Ultimate Oman Road Trip Itinerary
Not a place most people have ever considered traveling, Oman is one of my favorite travel destinations on earth. With turquoise water, incredible mountains, surreal scenery, and some of the friendliest people I’ve come across in all of my travels - all this makes for an unforgettable road trip around Oman!
Best time to visit:
October to April is the best time to visit, with the perfect temperature of 20-25°C (68-77°F) and little rainfall. June to August is when it gets very hot and humid, over 35°C (95°F) making exploring this beautiful country very difficult.
The best and cheapest option is to hire a 4x4 vehicle. You can do it with a 2 wheel drive, but you’ll need to arrange expensive pick up to go into the desert and to the mountains, so it would just be easier using a 4x4 from the beginning.
Muscat: 2-3 nights
Muscat is the capital city of Oman and the place you’ll most likely start and end your road trip. With so much to see and do, Muscat is a great place to begin your Omani adventure.
Muttrah Souq is the most famous souq in Oman; with a crazy ambiance, winding alleyways, unique smells, and products with an Omani/Indian twist.
Opening times: 8 am - 1 pm and 5 pm - 9 pm every day except Friday where it’s only open in the evening, 5 pm - 9 pm.
Hop on a traditional Dhow boat to experience an incredible sunset. Grab a cup of qahwa (Omani coffee), a delicious date and just take in the mind-blowing Omani landscape, it’s so beautiful.
LOCAL OMANI DINNER
Omani food is a combination of Zanzibar and Indian food. There are so many amazing restaurants to visit around Muscat, such as Bait Al Luban Omani and Kargeen restaurant.
Make sure to try:
- Kachori: a flakey deep-fried stuffed bread, filled with things like potatoes, chicken and sometimes cheese
- Bakura: flour and vegetables deep fried
- Sambusa: similar to an Indian samosa but thinner
- Paplou: like a very citrusy tasting soup with some basmati rice and seafood - it’s so good!
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
This was the mosque of the former ruler Sultan Qaboos, the longest standing ruler of Arab history of 50 years and beloved by the people. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque took about 5 years to build and you can see why; its architecture is incredible. Although you can’t go inside the mosque, try to get a sneak peek inside the main prayer hall, it’s so detailed and grand with the second-largest handmade single piece carpet in the world - imagine covering an entire Walmart in an intricate carpet!
Make sure to dress appropriately, because it’s a religious site. Both men and women need to have their arms and legs covered and women should also cover their hair.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is closed Fridays for Friday prayer. It's open every other day from 8 am - 11 am and free to enter.
If you have more time in Muscat, check out:
- Muttrah Fort and Muttrah Corniche (waterfront)
- Al Alam Palace - Sultans ceremonial palace
- Royal Opera House
Accommodation in Muscat:
If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful hotel, I can recommend Al Bustan Palace. This palace was first built as the personal home of the former ruler Sultan Qaboos, but eventually became a hotel (apart from the 9th floor, which is still owned by the Sultan’s family. The only thing that rivals this hotel’s breakfast has to be the landscape around it; mountains and the ocean, it’s amazing!
→ Find more hotels in Muscat
Camping on the Dimaniyat Islands: 1 night
In Muscat, hop on a boat at Al Mouj Marina for an unreal camping adventure. Although you can do this as a ½ day or full-day trip, staying the night will offer a completely unique experience. You’ll have an island to yourself and hopefully the opportunity to see the bioluminescent plankton - such a crazy sight!
This area is also apparently one of the top 10 spots on planet earth for snorkeling; the marine life was incredible but completely different from that of the Philippines or somewhere similar.
Blue Wave Oman made this whole trip even better; it felt like we were hanging out with friends. I’ve never really come across a business that felt so professional but casual at the same time; I highly recommend them!
Muscat to Sur: 1-2 nights
If you haven’t already, pick up your 4x4 ready for the start of your Omani road trip.
