10 Top things to do in Oman
- Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque – Stunning Mosque
- Nizwa Fort – Super Market here too
- Souks in Muscat – shop for all sort of Omani clothes and jewellery
- Muttrah Souk, Muttrah Corniche
- Sharqiya Sands
- Wadi Ash Shab – pack your swimsuit
- Royal Opera House Muscat
- Al Alam Palace – The Sultans Palace
- Nakhal Fort
- Ad Dimanyat Islands – for snorkelling with Turtles and diving
- Snake Gorge – For climbers
- Musandam Beaches – In the north of Oman
“What is Oman like?” friends ask. Well, it is like stepping into a fairy tale of your imagination. Stunningly beautiful scenery with magnificent Forts and Palaces to explore. The people of Oman are very special, so friendly and welcoming – it was quite a treat to find they love english people. This is something of a wonderful surprise, we aren’t always so well received! Oman is one of my favourite countries to visit in the Middle East. Definitely worthy of a return trip.
Spot the Royal Palace in the background
Oman, like so many countries in the Middle East has a complex history. In recent times, following the Dhofar rebellion, Sultan Said bin Taimur was deposed in a bloodless coup in 1970 by his son Sultan Qaboos. He received help from the British SAS and RAF. This may explain why British people are received so warmly!
This is the capital and you will arrive here at the International airport if you fly to Oman. I was surprised how large the city is and it is not possible to get around without a Taxi or Car and driver.
Diva Tip: Oman Air has some great deals! It is a small airline but I enjoyed their Business Class flights several times. If you are traveling further East with Oman Air, arrange a stop over in Muscat for a few days. Breaks the journey and you get a chance to discover this lovely country.
There are some good hotels here and interesting things to see and do:
- Take a boat from Muscat Whale and Dolphin watching
- Take a Limousine and tour around visiting the Palace, Souks for really great shopping
- Spend the evening at the stunning Opera House
Where to stay in Muscat:
- Kempinski Hotel Muscat
- Grand Hyatt Muscat
- Al Bustan Palace, Ritz Carlton
- Shangri La Al Jissah Resort and Spa
- The Chedi, Muscat
- Grand Millenium, Muscat
PHOTO: Fairytale abandoned Forts
Where to eat in Oman:
- Traditional Omani food: Al Luban Restaurant
- Traditional Middle Eastern Food: Ubhar Restaurant
- Eat dates: Meshan Cafe
- Afternoon Tea: Al Bustan Hotel
- Beachside Seafood: The Beach Restaurant
PHOTO: Oman is full of history at every turn
We all love to try local specialities when visiting a country. Here are some traditional Omani dishes to try when you visit Oman:
Majboos: Traditional dish served for special occasions such as weddings. This is rice mixed with Saffron and spicy meat.
Shuwa: Another celebratory Omani dish for events such as Eid. It is meat such as goat or lamb infused with spices, wrapped in Banana leaves and cooked in an underground sand oven! This takes a day or two to coook.
Mashuai: Roasted Kingfish served with Lemon rice.
Mushaltat: Flatbread stuffed with honey, spinach or cheese.
Dates: Taste the most delicious dates in Oman. They are offered to you everywhere as a little treat.
Halwa: A sweet snack you will see everywhere. A sticky treat flavoured with Rose water, nuts or chocolate.
There you go! some things for you to look out for on an Omani menu.
PHOTO: Market Day in Oman
EXPLORE OMAN – How to get around:
Our hotel arranged a 4 x 4 with a driver/guide. However, I would be happy to hire a 4 x 4 and drive myself! It might be safer. Our driver stopped at every rest stop/garage even though we didn’t want to stop. Disappeared for 10 minutes and came back decidedly – what shall I say in polite terms? HIGH! Next time I will drive. Our suspicions were confirmed when we all stopped for coffee at a bar in Nizwa. The owner asked if we wanted special coffee like the driver was drinking. We said ‘Yes please!’ Gosh – we are such innocents abroad. 2 hours of giggling like idiots then we fell asleep! Although, to be fair, we had a lovely time and arrived safe and sound at the hotel in the evening. And, I’m sure this was a one off, so do not be put off if you don’t like driving!
