What to see
There are several luxury hotels to choose from in Muscat. For those seeking an elegant, stylish atmosphere, our preferred choice would be The Chedi, a sophisticated beach resort and spa. Perfect for families, the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is located in a bay on a stretch of private sandy beach, and comprises three hotels.
Its leisure facilities include 6,000 square metres of swimming pool, spa and children’s club. Our final recommendation would be the Al Bustan Palace, which has a dramatic location between the white sands of the Gulf of Oman and the towering crags of the Hajar Mountains. Having undergone recent renovation, the hotel is one of the region’s most luxurious properties and offers impeccable standards of service.
FORTS, WADIS & DESERT
Oman is dotted with ancient forts, many of which have been well restored. Two of the most famous forts, Jalali and Mirani, guard the entrance to Muscat bay. Although these cannot be visited, many others can. West of Muscat are the imposing towers of Nakhal and Rustaq castle, both easily accessible as a day trip from the capital, whilst inland is the UNESCO site of Bahla castle and the immense circular fort in Nizwa.
Oman is also home to several beautiful natural sites. Take a 4 x 4 tour to the towering Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest peak, or explore the wadis and beaches that line the eastern coast. The white sands of Tiwi beach and the picturesque Wadi Beni Khalid and Wadi Shab are excellent picnic spots on the road between Sur and Muscat.
The spectacular landscape of Wahiba Sands, home to Bedouin tribes and their camels, lies in the east of Oman. The copper-coloured sands and the high, rolling dunes stretch as far as the eye can see. A trip by 4 x 4 vehicle is highly recommended and there are several campsites that offer guests the experience of staying overnight in the desert.
SALALAH & THE DHOFAR PROVINCE
Salalah is the capital of the Dhofar province, which is the southern region of the Sultanate of Oman. Unique in the country, the province experiences a monsoon season between late June and September known as the ‘Khareef ’. During this season, the region blooms with greenery and flowers and this lush landscape, combined with cooler temperatures, make it an ideal time to visit. Parks and groves of coconut, banana, papaya, watermelon and vegetables give Salalah a tropical atmosphere, while the coast offers miles of uncrowded beaches, bordered by a brilliant blue sea. Other attractions include ancient forts, archaeological sites, fishing villages and the tombs of prophets.
Further inland, and accessible only by 4 x 4, lies the ‘Lost City of Ubar’, said to have been buried by sand due to its ancient inhabitants’ wickedness. Rediscovered using satellite technology in the 1990s, it is still mostly unexcavated.
THE MUSANDAM PENINSULA
The Omani governorate of Musandam lies to the extreme north of Oman and is separated from the rest of the country by the U.A.E. It has rough mountains that overlook the Strait of Hormuz, and the area has a beautiful fjordlike coastline. Khasab is the capital of Musandam region, situated in the north corner of the governorate and is accessible from Muscat by a short internal flight. Popular tours from Khasab include trips around the beautiful coastline on a traditional dhow.
Many visitors opt to continue their holiday from here by covering the short distance into the U.A.E by road and spending some time in the modern city of Dubai.