Things to do in Oman

Things to do in  Oman

Modern face of the Middle East

Boasting barren peaks, deep wadi gorges, desert dunes, remote villages, and a capital, Muscat, which exudes old Arabia, Oman rolls out a rich carpet of wares. Some of the best things to do in Oman center on Muscat, where sightseeing tours showcase grandiose modern landmarks like the Sultan Qaboos Mosque before unveiling Old Muscat's coastal forts and palaces and the old-time markets of Muttrah. From here, Oman’s interior beckons with idyllic, rock-pooled wadis, immense canyons, the Wahiba Sands desert, and the castles and towns of the Al-Hajar mountains.

Top 15 attractions in Oman

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

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Situated in western Muscat, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the city’s treasures. Built in 2001 on the orders of the late Sultan Qaboos, and the only Omani mosque open to non-Muslims, it’s impressive for its cream-marble courtyards, minarets, and prayer hall topped by a golden dome.More

Wahiba Sands (Sharqiyah Sands)

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Stretching over 125 miles (200 kilometers) from the Eastern Hajar Mountains to the Arabian Sea, the Wahiba Sands (also known as Sharqiyah or Sharqiya Sands) are Oman’s adventure playground. Named after the nomadic Wahiba Bedouin tribes, this desert region is known for its amber-colored sands and towering sand dunes, some standing up to 330 feet (100 meters) high.More

Wadi Bani Khalid

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The most-visited of Oman’s wadi, or river beds, Wadi Bani Khalid also is one of its easiest to access. Join locals at this picturesque oasis to swim in a string of natural aquamarine pools flanked by boulders and palms, and picnic along the rocky trails.More

Muttrah Souq (Mutrah Souk)

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Thought to be one of Arabia’s oldest marketplaces, Muttrah Souk is a maze of shop-crammed lanes and squares hidden off Muscat’s Muttrah waterfront. Open day and night, the souk lures travelers with its Arabian Nights atmosphere and outlets piled with Omani handicrafts, household goods, clothes, and spices.More

Royal Opera House

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Opened in 2011, the Royal Opera House Muscat is Oman’s premier cultural institution and one of its signature sights. Visitors come to attend operas, concerts, and shows; enjoy its upscale shopping and dining mall; and marvel at its stunning Arabesque and Italianate design.More

Al Alam Palace (Sultan's Palace)

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Occupying a waterfront spot on the harbor of Old Muscat, Al Alam Palace is the official ceremonial palace of the Sultan of Oman. Mushroom-shaped columns and a vivid gold-and-blue facade make it one of Muscat’s most arresting sights.More

Qurum Beach

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Qurum Beach, famous for its soft golden sand and water activities, is the go-to destination for families and active visitors in Oman. The low tide allows for a delightful walk along the coast, and you can also enjoy perusing the amenities—beachside hotels, snack bars, and cafés. For extra enticement, there are also top-notch restaurants facing the water.More

Bait Al Zubair Museum

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Tucked into Old Muscat just east of the modern city, the Bait Al Zubair shines the spotlight on Oman’s history and heritage. The privately owned museum occupies three beautifully restored Omani houses and attracts visitors with displays of photos, weaponry, jewelry, and artifacts that provide insight into Omani life and history.More

Wadi Shab (Shab Valley)

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Carving through high sandstone cliffs on the Gulf of Oman coast, Wadi Shab is one of the country’s most picturesque dry river gorges. The wadi’s palm-lined hiking trail and aquamarine waters make it a must for outdoors enthusiasts.More

Nizwa

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One of the oldest cities in Oman, Nizwa sits on a plain in the Al-Hajar Mountain range. Once a stop on ancient caravan routes—and a center for trade, religion, education, and art—today’s Nizwa is a diverse place with agricultural, historic, and cultural points of interest.More

Muttrah

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Muttrah is an enchanting district and former fishing village situated in Oman’s Muscat province. It is known as one of the country’s busiest commercial hubs, thanks to its bustling sea port and Muttrah Souq—a traditional bazaar (and one of the oldest marketplaces in the world) that has been operating since the age of sail.More

Al Mirani Fort

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Perched high above the western walls of Old Muscat harbor, Al Mirani Fort gazes across the Gulf of Oman and its sister fort—Al Jalali—rising from the opposite side. Constructed by the Portuguese in 1550, its crenelated towers and walls make it one of Muscat’s most photogenic sights.More

