. This is a town with plenty for you to see, and if time allows, you may want to stay for a couple of nights instead of one.
What to see and do in Nizwa
- Jebel Akhdar – A part of the Al Hajar mountain range, this is an absolute must-visit location. The contrasting mountain rocks and greenery will have you stopping for photographs, and there are many wadis to be found. A guided tour is a good option to get the most out of your time here.
- Tanuf Ruins – all that is left of Oman’s Imamate rebellion which took place during the 1950s.
- Nizwa Fort – dating back to the 12th century, this is the most visited place in Oman.
- Nizwa Souq – famous for its clay pottery and a great place to find souvenirs.
Where to eat in Nizwa
There are some particularly good Turkish and Zanzibari places to eat in Nizwa. Try Al-Masharef for Turkish food and Al Mandi Al Dhahabi. For traditional dishes from Zanzibar.
Bin Ateeq is a good choice if you are looking for traditional dining and local meat dishes, however, its distance from the sea and price ranges mean it isn’t the best place for seafood dishes. All of the bigger hotels have several restaurants serving both traditional and international dishes as well.
Where to stay in Nizwa
$$$ – Sama Heights Resort and Spa
$$ – Nizwa Heritage Inn
$ – Date Palm Inn
Day 10: Muscat
Travel Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (147 km)
For the final day of your itinerary, return to Muscat. If you have time to visit more sights, then take a look at those suggested at the beginning of the itinerary. For an overnight stop before getting the plane home, you may wish to stay in the same accommodation or opt for something completely different.
The infrastructure in the country is very well run, and you will find that getting around is incredibly easy. Our ultimate Oman 10-day itinerary has been put together to help you make the most of your stay in Oman, with room for some flexibility if you should want to spend longer in any particular destination.
Car hire is one of the most popular and easiest ways to get around the country, allowing you a little more freedom when it comes to the timings of your stops. A four-wheel drive is a recommendation for the most suitable hire vehicle, and it is best to do this before you travel, so it is ready to pick up at the airport on arrival.