Oman Travel Guide: The Ultimate 2024 Itinerary for Visiting Oman

by Global Viewpoint
Oman travel guide and things to do in Oman
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Oh my, Oman. Nestled in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a hidden gem often overlooked by travelers. This beautiful country offers breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and historical sites that can easily rival more frequented Middle Eastern destinations. Dive into this Oman travel guide to learn everything you need to know before you go!

For those planning an unforgettable journey, Oman is a must-visit. Its underrated status in the travel world means you’ll have unique stories to share back home. My own experiences in Oman were filled with awe at every turn – from the dramatic beauty of its deserts and mountains to the vibrant life in its cities and the deep dive into its rich history and culture.

Your highlights might include savoring Omani cuisine, a delightful blend of Arabian and Indian flavors, engaging with the incredibly hospitable locals, or relaxing on its stunning beaches. Oman is a country that truly needs to be experienced firsthand to appreciate its full splendor!

Ready to dive into this Oman travel guide? Here’s some travel inspiration, tips, and more that will guide your next adventure to Oman!

Things to do in Oman for all types of travelers
This Oman itinerary guide contains affiliate links, where I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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Where is Oman?

Oman is situated in the southeastern quadrant of the Arabian Peninsula, sharing borders with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE. It straddles three bodies of water: the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.

As of 2023, Oman’s population was 4.67 million. More than one-third of its people live in the capital, Muscat, which sits along the coast in the northeastern part of the country.

Why You Should Visit Oman

Oman may not always be at the top of every traveler’s list, but it’s a destination that holds its own unique allure. While it may not be as widely explored as some other Mediterranean spots like the Greek Islands, Oman offers a wealth of compelling reasons to make it your next travel destination.

  • Natural Beauty: Oman boasts diverse landscapes, including deserts, mountains, wadis (valleys), and pristine beaches, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
  • Rich History and Culture: Explore Oman’s ancient forts, castles, and archaeological sites to delve into its fascinating history. Immerse yourself in the warm and welcoming Omani culture.
  • Delicious Cuisine: Savor Omani cuisine, featuring a mix of Middle Eastern flavors, with dishes like shuwa (slow-cooked lamb) and fresh seafood.
  • Untouched Beaches: Imagine the picturesque beaches you’ve seen on Pinterest in Greek or Italian islands, devoid of the usual tourist crowds. That’s precisely what you’ll encounter in Oman.
  • Peaceful Ambiance: Unlike some of its neighboring countries, Oman offers a safe and peaceful environment for travelers to enjoy.
  • Oman’s Grand Canyon: Visit the spectacular Wadi Ghul, often called the “Grand Canyon of Oman,” with its awe-inspiring canyon views.

Unforgettable experiences in Oman

Are you yearning for tropical paradise? An open-air museum without the crowds? An adrenaline fix from some exciting excursions? Oman’s got you covered.

Whether you’re a salt-of-the-Earth type of person or someone who lives high on the hog, you’ll feel right at home in Oman. Below are some must-do’s that will light the torch for your trip to Oman.

Marvel at the extraordinary architecture

In Oman, you’ll find modern marvels sprawled alongside ancient ruins. I was absolutely stunned by the architecture here, particularly the castles, palaces, and mosques. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Nizwa Fort

Just an hour southwest of Muscat lies one of the largest castles in Oman. Nizwa Fort is a 17th-century castle that stands tall above the ancient walls of Nizwa. It’s the most visited attraction in Oman, and for good reason.

Nizwa Fort in Oman is just a short 1.5-mile drive from Muscat.
Nizwa Fort is roughly a 1.5-hour drive southwest of Muscat.

Nizwa Fort is half-castle and half-museum. Ancient artifacts are scattered around the castle’s many rooms and corridors, shedding light on what life looked like inside Oman’s ancient capital of Nizwa. When you climb to the top of the castle, there’s a circular tower that offers impeccable views of the Al Hajar Mountains and surrounding town. If the fortress didn’t have minarets protruding from it, I would’ve expected it to be a medieval castle from Europe. It’s truly a majestic sight!

