The Ultimate Oman Road Trip – A Self Drive Itinerary

THE ULTIMATE OMAN ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

You’ll often hear me say that one of the best ways to experience a new country is to do so by embarking on a road trip. It allows you to go at your own pace, explore off the beaten path spots that aren’t well documented in guidebooks and in a strange way, makes you a more active visitor to your destination. It was very clear to me from the start of planning my adventures in Oman that this country begged to be explored behind the wheel of a car. We are talking about routes that take you alongside scenic coastlines, wadi oases, arid deserts, rustic fishing villages, bone-rattling canyons and more. You really want to let someone else drive you around and have all the fun? We certainly didn’t. Get yourself a 4WD vehicle and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
In this ultimate Oman road trip itinerary I break down exactly how you can tackle this trip on your own and showcase some of what you’ll have awaiting you as you embark on your adventure. Ultimately what you choose to see along the way will be dependent on what interests you and how much time you have. Are you all about history and exploring archaeological sites? Perhaps you are looking to put your feet up and enjoy the luxurious side of the Middle East? Or are you after all of the adrenaline pumping activities? Oman has it all. It wouldn’t be a DomOnTheGo adventure if we didn’t attempt to experience all three – which after a solid 8 days of travel, I’d say mission well accomplished.
There are some key considerations to take on board when driving in Oman, but road tripping in the Jewel of Arabia is relatively simple, the cost of petrol is inexpensive and the sites are nicely concentrated offering a clockwise or counter clockwise journey around the country.

Here’s a look at the Ultimate Oman Road Trip Itinerary to get your planning juices flowing.

//MUSCAT – SUR COASTAL ROAD

Your ultimate Oman road trip itinerary starts by leaving behind the bustling capital city of Muscat and heading south along the coastal roads that connect Muscat to the sleepy fishing village of Sur. This 200km stretch is pretty much a straight shot and the perfect way to steep into Oman (and get to grips with your 4WD vehicle). The juxtaposition of the calm waters of the Oman Gulf on your left with the rugged Eastern Hajar Mountains follow on your right will surely offer a great first impression and a teaser for what’s ahead.
In true road trip fashion, today’s agenda is all about the drive and making pit spots along the way. About 45 minutes out of Muscat make your way to the old village of Quriyat to check out the Old Fort. Continue south along the coast another 30 minutes and take a refreshing dip in turquoise waters of the Bimmah Sinkhole. If you are craving a bit of sand and sea, make your way through the town of Fins and pop along to the White Finns Beach. While it isn’t developed, it does offer a stretch of nice sand and calm, welcoming waters.
One of the highlights of a trip to Oman is the ability to explore the many oasis-like Wadis. Halfway through your drive, you’ll have the ability to check out two of the most popular – Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi. Both offer the ability to the hike through canyons in the Eastern Hajar Mountains eventually arriving at a set of emerald swimming holes. We opted to visit Wadi Shab – which saw us hiking for 45 minutes before we hopped in the water and continued another hour into the trail – requiring us to traverse boulders and swim to the end. It’s definitely an adventure activity you won’t want to miss. If you have the time you can check out both.
If you are interested in visiting more archaeological sites, make a pit stop in town of Qalhat to check out the Mausoleum of Bibi Maryam. When you arrive in Sur you will also have the opportunity to see the old shipyards and pop into any number of the castles and forts that are available to visit.
A great final destination and resting spot for this leg of your road trip is the Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve. Located on the eastern most point of the Arabian Peninsula, the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve is home to the nesting site of thousands of endangered Green Turtles. A visit here gets you booked into a night and sunrise walk on the beach to see these majestic Green Turtles in action.

For a closer look at the what you can expect during a visit and the top tips ensure you maximise your experience check out Visiting Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve in Oman.

Total Driving Distance: 247km
Where To Stay: Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve

//WAHIBA SANDS

Your ultimate Oman road trip itinerary continues as you follow the Omani coast inland to explore the desert region known as Wahiba or Sharqiya Sands.
If you have plenty of time, opt to take the coastal road to where it meets Interstate 23 – otherwise cut inland and head directly towards Interstate 23. Take the opportunity to get a glimpse of real Omani life and visit the towns of Jalan Bani Buali and Jalan Bani Buhassan on the way. These aren’t touristy places and therefore offer up a different perspective of what its like to live in and around the region. Explore the towns, find the souks and walk around the old prison cells of the forts.
When you have had your fill of small town Oman, make your way about 95km north to Wadi Bani Khalid Cave & Pools. This palm-lined oasis is one of the most popular places to stop on this stretch around the desert – and is far more developed and accessible than the wadis on the Muscat – Sur Coastal stretch. They even have lifeguards. If you just want swim and laze about feel free. Up for a challenge and want to navigate your way deep into the canyon – the route is all yours. This is the perfect opportunity to squeeze some more adventure out of your day and cool down before heading off into the desert.
When you are ready to say goodbye to the oasis and say hello to dry desert sand, head back to the interstate and make your way north to the town of Al Wasil. It’s here where your desert adventure begins. Deflate your tires (more on this later) and begin your drive out into the desert. One of the best ways to experience Wahiba Sands is to overnight at one of the desert camps. We opted to go luxury and stayed at Desert Nights Camp. Desert drives, dune-top sunsets, sand boarding and star gazing are just a few of the fun activities that you can arrange when you get out there. Regardless of how you decide to spend your time no road trip to Oman is complete without a visit to the desert.

