With natural blue pools to swim in, an abundance of green palm trees, beautiful buildings, endless mountain ranges and easy coastal drives, Oman is incredibly beautiful and a must-visit in the Middle East! It is also one of the safest countries in the Middle East, is easy to communicate in as an English-speaker, and is a dreamy road-trip destination. This is the only Oman itinerary you’ll need.
DAY 1-2: Muscat
After collecting our rental car from Avis at the airport, we drove to our first hotel of the trip, the drop-dead beautiful Chedi Muscat. With crisp white-washed buildings, glassy pools and a flawless beach, The Chedi is the dreamiest address in Muscat. All three of us had crazy schedules prior to our arrival in Oman, so a couple of days to relax and enjoy delicious breakfasts and cocktails by the 103 meter pool was the perfect way to start our journey.
You will likely start your Oman itinerary in Muscat and I cannot recommend the Chedi Muscat enough. It’s a destination in and of itself.
Sultan Qaboos Mosque
This stunning mosque is a must-see! It is open to non-muslims from 8am-11am Saturday – Thursday. The Sultan Qaboos Mosque has a strict dress code, which must be followed to enter; It is required that both men and women wear clothes which cover to the wrists and ankles, women must also have their hair covered.
The grounds are absolutely beautiful, but from what I’ve seen from others, it’s the interior which is breath-taking. Unfortunately, we arrived a little later than we’d hoped, so all prayer rooms were closed – I would recommend you arrive for 8 or 9am and spend a couple of hours there.
Kargreen is a super cute restaurant tucked away in the middle of the city. It has a gorgeous outdoor option, filled with dreamy bedouin-style decor and lights hanging from the trees, or a cool indoor option where you can smoke shisha, and find locals having meetings and spending time with friends. Honestly, this place was one of the highlights of my Oman itinerary.
DAY 3: Drive from Muscat to Sur
We had our final breakfast (fit for queens), checked out of the Chedi and drove one and a half hours to the next stop on our Oman itinerary: the Bimmah Sinkhole – the first stop of our drive towards Sur. This natural swimming pool holds beautiful turquoise water and is open for swimming. Locals say that a meteor created the huge hole.
From Bimmah we drove thirty minutes to, possibly one of our favourite stops in Oman, Wadi Shab. I cannot stress enough to wear sunscreen and drink lots of water – I loved this place but I came away with heat stroke afterwards. Allow yourself a few hours for this stop, you’ll want to enjoy your time there. Here’s what you need to know before you go:
- Once parked, you will take a short boat ride across the river, which will cost 2 OMR (approx $5) return, per person.
- You will then have to hike 1 hour to get to the crystal waters. The first part is easy, the second part requires a little boulder hopping, but it’s worth it – the walk in the gorge is really pretty, but please note – it’s hot! I’d recommend getting to this location as early as you can, to hike before the midday sun hits (like we did).
- When you arrive, getting into that refreshing water is the most rewarding feeling! It’s so fresh and crystal, and you can swim all the way through to a gorgeous waterfall at the end of the Wadi.
Muscat is Oman’s capital city. It’s Arabic-inspired, yet modern. Buildings are beautiful and the streets are impeccably clean. There’s plenty to explore in the capital, so having a car is best for getting around. The highlights included:
Sur is a great place to stop for the night, we grabbed an AirBnB here, before we continued our drive towards the desert. It’s a pretty seaside town with a lighthouse and fort. You can also visit a protected turtle nesting ground approximately 45 minutes from Sur, called Ras al Jinz, at sunrise or sunset.
DAY 4: The Desert
From Sur, drive towards Wahiba Sands to your camp, to spend a night in the beautiful Omani desert. PRO TIP: If you’d like to break up this drive, you could also stop at Wadi Bani Khalid – a little oasis on your way to the desert.
Listen, we hit some hurdles while on this part of the trip… we had poorly planned our accommodation and my friend received some awful news, so although we didn’t really experience the desert, I 100% recommend and urge you do! This is one of the greatest parts of Oman and guaranteed to be the highlight of your Oman itinerary.
The desert sits on the edge of the Arabian ‘empty quarter’, and this is how I recommend you do it:
- Book into a camp, such as 1000 Nights, which is in the heart of Wahiba Sands. We failed to do our research and booked ourselves into one a little further out, which although it was beautiful, was a little disheartening.
- Be sure to follow your camp’s instructions, as it’s likely they will arrange a pick up for you to take you into the desert camp, unless you have a 4×4 and choose to drive yourself.
- Soak up the desert dunes for sunrise, or sunset, and explore the desert by camel or watch the stars while eating dinner bedouin style!
DAY 5-6: JABAL AKHDAR MOUNTAINS
After exploring in the heat, take some time to cool down in Oman’s beautiful mountain range. You will need a 4×4 to climb the road; if you don’t have one, you can park your car at the car park, just before the incline steepens (as we did), and a 4×4 taxi will take you the rest of the way. This will cost you approximately 35 OMR one way ($90).
We stayed in Sahab Resort & Spa for two nights, the views were beautiful from the mountain top, but unfortunately we had some pretty torrential thunderstorms, so we couldn’t get out and explore as we’d like. We did, however, take advantage of a few days to regather, drink wine, eat good food, and get on top of some admin. When the weather is good, you can explore the local villages and markets, and enjoy the views from the summit.
*Sahab was a comfortable stay, and the staff were very accommodating, however they’re just a little lacking in the ‘5 star’ expectations, nothing huge which would put me off staying, it just felt like slight teething problems in their changing of management. Other resorts we would have loved to have stayed, and read good reviews were Alila or Anantara.
DAY 7: NIZWA FORT
One of Oman’s oldest castles, Nizwa Fort is a must see! Once the rain finally stopped, this beautiful site was the perfect way to close our trip. It’s 5 OMR entry, and you can easily spend a couple of hours relaxing in the cafe, and exploring here. We arrived just in time for sunset, which was really beautiful. I also recommend visiting the local souq, while you are here, too.
To end our Oman itinerary, we drove back up to Muscat, booked ourselves into Hurmuz Grand Hotel ready for our flights out in the early hours of the following morning.
EXTRA NOTES ON OMAN
- Best time to visit: October – March is Oman’s Winter and temperatures can sit anywhere up to 30 degrees, this would be the best time to visit, as the temperature can rise as high as 50 degrees in the Summer!
- Budget friendly?: Although gas is cheap, and there are certainly ways to cut costs while in Oman, overall – no, Oman is very expensive.
- Safety: Oman is one of the safest countries in the Middle East, and as a woman traveling with other women, I felt just as comfortable (if not more comfortable) there than in NYC.
- Getting around: Driving is a breeze, and absolutely the best way to get around this country, the infrastructure is perfect! You don’t need a 4×4 – we had a standard rental car, and requested picked ups when we needed them (the desert and the mountains). Fuel was approximately $30 for a tank, so really affordable, and the rental was 112 OMR ($300) for the week (we opted for a slightly more budget option). I advise to book and collect your rental car prior, to save time, but we were able to pick one up from the airport with ease without pre-booking – they will ask for your license and a credit card.
- Want to go elsewhere afterward? If you’re looking to make the most of your time in the Middle East, I suggest exploring Jordan. I have a 7-day luxury guide here.