Things to do in Oman

Always have desert

The desert is a must on the Omani menu, with the most famous area known as, quite simply, The Empty Quarter, or Rub Al Khali, which is part of the world's largest sand desert. Explore by 4x4 but always with an expert guide, ideally a Bedouin one who knows every dune or when a mirage is not a mirage. Wahiba Sands is also amazing and closer to Muscat, but whichever desert you choose, they are places to ponder peace, camp under an explosion of stars, join a Bedouin caravan of camels at moonlight when it is cooler, or take tea with them in their reed dwellings. The Bedouin will share stories of desert life and humble you with their innate sense of hospitality, leaving you with the sweetest and most lasting flavour of real Oman. For an appetiser, read Wilfred Thesigerís 1959 classic travelogue, Arabian Sands.
After hiking in the desert, we hit a wadi with a crater full of water. Itís wasnít a mirage; it was like manna from heaven.

Hiking is hot

With expert guides, the right season and plenty of stamina, this is one of the most exhilarating (and empty) countries to hike in. Walk through Omanís wilderness, stomp along dry wadis, ramble across the rugged Hajar Mountains or through Jebel Shams, Omanís ĎGrand Canyoní. You can also combine it with some cycling, across wadi landscapes to see the souks and fort at Bahla.

The wonders of wadis

Wadi is an Arabic term for a valley, and it usually comes in two extreme forms: dry as a bone, or flooded. Oman is, therefore, a place to hire a 4x4, as the roads suddenly end and you wander into a dry wadi, taking in all its curves and caves, either by some dusty, daredevil driving , hardcore but heavenly hiking or, if it is water filled, leave the car behind and take in some of the most wonderful wild swimming. Wadi Shab, for example, has secret emerald green caves and waterfalls all year round, leading down to the coastal village of Tiwi, where the mouth of the wadi enters the Arabian Sea. Or head to Wadi Bani Awf with old houses built into its slopes, and terraces are cultivated with date and pomegranate plantations using the ancient falaj system. No matter where you go, you are never far from a wadi and all nearly all tours include a visit to one.

Our top Oman Vacation

Oman small group tour

Oman small group tour

Ancient spice trails, Wahiba Sands, superb coastal scenery

From £2395 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2024: 5 Feb, 11 Mar, 7 Oct, 4 Nov
2025: 3 Feb, 3 Nov
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.
There is a lot of imported junk in some souks. Sometimes you need to poke around in the back of the shop for the real Omani gems.

Who doesnít love a souk?

You are spoilt with souks in Oman. For starters, Muttrah is great for handmade silver and gold jewellery although you might need to check for real Omani origins. The Wednesday souk at Buraimi is run only by women and specialises in handicrafts and pottery. The Sinaw Souk specialises in Bedouin crafts, and for Oman's fine frankincense, head to Al Husn Souk in Salalah.
Written by Catherine Mack
Photo credits: [Page banner: Marc Veraart] [Desert, wadi & souk: Oman Ministry of Tourism]