Total Driving Distance: 246k
Where To Stay: Desert Nights Camp

//WESTERN HAJAR MOUNTAINS

After a quick drive back to Al Wasil, pump your tires up and start to making your way north to the Western Hajar Mountains.
En route you will pass the ancient city of Nizwa, which is often done as a popular day trip from Muscat. Its far more developed than other cities that have been on the route thus far and offers the ability to see more souks, ruins and the Nizwa Fort. The gorgeous mountains of course surround it, which is where we are headed.
Put your driving skills (and nerves) to the test as you make your way up to the top of Oman’s highest peak – Jabel Shams (3,028m). The combination of paved and dirt roads offer stunning views of Wadi Nakhr Gorge – the Grand Canyon of Oman. If you have the time and are up for a hike, make your way to the little village of Al Khitaym and stretch your legs on the popular Balcony Walk.
If you have a 4WD, you can also make your way northwest of Nizwa to Jabal Akhdar (3,000m) on the Saiq Plateau. In addition to having a few climbing and hiking trail opportunities, Jabal Akhdar houses two of Oman’s most exclusive hotels – the Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar Resort and the Alila Jabal Akhdar. We chose to stay in the latter and the location combined with the service and overall experience was second to none.
The Western Hajar Mountains also gives those who are looking for a bit more adventure the opportunity to go full on 4WD’ing through Wadi Bani Awf. The stretch from Al Hamra to Al Rustaq offers an epic bone rattling and adrenaline-pumping ride through precipitous canyons and quaint mountain villages. The views are stunning and the driving may have been some of the most fun I have ever done.
I’d highly recommend carving out a day to make the drive and treat yourself to a canyoning adventure in Snake Canyon. You’ll need harnesses, ropes and other safety equipment. We synced up with Canyon Adventures and Tours who helped provide all of the necessary equipment and a great guide Mohammad – for a fantastic day out.

Total Driving Distance 389km
Where To Stay: Alila Jabal Akhdar

Coming Soon : Destinations // Western Hajar Mountains, Oman

//MUSCAT

Whether you choose to spend time in Muscat at the start or the end of your trip is up to you, but it definitively should be one of your stops on your ultimate Oman road trip itinerary. We opted to front load our Oman road trip with all of our adventures, then use Muscat to relax and unwind.
Even if it’s just half a day, get out of your hotel and check out the highlights of Muscat. One of the must-see stops on your city tour should be the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The grounds are stunning and with the exception of the 8,5 ton chandelier dripping in Swarovski crystals, there is an understated grandeur about it.
Make your way to Muscat’s old port of Muttrah to check out the markets and get lost in the Muttrah Souq. Other points of interest include visiting the Al Alam Palace, the National Museum and catching a show at the Royal Opera House.
One of the reasons why I love travelling to this region of the world so much is because their hospitality is on a another level. Book yourself into one of the many luxury hotels in Muscat and enjoy. Word of mouth led us to book a few days at the Chedi Muscat – and it did not disappoint. It houses one of the top restaurants in Muscat, the longest infinity pool in the Middle East and service levels that rival any other top hotels I’ve stayed at. Looking for a place to kick back and get your down time? This is it.

Total Driving Distance (via Wadi Bani Awf): 307km
Total Driving Distance 169km
Where To Stay: The Chedi Muscat

Coming Soon : Destinations // Muscat, Oman

//KHASAB & MUSANDAM PENINSULA

The next stop on your ultimate Oman road trip should be to the city of Khasab to explore the Musandam Peninsula. This one is a cheating a bit – while technically you can sit in the car for 6.5 hours and make your way through the UAE to get there, don’t waste your time. There are plenty of internal flights that are ready to shoot you from Muscat to Khasab. The best part is that you’ll barely have time to finish your refreshments before the plane begins its descent.
As you fly into Khasab you’ll begin to see why this region has been coined the Norway of the Middle East. The craggy, desolate Al Hajar Mountains resemble fiords jutting out into the blue waters of the Strait of Hormuz. Just don’t expect to any glaciers carving mountains here, the creation of these peaks are a result of the shifting Eurasian and Arabian plates.
Visitors to Khasab spend time exploring the town and visiting the old fort. Jeep safaris trips around the peninsula are also quite popular – particularly drives that make their way to Jebel Harim, the highest peak on the Musandam Peninsula. We skipped all of that and headed straight to the port to begin our Musandam Peninsula explorations. The best way to do this? Aboard a traditional Omani Dhow.
There are many tour outfitters that offer scuba diving, snorkeling and cruising excursions. We joined Khasab Travel & Tours for an awesome overnight Dhow Cruise. We spent hours making our way around peninsula, found quiet inlets to snorkel in and got to see some pretty cool wildlife – including the region’s famous humpback dolphins. If you opt to take an overnight Dhow Cruise your adventure continues as you fall asleep under the stars.
After brekkie you can head back to Khasab for your return flight to Muscat to either catch your connecting flight back home or to enjoy more of what Oman has to offer.