Al Jalali Fort

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One of the two forts framing Old Muscat’s harbor—along with its sister, Al Mirani—Al Jalali is a defining sight of Oman’s capital. Built by the Portuguese in 1587, it served as a prison during the 20th century before being restored and becoming one of Muscat’s must-see landmarks.More

Dhofar

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Located in the southern part of Oman, the largest governorate by area, Dhofar is a mountainous region with a diverse landscape—a surprising find not commonly associated with the Arabian peninsula. The province’s coastal capital of Salalah is known for its beaches, verdant valleys, and gushing waterfalls from the khareef (the region’s rainy season.More

Jebel Shams

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The highest peak in the Al-Hajar mountain range and in all of Oman, Jebel Shams (Mountain of the Sun) towers above the northern town of Al Hamra. Rising to about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), Jebel Shams is a sharp contrast to the cool coastal towns along the Gulf of Oman.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Oman

Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole Group Full Day Tour
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Private Muscat City Tour
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Private Muscat City Tour

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Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole Private Full Day Tour
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Historical Muscat Sunset Tour

Historical Muscat Sunset Tour

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Half Day Muscat City Tours Private

Half Day Muscat City Tours Private

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Group Muscat City Tour
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Group Muscat City Tour

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All about Oman

When to visit

Oman is at its best in winter, when summer’s heat has receded and the wadis (dried river gorges) are lush with palms and natural pools. The peak season, which runs from November through February, brings warm, rain-free days and temperatures that get up to around 85°F (30°C). That said, the period of April through May is when the rose gardens in Oman’s mountain villages bloom, and fall brings cooler, hiking-perfect weather. Watch for Ramadan, when alcohol sales and other activities are restricted.

Getting around

Oman’s public transportation is limited; most travelers opt for cabs or rent cars. While there are public buses linking some cities, it’s hard to find schedules. You can take shared minibuses around Muscat, but most tourists opt for private tours, hop-on hop-off buses, or the city’s white-and-orange taxis. The only realistic options for out-of-town adventures are to take a private tour or rent a car or four-wheel-drive vehicle; choose the latter if you’re confident enough to go off-road in Oman’s gorges and mountains.

Traveler tips

While most visitors to Oman stick to hotel restaurants, it’s worth your while to seek out a good local eatery. If you go shopping at the Mutrah Souq (which is tucked behind an archway on Mutrah Corniche), head to the Corniche Café, which has an open-arched terrace perched above the souk entrance. Order specialties like almond hummus and fresh guava juice, and let the gentle sea breezes offer a respite from the heat of the souk.

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People Also Ask

What makes Oman a special place for tourists to visit?

Oman stands out from many of its Arabian Peninsula neighbors for exuding historical Arabian mystique. While its capital of Muscat is modernizing, the blue-domed mosques, whitewashed houses, and romantic souks remain. They, alongside Oman’s jagged mountains, turquoise-pooled valleys (wadis), and deserts appeal to visitors seeking a slice of old Arabia.

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Is Oman safe to visit?

Yes, Oman is considered safe for tourists as its crime rates are low. That said, there is a risk of terrorism—follow local security advice—and petty crime can occur, despite it being rare. As in any country, it’s wise to exercise caution if you’re walking or traveling alone after dark.

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What is Oman famous for?

Oman is famous for its traditional Arabian ambience and ancient seafaring trade in frankincense and spices. It’s also known for the picturesque port capital of Muscat where low-rise buildings crouch between mountains and rocky bays. Other defining features include Oman’s interior of barren peaks, palm-filled gorges (wadis), and dune-filled deserts.

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Can you drink alcohol in Oman?

Yes, Oman’s alcohol laws are relatively liberal for a Muslim country. Tourists aged 21 or over can drink alcohol at licensed bars and restaurants, most of which are inside hotels, although there are some independent eateries that serve drinks. Bear in mind that it’s illegal to be drunk in public.

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What is Oman popular for?

Muscat’s souks, palaces, and mosques lure sightseers, while adventure-seekers love trekking and swimming in Oman’s pool-studded gorges, exploring its mountains, and dune-bashing in its Wahiba Sands desert. The country’s 17th-century castles, including the fort at former capital, Nizwa, are popular, as are its sandy beaches and snorkeling and dolphin-watching cruises.

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How many days are enough for Oman?

With two weeks you’ll have time for Oman’s highlights, from Muscat to the mountains, desert, and southern city of Salalah, famous for its greenery. In 10 days, you’ll cover Muscat and take trips to mountains like Jebel Shams, discover Oman’s paradise-like valleys, and camp overnight in its Wahiba Sands desert.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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