Visitors are often surprised to learn that Oman is among the top vacation destinations in the Middle East. Known for its rugged terrain, sparse population, and lack of tourism infrastructure for much of its recent history, this Arab country does not exactly spring to mind when considering exotic getaways. And yet, thanks to a growing network of luxury hotels and forward-thinking leadership, not to mention investments in several heritage sites from previous sultans—plus its pristine beaches, snow-capped mountains, and lush desert landscape—Oman is fast becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. With so many places to visit in Oman and plenty more on the horizon as part of an aggressive expansion plan, here’s everything you need to know before traveling there.
Visiting Oman can be a great experience, but there are certain things you need to keep in mind before you travel there. - Oman can be extremely hot in summer, so it is recommended that you travel there during spring and autumn. However, the weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before booking your tickets. - Due to its proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is home to many hazardous creatures. While most are easily avoidable, being vigilant and knowing what to do if you encounter any is essential. - The Sultanate is predominantly Islamic, so travelers should respect religious and cultural customs while there. Dress modestly when visiting places of worship and avoid eating or drinking in public during Ramadan. - Oman is a bit more expensive than other Middle Eastern countries, with the cost of living significantly higher in Muscat (the capital city), where most luxury hotels are located.
When to visit - Though Oman is generally warm throughout the year, thanks to its tropical climate, it is best to travel there between October and April, when temperatures are milder. Where to stay - Hotels in Oman are generally categorized as three-star, four-star, or five-star, with the former catering to more budget-friendly travelers and the latter more upscale. What to eat - Omani cuisine is strongly influenced by its Arabian culture, and a wide range of spices, fresh fish, and seafood are staples of the local diet.
In addition to being the largest city in Oman, Muscat is also the country’s seat of government. With a population of around 1.5 million, it is the largest city in Oman and a significant port of call for many cruise ships arriving in the region. Visitors to Muscat are instantly taken by its Turkish colonial architecture, which is evident in the many forts and palaces in the city. Furthermore, the capital is also home to the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Arabian Peninsula. Located along the coast, Muscat has a warm climate throughout the year, making it an excellent destination for travelers from all over the world. The city is also a cultural center in the region, home to many important museums and landmarks worth visiting.
The countryside of Oman is a place that is truly off the beaten path. It doesn’t see as many tourists as the capital city, and that’s why it’s such a special place. Visitors can explore the dunes, discover hidden oases, and watch the sunset over the mountains. Visitors can also experience an outdoor adventure in the countryside of Oman. You can climb some of the highest mountains in the Arabian Peninsula, hike through the desert, or even go rock climbing. You can even go horseback riding through the desert. The countryside of Oman has something for everyone. It is a beautiful place to visit and experience something truly unique.
The desert is one of the most iconic landscapes in Oman and the entire Middle East. Fortunately, there are several ways to enjoy this stunning part of the country, whether a day trip from Muscat or a multiday excursion from one of the coastal cities like Sur or Sohar. Perhaps the most iconic of all desert activities in Oman is a visit to the dunes of the country’s southern desert. The giant dunes in Asia are found in the Wahiba Sands desert and are the perfect place for extreme sports enthusiasts to try sandboarding and sand sledding. For a less intense and more family-friendly experience, a visit to the nearby Al-Hajar Mountains is a must. This stunning range of granite outcrops features some of the most incredible rock formations in the world and is home to the unique Hafeet al-Hajar (Heart of the Hajar) rock formation.
Many scenic drives take visitors to the country’s stunning coast, but arguably, the most popular is the drive from Muscat to Sur, Oman’s second-largest coastal city. This is also one of the most accessible drives in Oman. The road is paved, and it is easy to follow the signs directing drivers to Sur. After visiting the Omani coastline, there is no way to avoid being impressed by the beauty of the Arabian Sea. There are many places to visit in Oman by the sea, but perhaps the most notable is Sur. This coastal city is the cultural center of Oman. Visitors to Sur can visit the country’s national museum, learn about the history of Oman at the Oman Archaeology Museum, or take in the views from the top of the country’s tallest building, the Oman Telecommunications Company Tower.
While Oman is often associated with the natural wonders of the desert and the coastline, the country’s history is an equally fascinating aspect of visiting. Several excellent museums in Oman allow visitors to learn more about the country’s past and current culture, and among the most notable of these is the National Museum in Muscat. This museum contains many fascinating artifacts from the country’s history, including various pottery and coins from different eras. Other cultural activities in the country include visiting one of Oman's many forts and palaces. The most famous of these is the Bah Al-Ahmad Palace, located in the capital city of Muscat and is the official residence of the Sultan of Oman.
Oman is a diverse country that offers something for everyone. From desert adventures to scenic coastal drives and cultural excursions to visiting various heritage sites, Oman interests every traveler. With a growing tourist industry, travelers can expect to see even more to do in Oman in the coming years.