The ultimate road trip in Oman

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Oman is this amazing, underrated, beautiful, mysterious country. The country is safe to visit and to drive around. If you want some important information about the country, you can read my blog What to know about Oman.

Tip: best thing to do is renting a car. The roads and infrastructure are good and it’s safe to drive. Watch out because there are many speed controls so don’t drive too fast. Oman is also a safe country to visit and to camp in the wild (it is allowed).

‘Welcome to Oman’ is something you will hear a lot and people will offer food and drinks for free. They are happy to see tourists and they love to get to know you. We met so many friendly people and sat down with many Omani, got a free ride to the desert to watch a sunrise and some young guys took us dune bashing and we could even try it ourselves. They just want to connect with you and don’t ask anything in return just get to know the people. We only got one bad experience at Wadi Tiwi so I would recommend you take a guide to go there.

Tip: when visiting a Wadi (Valley) you need to immediately leave when there is a sign of rain because it can quickly start flowing.

In this blog I will give the time you need to visit the place, then the route you can follow and how long the route will take. Besides that, I’ll also tell you where you need to sleep for a road trip. In the end of each section I will explain what you should do during the day and where you will end up.

The capital Muscat

  • Time: 3 to 5 days
  • Accommodation in Muscat

There are many things you can do in Muscat. Discover the souks, go spot some dolphins, go diving or hiking or something else. There is something for everybody.

Things you should do in Muscat:

  • Beautiful views at Sultan Qaboos Port
  • Get lost in Muttrah Souq
  • Learn history of Muttrah fort
  • Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
  • The Royal Opera House
  • Al Alam Palace
  • Hike C38 in Muscat
  • Go spot dolphins and go snorkeling
  • Diving at Dimaniyat islands
  • Stunning views at an undiscovered place
  • Discover the many malls
  • Relax at Qurum beach
  • The National Museum of Oman
  • Daytrip to Bimmah Sinkhole and Wadi Shab

I wrote a whole blog about this beautiful capital. Read about Muscat in the blog 14 things to do in the capital Muscat.

Road trip: you start the road trip inMuscat. It is a big city, and you can stay as many days as you like. After Muscat I suggest you drive South to Bimmah Sinkhole. It is only 1.5 hours’ drive from Muscat to Bimmah Sinkhole. Make sure you leave early in the morning because it will be a long day if you want to visit Bimmah Sinkhole, Wadi Shab, Sur, and end up sleeping near turtle beach.

Diving near the Daymaniyat islands

  • Time: 1 day
  • Accommodation in Muscat

An amazing activity in Oman is diving. There are many incredible diving spots and there is a lot of marine life to discover. The Daymaniyat islands are one of the nice places to go diving. You can read about our diving experience in our blog Diving in the beauty of Oman.

Natural Bimmah Sinkhole

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Route: Muscat – Bimmah Sinkhole
  • Duration route: 1.5 hours
  • Accommodation near turtle beach
  • Opening hours: 8 am – 8 pm

Bimmah Sinkhole also called Hawiyat Njam Park is a beautiful natural sinkhole where you can swim if you like. There are fish in the water that eat dead skin. So if you stand still you can feel them tickling you. The fish are Garra Rufa also called doctor fish because they use these fish in spas or to treat skin diseases. The Bimmah sinkhole is the perfect place to relax and cool down. The entrance is free of charge.

Tip: go early in the morning during opening times. Bring sun protection, swimwear, and water shoes.

There is a toilet and a place to change your clothes. It’s important to dress modestly while roaming the park. If you don’t wear modest clothes you can not enter the park.

Road trip: after visiting the Bimmah Sinkhole you can visit Wadi Shab. When you are finished visiting the wadi you can drive further to Sur and end up somewhere near turtle beach.

Hiking to Wadi Shab

  • Time: 3 hours
  • Route: Bimmah sinkhole – Wadi Shab
  • Duration route: 20 minutes
  • Accommodation near turtle beach

From the sinkhole to Wadi Shab, it takes around 20 minutes driving. You can park your car under the bridge and then you need to take the boat to the other side which costs 1 OMR.

If you want, you can take a guided tour. We did it ourselves and you don’t need a guide but watch out for slippery stones and make sure you wear decent (walking or hiking) shoes.

The walk to the wadi takes around 45 minutes and you walk the same way back. Sometimes the walk is in the sun and sometimes it’s in the shade, also depending on what time you go. When you’re at the wadi you van swim to a cave which is amazing.

To go to the cave, you swim and walk between the rocks so make sure to bring water shoes. It takes around 10 minutes before you reach the cave.