Nizwa Fort is a beautiful castle. It's one of the top things to do in this travel guide of Oman.
In this Oman travel guide, Nizwa Fort is ranked among the top things to see and do.
Nizwa Fort is a worthwhile attraction in Oman for multiple reasons. The traditional Omani sword dance is one of them.
The price to enter Nizwa Fort is 5 OMR (~$13), but it’s well worth it to watch local villagers perform their traditional sword dance.

For those wishing to bring home a souvenir from Oman, there’s a small souq (marketplace) just outside the castle walls. Here, you’ll find an assortment of handicrafts, spices, clothing, and street food. Omani cuisine is pretty incredible!

If you’ve seen souqs before, you may feel let down by the Nizwa Souq. It’s not as large or diverse as the one in old Muscat, nor is it that authentic (there’s a “tourist rest area” inside, which is not something you’d expect to find in an ancient market). Nevertheless, it’s a great pit stop if you’re already planning to make the trek to Nizwa. The surrounding town is very interesting as well!

Nizwa Souq is a popular travel guide attraction in Oman. It's one of the top things to see and do in Nizwa, Oman.
Nizwa Souq is worth a stroll, but the surrounding town and castle are the highlights of Nizwa.

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Built in 2001, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an extravagant structure in the heart of Muscat. It’s incredibly elegant and contemporary, and I’d consider it on par with the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and some of the magnificent cathedrals of Europe.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a top attraction in this travel guide of the top things to see and do in Oman.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an architectural wonder in the heart of Muscat, Oman.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque dominates Muscat’s skyline and accommodates up to 20,000 worshipers. The Persian carpet in the main prayer hall took 600 people 5 years to weave. The chandelier dangling above weighs 8.5 tons and contains 600,000 crystals. It used to boast the world’s largest carpet and chandelier until recently, when Qatar and the UAE one-upped their Gulf neighbor (there’s a tit-for-tat among these countries, who are all vying for the best, greatest, and tallest structures).

The main prayer hall of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
The Main Prayer Hall inside the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

Inside the mosque, there’s a strict dress code. Women are required to cover up to their wrists and ankles, as well as their hair. There’s a shop at the entrance where you can rents abayas for 3 OMR (~$7.50). Otherwise, be sure to wear long-pants, long-sleeve shirts, and something to cover the hair. The mosque is open to non-Muslims from Saturday through Thursday between 8:30-11am. This schedule may be subject to change, so I recommend checking the Oman Tourism Website prior to planning your visit.

There are several volunteers walking around the premise who give free tours. The ones I met were very friendly, and eager to provide information about the mosque. They also provide an overview of Islam, and the pros of their religion compared to others. In a few short minutes, you’ll likely learn a few new things about the history and traditions of Islam. If you’re not interested or feel uncomfortable, you can politely decline the tour and explore on your own at any time.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an architectural masterpiece that definitely merits a visit while you’re in Oman. The pure elegance and intricate details of the mosque are truly second to none.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an architectural wonder.
If there’s one thing you need to see on this Oman travel guide, this is it.

Treat yourself at a luxurious, beachfront resort

Oman is known for its beautiful hotels and resorts. With immaculate beaches and endless sunshine, it’s a great destination to treat yourself and enjoy the tropical atmosphere. I stayed at the Chedi Muscat – A GHM Hotel, which was more paradise than hotel. Every foot of this 21-acre resort is brimming with beauty and elegance. Exotic gardens are sprawled along palm trees, majestic villas are cladded in chic, and swimming pools blur into the adjacent ocean.

Travel guide tip #1 in Oman: stay at a luxurious hotel along the ocean.
Symmetry is on full display at the Chedi Muscat. As you walk along its narrow walkways, you’ll encounter exotic buildings, gardens, fountains, and pools that radiate a feeling of serenity.

The Chedi Muscat is nestled along the Gulf of Oman in the country’s capital. It’s hard to tell where the 338-foot (103-meter) infinity pool ends and the ocean begins. It’s truly an incredible sight. If basking in the sun next to an infinity pool sounds like your cup of tea, then The Chedi Muscat is definitely for you.

Long Pool at the Chedi Muscat is the longest infinity pool in the region.
The Chedi Muscat’s “Long Pool” is the longest infinity pool in the region. Just next to the pool is the state-of-the-art, 1,500-square-meter spa and wellness area. It’s also among the largest and most modern in the region.