Total Driving Distance: 503km
Total Flying Time: 45 minutes
Where To Stay: On a traditional Omani Dhow

Coming Soon : Destinations // Khasab & The Musandam Peninsula, Oman
If you are familiar with my adventure planning process, then you know I like to do my due diligence. Oman took a bit more effort and research to plan – not because I was trying to drag it out, but because it isn’t as well documented as I expected.

Most of what I initially read involves basing yourself in the capital city of Muscat and experiencing what the country has to offer in a series of day trips. While technically this is feasible, you would be looking at a lot of time in the car combined with backtracking on your routes.

If you are already committed to spending that much time in your car, you may as well make better use of your time and get more from the stops along the way with a road trip.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN AND AROUND OMAN, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT DESTINATIONS // OMAN.

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22 comments

  • I agree that road trips are the best ways to see any destinations! You end up stopping at restaurants that are off the beaten path, mixing with locals and just seeing a place from a different perspective. My husband has travelled to Oman for work and while he didn’t get to explore much, he did say that what he saw was gorgeous!

  • Oman is one of those lesser known countries that has always fascinated me, for its history and natural beauty. Especially the Eastern Hajar Mountains trigger my wanderlust.Thanks for such a detailed itinerary, if all goes well I’ll be heading there next year and I’ll definitely be using this useful guide 🙂

  • Wow! Nice post! I wish I read this post of yours before I went to Muscat! The sinkhole especially looks so pretty! And that walk across the canyon looks like so much fun!
    Really love your blog! =)

  • I love Oman, and visited everywhere in your first loop to Muscat, although there were no turtles when we were there. I loved every minute of my time in Oman, and this brought back some great memories. We were not brave enough to drive ourselves, so we hired a private driver. .

    • Oman isn’t going anywhere soon. Both places are worth the visit the next time you guys are in the area!

  • wow, its seem you enjoyed your trip a lot. Even i want to go for long road trip, that’s why we all planned for road trip from delhi to ladakh. Hope it would be go and wish me luck.

    • A road trip from Delhi to Ladakh sounds amazing. We have been to India twice now, but spoke about our third trip heading north. Best of luck with your trip -would be good to hear how your itinerary goes.

  • Road trips are definitely the best way to see a country. Oman looks beautiful. I’d love to explore the historical and archaeological sites.

    • Glad you agree Marteen. We really did enjoy this adventure – so much so that we are contemplating going back soon. Happy Travels

  • Posts like this make me want to finally get a driving license. Of course, I’d probably need to practise a little before navigating some of those precipitous roads. But Oman is one place I’ve always wanted to visit, even more so after reading this post. Thanks for posting and it’s in my bookmarks.

    • Yes sir. Look’s like it’s time to hit the books and get on the test tracks. Deffo need a license to get behind the wheel here. Best of luck and hope you get to Oman soon.

  • This is definitely one of those countries that I have no expectations. Your photos are fantastic, and why not do it on a road trip? The Wadi Nakhr Gorge looks amazing, along with those stops to the blue waters of the Bimmah sinkhole. Wow. looks sensational. This place looks like a must see!

    • It’s funny that you say you don’t really have any expectations around Oman. When we decided to go, neither did we. It’s almost as if it’s just an under the radar place. I’m pretty sure that will change over time as people catch on.

  • Ah, how nostalgic. Oman, one of my favorite places in the world. Living in Dubai for 8 years I used to go to Oman quite often. sometimes even driving all the way to Muscat. Thank you for sharing. Happy travels, Eva

    • Glad I was able to bring you back. 🙂 Living in Dubai must have been quite interesting. Oman is quite close so you must have been able to see so much of the country in your time there.

  • you’ve convinced me too to go to Oman one day! I was never thinking about it but with these pictures it seems like a must see. Thanks!

  • WheN i think of Oman, i always think sea and desert. Now looking at this I would defo hire a car and check all these places out. It looks like Oman is the place to check out in the middle east at the moment and I can understand why now. Love the indepth info of the post.

  • I love road trips! I have not thought about exploring this area by car and it certainly looks like a great place to explore. Plus I love history and archaeology, and indulging in a luxury stay!

  • Well you’ve certainly convinced me to go to Oman! I didn’t really have much of a picture of Oman in my head but it looks absolutely stunning. Looks like a trip of a lifetime!

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