Tip: bring sun protection, water, snacks, wear decent shoes and bring water shoes. Make sure you wear your swimwear because there are no toilets or changing rooms at the wadi. A towel can also be handy.

Road trip: when you visited Bimmah Sinkhole and Wadi Shab there should still be time to visit Sur. When you are finished visiting Sur you can drive further and end up somewhere near turtle beach.

A fort and lighthouse in Sur

  • Time: 2 hours
  • Route: Wadi Shab – Sur
  • Duration route: 45 minutes
  • Accommodation near turtle beach

The drive from Wadi Shab to Sur takes around 30 minutes. In Sur you must visit Sunaysilah fort, a fort you will have most likely have all to yourself. The views from here are also incredible. After the fort you can pass by the lighthouse of Sur.

Road trip: when you visited Sur you should drive to turtle beach and sleep somewhere around there. You normally still have time to do an evening tour if you like and the next morning you can do the morning tour.  The morning tour is early in the morning just before the sun comes up.

Watching turtles at beaches

  • Time: 2 hours evening and or morning
  • Route: Sur – turtle beach
  • Duration route: 45 minutes
  • Accommodation near turtle beach

Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve is the place where you can watch the turtles in Oman. It’s the only official place where the public can watch the turtle nesting. Every day they do an evening guided tour and a morning tour to watch the turtles. In the evening you can see the turtles nesting and, in the morning, you can see the turtles and baby turtles going to the sea.

You start with a guide, but you can then walk around on the beach. It’s good that there is a guide because he sees to it that everybody treats the turtles with respect. You pay to watch the turtles around 8 OMR each tour but if you stay at the hotel, you can do both the evening tour and the morning tour, and you just pay your night at the hotel.

There are some other beaches where you can watch the turtles for free, but you need to be careful and treat them with respect. Leave them alone and just watch how they nest. It’s important to only use a red light, so don’t use a bright light.

Watching the turtles in their natural habitat is beautiful but sadly you will see a lot of dead baby turtles on the beach. The foxes, birds, crabs, and weather conditions kill them which is the circle of live.

During the tour at Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve, you see beautiful views of the beach. You can see baby turtles, big turtles, birds and if you are lucky, you will see foxes.

The rules and regulations of turtle watching:

Did you know that turtles are one of the oldest group of reptiles in the world. They date back to the time of the dinosaurs. That’s over 200 million years ago. The shell is to protect them from predators but sadly a lot of turtle species are endangered.

Remember to always have respect for animals. Don’t stand in their way. The turtles are going to the sea after nesting so don’t block their way and don’t touch them. Just watch and enjoy the process.

Road trip: after watching the turtles early in the morning it is possible to pass by pink lakes before you visit Wadi Bani Khalid. However, when we passed by the lakes, they were not pink at all. So, if you don’t have time, you should skip the pink lakes and go straight to Wadi Bani Khalid.

Locals at Wadi Bani Khalid

  • Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Route: turtle beach – (pink lakes) – Wadi Bani Khalid  
  • Duration route: 2.30 hours
  • Accommodation in the desert

The Wadi Bani Khalid is mostly for the locals so it’s important to wear decent clothing while swimming.

Tip: at Lulu hypermarket you can buy swimwear that covers your whole body. I bought a long swim t-shirt and pants that was not that expensive, and it is also perfect to go snorkeling and to protect yourself from the sun.

This wadi is easily accessible by car. The road is well paved and there is a parking space nearby. You will see a sign of Muqal Cave which is nice to visit. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the wadi. It could be that somebody wants to help to guide you but say that you don’t want that and go by yourself.

Road trip: when you have visited Wadi Bani Khalid you should drive to the Wahiba Sands desert to spend the night in the desert. We recommend spending two nights just to fully enjoy the beauty of it.

Wahiba Sands desert

  • Time: 2 to 3 days
  • Route: Wadi Bani Khalid – Wahiba Sands desert
  • Duration route: 1 to 2 hours depending in which camp you stay
  • Accommodation in the desert

In the Wahiba Sands desert you should spend at least one night. However, we suggest staying two nights just to relax and discover the desert. It is possible to drive yourself. To read everything about the Wahiba Sands desert and how to drive in the desert you should read the blog Driving in the desert in Oman.

Road trip: after staying in the desert, you can pass by Birkat Al Mouz Ruin before you head to Nizwa.

Birkat Al Mouz Ruin

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Route: Wahiba Sands desert – Birkat Al Mouz Ruin
  • Duration route: 2.30 hours
  • Accommodation in Nizwa

Birkat Al Mouz is a historical settlement in Harat Al Siybani that was last rebuilt in the 17th century. Now it’s a place with around 50 abandoned houses and a falaj irrigation channel passing through it.