Another highlight of the Chedi Muscat was its gourmet breakfast. There is a vast assortment of fruits, pastries, juices, and breads that are ideal to kick off the day. They also serve cook-to-order specialties, and a variety of other dishes. The breakfast buffet had more types of breads and pastries than my local supermarket. The sweet and savory spectrum of artisanal delights was something I’d expect to encounter in a French bakery. Needless to say, finding this at the Chedi Muscat was a pleasant surprise!

The assortment of breads at the Chedi Muscat was out of this world.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day at the Chedi Muscat.

I recommend spending at least a few days in Muscat, a day or two in Nizwa, and 3-4 days exploring the southern part of the country. Given that Oman is pretty spread out (it takes 14 hours to drive from one end to the other), it’s a good idea to book separate accommodations when you’re visiting these different areas.

The Chedi Pool blends into the Gulf of Oman.
The Chedi Pool blends right into the surrounding ocean.

Hike Oman’s coolest canyons (wadis)

Oman isn’t just a country with vast deserts and beaches. There are plenty of natural wonders in between that distinguish Oman from its Gulf neighbors. Perhaps the country’s most notable geological formations are its wadis, which are canyons or valleys that typically have small rivers or lagoons running through them.

Wadi Bani Khalid

Wadi Bani Khalid is truly an oasis in the desert. It’s vibrant, exotic, and full of life. On hot summer days, its pools offer a refreshing bathing experience. On “cooler” winter days (when temperatures go down to 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit), Wadi Bani Khalid is still incredibly comfortable.

Wadi Bani Khalid is probably the most accessible wadi for tourists. From the parking lot, it’s only a 5-minute walk to the first set of pools. If you’re willing to walk a little further, there are a few smaller and quieter pools. The Wadi Bani Khalid also has a restaurant and a few rest areas, where you can purchase food and soak in the views. The red, rugged rocks and turquoise-tinted pools make Wadi Bani Khalid a must-see sight in the heart of Oman.

This verdant valley is located in Oman’s Al Sharquiyah region in the eastern part of the country. It’s about a 3-hour drive south of Muscat and Nizwa.

Wadi Ghul and Jebel Shams (The ‘Grand Canyon’ of Oman)

Don’t tell any Americans I said this, but it turns out that the Grand Canyon of Oman is just as magnificent as the one in the United States.

Wadi Ghul, “Grand Canyon” in Arabic, is a unique geological formation along the Al Hajar Mountain Range in northeastern Oman. The best vantage point of the canyon is the mountain towering over it, Jebel Shams. Standing at 9,934 feet (3,028 meters), it’s the tallest mountain in the country and third highest on the Arabian Peninsula.

En route to the Grand Canyon of Oman, you’ll encounter some rough off-roads. Therefore, your best bet is to rent a 4×4 or take a guided tour.

Wadi Dayqah Dam

This valley is home to a massive, state-of-the-art dam that the Omanis hold in high esteem. Standing 246 feet (75 meters) tall, Wadi Dayqah Dam is an incredible feat of human engineering. The steep cliffs surrounding it add also add a special flavor to the atmosphere.

Next to the dam is a picnic area and rest stop. In the summer, the shady parts fill up quickly, so be sure to get there early! There are no restaurants here, so plan accordingly and pack something to eat beforehand.

Wadi Dayqah Dam is about 1.5 hours southeast of Muscat, making it a perfect halfway point on the way to the Al Sharquiyah region.

Wadi Shab

This is another obligatory stop on your road trip to the easternmost part of Oman. Avid adventurers who enjoy hiking and swimming will especially love this wadi. It’s a 10-minute hike to the first lagoon, and another 20-30 minutes to see the main attraction, a mesmerizing waterfall and cave.

To arrive here, you’ll need to take a ferry across the river that costs 1 OMR (~$2.60). Similar to the Wadi Dayqah Dam, it’s about 1.5 hours southeast of Muscat. You can definitely make a half-day trip out of it, or choose to stop by for a couple hours while you’re in transit.

Hit Oman’s most beautiful beaches

Oman’s never-ending coastline is home to some amazing beaches. The northern part of the country— particularly the Musandam region—is known for its white sand beaches, while the southern part is characterized by its rugged coast. Here are the best of the best:

Al Fizayah Beach

For raw and unfettered beauty, head to Al Fizayah Beach in southern Oman. Its white sand and steep cliffs are a feast for the eyes and the soul. This hidden gem is neither frequented by tourists nor locals. More fun for us!

