We have spent almost 2 weeks in Oman this summer. Even though it’s not the most common summer holiday destination, we have discovered many amazing and interesting places, that we would highly recommend including in your travel plans if you are about to visit Oman in the future. Let’s see our ultimate Oman bucket list. We share here our favourites, the top 15 places to discover in Oman. They are in order from North to the South to help you to build your own road trip itinerary based on these spots.
- 1 Liwa
- 2 Sohar
- 3 Barka
- 4 Jabreen
- 5 Bahla
- 6 Nizwa
- 7 Seeb
- 8 Muscat
- 9 Yitti
- 10 Qurayyat
- 11 Tiwi
- 12 Sur
- 13 Ras al Hadd
- 14 Masirah
- 15 Salalah
Liwa is a province in Al Batinah Region. It lies north of Sohar and has a lively market place where local produce and fresh fish are sold. The fortress of Awla Ya’rab – Liwa Fort, built of clay, is located on the beach in the Harmul area. The area also has a number of rural features such as springs, falaj and caves: Ain al Azam cave faces the creek and is surrounded by mangrove trees, while Jebel Abu Kahif is home to some of the largest caves in the province.
Top thing to visit in Liwa
- Liwa Fort – You can get in for free and visit the entire castle by yourself. It’s a very well-conserved, and nicely renovated Omani castle, it’s really worth taking a look if you are around. The visit won’t take longer than 30 minutes as the inside part is still under renovation. But you can walk along the walls, go to the roof and admire the panorama. (see above)
Sohar (or also-called Suhar) is the capital and largest city of the Al Batinah North Governorate in Oman. An ancient capital of the country that once served as an important Islamic port town. Sohar has also been credited as the mythical birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor!
According to the 2010 census, Suhar’s population was 140,006, making it Oman’s fifth most-populated settlement. Described as an industrial town, the development of the Sohar Industrial Port during the 2000s has transformed it into a major Omani industrial hub.
Top things to visit in Sohar
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Suhar, a brand new mosque dedicated to Sultan Qaboos, it is one of the most beautiful mosques we visited in the country. It is open for non-muslim visitors as well, so we could enter and enjoy the beauty of inner praying rooms as well. (see above)
- Sohar Fort was unfortunately closed when we were there. But, we could walk along the walls outside and place looked very well-preserved. Check the opening schedule before getting there to avoid our bad luck. (see below)
Barka is a coastal city and province in the region Al Bāţinah, in northern Oman. Bordered by the Sea of Oman and the Al Hajar mountains in southern Batinah. Barka is about a half-hour drive from Seeb and roughly an hours drive from Muscat, the capital.
The area of Barka is known for its agricultural beauty, fishing, and traditional pastimes like horse and camel racing, halwa making, and Omani-style bullfighting. Nowadays Barka is a commercial center full of shops, trading offices and sellers. We can also find old-style goods, as well as modern fashion stores in newly built shopping malls.
What to visit in Barka
- Barka Fort, is a four-towered fort of the 17th-century that was renovated in 1991. (see above)
- Barka Souq – we can find it near to the beach, which is an economically and trading-wise important area.
About Jabreen Castle
Jabreen Castle or Jibreen Castle is a very impressive castle in Oman. It is a heritage building close to Bahla and Nizwa. Jabreen Castle in the Dakhiliyah province of Oman. The authorities fully renovated the building and they have made a visitable museum out of it. As a visitor you can enjoy admiring its wooden ceilings, Arabic calligraphy and decorated windows. Jabreen Castle is nowadays one of the best tourist assets of Oman.
- Jabreen’s location is a particularly arid part of the desert, hence a falaj, Omani irrigation channel, runs through the outer courtyard and it was used as an early innovative air-con system.
- The castle dates back to 1675 and it was an important center of science learning, medicine and Islamic law. It is worth discovering inside the vast battlements and the interesting date store.
Bahla was the first city in Oman to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This old town lies in the Dakhliya region of Oman as a small Oasis town. It is a well preserved ancient town with adobe houses, a fortification wall, a market, a falaj system and a beautiful mosque.
Top thing to visit in Bahla
- The main tourist attraction in town is the Bahla Fort. It is one of the oldest forts in Oman dating back to the 13th century and probably one of the best you can visit in all the Middle East.
Nizwa in Oman is the ancient capital of the sultanate of Oman and perhaps the most touristic city in the whole country. It is just a two hours drive from Muscat or four and a half from Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE. The city lost its importance in the last century in favour of Muscat but preserves the essence of a main historic city. It is located in a very relevant area history-wise with plenty of ancient towns and castles around. For the tourist it may be a delight thanks to its harmonic set of adobe buildings, many of them lately renovated and restored.
Today, Nizwa is the second tourist destination of the sultanate and its 70,000 inhabitants are very friendly with those who visit them. This change has a lot to do with Sultan Qabus. The modernization program of the last fifty years in the country has achieved unbelievable success in terms of improving the rights and well-being of the population while keeping the balance with tradition.