PHOTO: Explore Oman in a 4 x 4
Step into a fairytale with desert, mountains, spectacular coastline all within one small country. Take a driver and comfortable 4 x 4 and explore! Oman is perfectly safe and you won’t get lost with a driver. If you are feeling adventurous, take off into the mountains. Hire a car a self drive.
PHOTO; Date Palms in Oman
When to go to Oman:
Avoid the Summer months! It gets hot, just like the rest of the Middle East. This is a great winter destination. Early Spring and late Autumn are also good time to visit. Good for a stopover if you are travelling on OmanAir to destinations further afield.
PHOTO: Nizwa Fort, OMAN
Drive up to the ancient fort of Nizwa, a couple of hours drive out of Muscat. You will step into another world. Th eFort was built mid 17C by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Y’alibi.
PHOTO: Nizwa Fort in Oman
Don’t forget to go Nizwa Souk to buy all sorts of treats. http://www.omantourism.gov.om The Souks are all treasure troves. Visit Mutrah Souk in Muscat and don’t forget the Gold Souk.
Pass by adorable villages, untouched for centuries, as you drive along. There are many interesting Forts throughout man, so make sure to stop and explore. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Jabrin Fort to stroll around this pretty sand fort set in a Date Palm oasis.
Pots galore, Dates, date honey, silver jewellery are all specialities here.
There are some beautiful Wadi’s to visit in Oman (Wadi means gorge) Take a drive for an hour and a half out to Wadi Shab and walk along the water pools. Another beautiful valley to visit is Wadi Al Arbiyeen, under 2 miles away from Wilayat Qurayat if you check out Google maps. (How did we survive without Google maps!)
Jabal Akhdar Mountains:
Explore the Jabal Akhdar mountains. This is on my wish list for next trip! You can take a day tour from Muscat into the mountains, but I recommend staying overnight and hiking at dawn. The mountains are 2000 metres above sea level and cooler obviously. This is where the scented Damask Roses grow (I have some dried roses in my kitchen from this area, for Rose water and Tea). Time your visit here for Spring of Autumn it can get very cold in winter. Meander through the villages, explore the plentiful Wadis and hike.
Oman has it all, beautiful coastline, Mountains, Wadis, Palaces and Forts. Do not hesitate to visit!
PHOTO: Omani Pots, see them everywhere in Oman
MUTTRAH CORNICHE AND MUTTRAH SOUK:
This was a favourite of ours, fun to stroll along by the sea and explore all the little shops along the way. We bought an eclectic mix of things here from a gorgeous embroidered Omani coat for me and some embroidered pictures for gifts. All sorts of treasures await for you. I always buy Spices in the Spice market stalls wherever I go in the world. Buy Dates, everything date related and Dried Roses to make tea.
Then explore the narow lanes of the Muttrah Souk for some gorgeous Omani silver jewellery.
Where I stayed:
Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace:
I stayed at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat. This is everything you would expect of a Ritz Carlton, with an Omani twist.
Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel Oman
The impressive lobby where you will be welcomed with tea and dates.
The hotel has one of the best pools I have every seen. Although, take a look at my list of hotels – you have so much choice! I would like to visit Anantara Al Jabal Al akhdar Resort next visit! High up in the mountains and completely different from the seaside hotels.
Beautiful Pool at the Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel
The Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Hotel is a good choice to come back and relax after a day of adventures. Rather far from Muscat – too far to pop out for dinner, so you are confined to the 3 hotel restaurants. Mind you, Taxis are very cheap – you can always hop in a Taxi. http://ritzcarlton.com/AlBustan
Explore Muscat and don’t miss the Bazaars, the place to stock up on exquisite shawls, traditional silver, dates, spices ….. the choice is endless. Enjoy!