Oman Fjords

If you’d like to discover more unspoiled terrain, check out the Oman Fjords. They are essentially the Arabian-equivalent of the fjords of Norway (with colorful rock formations in lieu of green vegetation). Pretty cool!

There are plenty of half-day and full-day boat tours that will guide you around these fjords, which lie on the Musandaum Peninsula. For the adventurous soul, you can go snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. If you’re simply looking to relax and do some sightseeing, you’ll have plenty of otherworldly landscapes to peruse during the voyage. Along the way, you’ll also witness a majestic spectacle of dolphins jumping in and out of the water.

To get to Musandaum, fly into Khasab (45 minutes from Muscat) or take a five-hour ferry. As you’ll see, the Musandam Peninsula is the northernmost point of Oman, separated from Oman by the sea and the UAE.

The Oman Fjords are a must if you plan to visit the northern part of the country. If not, there are plenty of other epic landscapes to choose from within this Oman travel guide.

Al Sifah Beach

Just an hour south of Muscat is yet another pristine beach that merits some exploration. Al Sifah Beach has all the qualities of a world-class beach, minus the crowds. If you want to hit the beach, but you’re only visiting for a short time, this is probably your most convenient option.

Go camping and stargazing

Oman is every outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The country is chock-full of natural treasures just waiting to be discovered. Here, it’s legal to pitch a tent and go “wild camping” pretty much wherever you’d like. What better way to soak in Oman’s epic landscapes than with a camping trip?

There are several free campsites scattered around the country to choose from. You can go camping in the desert, at the beach, in the wadis, or all the above. Wadi Damm and Wadi Sahtan are some of the best campsites to ditch the tourists and enjoy the silent serenity of the outdoors. Note: At the time of writing this travel guide of Oman, these campsites are only accessible by 4×4.

Oman’s countryside is also ideal for stargazing. Outside of Muscat, there’s minimal light pollution; perfect for watching the stars and galaxies twinkle in the midnight sky.

If you have the chance to spend the night in an Omani campsite, you’ll quickly realize why there’s so much hype.

Get up close and personal to Oman’s diverse wildlife

If you haven’t gotten the gist from this travel guide already, Oman is much more than just a desert country. It’s home to diverse flora and fauna, as well as abundant aquatic wildlife. You’ll find everything from camels, goats, leopards, and desert foxes on the ground, to 22 species of whales and dolphins in the sea.

For those who are part thrill-seeker/part nature-lover, you’ll love the scuba diving in Oman. The country’s marine diversity is among the most prolific in the region. Along Oman’s 1,240 miles (2,000 km) of coastline, you’ll find many amazing spots to discover life under the sea. Perhaps the best spot of all is just a 90-minute cruise off the shore of Muscat, the Ad Dimaniyat Islands.

Ad Dimaniyat is a natural reserve and archipelago comprised of 9 islands. With its widespread marine life, corals, and migratory birds, these islands are a UNESCO protected site.

Given that Ad Dimaniyat Islands are a decent distance from the mainland, you won’t encounter too many tourists here.

Other interesting things to see and do in Oman

If time permits, and you’ve already tackled everything in the Oman travel guide above, you should consider checking out these top sights and attractions below.

Misfat al Abreyeen (Al Hamra, Oman)

Misfat al Abreyeen is a traditional village that’s seemingly cut off from the rest of Oman. Homes are made from rock slabs and stones unearthed directly from the adjoining mountain. Strolling through this historic mud village is a surreal experience. Tourism hasn’t fully set in yet, so it’s a great place to wander around and experience life in a remote Omani village.

Jibreen Castle (Bahla, Oman)

This 17th-century castle consists of 5 floors and 55 rooms that are all extraordinarily well-preserved. Jibreen Castle is definitely one of the top historic forts to check out in Oman. It’s only a couple of hours from Muscat, and can easily be combined with a day trip to Nizwa.

