When people imagine Oman they really don’t know what to think. It is one of the least known corners of the gulf and yet one of the most rich in culture and history. Oman is stunning….truly and probably what you imagine Arabia to be like if you imagine Arabia of yore. From secluded beaches to towering mountains and endless sand dunes, Oman has it all and more. And one of the best places to experience the legendary hospitality of Arabs that has sadly been lost in many other areas of the region. You’ll see why Oman is the best kept secret in the region.
The commercial and political capital of Oman. Be sure to check out lots of the old forts and the history of this beautiful town. The Opera house is also one of the top tourist sites (especially if you can manage to see an opera here). My favorite, the Mutrah souk is incredible for shopping or even just getting lost in. It may be a quiet capital but don’t skip on seeing it.
Known as the religious capital of Oman, Nizwa is an interesting tourist site to visit. It has a beautiful park and a interesting walled city as well. Be sure to check out the nearby Aflaj (Falaj singular) which are ancient irrigation waterways and also a UNESCO world heritage site. Be sure to also check out the beautiful Nizwa fort in the city area.
Known as the home of Omani shipbuilding, Sur is one of the most historic and beautiful towns in Oman. It is also very hot (even in the winter time). You can travel around town and explore ancient streets and forts that dot the landscape (Oman has no shortage of forts). Of interest, be sure to check out the harbor and all the ships as well as the fishermen bringing in the daily catch. Top site nearby is to check out the beaches for turtle breeding (particularly Ras al Jinz)
Ras al Jinz
While many of the beaches near Sur are home to turtles, Ras al Jinz is by far the most visited by turtles (and tourists). Here you can take tours (morning and evening) to see the turtles coming and laying eggs. During breeding season the turtles come in during the evening and leave in the early morning and if you are lucky you’ll even possibly see new turtles being born. Quite a site to behold and an important place to protect for conservation of these endangered turtles.
The empty quarter is the largest continuous sand desert in the world. It spans the border of Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Wahiba Sands is an interesting place tourists can visit that sits on the Omani edge of the empty Quarter. Exploring sand dunes and camping under the stars in the vast openness of the desert is a highlight of any visit to the region.
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Located in the south of Oman, Salalah is one of the biggest and most important cities in Oman. Salalah and Dhofar are actually the original home of the Omani Royal family and the current king was born in Salalah. One of my favorite aspects and times in Salalah is during the Monsoon season in the summers when the area bursts with waterfalls and turns bring green. Certainly very different than other areas of the country. Be sure to also check out beautiful beaches, many where you’ll only have to share it with local wildlife as well as ancient ports and ruins from past civilizations.
Tomb of Job
Located in Dhofar, the Tomb of Job is literally a place from the bible and other religious texts. Whether or not this is the actual tomb of Job is obviously lost to history (and there is a lot of other places that claim that same distinction) but it is certainly worth a visit for those interested in historical and mythological depictions. When we were there we were not the only people visiting this tomb as there was a tour group coming through the area as well.
Definitely one of the most history and intriguing sites in the southern tip of Oman, Sumhuram is an ancient port from centuries past. Believed by many to have been founded by one of the rulers of Hawdramaut (which is present day Yemen), the port was a major shipping port for frankincense and myrrh. One of the most incredible things is seeing various inscriptions in an ancient South Arabian alphabet (Musnad) script.
Often ignored by many people, Sohar the largest city in the northern part of the Sultanate is worth a visit both for its history as well as its culture and food. Sohar also claims to be the home of Sindbad (the famous semi-fictional sailor, who also is believed to be from present day Iraq). You can certainly spend time here wandering the markets, catching a football match, or exploring forts in the area. Also a great stopoff for those traveling between the UAE and other points south in Oman.
Wadi Bani Khalid
There are certainly no shortages of beautiful Wadis (valleys in Arabic) all around Oman. Many of them filled with water and just a perfect secluded area to escape. Wadi Bani Khalid is certainly beautiful (but definitely not secluded) and a great place to escape and get to swim in such a beautiful setting. You’ll share the space with tourists, locals, and expats who come here to escape the heat and enjoy a bit of nature.
Did you know there are fjords in Oman? Well there are and they are spectacular. Musandam is the small peninsula part of Oman that is separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. This is the perfect place to experience the water and the rugged landscape of the country. Definitely take some time to spend it floating in the water among the mountains and just enjoy feeling far from everything.
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Have you been to Oman? Any places you would recommend going or seeing?