Top things to visit in Nizwa
- Nizwa Fort – Nizwa Fort has seven wells and several jails. You will see the rooms used by the Imam, those of his family, guests, servants and guards. Religious scholars also stayed here. The fort had an excellent library and of course there was no shortage of prayer rooms. There is a museum on the ground floor.
- Souqs of Nizwa – Don’t miss the Date souq and the Omani sweet (Halwa) souq! (see below)
Best experiences in Nizwa
Al-Seeb is a coastal fishing city, located several kilometres northwest of Muscat, in northeastern Oman. As of the 2020 census, it had a population of 470,878.
Seeb is famous for being the location in which the Treaty of Seeb agreement took place between the Imamate of Oman and the Sultanate of Muscat on 25 September 1920. This treaty divided Oman into two distinct regions, the interior and the coast, which were separated historically by the Al Hajar Mountains.
Top things to visit in Seeb
- Mosque – Jamea Sayyida Fatima bint Ali Al Said, is a beautiful designed, brand new mosque. (see above)
- Al-Shara Mills & Dates, one of the best dates’ shop that we visited. The owner gave us a complete introduction to procedures, products, different types, only locally available products. They sell only bio, self produced products without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Of course we couldn’t resist, we tasted many dates, tahinis (with pistachio, yumm!) and bought some for take away as well. (see below)
Muscat is one of the cleanest and most modern capital that I have ever seen. Obviously, this is the most populated city in Oman. It was 1.4 million as of September 2018. The metropolitan area spans approximately 3,500 km2 and includes six provinces called wilayats.
Muscat was known since the early 1st century AD as an important trading port between the west and the east. Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians, the Portuguese Empire, the Iberian Union and the Ottoman Empire at various points in its history. A regional military power in the 18th century, Muscat’s influence extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar.
Top things to visit in Muscat
- Portuguese Fort – Al Jalali, is a fort in the harbor in Mutrah neighbourhood. The fort was built by the Portuguese under Philip I of Portugal in the 1580s on an earlier Omani fortress to protect the harbor after Muscat had twice been sacked by Ottoman forces. The fort was extensively rebuilt later. (see above)
- Mutrah & it’s souq, is one of the oldest markets in Oman, dating back about two hundred years. Its antiquity has perhaps increased the extent of its beauty, magic, and allure. (see above)
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – In 1992, Qaboos bin Said al Said, the then Sultan of Oman, directed that his country should have a Grand Mosque. A competition for its design took place in 1993 and after a site was chosen at Bausher construction commenced in December 1994. Building work took six years and seven months. The newly built Grand Mosque was inaugurated by Sultan of Oman on May 4, 2001 to celebrate 30 years of his reign. (see below)
Best experiences in Muscat
Yiti or Yitti (both way it’s used) is a beautiful beach an hour drive from Muscat. It’s remarkable for the interesting shapes of rocks in the shallow sandy water. The beach lies in a bay, and when we were there was no one else. The rocks are beautiful indeed, but be aware that you won’t find any services.
Also, for the way there it’s worth the ride. As you need to cross the mountains via picturesque highways. Some parts of the road are in questionable conditions, but you can get there without a 4W car as well.
Currently, some parts of the surroundings and the territory is under development. The Kettle Collective Yiti Masterplan establishes a vision for a new tourist and holiday resort where visitors can have the complete experience of Oman in one beautiful location. The masterplan combines Oman’s rich historical heritage with its bold aspirations for the future.
Qurayyat is a small fishing town 83 km southeast of Muscat. It is a popular stopping point on the way to Sur, but Qurayyat is in itself also a very popular destination for Muscat.
The Portuguese arrived here in the 16h century. The village was a strategic point to control the Oman Gulf and access to the Persian Gulf. It was part of a chain of fortresses the Portuguese Empire had in this region.
Things to visit in Qurayyat
- The souq of Qurayyat – This vivid central souq of Qurayyat is in the middle of the town, where we can find many stores & sellers. Even if we don’t want to buy anything it’s worth walking around as the souq is very well-preserved and nicely renovated. (see above)
- Qurayyat Castle – Just right next to the central souq qw can find the Castle of Qurayyat. For a low entrance fee we can visit the recently renovated castle. (see above)
- The Corniche – The best views on the city we can admire from the Corniche. We can go there by car, park at the very end of the Corniche, where can find the park and the best views on the Al-Serah Fort & Island. (see below)
- Al-Serah Fort – Al-Sira Castle is located on a large rock, surrounded by water from all directions, and can only be seen from a distance. It is believed that its history dates back to the Portuguese period, and it was used in the past as a watchtower due to its location on the coast. It has also played an important commercial and navigational role over time. Today, Al-Serah / Al-Sira Castle is an important historical and heritage landmark for the city of Qurayyat, and a distinctive tourist attraction that embodies the beauty of Omani architecture and fine engineering.
Tiwi is known for an archaeological site in the area known as al-Jurayf. The town and the site are located between Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi on the Gulf of Oman. This fortified village was inhabited in the Samad Late Iron Age and during Islamic times.