Mohammed al Ameen Mosque (Muscat, Oman)

This modern mosque doesn’t have the same aura or stature as the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, but it’s still special. Similar to other mosques around the country, there is only a small window during the day when non-Muslims are allowed to enter: 8:30-11am (as of when I wrote this travel guide of Oman).

The Mohammed al Ameen Mosque also goes by two other names: the Bahwan Mosque and Bawshar Mosque.

At night, the mosque is lit up in beautiful blue and yellow colors.

Muttrah Souq (Muscat, Oman)

This marketplace is comprised of several small shops that sell goods including traditional clothes and fabrics, jewelry, and souvenirs.

Royal Opera House (Muscat, Oman)

Music, Omani culture, and luxury are on full display inside Oman’s Royal Opera House. Built in 2011, this venue has the appearance of a royal palace with a special Omani flair to go with it. The Royal Opera House accommodates up to 1,100 people.

Muttrah Corniche (Muscat, Oman)

Located in the capital, the Muttrah Corniche is a place not to be missed on this Oman travel guide. This beautiful waterfront area contains lots of restaurants where you can enjoy the views of the sea. Be sure to take a stroll or a bike ride, too!

Nakhal Fort (Nakhal, Oman)

If you’re impressed by Nizwa Fort and Jibreen Castle, you’ll also want to add Nakhal Fort to the list. It was originally built in pre-Islamic times (before the 7th century), and was later renovated during the 1800s. The castle walls and towers are so quintessentially Omani.

Musandam beaches (Northern Oman)

These beautiful beaches straddle the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. This tiny strip of land is separated from Oman’s mainland, as it’s wedged between the sea and the UAE. Oman’s beaches are definitely among the most stunning in the world.

Wahiba Sands Desert (Eastern Oman)

The Sharqiya Sands, also known as the Wahiba Sands Desert, is a desert region in the heart of eastern Oman. It’s filled with beautiful sand dunes, some of which are as high as 330 feet (100 m) tall. Wahiba Sand is a popular overnight night camping spot, where you can go stargazing in a desert camp. This is something that shouldn’t be overlooked in this Oman travel guide.

Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve (Ras al Hadd, Oman)

Located in the easternmost part of the Arabian Peninsula, Ras al Jinz is a popular nesting site for sea turtles. Each year, 20,000 female turtles return here to dig their nests and lay eggs. Given that these endangered turtles are under the government’s protection, you can only access this area with a guided tour. I recommend browsing TripAdvisor to find the right tour for you. Perhaps you’ll get lucky and see some baby turtles hatch!

Other magnificent castles to explore

If you’re really into castles and have plenty of time to run around and chase them, here are a few others you should consider: Al Hazm Fort, Al Rustaq Fort, Khasab Fort. If you’re pressed for time and not castle-obsessed, then you can probably skip over these.

Planning your vacation to Oman

Planning a trip to Oman? Here’s what you should know.

Oman tourism safety: Is Oman safe?

Yes, Oman is generally very safe.

Oman is a stable, wealthy country with strict laws. Such laws would harshly punish those who dare to cross them. According to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), Oman is a terrorism-free country. Though there is some instability and hostility in the region (I.e., Saudi Arabia vs. Yemen), Oman has stayed neutral in these conflicts. Up to this point, Oman’s neutral foreign policy has kept it out of harm’s way and ensured its continued security.

Of course, whenever you’re traveling to a foreign country, there are always certain risks that you need to watch out for. Hence, it’s important to take normal precautions as you would anywhere else. Be sure to check your government’s official travel advisories and relevant news articles. If you’re an American traveler, I always advise checking the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory prior to reaching your destination.

Bottom line: Oman is generally safe for western tourists. But you should always take precautions, particularly if you’re out at night or within close proximity of the Saudi-Yemen border.

Best time of year to visit Oman

As a general rule of thumb, Oman is mild and comfortable during the winter months and very hot during the summer months. Therefore, you’ll want to plan your visit according to the weather conditions and activities you plan to do.

If you intend to do lots of outdoor activities, you should consider visiting Oman between October and December, and January through February. The temperatures tend to linger in the upper 70s° and low 80s° Fahrenheit (~25°-28° Celsius): perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities!

If your goal is to spend copious time at the pool or beach, then a visit between March and May is probably your best bet. The temperatures during this time of year dangle in the 85-90° Fahrenheit range (27-30° Celsius).

