Oman Best Places for Tourisit
The Omanis like to have their country called Switzerland of the Middle East. It is so peaceful and diverse there that you could consider a different region with every visit without being bored. Visitors from Europe are warmly welcomed, especially if they are arriving from Germany. Because every Omani has heard of “the Garmish,”he has already been there or would like to see Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After all, Sultan Qaboos, the revered ruler, has one of his residences there. He has ruled cautiously for 48 years now – and has led his country into the modern age.
The capital city of Muscat – the heart of Oman
Oman’s heartbeats in Muscat – that’s how it should be for a capital region. As on different pearl strings, the extensive quarters over kilometers are lined up on numerous, well-developed highways. They assemble into a whole without a real center, and there is always construction going on somewhere – especially in the area surrounding the new airport, Muscat continues to grow. Hotels are continually opening, including the Kempinski, new since spring 2018, and architecturally based on the architectural style of the Omani forts. It is in the pretty, albeit very artificial, new building district Al Mouj / Die Welle – there you can find Arab Bauhaus “at its best” with many cafés and restaurants, chic yachts moored in the harbor.
Already around 20 years old, but still luxury: the Grand Hyatt (in the form of a castle with battlements), located on the extensive city beach Qurum Beach. Here you can confidently drink a glass of wine or beer, even some of the locals do (contrary to Muslim customs). Asian elegance characterizes “The Chedi,”which is located close to the city on a private beach. The time-honored Al Bustan Palace Hotel, formerly the Sultan’s guest house, opened in the summer of 2018 and was newly renovated. Apartment hotels (partly designed for large families) and Air B’n’B accommodations can cope with a smaller budget – sometimes with typical Arabian plush sofas and lush velvet portieres.
Tips for Muscat
The elegant Grand Sultan Qaboos Mosque with its golden dome and sand-colored minarets is one of Muscat’s sights, as is the majestic, glowing white Royal Opera House (the only one on the Arabian Peninsula), the shopping district in the lively Souq in Mutrah and the area around the old Sultan’s palace with the ministries and the national museum. Because there is always a series of kilometers in between, it is advisable to hire a driver for targeted tours (you can organize them at the airport or, for example, via Mark Tours.
If you rent a car yourself, you have to cope with the sometimes hassle-like driving style of the Omanis (tight driving is the rule, and the many roundabouts with several lanes are a challenge). You also need a spirit of research: addresses with street and house number are still to be assigned, so far the local has oriented himself on his inner map, on geographic coordinates or on the location that Google Maps can display. However, hop-on-hop-off buses have recently been launched to help visitors get on cheaply (Big Bus Muscat, around 40 euros for children and 60 euros for adults when booking online ). The Omanis have even set up a regular bus service, which is continually being expanded ( mwasalat.om ).
Also interesting: The best Greenland tips for beginnersOff to the coast!
The Oman coast stretches for a total of around 1,500 kilometers – which means that trips to the surrounding area of the capital region can take a few hours. On the way, there is at most one petrol station (also use for toilet stops, the towns are not available everywhere). And it’s best to take provisions with you when you head towards the port city of Sur. The highway was sometimes brutally pulled through the river valleys of some wadis (Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi), in whose freshwater pools you can dive – in part after some scrambling, please think of suitable sneakers.
A unique experience: swimming in a wadi
If they drag themselves back into the sea after the exertion, they are often accompanied by the little ones who hatch at the same time. You can only get there on a guided tour from a small museum where visitors can learn about the life of turtles and the danger they face from plastic waste in the sea. There are some hotels in Sur and Ras Al Hadd, including one with feudal tents (Ras Al Jinz turtle resort).
Highlights are also waiting for inland
Those who prefer to make their way inland from Muscat will drive along the mountains of the wildly rugged Hajar Mountains. To their dizzying heights (up to 3000 meters) and deeply cut canyons, however, only cars with four-wheel drive are allowed to drive. You can rent them together with a driver in the village of Birkat Al Mauz – and have them taken to luxury hotels (Anantara / Alila Al Jabal Al Akhdar) in the Jabal Akhdar Mountains. The highest peak, Jabal Shams, reaches 3000 meters.
A destination that many tourist tours now have in their program is the cattle market in the provincial capital, Nizwa – the old trading center is around 180 kilometers from Muscat and is dominated by a mighty, remarkable fortress. Friday from dawn, the traders haggle loudly and under the eyes of the many onlookers for goats or sheep. To do this, they lead the advertised animals in circles at the auction site.
Merchants sell their goods for sale in Nizwa
The neighboring Souq has been renovated and divided into parts, dates, vegetables, and meat can be found there, but also the finely chiseled, handmade silver earrings and chains as well as pottery incense burners. In Nizwa, you should visit the fort with its small museum – there you learn a lot about how people used to live behind the thick walls with their proud battlements.
In general – these forts. They were built to defend against Portuguese besiegers and run through the whole country. Bahla Fort, for example, is worth seeing because it is bombastic. And in the almost intimate, well-restored Fort Na’am, Mr. Ibrahim takes guests on a journey into the bygone era in which the inhabitants of the fortress of Datteln lived and thanks to ancient moats, falaj, even running water in the bathroom.
The Bahla Fortress in Djebel Akhdar
Oman wants to smuggle more and more travelers into the Dhofar region. There, in the far south of Oman and just before the border with Yemen, the state is planning large hotels and a completely new building of the Souq of the provincial capital Salalah. The area is sometimes advertised in Germany as the “Caribbean of the Middle East.”
But the palm-lined, beautiful sandy beaches on the Indian Ocean, where luxury hotels like the Al Baleed Resort by Anantara are already located, are by no means everything that makes a trip to Dhofar worthwhile: the area is famous for the best incense that comes from here the bark of the trees is extracted. The excavated ruins of the ancient port of Al Baleed testify that the fragrant resin was shipped from there to all over the world – visitors can learn more about it in a small museum at the entrance to the excavations.
White sand, palm trees: The beaches in the south of Oman are fantastic
In summer, the area turns into the green lung of Arabia. Because the mountains of Dhofar cause the clouds to get stuck there, to spread fog and rain. An attraction for the Arab guests in the area, who are looking for this humid climate as opposed to the heat of their home countries and flooding the hotels. Not for sun-hungry Europeans … they prefer to stay in their latitudes.
Fjords in “Norway Arabia”
Oman’s borders are strangely broken: On the way, north you suddenly come to the Emirate of Fujairah, behind it begins Musandam, the extreme northern tip of Oman on the Strait of Hormuz. The area is also called Norway of Arabia because of its fjords that dig into high mountain ranges. If you want to cruise there with a dhow (traditional wooden ship) or climb in the mountains, you should fly from Muscat to the provincial town of Khasab. Dhow cruises to Musandam also start from Dubai.