Oman things to see and do

Tourist offices

Oman Tourism in the UK

11 Blades Court, 121 Deodar Road, London, SW15 2NU, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 8877 4524.
www.omantourism.gov.om

Things to see and do

Al-Ansab Wetland

This wetland, the eagle capital of the world, is the place to go birdwatching with more than 280 different species on view. To see flamingos, spoonbills and flocks of wading birds head to Barr Al-Hickman, one of Oman’s 16 national nature reserves (www.birdsoman.com).

Barka

Don’t miss the lively fish market here. Watch locals standing around the auction floor bid for fish of all colours, shapes and sizes, while fishermen young and old land the night’s catches on the huge beach outside, running up the sand with filled crates and fish threaded on lines.

Bimmah Sinkhole

This enormous sinkhole is mesmerising, its wonderful geological shape and still green-blue waters (a result of salt and fresh water mixing together) creating a picture of beauty. It’s worth the long climb down (and back up again) to dip your toes in the water and to get a closer view of the 40m-wide (130ft) basin.

Empty Quarter

The largest desert in the Arabian Peninsula, north of Salalah, is the place to enjoy an exhilarating 4-wheel drive off-road experience, exploring territory that had not been crossed until just 80 years ago.

Grand Mosque, Muscat

Be wowed by gold, crystals, Italian white marble, a 10-tonne crystal chandelier lit by 1,122 bulbs and a 21-tonne carpet woven in one piece by 600 Iranian women. The women’s room is much smaller than the men’s. It took six years to build the mosque, whose huge gold dome and tall minarets dominate the skyline.

Ras Al Jinz

Ras Al Jinz, near Sur, is the only place to spot protected turtles. More than 50,000 females make their way slowly up the beach every night to lay their eggs, before slipping back to the sea before dawn. July to October is the peak time for turtle watching.

Rustaq Fort

The sheer beauty of this mighty fort comes into view as you approach. It has been beautifully restored and is a maze of corridors, stairways, prettily-carved archways and fascinating rooms including the sultan’s guest room, winter room, prison and women’s and girls’ rooms adorned with pretty bracelets, teapots and delightfully painted ceramics.

Wadi Sahtan

Explore the beautiful ravine of Wadi Sahtan in the Rustaq region on a 4-wheel drive guided jeep tour. Pass by small ancient villages, beautiful, still green pools, 14 million date palms, and craggy cliffs, stopping off for a picnic lunch beneath the towering peaks. Best of all, enjoy the thrill of splashing at speed through small rivers along the way.

Al Mughsayl blowholes

These blowholes provide an amazing natural water display. During the monsoon, when sea levels rise and currents become more active, water surges though rock cavities, resulting in a superb display of gushing water.

Al-Hoota Cave

You will encounter some of the country's limestone wonders at this cave, reached by Oman's only train (www.al-hootacave.com). It extends for 5km (3 miles) underground and the cave lake contains several species of blind fish.

Bahla Fort

This is one of the most impressive fortified settlements of its kind in the world and one of Oman’s many World Heritage sites. Like several of its listed sites, it is not yet open to visitors. Before you leave, buy a souvenir pot from local Bahla potters but don't rub it - Bahla is famous for genies!

Beach picnic

Spend a day the Omani way with a picnic and the company of friends on the beautiful beaches of Yitti, Seifa or Quiryat or in the lush oleander-flowering wadis of Dayqah, Shab and Tiwi.

Forts and castles

Scale the battlements of one of Oman's many forts and castles in the old capital cities of Nakhal or Rustaq, and examine why honey wasn't always sweet for unwanted guests at the imposing Al-Hazm, Nizwa or Jibreen Forts.

Geological attractions

Get up close to Oman's world-famous geological attractions and go rock climbing in the wadis (dry river beds) of the Al Haja Mountains. Less ambitious visitors may prefer to enjoy the mountains by hiking up to Al Jabal Al Akhdar, Oman's Green Mountain, where a variety of soft fruits and prize pomegranates are grown.

Haggle at Muttrah Souk

This fairly small labyrinthine souk in Muscat is the place to haggle for gold, silver and other trinkets you thought you could never afford. Pick up some frankincense at a bargain price and delightful spices too. The good news is that the vendors are not too persistent here.

Jabal Shams

Ascend Jabal Shams (Mountain of the Sun) either on foot or by 4-wheel drive jeep and peer into the shadows of Wadi Ghul, the Grand Canyon of Arabia, pausing to buy a goat-haired carpet from the mountain's itinerant weavers.

Mud baths

Join the locals in a gnat-infested mud bath at beautiful Wadi Darbat in the heart of Oman's southern, subtropical region of Dhofar. During the autumn, water from the mountains forms magnificent waterfalls which cascade from a height of 100m (330ft).

Muscat

To get a true feel for Oman's whitewashed capital, follow the Muttrah Corniche from the lively fish market, past the balconied buildings of the Muttrah Souk and old Muscat to the Sultan's Palace, which shelters beneath the 16th-century Portuguese forts of Al Jalali and Al Mirani.

Nizwa

Renowned for its early-morning livestock market, winding alleyways and silver handicrafts, Nizwa was the country's capital during the sixth and seventh centuries. Buy copper and handicrafts from artisans at the souk.

Oryx sanctuary

The Oryx Natural Living Sanctuary is situated in Jallluni, in the central region. Go in search of the Arabian oryx in the dawn mists at and enjoy a visit to Huqf Escarpment led by a member of the local Al-Harasi tribe.

Ride a camel

Ride a camel across Sharqiya Sands in the Deserted Quarter. As dusk falls, return to your campsite for a barbecue of camel and goat kebabs - and a night under the most amazing starry sky.

Traditional dhow

Drift slowly in a dhow off Khasab, where these traditional boats have been used by fishing families for generations. If you are lucky, you may be accompanied by dolphins. The area in the Musandam Peninsula is often described as the Norway of Arabia because of its beautiful khors (fjords).

Watersports

Enjoy a variety of watersports, including diving (www.omandivecenter.com), windsurfing, sailing or deep-sea fishing from one of the many outlets in Muscat and Salalah, or take a trip on the wild side and organise your own fun in the sun off the desert island of Masirah.

Edited by Jane Duru
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