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7 Day Culture Itinerary

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If you have a bit more time, why not head to Oman’s far south and explore Salalah – the gulf’s only tropical destination.

Day 1 – 2

Salalah

Oman’s southern governorate of Dhofar is most famous for its trade with Frankincense, a practice that has been flourishing for centuries. As a result, it is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the region. A detailed history of the trade of Frankincense in Dhofar can be found at the Land of Frankincense Museum, just a short drive from Salalah International Airport. Al Baleed Archaeological Park is right next door. Altogether, there are four sites that comprise of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the ‘Land of Frankincense’ – the Frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah, the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Ubar and the ancient ports of Khawr Ruri and Al Baleed. Al Husn and the Al Hafah souq have remained almost unchanged since they were first built and are the perfect place to buy authentic Omani Frankincense. There are also a number of tombs and ruins in close proximity to the city that can be visited before you return to Muscat.

Wadi Snaiq & Dahnat

Wadi Dahnat boasts ancient stone ruins, indicating that this was once part of a prosperous settlement. Nearby Wadi Seenaq has its own khawr (lagoon).

Khawr Taqah

West of Taqah, a quaint fishing village, this lagoon (khawr) combines freshwater plants with other varieties that require higher levels of salinity to thrive. The result is an abundance of marine life here, as well as many different types of birds.

Teeq Cave & Tawi Ateer Sinkhole

En route to the top of Jebel Samhan, Tawi Ateer is one of the world’s largest sinkholes. It is filled with shrubs and plants, turning it into a haven for birds which earned it the nickname “Bird Well”. From the entrance of the nearby Teeq Cave visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the sinkhole and its waterfalls from the cave’s entrance.

Thamrit

The main gateway to Salalah, the town of Thamrit once played an important role in the frankincense trade, bordering the vast Rub Al Khali desert.

Day 3

Muscat

The capital of Oman and the perfect place to experience the old and new of Omani culture. Old Muscat has a lot to see, from the Al Alam Palace and old forts, to several l museums in the area. Nearby Muttrah Corniche is a great place to visit, especially after sunset, to enjoy sparkling waterfront views and shop at Muttrah Souq. A concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat is always a special opportunity, with artists from around the world and region performing anything from opera to world music.

Dolphin Watching

Muscat’s coastline is teeming with marine life, including numerous dolphin pods. Dolphin watching trips can be organized by local tour operators.

Omani French Museum

Honouring the close relationship Oman and France have enjoyed for centuries, the Omani French Museum was established by His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Said and former French President, the late François Mitterrand in 1992. It is housed in Bait Faransa, the former residence of a French consul in Old Muscat.

Wadi Al Arbeieen

Wadi Al Arbeieen is one of the most beautiful wadis in the Sultanate, experiencing a constant flow of water from the eastern Hajar mountains and providing a source of irrigation to the surrounding villages and date palm farms.

Wadi Mayh

Wadi Mayh is recognised as a unique Omani geological site, due to its lime stone cliffs and interesting rock formations. The wadi features numerous date palm plantations and irrigation channels as well as water pools where visitors can take a dip and cool off.

Day 4

Nakhl & Al Rustaq

Al Batinah has plenty of attractions on offer, here a few highlights for a day trip. Perched atop a large rock, the Nakhal Fort was constructed on the remains of a pre-Islamic structure in the 19th century. The hot springs of Ain Thowarah are just a short drive away, through Nakhal’s beautiful date plantations. Halfway between Nakhal and Al Rustaq is the turn-off to Wadi Mistal and Wakan Village. Though not for the faint hearted, a stopover in this mountain village is definitely worth it. Once the capital of Oman, Al Rustaq was an important trading hub between the Interior and coast. Its fort is one of the largest in Oman. The old souq opposite the fort and the Ain Al Kasfa hot springs are also worth a visit.

Ibri Castle

Ibri Castle was built over 400 years ago and opened for public viewing in 1995 after extensive renovations. It is home to one of the oldest mosques still in use in the country and visitors can take in stunning views across the area from the building’s battlements. One of the fort’s more unique features are the many gates which were each built for a different purpose.

Al Ayn and Bat Beehive Tombs

A must-see attraction in the A’Dhahirah region, the Al Ayn and Bat Beehive Tombs are not only recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but also boast the title of the most complete collection of necropolises and settlements in the world, dating back to the 3rd Millennium BC.

مسفاة العبريين

يمكن الوصول إلى هذه القرية القديمة -والتي تعد واحة خضراء يحتضنها الجبل- بالسيارة عن طريق ولاية الحمراء. وتمنح مسفاة العبريين زائريها مساحة للاستمتاع بالتنقل بين مدرجاتها الزراعية الجميلة المتمازجة مع بيوتها الطينية ذات الطابع التاريخي ليشكلا معا لوحة فنية؛ مما يتيح لهم فرصة استثنائية للتعرف عن قرب على طبيعة الحياة قديمًا.

