Myself and some friends from work went on a road trip to Oman back at the end of November, during our four days off. Despite taking a good 13 hours to get there, when it really should have taken 5, we got to explore so much of the country, specifically Muttrah and Muscat. I completely underestimated how much I would love Oman. It is only across the border from the UAE, yet there is such a contrast, and Oman makes clear efforts to maintain it’s heritage and historic beauty. With this, if you have a plan to visit Oman soon, here are my 7 recommendations of things to do during your stay.
Wander Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is located in the heart of Muscat, and it was by far one of my favourite places in Oman’s capital city. The mosque was built as a gift from the Sultan to the people, the mosque has become the main mosque in Muscat and the biggest in Oman – if needed the mosque can hold up to 20,000 people! The whole mosque is truly beautiful, and the architecture and intricacy in the detail are truly breathtaking. The chandelier is located in the centre of the men’s prayer hall and measures a staggering 14 meters and weighs 8.5 tons. Also, it holds 600,000 shining bright Swarovski crystals, 24-carat gold plating and took more than four years to complete. Just wow.
Non-Muslim visitors are welcome to visit the mosque every day between 8am – 11am, except on Fridays when it is closed for a special speech for worshippers. If you’re ever in the country, you must take a visit.
On a side note: In order to enter Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, you need to be fully covered to your wrists and ankles. Females are also required to cover their hair. I personally loaned the ‘proper dress’ when arriving at the mosque for a small fee.
Explore the Souqs in Muttrah
This is something I love doing whichever country I visit. Just wandering around the local market/bazaar, seeing all the different local goods and souvenirs. My mum, on the other hand, hates it, and I couldn’t help but laugh about the chaotic nature of a local market and sellers harassing you to buy their products and think of how much mum would have disliked it if she’d been with me. I’m pretty ok with just letting it go over my head. The Souq in Muttrah is one of the oldest in the world, and with lots of lanes and matchbox shops, there are lots to see. These shops commonly sell Omani and Indian artifacts together with the more traditional textile, hardware, fragrance, souvenir, and jewellery stores. I picked up a pair of earrings, to match my Hasam hand necklace, some souvenirs and presents, and a little bottle of perfume.
Take a Trip to the Royal Opera House
Like a lot of the contemporary architecture in Oman, the Royal Opera House, is a beautiful white building, which sits on a tiled floor reflecting the sunlight. The Royal Opera House in Muscat was built on the royal orders of Sultan Qaboos. The Royal Opera House aims to showcase rich and diverse artistic creations from Oman, the region, and the world. Have a look at what performances are on during your time in Oman, or even just explore the building and gardens as we did.
Visit Quaram Beach
Despite living right on the beach near Al Jeer, we thought it would be lovely to drive to a beach in Oman, grab a coffee, and sit and watch the world go by. Quaram Beach is a beautiful, clean beach with lots of cafes and restaurants on the beach-front. There were lots of fishing boats out, catching trucks and trucks of fish which was interesting to watch. We had a stroll down the beach, and a paddle too, it was just lovely.
Bimmah Sinkhole and the Wadis
This is something we, unfortunately, didn’t have time to do during our time in Oman, but we’ve heard so much about Bimmah Sinkhole and Wadi Shab.
Bimmah Sinkhole is a 40m wide and 20m deep cavernous hole, filled with multi-toned turquoise water, it’s quite impressive. As you walk down into the sinkhole, you can see the clear water reflecting the sunlight and the many layers of eroded rock. You can swim in the clear, crisp waters and spend some time here exploring and swimming.
Wadi Shab is one of the most popular gorges in the Sultanate. Hiking and swimming are involved to reach some sections, especially the caves and waterfall. You can pay 1 Rial to get a boat across to the wadi, as the hike can be difficult at times. I’ll definitely be visiting if I get to visit Oman again.
Riyam – Muttrah Hike
Zya found this hike on a website of things to do in Muttrah, and being the outdoor instructors we were we thought we’d take the walk. We started in Riyam Park and hiked towards Muttrah which meant we could have a well deserved fresh juice in Muttrah at the end. The hike is around 3.5km, taking around 2 hours. It said it was an easy hike on the website we found it on, but some of the parts are a little bit like an obstacle course. But fun nonetheless. We completed the hike during the hottest part of the day, but it was still doable. We followed the national trail markers painted along the way, but you can also download the GPS map onto your phone.
A key feature of the walk is the rusty pipe that runs up the staircase in the first part of the walk. It is one that was once used to transport diesel fuel from Muttrah to Riyam to supply an electricity generation station at the time. The walk then descends into the wadi, and at some points, it gets quite tight and rocky. There was also more water than we expected, we ended up jumping from side to side, and pretty much bouldering to try to avoid the water. The only thing I would say, on a side note, is that the hike ends in a cemetery, which is the only way to finish the hike. But, the hike is well worth it for the great views of Riyam Park, the Sea of Oman, and the wadi itself.
As I said, there was so much more to do in Oman that I anticipated, and I wish we’d had more time to explore the country. I’ll definitely be back.
Have you read my last blog post? – What I’ve Been Watching on Netflix #2