Oman gets extremely hot between June and September (well over 100° Fahrenheit or 38° Celsius in most parts). So if you’re one who shies away from the blistering heat, then you probably won’t want to visit this time of year.

Other consideration when visiting Oman

Before booking your trip to Oman (or anywhere in the Middle East for that matter), you should also be mindful of when Ramadan will occur. During this holy month, most shops and establishments close during the day, and you aren’t allowed to eat or drink in public between sunrise and sunset. At your hotel, you’ll be allowed to eat inside during the day, but you won’t be served alcohol (unless you’re in your hotel room).

Each year, the dates of Ramadan change, so be sure to do a quick Google search before planning your trip.

Bottom line: If you want to explore and do lots of sightseeing, be sure to visit Oman during the winter or early spring months. If your goal is to relax and lounge at the pool or beach, try to schedule your trip sometime in the spring. If you don’t mind the heat and would like to save some cash during the low season, visit Oman during the summer.

Oman travel guide. What is the best time to visit Oman? Definitely the winter or spring.
The scorching heat occurs between June and September in Oman.

Getting to Oman

To get to Oman, you’ll want to fly into Muscat International Airport, a brand new airport that just opened in March 2018. It’s modern and elegant, and I’d consider it on the same tier as Doha and Dubai’s airports. Muscat International Airport is the hub for Oman Air and SalamAir.

Oman Air is the national airline of Oman, and offers international flights to Oman from 20 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful, and the seats in economy class to be quite comfortable. I’m 6 feet 3 inches (192 cm) tall, and didn’t have any issues with the leg room (which I can’t say about 99% of other airlines). I definitely recommend flying with Oman Air, particularly if you’re taking a long haul flight from Europe.

SalamAir is a budget airline based in Muscat, Oman. They have services to Oman from select destinations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. I haven’t flown with this airline, but based on the reviews I read online, it sounds like there are some pervasive issues with the onboard experience (seat comfort, legroom, customer service, etc.). According to reviews on TripAdvisor, SalamAir averages 1.5 stars. I always use Ryan Air and EasyJet as a benchmark for budget airlines, and they have scores of 3 and 3.5 stars, respectively. I’m not too convinced about this airline based on what I read, but I encourage you to do your own independent research.

Bottom line: Muscat International Airport is beautiful. It’s one of the few airports where I don’t mind arriving at the terminal more than 2 hours early to walk around and enjoy the ambiance. If you don’t mind spending a little more on your airfare, Oman Air is fantastic. If you’re on a strict budget and you’re flying a short distance (i.e. from Saudi Arabia or the UAE), SalamAir may be a viable option.

Oman Visa Process

All visitors are required to obtain a visa prior to entering Oman. Citizens of the following five countries are exempt from this requirement:

  • Bahrain
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates

A 30-day single entry visa costs $52 USD. The price jumps up to $130 USD if you plan to visit multiple times over a one-year period.

Prior to visiting Oman, I read some forums online with conflicting advice about the visa process. Some folks were saying that you needed to obtain the visa via an online application prior to arrival, while others said you could get it on arrival at the airport. Oman’s official government website isn’t fully clear about this.

NOTE: As of October 2023, Oman visas are no longer issued on arrival. To avoid the hassle, I recommend processing your visa online in advance. Give yourself as much time as possible, just in case there are any issues or follow up.

Getting around Oman

Given that Oman is big and spread out, you’re best off renting a car or taking guided tours to get around.

I found that renting a car in Oman is super cheap and convenient. I rented a 4WD vehicle for $30/day (including insurance) with Budget car rentals. There are several international rental car agencies at the airport, so I chose the one with the cheapest 4×4 still available.

If you’re planning to visit the remote parts of the country, it’s absolutely essential to rent a 4WD vehicle. Off-roads are plentiful, and I can’t imagine driving on them without one. All signage on the roads are in Arabic and English, so I didn’t have any issues getting around.

If you’re only planning to do a day trip (or two) from Muscat, it may be best to take a guided tour instead. That way, you won’t have to worry about potentially getting lost in a foreign country. Additionally, you’ll probably have a local guide who will give you knowledge that you may not find on the internet.