Bait Na’aman Castle

Constructed in the 16th century as private residence for visiting imans, Bait Na’aman Castle is perfect for visitors to catch a glimpse at past times. This is thanks to the many traditional furniture and fittings on display, as well as other features such as the underground falaj system.

Day 5

Nizwa

Oman’s interior awaits. The historic town of Nizwa is surrounded by date plantations and mountains and the starting point for today’s cultural adventures. Like Muscat, Nizwa holds a sprawling souq – complete with old and new part. Nearby is one of Oman’s most famous forts, Nizwa Fort. Both are worth a visit, especially on Friday, for the weekly animal market. Nestled at the foot of the Al Hadjar Mountains, Al Hamra has numerous mudbrick buildings making up its old centre. Best explored on foot, the settlement includes Bait Al Safah – a museum where locals show visitors first-hand the daily household routine of a traditional Omani house. Misfat Al Abreyeen, a stunning mountain village, is just 8 km from here. Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest mountains awaits with its very own ‘Grand Canyon’ and views that turn any photo into a masterpiece. A 4WD vehicle is required.

Quriyat

The fishing village of Quriyat, en route to Sur, is a favourite with bird watchers. Species such as Kingfishers and Grey Herons are known to frequent the surrounding lagoons.

Al Alam Palace, Al Jalali and Al Mirani Forts

The ceremonial palace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Al Alam Palace was rebuilt as a royal residence in 1972 and is located in the heart of Old Muscat. It is flanked on either side by the impressive twin Jalali and Mirani Forts originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Both of these majestic buildings are still in use, and although they are not open to the public, tourists can admire the architecture from the yard and at the gates.

Daymaniyat Islands

Located off the coast between Barka and Al Seeb, the Daymaniyat Islands are surrounded by turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkelling and diving. The islands are a protected area, home to endangered sea turtles, untouched coral reefs, and exotic fish.

Place and People Museum

Place and People Museum is located along Muttrah’s beautiful waterfront – or corniche – and divided into three different exhibits: an old Omani house showcasing living in the Sultanate in the 1950s to 1970s, a museum highlighting Omani clothing and a modern art gallery.

Day 6

Bahla to Old Minzafah

Bahla Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest fort in Oman – from there, the road leads to Ibra. Having been restored according to ancient methods since 1987, Bahla Fort is now open to the public, just opposite Bahla Souq. Jabreen Castle was built in the 17th century and commands panoramic views of the surroundings date plantations. Over three storeys tall, Jabreen Castle was a private residence, not fortification, and its intricate ceilings and clever layout are a sight to behold until today. The old part of Ibra known as Al Minzafah once enjoyed great prosperity, with merchants building large houses from money made with trade. Today, Ibra’s old quarter lays mainly in ruins, but the surrounding watchtowers and old buildings are evidence of its former importance. Ibra also has a souq which, on Wednesday’s, is only open to women.

Mughsayl Beach & Blowholes

Mughsayl Beach is a favourite picnic spot with locals and visitors alike. Towards one end of the beach, near Marneef Cave, visitors can witness the Mughsayl Blowholes gushing water high into the air during monsoon season.

Hasik Cliffs

Located two hours from Salalah, the cliffs of Hasik form part of the breath-taking limestone formations that run along most of Dhofar’s coastline – this area makes for a spectacular drive.

منارة العيجة

تقدم إطلالة بانورامية لمدينة صور، وقد قام البرتغاليون ببناء هذه المنارة وقد كانت في الأساس برج حماية تم تحويله فيما بعد إلى منارة استخدمت لتوجيه سفن الداو التقليدية للوصول بأمان إلى بحيرة صور. وتقع المنارة بالقرب من حوض صور لصناعة السفن ومتحف صور البحري

Wadi Al Khoud

Located close to the old village of Al Khoud, Wadi Al Khoud is great for off-roading, with its stony bed and small water pools. It leads to the village of Fanja.

Day 7

Sur to Muscat

This coastal road has breath-taking views and offers plenty of interesting stops to fill the day.

Muttrah Souq and Fish Market

Located close to each other along Muttrah’s scenic corniche, Muttrah Souq and Fish Market are the highlights of this historic waterfront. Early each morning, local fishermen sell their fresh catch at the fish market and Muttrah Souq is the perfect place to barter for traditional silver jewellery, Frankincense, fabrics and many more unique souvenirs.

Quriyat

The fishing village of Quriyat, en route to Sur, is a favourite with bird watchers. Species such as Kingfishers and Grey Herons are known to frequent the surrounding lagoons.

Camping – Fins

Only a short drive from Bimmah Sinkhole, Fins is a coastal village mainly known for its hidden beaches and coves framed by white sands, turquoise waters and the Al Hajar Mountains as backdrop. Perfect for a memorable camping experience.

Oman Children’s Museum

Set in two distinctive domes in the north of Qurum, the Oman Children’s Museum is a scientific museum that delves into biology, interesting optical illusions, and other interactive displays for children.