HAWIYAT NAJM PARK (BIMMAH SINKHOLE OMAN)
About 1.5 hours out of Muscat is Bimmah Sinkhole, an amazing natural swimming pool. There are a couple of theories why the sinkhole was formed, one being from a meteorite and another that is more scientific is that it’s made from limestone, and with time the limestone got weak and created the hole. My personal belief is that it’s made from the footprint of the world’s largest camel!
Make sure to dress respectfully on arrival and nothing too revealing while swimming (or you may not be allowed in).
20 minutes drive from Bimmah Sinkhole is Wadi Shab - truly the definition of an Oasis.
On arrival, take a boat across the river to the trailhead (1 OMR pp ~ $2.60 USD) and hike around 45 minutes through the gorge, till you reach the swimming area where you can cool off. At the last pool, there will be a small crack in the cave, swim through this and you’ll be greeted with a hidden waterfall, just make sure to take your waterproof camera!
To really experience this place, you’ll want half a day and bring plenty of water.
From Wadi Shab, head 40 minutes to the city of Sur, an ancient Omani trading port.
While in Sur, make sure to visit the lighthouse at the tip of the Corniche (waterfront) - a great place to catch the sunset.
If you’re visiting between July - October, drive about 40 minutes to Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve to see the endangered Green Turtles nesting at night.
Other spots to visit in and around Sur include:
- Al Ayjah Watch Tower
- Sunaysilah Fort
- Fins Beach
→ Find accommodation in Sur
Sur to Wahiba Sands Desert: 1 - 2 nights
From Sur, stop off at Wadi Bani Khalid, a more accessible wadi to Wadi Shab for a quick dip on the way to the Wahiba Sands desert for a night or two. Explore the surreal desert by dune bashing, camel riding, sandboarding. And make sure to get up early to catch the sunrise, there’s something so magical about it.
If you’re self-driving, you'll need to let your tires down before driving into the desert so you don’t get stuck!
→ Check out desert camps here
The Wahiba Sands Desert to Nizwa: 1 night
From Wahiba Sand, drive just over 2 hours to the historic city of Nizwa in Northern Oman. If you’re short on time, take a quick pit stop to visit Nizwa Fort, built in the seventeenth century, or stay here for the night to explore more of the old city and Nizwa souq.
Nizwa to Al-Hajar Mountains: 1-2 nights
To finish up your Omani road trip, head towards the highest mountains in Oman at an altitude of 2000metres. This is another area where you’ll need a 4x4, so if you don’t have one, arrange with your hotel or a taxi to take you up here from the checkpoint at the bottom of the mountain.
The Al-Hajar Mountains are home to Jabal Shams, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Oman’ or ‘Mountain of Sun’ - an amazing sunrise spot. Also, if you’re keen on hiking, this is the place for you, with so many trails and incredible viewpoints around the area. There are lots of abandoned villages in the mountains, such as Al Aqr Village, made for exploring.
If you’re after more adventurous activities, then make sure to go rock climbing. We got geared up and taken to Oman's highest via ferrata on the edge of a cliff. Normally I’m not a fan of adventure parks and zip-lining, because it lacks adventure, but this was so exciting and surrounded by the most beautiful landscape - see for yourself here.
If you want somewhere truly special to stay the night, you must book Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort; it’s one of the nicest hotels in all of Oman. It’s like modern minimalistic integrated with the environment - probably the most complimentary I have ever seen. Not the cheapest, but well worth the incredible service and views!
→ More places to stay in the Al-Hajar Mountains
We were rushing things during our trip, so I highly recommend taking your time in this beautiful country. There are so many other amazing looking places to explore, like:
- The Sugar Dunes - Ras Bin Tawt at Al Khaluf
- Bar Al Hikman - Oman's version of Australias Whitsundays
- Al Hazm Castle
- Masirah Island
- Musandam Governorate
- Bahla Fort
Oman surpassed my expectations on every single level; the people rank in my top 5 of the nicest people in the world. If you haven't already, make sure to check out my video series to see our incredible Oman road trip for yourself!
Oman should be your next travel destination - I know I'll be back for sure!
Let's get lost!