Oman holiday highlights

Oman is a wealthy country where hospitality is outstanding, tradition is prized and heritage rich. Visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Muscat Opera House for a look at exotic Islamic architecture, and enjoy a haggle in the Muttrah Souk where you’ll find antiques, textiles and gold. If you want to swim among coral reefs and turtles, hike through cities high up in the mountains and walk along golden beaches where coconut and banana plantations fringe the coast. You’ve got a choice of forts, the most popular being Nizwa where you can climb to the top for fantastic city views and see lots of Bronze Age beehive-style tombs.

Around Jebel Akhbar and Al Hajar braver hikers can tackle vertical cliff drops and balcony walks in the spectacular Omani mountains, and rock climbers can end an amazing ascent with Oman’s first zip line. If you prefer to snorkel and sunbathe, you’ve a choice of beaches from Al Qurum in Muscat, one of the most beautiful and popular in Oman; and Bandar Jissah, a resort of golden sands, bright blue seas and coconut and banana plantations just outside of the capital city. Swim deep into turquoise waters in tropical-like wadis and head into the desert for a breathtaking adventure on rolling red dunes. Much of Oman is covered in desert known as the Empty Quarter while Wahiba Sands, just three hours drive from Muscat, has dune bashing and Arabian sunset feasts. Spend the day away from the city exploring undulating red and white dunes in a 4x4 or choose a night under the stars at an authentic Bedouin desert camp.

Separated by the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates, Musandam is perfect for those seeking even more adventure; rock climbing, canyoning, hiking, sea kayaking and scuba diving. Alternatively,  opt for a more sedate experience with a cruise on a traditional dhow cruise around the stunning Musandam khors (fjords) and try to spot the bottlenose and spinner dolphins that frequent these waters. You can reach the capital city of Khasab by a flight from Muscat or by road from the United Arab Emirates.

Where is Oman?

On the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman shares borders with the United Arab Emirates to the north-west. The Musandam peninsula is an exclave separated from the rest of Oman by the United Arab Emirates, which juts into the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

Getting around

Hiring a car is the most convenient way to travel around Oman as public transport is limited. A car and driver itinerary is the best way to explore the mountain villages, wadis (valleys) and desert dunes. Our suggested itineraries include an experienced driver to navigate the steep mountain roads and take you into the Omani countryside for an enlightening cultural tour. Taxis are available in Muscat – they are orange and white – but are not metered, so make sure to fix the fare before you get in.

Shopping

You’ll find both international and high street brands in lavish malls in Muscat but the real adventure lies in shopping in the traditional souks. Muttrah is the most famous of these, filled with a maze of tiny alleys with stalls selling everything from jewellery to wooden handicrafts and Arabian perfumes to decadently embellished textiles. In Nizwa and Salalah you’ll also find captivating souks, with the latter known for its famous Dhofari frankincense. And while the shopping malls may be filled with well-known brands, it’s the supermarkets that are a highlight, where you can pick up Yemeni honey, huge jars of dates, exotic spices and sandalwood soaps.

Oman key facts

Time difference

GMT +4 hours

Currency

Omani Rial

Flying time to destination

Muscat 7¾ hours

Language

Arabic

Passport & visas

A visa is required for all UK passport holders travelling to Oman. This can be obtained online prior to travel or on arrival at the airport.

Public holidays

January/February
Muscat Festival
Sample Oman's culture and heritage through music and theatre performances, art exhibitions, sporting events and many more traditional activities held at several venues around the city

May/June
Ramadan
During the Holy month there will be restrictions on alcoholic consumption, restaurant facilities and entertainment

June
Eid Al Fitr
A three-day celebration following the Holy month of Ramadan