Tip: you will see many falaj (in plural aflaj) in Oman which is a water delivery system that dates back as much as 2000 years ago.

Road trip: the ruins are easy to pass by and take some amazing pictures and have a drink. Afterwards you drive to the vivid city Nizwa.

Discover Nizwa

  • Time: 1 to 2 days
  • Route: Birkat Al Mouz Ruin – Nizwa
  • Duration route: 30 minutes
  • Accommodation in Nizwa

Nizwa is a must visit while you are in Oman. There are some places you should visit in Nizwa like the Nizwa fort, Nizwa Souq and the goat market on Friday.

The Nizwa fort is perfect to discover early in the morning. The Nizwa fort is 5 OMR and open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Only on Friday it closes for 45 minutes from 12 pm to 12:45 pm.

You can visit the fort with a guide or by yourself. We did it ourselves and asked for a folder. The folder was only in Arabic, but it had a plan on it to see how the fort was built.

Nizwa souq is a smaller souq than in Muscat but you can find cheaper souvenirs here. When you visit a souq you must know that you need to bargain for the price. Never pay the price they say in the first place. We always first walk around and ask prices in different shops, so you get an idea of the price. Then you can start negotiating about the price.

Every Friday there is a goat market in Nizwa that will be a highlight of your visit in Oman.  It is only on Friday and starts from 7 am to 9 am. Make sure you are early because it’s difficult to find a parking spot during the goat market.

If you have time left, you can also visit Izki, 30 minutes from Nizwa, where you can find some ruins called Harat Al-Yemen. It’s the oldest human settlement in Oman.

Tip: visit Nizwa on a Friday so you can visit the goat market, it’s an experience you will never forget.

Road trip: Nizwa is an amazing and bigger city but after the city you can head back to less busy places. First pass by Bahla fort, Jabreen castle and Ibri fort and watch the sunset at Misfat Al Abriyeen.

Forts and castles (Bahla, Jabreen and Ibri)

  • Time: 1 -2 hours each
  • Route: Nizwa – Bahla – Jabreen – Ibri  
  • Duration route: 30 minutes – 15 minutes – 1 hour
  • Accommodation near Misfat Al Abriyyin

While you are driving through Oman you will see many forts and castles. We loved exploring a lot of them and a lot of the time you will have those places all to yourself.

  • Bahla opening hours: 9 am – 4 pm from Saturday to Thursday
  • Jabreen castle opening hours: 7.30 am – 10 pm
  • Ibri opening hours: 8 am – 1.30 pm from Saturday to Thursday

Road trip: after watching the forts and castles you should drink a coffee during the sunset at Misfat Al Abriyeen and enjoy the most beautiful views.

Drink a coffee at Misfat Al Abriyeen

  • Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Route: Ibri castle – Misfat Al Abriyeen
  • Duration route: 1.3 hours
  • Accommodation near Misfat Al Abriyeen

This is nice mountainous village where you should watch a sunset. First hike around, then go to a coffee bar and drink a coffee at one of the bars like Rogan’s Café or Halwa Coffee.

Road trip: you enjoyed the beautiful sunset at Misfat Al Abriyeen and the day after you’ll start the day with a hike. You should wake up early the next morning and go hiking the W6 at Jebel Shams. After the hike you can always pass by Valley Necrosis.

Hiking the W6 at Jebel Shams

  • Time: 3 hours
  • Route: Misfat Al Abriyeen – Jebel Shams
  • Duration route: 2 hours
  • Accommodation near Jabal Akhdar

To get to the starting point of the hike ‘W6-Balcony walk’ by car, you must know that the road is not always paved so it can take some time. It’s also in the mountains so it goes up and down, it’s best to go with a 4×4 car but it is possible with a normal one. The first part is paved then there is an unpaved part for around 7km, then again paved for 5 km and in the end it’s unpaved for 2 km.

The path of the hike is marked with yellow, white and red. In total it takes around 3 hours to finish the hike depending on how often you stop.

At the end of the hike, you arrive at a lake. Afterwards you hike the same way back. You can spot goats, lizards, and frogs along the way. After the hike you can pass by Valley Necrosis if you like.

Tip: bring a backpack with sun protection, snacks, and water.

Road trip: after your early morning hike you should drive to Jabal Akhdar and enjoy the mountains there. There is much to do in Jabal Akhdar.

