Oman, the third-largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, is a country with rich traditions and a great cultural heritage. Oman has several beautiful cities, but also natural areas and national parks that are worth visiting. This article lists some of the country's most beautiful sights. Remember to apply for an Oman visa before you leave for the country.
Muscat and Nizwa
Muscat, the capital and at the same time the largest city of Oman, has countless sights to enjoy. The most famous tourist attraction is the Grand Sultan Qabus Mosque, the country's largest mosque (there is room for about 6,500 people in the largest prayer hall). The mosque is also accessible to non-Muslims. However, please note that visitors should be dressed appropriately.
Another magnificent structure in the capital is the Royal Opera House, which, like the Grand Sultan Qaboes Mosque (and many other mosques), was commissioned by Sultan Qaboes bin Said Al Said. Other attractions in the vicinity of the capital include the port of Muttrah and the souk of Muttrah, a market where you can immerse yourself in the local culture. For those who want to learn more about the history of the country, a visit to the National Museum and the Muscat Gate Museum is also a must.
Nizwa, one of the largest and oldest cities in Oman, is just under two hours' drive from Muscat. Until the 12th century, this was the capital of the country. The main attraction of this city is the Fortress of Nizwa. From the main tower of this fort, you have a beautiful view over the city. A market takes place every Friday close to the fort, which for most travellers is the reason for their visit to the city: the Nizwa Goat Market. A visit to this market is an unforgettable experience for tourists, as Omani people from all over the country gather here.
Natural landscapes: caves, deserts and wadis
More than half of Oman consists of desert. From the capital Muscat, it takes about 2.5 hours by car to reach the desert of Sharqiyah, also known as the Wahiba Sands. The vast sandy plains with high sand dunes are an impressive sight. Besides this desert, located in the north of Oman, a part of the Rub al Khali is also in Oman. This desert is also called the Empty Quarter, due to the fact that it is one of the most inaccessible areas in the world; even the Bedouins avoid the desert and only practise nomadic cattle breeding at its edges. The desert covers not only part of Oman, but also parts of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Despite the fact that such a large part of the country is desert, Oman's landscape does not only consist of sandy plains. The country has several oases and wadis, and furthermore consists for a fairly large part of mountain ranges. One of the most famous and beautiful wadis in the country is Wadi Bani Khalid. The wadis are unique ecosystems in the middle of the arid desert and some, like Wadi Bani Khalid, fill irrigation channels that allow the inhabitants of the area to grow crops on a small scale despite drought. Other wadis include Wadi Hamam, Wadi An Nakhr (also called Oman's Grand Canyon), Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, but there are many more.
Oman also has a great deal of belowground natural beauty. At the foot of Djabal Shams - Oman's highest mountain - is the Al Hoota cave. The cave is estimated to be over 2 million years old and has a total length of about 4.5 kilometres. It is not the only cave in Oman; other caves in Oman include the Abu Habban cave, the Al Marnif cave and the Majlis Al Jinn cave (one of the largest caves in the world).
Oman is also a popular holiday destination for diving enthusiasts. The country has a coastline of more than 3,000 kilometres, and some diving locations in Oman are even on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Apply for an Oman visa before departure
All British and Irish travellers to Oman have to apply for an Oman visa before departure. The Oman e-visa for tourists can easily be applied for online. There are three different variants of the tourist visa, namely one for a stay of maximum 10 days, one for a stay of maximum 30 days and a visa that allows multiple trips to Oman within one year, whereby each stay may not exceed 30 days. The cost of the e-visa for Oman depends on the variant chosen. Please note that the visa must be applied for before departure. It is no longer possible to obtain a visa on arrival in Oman.