Oman, a hidden gem on the Arabian Peninsula, is a land where ancient history and modern life blend seamlessly. From the bustling souks of Muscat to the serene beauty of the Wahiba Sands, travelling through Oman is a wonderful adventure.
With its majestic desert landscapes, pristine coastlines, and hospitable culture, it’s a destination that leaves a lasting impression long after you leave.
7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Oman in 2024
I spent a couple of weeks exploring Oman’s atmospheric old cities, swimming in crystal-clear wadis, enjoying (totally empty) beaches, and camping under the stars in the desert. It was a unique and unforgettable journey.
Oman is a must-visit for any adventurous traveller. So why not make 2024 the year you discover this incredible country? Here are seven reasons to convince you.
1. Enchanting Landscapes
As the sun climbs over Oman’s jagged mountains, a symphony of colours paints the land. From the terracotta hues of the desert to the emerald greenery of the wadis, Oman’s landscapes are as diverse as they are stunning.
Embark on an epic road trip through Oman. Head up into the Al Hajar mountain range where you can hike to hidden villages and precipitous gorges. Or venture along the coast to discover pristine beaches and traditional fishing villages.
Don’t miss a trip to the Wahiba Sands (also known as the Sharqiya Sands), a neverending sea of undulating dunes in the far east of the country. And Jebel Shams, known as the “Grand Canyon of Oman”.
Visit the famous Bimmah Sinkhole, an underground oasis in the desert caused when the roof of an underground cave collapsed, and cool off in its inviting waters. Or immerse yourself in the tranquillity of Wadi Shab’s turquoise pools.
2. Rich Cultural Tapestry
Oman’s rich cultural heritage is a captivating journey through time. Delving into the country’s history unveils a tapestry of ancient traditions and remarkable achievements.
The scent of frankincense wafts through the air, the call to prayer echoes through the mountains, and intricate architecture tells stories of a bygone era.
Explore Nizwa, the atmospheric former capital of Oman, surrounded by date palms and mountains. With its majestic fort, buzzing bazaar, and laid-back atmosphere, it’s a great place to spend a few days.
Admire the breathtaking architecture of Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. This enormous complex is definitely worth seeing with its ornate minarets, intricate mosaics, grand courtyards, and attractive gardens.
3. Warm Hospitality
Omani hospitality is the stuff of legend. The smiles that greet you at the market, the invitations into homes, and the genuine offers to share meals, snacks, or whatever people have on them – this is Old Arabian culture at its finest.
The Omani people are known for their warm and welcoming nature, and hospitality is deeply rooted in their tradition and values.
Every encounter is a chance to connect, to learn, and to be enriched by the unassuming generosity of a people who take pride in making you feel at home. It’s yet another thing that makes Oman such an enchanting destination.
4. Adventure Opportunities
Oman’s wild, uncharted landscapes are a natural playground and paradise for adventurers and thrill seekers alike.
Race 4x4s over the dunes, try your hand at sandboarding, or camp out under a vast sea of stars, sharing stories with nomadic Bedouins.
Embark on a mesmerizing desert safari, where you’ll navigate the undulating dunes, bask in golden sunsets, and immerse yourself in the mystique of the Arabian desert.
Embrace your inner Michael Palin and set sail on a multi-day voyage in a traditional wooden dhow, joining the dolphins leaping from the waves.
Scuba dive in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea, where a vibrant underwater world awaits. Or throw yourself off the towering cliffs of the Al Hajar mountains (with a paragliding canopy of course).
Oman is a destination that rewards the adventurous and leaves you craving more.
5. Culinary Delights
In Oman, food is a feast for all the senses. The aroma of spices, slow-cooked stews, and barbecued meat wafts through the streets of every town and city.
Try shuwa, the national dish, where marinated meat is slow-roasted in an underground sand oven with spices and garlic. Or mashuai, a traditional baked fish dish.
Feast on halva, stuffed dates, and mishkek (flame-grilled kebabs).
If you’re a coffee lover, you’re in for a treat too.
Omani coffee is rich and delicious, and sometimes flavoured with cardamom or other spices. It’s traditionally prepared in a small pot called a dallah, and is often served with dates.
You take a bite of date, then a sip of coffee. The natural sweetness of the dates combines with the bold richness of the coffee, creating a flavour explosion.
I got very hooked on this during my time in Oman, and it’s a ritual I often still do today.
6. Pristine Marine Life
Oman is a dream destination for ocean lovers. The Arabian Sea is home to an array of marine life that’s both abundant and diverse. And the Omani coast is, by and large, pristine and unpolluted.
Coral reefs teem with life beneath the crystal-clear waters. It’s a paradise for snorkellers and scuba divers, with huge shoals of colourful fish, dolphins, turtles, and even the occasional whale shark.
Oman’s white sand beaches are also havens for sea turtles, which haul themselves up onto shore to lay their eggs between July and October. Ras Al Jinz is a particularly important nesting ground for green sea turtles.
7. Peaceful and Safe
In a region sadly known for unrest and instability, Oman remains an oasis of peace and tranquillity. The country is known for its safety and low crime rate.
You can journey to pretty much any part of Oman without worrying about your safety or security. Although, if you plan to head out into the desert, it’s essential that you are adequately prepared and equipped.
The remote and rugged landscapes are incredibly beautiful, but can also be harsh and unforgiving. And the vast expanse of sand dunes and rocky terrain can easily disorient even the most experienced explorers.
It’s also essential to have a map or GPS with you at all times when venturing into the desert. Don’t rely on your mobile phone – signal is nonexistent in most places. And, of course, make sure you have more than enough water and fuel.
Oman is a destination that opens your mind and humbles your spirit. With an irresistible blend of cultural richness and natural splendour, it’s a truly special and unforgettable place to visit.
I strongly recommend adding Oman to your travel bucket list!
And if you’re already based in the Middle East, you can easily drive to Oman from Dubai…
Additional Information on Visiting Oman
Oman Travel Tips:
- Oman is known for its safety, but it’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions.
- Men and women should dress modestly, especially in rural areas and when visiting mosques.
- Arabic is the main language spoken in Oman, but English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas. Learning a few Arabic greetings and phrases can be a great way to connect with locals.
- Oman’s public transportation system is limited, so renting a car is often the best way to explore the country.
- Oman is an amazing country for a road trip. Most paved roads are well-maintained, and the driving is relatively straightforward.
- You’ll need a 4×4, sufficient off-road experience, and to be properly prepared if you want to venture into the desert by yourself. I recommend hiring a guide to make things easier.
Best Time to Visit Oman:
- The ideal time to visit Oman is during the winter months, from November to March, when the weather is coolest, making outdoor activities enjoyable.
- Summer (April to October) can be scorching, with temperatures soaring above 40°C (104°F).
- However, if you can handle the heat, summer can be a great time to save big on accommodation as prices tend to drop significantly.
Top Destinations to Visit:
- Muscat: The capital city offers a blend of modernity and tradition, with its beautiful architecture, bustling souks, and historical sites like the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Muttrah Corniche.
- Nizwa: Explore the ancient fort, traditional markets, and the stunning Jebel Akhdar mountains.
- Salalah: Known for its lush landscapes, this coastal city is famous for its monsoon season, or “Khareef,” when the desert turns green.
- Wahiba Sands: Immerse yourself in a vast sea of dunes, stay in a traditional Bedouin camp, and enjoy mesmerizing sunsets and star gazing.
- Jebel Shams: Visit the “Grand Canyon of Oman” for breathtaking views and hiking opportunities.