Forts and castles
Oman is steeped in history with more than 500 forts and castles scattered throughout the country with 22 managed by the Ministry of Tourism. An historian’s dream, many forts and castles have been restored and are open to the public with some available for private functions.
Muttrah Souq and shopping
Oman has old markets full of handicrafts including silver, gold and textiles, and masterpieces produced by traditional industries such as dagger-making. These are best visited in the mornings. There are also modern shopping centres which open from 9am–1pm and again from 4pm–10pm, seven days a week, except Fridays when they open after 4pm.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Heralded as the second largest mosque in the world, the intricately carved stone archways that grace the entrance to the outer courtyard of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque gives little hint to the scale and beauty within. The breathtaking blue, white and gold interior of the mosque’s dome, an eight tonne, 1,122 bulb Swarovski crystal chandelier, exquisitely carved wooden doors, stunning stained windows and 1,700 million knot single-piece Persian carpet make the main prayer hall a sight to behold.
Oman is blessed with a number of waterways and valleys known as Wadis. Nestled among palm trees, these cool and inviting oases are popular picnic and swimming spots for both Omanis and visitors to explore, relax and refresh.
Muscat museums and places of interest
The city of Muscat showcases its history in a magnificent selection of offerings including the gates of old Muscat and the Gate House Museum, Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum, Bait Al Zubair, Bait Al Faransi, Bait Al Baranda, Al Alam Royal Palace and the magnificent Oman National Museum
Royal Opera House Muscat
The first in the Gulf Region, the Royal Opera House Muscat is a world-class centre for performing arts – a venue that showcases cultural performances from around the world. Its vision is to serve as a centre of excellence in global cultural engagement and to enrich lives through diverse artistic, cultural and educational programmes.
Take time to explore the lanes of traditional villages that were built thousands of years ago and which, through design, take advantage of natural occurring springs, which demonstrate how to use natural resources to fulfil basic needs.
World Heritage Listed Sites
The Sultanate contains four UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sites. These draw world leaders, scientists, specialists and students to the region to meet and discuss the importance of the sites on the international stage. These four distinguished sites are:
- The Five Aflaj
- Bahla Fort and Wall
- Bat Tombs and Settlement
- Frankincense Route
Oman has the greatest concentration of Bronze and Iron Age monuments, including megaliths that pre-date Egypt’s pyramids.
Camping is possible across Oman, from weekends in the mountains or along the coast, to perhaps a luxury Bedouin camp watching the stars. Enjoy camping on mountain tops, in the desert, in A’Sharqiyah Sands or in the Empty Quarter, in Dhofar, the Damaniyat Islands or on a secluded beach.
Oman abounds with caves of different sizes, topography and ruggedness. Some caves can be accessed by amateurs while others will need more significant training, experience and specialised equipment.
Camel and horse riding
Enjoy this authentic Arab sport. Races takes place regularly where camels reach speeds of up to 64 kilometres per hour on specially built tracks. Horses symbolise integrity and pride and Oman is famous for raising and breeding horses. Horse racing is a favourite pastime of the Omanis.
Oman is a coastal nation, so a number of cruise options are available. Many tour operators also organize a variety of activities such as dolphin watching, sailing, or a cruise to many of the island destinations scattered throughout Oman.
Desert activities – A’Sharqiyah Sands
Deserts differ in their nature and quality of sands. They can vary from the very soft to the very coarse to dense. Experience the Badiya Challenge Race, where participants climb sand dunes from a low area to the top in the shortest possible time. Other desert activities include sand surfing, dune bashing, and sleeping in luxury camps under a star studded night sky.
Dolphin and whale watching
Dolphin pods visit the shores of Oman in large numbers. A variety of dolphin species gracefully frolic and swim in the blue waters of Oman. The biggest and most substantial population of the Arabian Sea Humpback Whales make their habitat in Omani waters. Whale species that visit Oman include Blue Whales, Humpback Whales, Sperm Whales, Pygmy Killer Whales and Killer Whales.
Oman has several bird breeding and migratory sites of global significance and almost 500 species indentified.
Oman is home to world-class golf courses, the Muscat Hills Golf Course and Country Club, Al Mouj Golf Course designed by Greg Norman within The Wave precinct, and the Ghala Valley Golf Course, neighbouring the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Kitesurfing and kiteboarding
An adventure surface water sport that has been described as combining wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport. Kitesurfing harnesses the power of the wind to propel a rider across the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard.
Oman hosts the second highest mountain range in Arabia with the Hajars reaching 3,009m above sea level. Its mountains are a challenge for any mountaineer with their towering heights, rocky and steep slopes and rugged tracks. In Oman, there are several climbing areas and their diversity corresponds to the climber’s skill with paved paths for beginners and the very rugged for the experienced climber.
Oman is one of the most popular diving destinations in the region. It has an exceptional diversity of marine life and a number of marine cliffs, small islands, bays, caves and coral reefs, as well as shipwrecks. It has many accredited scuba diving courses and is a year round venue for diving enthusiasts.
The hiking and trekking season runs from September to May, but the best time for hiking is between October and April. Although the terrain can be tough, hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy Oman’s wonderful mountainous nature.
Different excursions of varying degrees of difficulty are available, from wandering around Muttrah to walking over the groove edges of Al Shams – the country’s highest mountain. There is a national network of marked trails for independent adventure seekers as well as many tour operators who provide comprehensive tours.
Thousands of sea turtles migrate annually to the shores of Oman from the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs in some of the largest nesting sites in the world. Oman hosts five of the seven species of sea turtles including the Hawkesbill, Olive Ridley and Green turtles. Watching freshly-hatched baby turtles make their way to the sea for the first time is among the most popular tourist activities at Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve.