Oman, a diverse country of contrasts with an abundance of natural attractions and cultural sights, the best way to experience the varied regions of Oman is to stay longer and embark on a guided tour with a driver who knows the country inside out. So, after you've experienced the captivating capital of Muscat, venture on to explore more of Oman. Ellen, our Marketing Executive shares her top tips for exploring this outstanding country...
A couple of hours drive from Muscat, lies the ancient city of Nizwa or the 'Pearl of Islam' as its affectionally called. Located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains and surrounded by date palms, this city for centuries acted as the capital of Oman but remains to this day an important hub for trade, art, and history in Oman. Home to the UNESCO World Heritage site Nizwa Fort and the famous Friday Livestock market, Nizwa* is a must-see during your Oman holiday.
If you, like me hold a passion for history and experiencing local culture, you'll love Nizwa, its ancient fort, and vibrant souks. As you wander around, you are instantly struck by the traditional Omani architecture and cylindrical main tower, which as the highest in Oman stands at 34m high. Offering great views of the city and surrounding Hajar Mountains, the steep stairs up the earth-filled stone walls are well worth the climb. But by far the most enjoyable aspect of your visit to Nizwa Fort is learning the fascinating stories behind its historical defense tactics. With seven doors, seven hot date syrup traps and a further seven trap doors - it's hard to imagine anyone actually being able to successfully infiltrate the walls of Nizwa Fort.
For an insight into local life in Oman, head to the popular livestock market on a Friday. Held every Friday from 6.30 am - 9 am make sure you arrive early for the best glimpse into this long-lasting Omani tradition, as the locals start to head home by 9 am! A true sight to behold, local herders gather to parade their goats, camels, and cows in the hopes of alluring the highest bidder. After you've witnessed the livestock market, head to the souk before 11 am to enjoy meeting the friendly locals. Browse the different sections; meat, fish, and pottery before sitting down to enjoy the traditional custom of Omani coffee with seasoned dates. You could even ask one of the stallholders if you can try Oman's national dessert Halwa - a sweet treat flavoured with almonds rose water, saffron, and cardamon.
After you've got your cultural fix in Nizwa, prepare to leave this charming city behind in exchange for the magical Jebel Akhdar mountains. As your driver takes the winding roads you'll have plenty of opportunities to admire the ever-changing landscape of lunar-like plateaus and towering limestones as you climb higher and higher above sea level.
Famously featured on BBC's Amazing Hotels: Beyond the lobby, the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is the perfect mountain hideout for your time in the 'Green Mountain' region. Perched 2,000m above sea level, this luxurious resort offers striking mountainous scenery, canyon views and an array of superb restaurants and activities. Whether you choose to spend your time embracing your adventurous side with hikes to nearby local villages or decide to treat yourself with a luxurious massage at the spa, this resort offers plenty of ways to keep busy during your Oman holiday.
Follow in the footsteps of Royalty and enjoy a private dining experience at Diana's point the canyon edge platform where Princess Diana admired the panoramic canyon views in 1986. Or soak up the serene ambiance with a sunrise yoga experience and admire the glistening canopy of stars with an unforgettable stargazing session. One of our favourite spots for lunch at the resort is ‘Bella Vista’ – which offers exactly that - a beautiful view accompanied by exquisite Italian dishes.
Before you head back to Muscat, stop at the deserted village Birkat Al Mouz which roughly translates as ‘Banana pool’ a name you’ll agree is quite appropriate as you drive through the large banana plantation. Take a stroll through the abandoned village to discover the ancient ruins and you’ll soon encounter the UNESCO world heritage listed Al Falaj irrigation system, all offering a fascinating insight into traditional Omani life.
*When visiting Nizwa and local villages, make sure you are careful to respect local customs and culture. As a sign of respect, we advise you to wear clothing which covers both your shoulders and knees. And when eating and drinking try to use your right hand as the left hand is seen as unclean.
If you'd like to create an unforgettable Oman itinerary for your next holiday give our friendly reservation team a call. For more inspiration search 'Oman Holidays' on our Beachcomber Tours blog where our staff share their expert tips and advice.