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. Many attractions of Oman are reachable on a day tour from the capital city. You can both rent your car or book a private tour.
Our selection of the best tours from Muscat
1) Wadi Shab and Bimmah Sinkhole
Wadi Shab is a top-rated outdoor destination, a stunning canyon lined with palm trees including several 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).
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 colour 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 walking 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-hours drive from Muscat (130 km).
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 colours 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).
4) Nizwa, Bahla, and Jabreen
Nizwa is a famous historical 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 kilometres 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, it is located the town of Bahla. Here, 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.
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 fantastic 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 labelled as “the Grand Canyon” of Oman.
Location: around 3.30-hours drive from Muscat (240 km).
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. A 4WD vehicle is highly recommended.
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)
7) Rustaq and Nakhal Fort
Rustaq is famous for two impressive and historically significant 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.
Need to Know
The best way to enjoy these beautiful tours is by renting your car. The roads are well maintained, and the traffic out of the cities is meagre. 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 neighbourhood. 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 favourite place is Mutrah. Close to the souk, you’ll find some good local restaurants. In Mutrah, we tried Corniche Restaurant, Fast food juice centre, 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!