Oman, a small nation situated on the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is known for its diverse landscape, natural wonders, pristine coastline, breathtaking fjords, ancient forts and archeological sites. Unlike its neighbor, the UAE, the Sultanate of Oman is still unspoiled by mass tourism as the country has only been open to tourists since 1980. Dubbed as the Arabian Peninsula's hidden gem, discover this mysterious country with our guide to the 11 best attractions in Oman.
Known by locals as Hawaiyat Najm, meaning Meteor Fall, this natural phenomenon can be found near the capital city of Muscat. Legend has it that the sinkhole was created by a meteorite, and some of the local Omanis still believe it! Although scientists have discovered the true origin story for the sinkhole, the name stayed. The hole is more than 20 meters deep and filled with beautiful turquoise water surrounded by rocks. In the center of a vast, dry area, this place stands out as a truly breathtaking oasis. Most visitors come here just to marvel the unique formation, but taking a swim here is also an incredible experience!
The capital of Oman is a must-see when visiting the country. Surrounded by mountains, ocean and desert, this city has it all. Compared to its hectic neighbor Dubai, Muscat is like an oasis of peace and intact nature. Its hundred-year-old forts, historic sites and stunning natural scenery are sure to amaze.
The city's top tourist attraction is the Grand Mosque, and the title is well-deserved. This massive mosque features modern Islamic architecture and a magnificent interior with one of the world's largest chandeliers and one of the world's largest carpets. Another popular tourist spot is the Royal Opera House, a majestic piece of architecture that's equally stunning on the inside.
For a glimpse of Arab culture, visit the Mutrah Souk, a traditional market where you can buy authentic souvenirs, spices, food and much more. Even if you're not into shopping, it's worth a visit to experience the electric atmosphere of a traditional Middle Eastern bazaar. When you've had enough sightseeing, relax at one of the city's sandy beaches.
This seaside town located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman is known for being an important trading port. Explore the narrow streets of the city's old center where you'll find many old merchant houses with engraved wooden doors. Those seeking relaxation will enjoy the city's peaceful vibe and the nearby beaches. Sur's major attraction is the dhow shipyards, where these famous Arab boats are still built today. Oman as a whole is famous for its many castles and forts, and the town of Sur is no different. The Sunaysilah Fort can be found in the city center and the Al Ayjah Fort is situated in the historical district of Al Ayjah.
Wadi Bani Khalid
Some of the most fascinating sights you'll see across the Middle East are the wadi, the Arabic term for a river valley. One of the most famous in Oman is the Wadi Bani Khalid, a real oasis in the desert. Surrounded by beautiful date palms, high mountain cliffs and desert slopes, Wadi Bani Khalid is popular for swimming. Its crystal-clear blue water, waterfalls, deep pools and impressive cave network are what make this place so attractive to both tourists and locals alike. There's also a picnic area near the pools, perfect for eating a packed lunch or relaxing a bit.
Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
An hour's drive from Sur is the one of the most popular turtle nesting spots in the world, the Ras Al Jinz. Peak nesting season is between May and September, but even if you visit outside of high season, you're bound to see some turtles on the beach since they come all year round. Guided tours are offered at the reserve so that visitors can witness the spectacle in person, but to get up close and personal with these amazing animals you'll have to get up very early in the morning or visit them at nighttime. Also, for those keen on learning a bit more about the turtles, there's an interactive museum on site.