Oman map & itineraries

There are 11 regions in the Sultanate of Oman, known as Governates, but generally tourists stick to the northern section of the country, which has Muscat as its glittering centerpiece. From here you get a snippet of what Oman has to offer, the twinkling bay a starter for the Indian Ocean that lies beyond. The souks are a snippet of the crafts and cuisine that you will find all over Oman, with spices, frankincense, perfumes and sweets creating a heady Arabian mix. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Ash Sharqiya Fort are fine examples of Omani architecture while the Western Al Hajar Mountains invite you to choose your own adventures in the desert wilderness beyond.
Bilad Sayt

1. Bilad Sayt

There are many remote villages in Oman, but this oneís draw, in the middle of the Al Hajar Mountains, is its collection of clay dwellings set into rocky terraces. It is a typical Omani settlement, with labyrinthine pathways connecting huddled homes. It sits close to Jebel Shams, Omanís highest peak. The nearby villages of Al Hamra and Misfat are also on this route of villages that rock.
Jabreen Castle

2. Jabreen Castle

Built in 1670 for Imam Bil'arab when he switched the capital from Nizwa to Jabrin. One of the finest forts in Oman, and also very cool. Literally, as it was designed to channel air around the Imamís living quarters, all now beautifully restored and famed for its intricate carved and painted ceilings. The views of nearby Bahla and the surrounding date plantations are one of the ĎOh Maní moments.
Jebel Shams

3. Jebel Shams

Jebel Shams means ĎMountain of the Suní and, given that it is the highest peak in Oman at 3,000m, you certainly feel the solar power up here. Part of the Al Hajar range, this is also canyon territory, with sheer drops down to valleys 1,000m below. There is a trekking route up to the south summit, the north side an out of bounds military zone.
Masirah Island

4. Masirah Island

A desert island but not a deserted one, the most famous visitors being the endangered green sea turtles that come to lay eggs in the sands of this secret hideaway every year. There are also 12,000 human residents on this 95km by 12km island too, plus long empty beaches, fishing villages, and lovely hiking in the cooler seasons. Itís a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Shanna port, at high tide only.
Musandam Peninsula

5. Musandam Peninsula

Right up on the north coast, tucked in beside UAE, this remote part of Oman is otherworldly. The people here are fishermen and Bedouins who have traditionally lived off the waters and valleys of this fjordic landscape. Take a fjord cruise with a difference here on a traditional dhow, snorkelling and fishing, eating and chatting, for a truly local welcome.

6. Muscat

Even the name is evocative, with Westerners associating it with an aromatic wine that awakens the senses. The Omani capital certainly awakens the senses too, from old souks to the Sultanís Palace, the jewel bedecked Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to a state of the art Royal Opera House. The backdrop is certainly dramatic too, with mountains, turquoise bays and sunlit sandstone cliffs.

7. Nakhl

The magnificent fort here dates from pre-Islamic times, and is an example of Omanís fine desert architecture restored to perfection. Originally built to protect the picture postcard oasis of date palms and pomegranate trees, itís also gateway to the Hajar Mountain range with wadis and wonderful rural villages. Check out the Nakhl hot springs, which have those weird fish that nibble the dead skin on your feet.

8. Nizwa

A former capital city always comes with a fort and this one doesnít disappoint. Nor does the city souk, which you will sniff out thanks to the feisty aroma of vanilla, saffron and cardamom. There is people watching extraordinaire at the Friday goat auction but, for gobsmacking scenery, head to the nearby heights of Jebel Akhdar aka Green Mountain, an oasis of orchards and palm trees.
Ras Al Jinz

9. Ras Al Jinz

A fishing village in the Ras AI Hadd, itís a top choice for the turtles that return year after year to lay their eggs. In particular, the endangered green turtle that thrives in this turtle reserve, protected by Royal Decree since 1996. The turtles can be seen late at night or just before dawn, typically from late May to September. Always visit with expert ranger.

10. Salalah

This is the Dhofar region of Oman, far south, and a chosen favourite with Omanis in the monsoon, or khareef, where they go in search of rain and valleys that turn from arid to almost ambrosial. Itís a big port town, so itís fine for a couple of nights, but itís also a great gateway into the deserts of the south.

11. Sur

This is the home of the dhow-style traditional fishing boat still used by Omanis. Known as a safeena (ship) in Arabic, you can visit the yard where artisans still work on these boats today. This whole stretch of desert coast is still relatively undeveloped, although changing, with small fishing villages like nearby Ayega destined to become coastal chic in the near future.
Wahiba Sands

12. Wahiba Sands

If you are going to camp out in Oman, do it here, enveloped by the undulating red and white sand dunes that rise up to 200m and stretch as far as the eye can see, with spectacular views down miles of the coast. Stay with Bedouin hosts to learn about their extraordinary culture, with star gazing, camel riding, sharing dinner round a campfire, or listening to traditional Oudh songs all thrown in.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Oman or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Oman sample itineraries

Oman cultural highlights vacation (10 days):
Muscat > Nakhl > Wadi Bani Auf > Nizwa > Bahla > Wadu Ghul > Misfah > Wahiba Sands > Wadi Bani Khalid > Sur > Muscat
Wild walking vacation in Oman (8 days):
Muscat > Tiwi Beach > Wadi Shab > Hajar Mountains > Wadi Bani Kalid > Wahiba Sands > Nizwa > Jebel Shams > Muscat

Sample travel times in Oman

The following times give you a rough idea of the travel times between the main attractions in Oman.

Shanna - Masirah Island: 1.5hrs by ferry Muscat - Musandam: 7hrs by car Muscat - Musandam: 5hrs by ferry Muscat - Salalah: 12hrs by car Nizwa - Jebel Shams: 1-2hrs by car Muscat - Salalah: 90 mins by air
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Marc Veraart] [Bilad Sayt: Andries Oudshoorn] [Jabreen Castle: Tristan Schmurr] [Jebel Shams: freddie marriage] [Masirah Island: Marlon Cureg] [Musandam Peninsula: eutrophication&hypoxia] [Muscat: John Crane] [Nizwa: Andries Oudshoorn] [Ras Al Jinz: F igy] [Salalah: billy1847] [Sur: Andries Oudshoorn] [Wahiba Sands: freddie marriage] [Sample itineraries: Prasad Pillai]