Driving and hiking at Jabal Akhdar mountains

  • Time: 1 – 2 days
  • Route: Jebel Shams – Jabal Akhdar
  • Duration route: 3 hours
  • Accommodation near Jabal Akhdar

To visit Jabal Akhdar you need to have a 4×4 car, it’s obligated. There is a checkpoint where they check if you have a 4×4 car. The main road is paved with a lot of steep ascents and descents. You can do off-road if you like to try it. After the checkpoint you can also immediately find an information point to get some information.

There is a lot to do from hiking, off-road driving, climbing, etc. You should spend the night here and watch the stunning sunset and sunrise.

A place you can visit is Wadi Bani Habib and hike down to it. It’s an abandoned village with some amazing views.

Road trip: in Jabal Akhdar mountains there are many activities you can do. You can go hiking, climbing, driving around off-road etc. After visiting this place you should pass by Bayt Ar Ridaydah Castle that you can visit and drive further to Nakhal fort. You end the day in Muscat.

Wandering around Nakhal fort

  • Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Route: Jabal Akhdar – Nakhal fort
  • Duration route: 2.5 hours
  • Accommodation in Muscat

Road trip: when you have visited Jabal Akhdar you can pass by Nakhal fort, Ain Al Thawarah hot springs, and Barka fort before you head back to Muscat.

Ain Al Thawarah hot springs

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Route: Nakhal fort – Ain Al Thawarah hot springs
  • Duration route: 10 minutes
  • Accommodation in Muscat

This hot spring is a place where local people come. It’s important that you will not enter the residential areas because it could be that you disturb the local people. Another thing is that you park your car in the parking areas so that you don’t cause traffic congestion.

You should dress appropriately and behave yourself. Also ask permission before you take pictures of people and when you take pictures of private properties. It’s a nice place to wander around and enjoy the nature.

Road trip: the hot springs are nice to pass by but after the hot springs you should make a quick stop at Barka and discover this place. There is a beautiful fort there that you must visit.

Barka fort

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Route: Ain Al Thawarah hot springs – Barka fort
  • Duration route: 40 minutes
  • Accommodation in Muscat

Barka fort is a beautiful small fort near a fishing village in Oman. I recommend you walk around and discover this place.

Road trip: after visiting Barka you drive back to Muscat and enjoy the capital some more if you like.

Extra: adventures at Wadi Tiwi

Wadi Tiwi is the closest to Wadi Bani Khalid so if you want you can combine those two. From Muscat it’s around 3 hours drive.

Tip: visit Wadi Tiwi with a guide because it’s the only place we got a bad experience with children and adults asking for money. Luckily another Omani helped us out and explained that this is not the Omani way and hoped we would still have faith in the people. Visit this place with a guide you will be more relaxed and have a nice experience while enjoying some beautiful nature.

The road to Wadi Tiwi is small and it’s two-way. You need a 4×4 car to get to Wadi Tiwi.

How to get to Wadi Tiwi:

  • Follow the road to Mibam waterfall
  • Drive to the end of the road and park your car
  • Go in the direction of the village
  • Look for the paved stairs
  • Follow the paved stairs down to the waterfalls
  • You can swim if you go to the left and you will see some beautiful nature

Tip: bring a waterproof bag so you can bring all your stuff into the water while swimming or leave your stuff in the car and bring a small waterproof bag for the car keys and your cellphone.

Our full experience: we had a bad and good experience. When we were arriving near the village, children were running at the car begging for money. They even tried to open the car doors. Afterwards, a guy was guiding us, but I said that I don’t want to be guided, I want to discover it on my own. He was pushy and annoying. I kept saying that I don’t want it and that he needs to leave us alone, but he kept guiding and, in the end, asked for money. Luckily there were a few other people at this place. Another guy helped us and told the ‘guide’ that we won’t pay him. He was annoyed, got a bit aggressive but after some time he left. The guy who helped us said this isn’t how Omani people normally are and he apologized. Afterwards he offered us coffee and food. He said we could walk with him if we wanted and then showed us where we can find the waterfalls. The guy was so friendly and just helped us no strings attached. We were lucky that he was there.

Tip: keep your car locked because children will try to open it and run after your car.

Beside this experience Wadi Tiwi is stunning and we never had something like this before in Oman. It’s just in this place. I recommend you book a tour if you want to visit this place. Remember in every country you have good and bad people so always be careful.

Extra: (monsoon) festival in Salalah

The best time to visit Salalah is during the monsoon (Khareef) months which is from June to August. During this period the city turns green, and many people come here to see this from all around the world. It’s something that you must do if you are traveling in Oman during these months.  

There is much more to visit in Oman. The things I mentioned are the must do’s and I would recommend you get lost and discover this incredible country.

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