There are public buses in Oman that link together different parts of the country, but they’re not very popular. The country is very spread out, which makes it difficult for public transportation to access all the nooks and crannies. If there are any new developments with regard to Oman’s public transportation system, I’ll be sure to update this Oman travel guide accordingly.

Renting a car is the best way to travel around Oman.
In addition to having a tour guide, renting a car is the most reliable way to travel around Oman.

Fast Facts about Oman:

  • Oman is a monarchy that’s been ruled by the Omani Al Said Family since 1744. The country is officially called the ‘Sultanate of Oman’.
  • Oman has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all of which are cultural sites. These include the following: Bahla Fort (1987), Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn (1988), Land of Frankincense (2000), Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman (2006), Ancient City of Qalhat (2018).
  • Coffee is always served with dates. Serving coffee with dates is considered the highest form of hospitality in Oman.
  • Deserts and valleys comprise 82% of Oman’s land mass. Low-lying coastal terrain and mountain ranges comprise the other 18%.
  • Alcohol can only be purchased with a license. Oman, like most Arab countries, limits the sale of alcohol for its citizens. Most Omani Muslims do not drink alcohol, so most of the sales are from tourists. If you’re staying at a hotel with a bar, you won’t have to worry about getting one.

History of Oman

Around 3000 BC, the ancient Omanis were already seafaring traders, navigating the azure waters of the Arabian Sea and beyond. By 2000 BC, the Omani port of Qalhat was a bustling hub, connecting the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia.

Fast forward to 751 AD when Oman embraced Islam, heralding a new era. The Imamate of Oman, dating back to the 7th century, became a defining feature of Omani history. The rise of the powerful Al-Julanda dynasty in the 9th century marked a period of maritime expansion, with Omani sailors exploring distant shores and establishing trade links as far as China.

In the 16th century, Portugal cast its gaze upon Oman, leading to fierce battles and the Portuguese occupation of Muscat in 1507. However, by 1650, Omani forces led by Sultan bin Saif expelled the Portuguese and began the Golden Age of Omani maritime dominance.

In the 19th century, Oman’s influence extended to Zanzibar and East Africa under Sultan Said bin Sultan Al-Said, establishing a far-reaching empire. Yet, internal strife led to the division of Oman into two Sultanates, Oman and Zanzibar, in the late 1800s.

Fast forward to 1970, a pivotal year when Sultan Qaboos bin Said ascended to the throne. His visionary leadership transformed Oman into a modern nation while preserving its rich heritage.

Today, Oman’s ancient traditions blend seamlessly with a forward-looking vision. It’s a land where the echoes of the past resonate in every fort, wadi, and bustling souk, inviting you to explore its captivating history.

Logistics in Oman: Currency, language, etc.

Below is some helpful information when visiting Oman in 2024:

Currency in Oman

The Sultanate of Oman uses the Omani Rial (OMR) as its official currency. It’s advisable to have some local currency on hand, especially if you plan to explore less touristy areas. Currency exchange services are readily available at banks and exchange offices.

Oman’s Economy

Oman, like many countries, has experienced economic growth and diversification over the years. While it may not be immune to global economic challenges, the nation’s economy is continually evolving, and you’ll find bustling markets and thriving businesses across the country.

Languages in Oman

Arabic is the official language of Oman, but due to its international outlook and history of trade, English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas and among the younger population. Road signs and important information are often presented in both Arabic and English, making navigation easier for travelers.

Power Outlets in Oman

Oman uses type G electrical outlets, just like those in the United Kingdom and Ireland. So, if you’re visiting from a country that uses these plugs, you won’t need any adapters.

Time in Oman

Oman follows Gulf Standard Time (GST), which is four hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+4). Unlike some countries that switch to daylight saving time, Oman’s time remains consistent throughout the year, making it easier for travelers to plan their schedules.

Guide to travel in Oman

I hope you enjoyed reading my travel guide about Oman! I hope the information in this guide provided you with some helpful travel tips to maximize your time in Oman. If you have any questions, or would like me to include additional information, feel free to comment below. Otherwise, you’re always welcome to give me a shout on Instagram! Happy travels, everyone!

Staying at the Chedi Muscat is one of the top highlights and things to do in Oman.
Nothing beats the infinity pools at the Chedi Muscat! Already can’t wait to return!
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