Must do excursions from the capital Muscat

The best option to enjoy the country is to rent a car and explore its amazing spots. Anyways no worry, if you have only a very few days or you don’t want to go itinerant, Muscat is also conveniently located and many attractions of Oman are reachable on a day tour from the capital city. You can both rent your own car or book a private tour.

Our selection of the best tours from Muscat

1) Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole

Wadi Shab is a very popular outdoor destination, a stunning canyon lined with palm trees including a number of hidden pools ideal for swimming.

On your way back you can stop at the Bimmah Sinkhole that is a water-filled depression, pretty much 70 meters wide and 20 m deep, filled with turquoise waters where you can swim and relax.

Location: Wadi Shab is 1.45-hour drive from Muscat (150 km).

Bimmah Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole

2) Wadi al Arbeieen and Bimmah Sinkhole

After leaving the highway, you have to drive through an off-road path (4wd highly recommended) to the Wadi Al Arbeieen, a beautiful canyon with high walls and lush vegetation, where the river has created ponds and pools of water with a blue-green color and incredible transparencies.

At the end of the road, there is a beautiful pond with a small waterfall where you can swim, but we also suggest to walk for 1 hr (or more) to explore the wadi. After visiting the wadi, you can head to the nearby Bimmah Sinkhole.

Location: around 1.45-hour drive from Muscat (130 km).

Wadi al Arbeieen
Wadi al Arbeieen

3) Wadi Bani Khalid and the Wahiba Sands Dunes

Wadi Bani Khalid is one of the most picturesque and accessible wadis of the whole Oman with its steep walls and abundant water that form natural pools with a fantastic and smooth green-emerald colors water perfect for a swim.

Wahiba Sands (Bidiya town area) is the most accessible area for enjoying the desert and its golden dunes. 

Location: Wadi Bani Khalid is 3 hrs drive from Muscat (240 km) and 1 hr drive from Wahiba sands (2 hrs from Muscat).

Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Bani Khalid

4) Nizwa, Bahla, and Jabreen 

Nizwa is an important historic and cultural city, the former capital of Oman, where you can discover a beautiful traditional Souk and climb up to the top of the old fort for breathtaking views of the oasis.

A few kilometers away is Jabreen Castle, one of the most beautiful Omani fortresses, built in the 17th century and boasting impressive walls, painted ceilings and sculptures.

Only 10 minutes drive from Jabreen Castle is located the town of Bahla, where you can visit the old historic fort with its walls and towers of unbaked brick and its stone foundations. Bahla Fort was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 1987.

Location: Nizwa is 1.45-hour drive from Muscat (160 km), whereas Jabreen and Bahla only 30 min. drive from Nizwa.

Jabreen Castle
Jabreen Castle

5) Jebel Shams hiking 

Jebel Shams is the highest mountain in Oman at 3009 meters, situated in the heart of the Western Hajar Mountain chain. Here it’s possible to do amazing hiking (there are 3 hiking routes) on the Jebel Shams plateau with incredible views of the gorge of Al Nakhr and the place is so spectacular to be labeled as “the Grand Canyon” of Oman. 

Location: around 3.30-hour drive from Muscat (240 km).

view from Jebel Shams plateau, Oman
view from Jebel Shams plateau, Oman

6) Wadi Bani Awf

If you want to experience an off-road driving, this is the right place. Wadi Bani Awf offers some great off-road driving with beautiful scenery and stunning cliffs and canyons throughout. In some points of the Wadi, the dirt road is steep and could not be that easy to drive if you are not a confident driver and it’s recommended a 4WD vehicle.

Location: you have to reach Nakhal and then drive along the Nakhal Rustaq road. At some point, you’ll find the junction to the Wadi Bani Awf. The tour through the Wadi and the mountains takes the whole day (around 600 km)

Wadi Bani Awf - road from Bald Sayt to Shorfet al Alamin
Wadi Bani Awf – the road from Bald Sayt to Shorfet al Alamin

7) Rustaq and Nakhal Fort

Rustaq is famous for two impressive and historically important landmarks: the Rustaq Fort and Al Hamza Castle. The imposing Rustaq Fort, dating back to the 13th century, is cradled by four tall towers, the tallest being more than 18 meters.

The Al Hamza Castle was built in the early 18th century and it is unique among other Omani castles for having its roof held by columns instead of the traditional wooden roof supports. Both structures are included in the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage.

Nakhal Fort, expanded and renovated by many of the rulers of Oman throughout history, is located on a rocky hill surrounded by a palm oasis. Only 5 minutes drive from the Fort, you’ll find the springs of Al Thowarah, a green area where you can relax and have a bath.

Location: Nakhal is 1.15-hour drive from Muscat (90 km) whereas Rustaq 50 minutes drive from Nakhal (60 km). If you like the Fishmarket, on your way to Nakhal, you can stop at Barka to see the small market plenty of fisherman selling and haggling the price of the fish. 

the imposing Nakhal Fort, Oman
the imposing Nakhal Fort, Oman

Need to Know

1) Tips

The best way to enjoy these wonderful tours is by renting your own car. The roads are well maintained and the traffic out of the cities is really low. You can check the prices of a rental car through Tripadvisor.

Alternatively, you can book your tour through a local agency or using web platforms as Getyourguide or Viator that offer attractive deals.

2) Where to sleep in Muscat

Muscat offers a wide range of accommodations. If you want to stay closer to the Old City the best choice is Mutrah (Naseem Hotel is along the corniche), whereas the cheapest is Ruwi neighborhood. We slept at Savoy Inn Hotel, 15 minutes drive from the airport, 10 minutes drive from the Grand Mosque and the Royal Opera House, 30 minutes drive from Mutrah.

3) Where to eat

Muscat is a big city so you’ll find restaurants everywhere. Usually, the average expense is around 4 OMR. Anyway, our favorite place is Mutrah. Next to the souk, you’ll find some good local restaurants. In Mutrah we tried Corniche RestaurantFast food juice center, and La Brasserie restaurant. Find your restaurant here on Trip Advisor!

Check our Travel Resources page for arranging a trip in Oman and our Itinerary to discover the beautiful spots of the country. And don’t forget your Travel Insurance!

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