The archaeological site lies inside the cusp of a mountain and contains surface finds attributable to the Samad Late Iron Age. It lies 700 m west of the coast. Hidden behind the easternmost cusp of a volcanic wall, this settlement is little visible from the sea or the nearby coastal road. It was mapped and surveyed in 2002.
Top thing to do in Tiwi
- Visit Wadi Shab! The place is easily accessible from Muscat, as it lies 140 kilometers from the capital, at the entrance of Tiwi village. This place is one of the top highlights of Oman. This narrow canyon is home to clear greenish blue water pools and also a hidden waterfall inside a cave. Freshwater cascading from the mountains till reaching the sea water. Also there are many water lilies on the surface of the water pools. They organize boat rides on them, whenever the weather conditions allow it. But during rainy days, they don’t operate the tours, as the level of the water can be dangerously high in the narrow canyons.
Sur is the most enjoyable town after Muscat and Nizwa for me. Besides it has a very pleasing scenography, it also offers many tourist places to visit, so you can enjoy here a complete day and won’t get out of options, what to do next.
Sur is located about 150 km southeast of Muscat. Historically, the city is known for being an important destination point for sailors. Today, the sea still plays an important part of life in Sur.
Things to visit in Sur
- Visit the Al-Ayjah Lighthouse & admire the best views on the bay. The building itself is really admirable, with neutral colours and a turquoise dome on its ceiling. Although the lighthouse itself is closed, you can spend time walking around and enjoying the views. (see above)
- Check the Dhow Factory, next to the Al-Ayjah Bridge.
- Don’t miss the Old Souq of Sur.
- Visit the Blue Mosque on the top of the hill. It provides beautiful panorama on the city and besides that the mosque is open also for non-muslim visitors.
- Do not forget the Bilad Sur Castle, either. (see below)
Ras al Hadd
About Ras al Hadd
Ras Al Hadd is a unique location. It is the first point in the Gulf where the sun rises. It is known for the diversity of its marine life and as being the meeting point of the two habitats of the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Ras Al Hadd is recognized as the most important breeding ground for Green Sea Turtles and is home to a wide variety of birds.
We spent 2 nights in Ras al Hadd and the main purpose of our stay was to spot turtles. Like the most of the tourists. We got very lucky, you can see on below video, that how many turtles we were able to see.
Things to do in Ras al Hadd
- Go for turtle watching, check out our complete turtle guide in Oman here! The best spot what we found was the so-called: Al Hadd beach for Turtle in the southern part of Ras al Hadd.
- Visit Al Hadd Castle, a well-conserved and nicely renovated authentic Omani castle for free of charge. Right next to we can find the mosque as well, that we unfortunately couldn’t visit, but just walk around is a nice experience or observe it from the roof of the castle. (see below)
Masirah is an Indian Ocean island, 20km off central Oman’s coast, south of the Wahiba Sands. It is 95km long and between 12-14km wide. Masirah, also written as Masira, is indeed a small island, but actually it is the biggest island of Oman.
This island is a fantastic place to stay for a couple days. With its white sandy beaches and stunning views of the ocean, Masirah Island is the favourite place to relax for many of the locals who live in Oman. You can also meet some tourists from all over the world, but very-very few. Masirah is still an unspoiled paradise! With all its advantages and a few disadvantages.
Top things to do on Masirah
- Try kite surfing: Masirah Island is a secret kiteboarding paradise. The monsoon season during summer on Masirah Island (“Khareef”) – that’s what the insiders are looking for impatiently. The season kicks off in May/June and kiters as well as windsurfers are packing their gear to travel to this playground of various untouched spots. The season lasts usually until end of September.
- Meet some camels: On Masirah island there are many camels. You can meet them on the main road, sometimes next to road, sometime on the road. If you meet a camel on the road the best is to wait and slowly overcome without bothering the animal. Usually locals are helping to distract the animals and encourage them gently to leave the road.
- Go for turtle watching: Masirah is a major nesting site of the Loggerhead sea turtle and the Green Sea Turtle. The island is also home to the largest Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting population in the world. But besides them, we can spot Olive Ridley and Hawsbill Sea Turtles as well on Masirah.
Salalah is the capital and largest city of the southern Omani governorate of Dhofar. Its population in 2009 was about 197,169. Salalah is the third-largest city in the Sultanate of Oman, and the largest city in the Dhofar Province. It is the birthplace of the former sultan, Qaboos bin Said. The place attracts many people from other parts of Oman and the Persian Gulf region during the monsoon / khareef season, which spans from June to September. The climate of the region and the monsoon allows the city to grow some vegetables and fruits like coconut and bananas. There are many gardens within the city where these vegetables and fruits grow.
The contrast is so big comparing with the never-ending sand dunes in the major part of the country, so for the locals Salalah is one of the biggest sensation, where they can experience rain and a bit cooler temperature.
Best experiences in Salalah
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