Muscat To The Mountains: 7-Day Itinerary For A Road Trip In Oman
In this exciting blog post, I’ll share our easy 7-day itinerary for an Oman road trip. Including our stay in Muscat, camping along the coast, and visits to Wadi Shab and Wadi Bani Khalid. Plus, I’ll share our top five tips for a successful family Oman road trip with a toddler.
Welcome to a journey where the desert meets the sea, mountains embrace the sky, and history whispers in the wind. Our road trip through Oman was an adventure designed to inspire, inform, and ignite your wanderlust. Let’s go!
Oman 7-Day Itinerary: Oman Road Trip Route Overview
Our Oman road trip was an easy 600km loop. It starts and ends in Muscat, cruising down the coast towards Sur, along to Wadi Shab, and onwards to Wadi Bani Khalid, and finally up through the mountains back to Muscat. It’s a path less trodden, deliberately slow and expansive to accommodate ease with a toddler, leaning into the essence of Arabia.
It must be noted here that our 7-day Oman road trip itinerary was made up on the fly. We arrived with a booking for the first night and the car hire in place, but beyond that, we were travelling loose. We were winging the whole thing as we went. Charlie and I are experienced travellers, so felt comfortable with the idea of wild camping and figuring out the details on the road.
Oman Road Trip 7-Day Itinerary Summary
- Muscat – lunch/spa/shopping (two nights)
- Bimmah Sinkhole – bonfire/camp supper/sea swim
- Wadi Shab – swim/lunch/camp/bonfire/supper
- Wadi Bani Khalid – picnic/swim/camp
- Ibra – lunch/mountain drive-through
- Muscat – relax/pack/fly
Flight time: 3 hours flight from Goa (Mopa-Muscat direct)
Road trip: 687km loop Muscat – Sur – Muscat
Cost: $1557 including flights
Days 1–2: Muscat (3 Nights)
Muscat, a city where modernity and tradition dance gracefully, was our starting point. You could spend your days exploring the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Carpet of Wonder. Or take a trip to The Royal Opera House Muscat, a symbol of cultural fusion.
After the susegad pace of Goan beach living, Muscat held an alluring cosmopolitan chic to which we were unaccustomed but excited to embrace
We didn’t manage any of that exciting cultural stuff. On the evening of our arrival, we took possession of our hire car, found our apartment, stocked up on groceries at the hypermarket, and took an early night after a full day of travel from Goa. While the transit was as smooth as could be hoped for, toddlers need their rest, and parents need a moment to plan the rest of the holiday…
I ate a huge bowl of labneh with cream crackers, Medjool dates and fig jam – I’d only been in the country a few hours and I was already smitten with Omani treats!
The next day, we set off to find a hotel for Christmas and Boxing Day. After a traditional three-course Omani meal of a trio of rice with various stewed meats at Ramsa Omani Restaurant in Qurum, we set about finding a hotel. Once we found a good place close to the beach, we relaxed at the pool, making the most of the spa and gym. Actually, it was just the spa 😉
Exploring Mutrah Souk
On our first evening, we set about exploring the souk at Mutrah. The drive was a little edgy. The roads and infrastructure in Oman are incredible. Fuel is wildly cheap, and the vehicles are either huge 4x4s or supercars. It’s about as far from dusty Goan back roads as you can get. I wasn’t quite prepared for the intensity of a race-car-fast driving experience. The short hop down the road to Mutrah felt like a lap of the Nürburgring.
Souk It And See
We found Mutrah Souk quite charming. We took a stroll along the Corniche and enjoyed a stunning view of the Arabian Sea. The blend of traditional Omani gifts, antiques, and Indian wares proved a popular mix with tourist buyers and locals alike. We noted the best places to purchase gifts upon our return: dates, tahini, Frankincense and lanterns.
Come look my shop, only looking – looking is free!
We shared a plate of street food and quaffed a pomegranate juice apiece before bracing ourselves for the race home. Happily, the road proved more forgiving in reverse, and we had a moment to notice the massive city centre theme park glowing in the darkness. Neon of every colour competing with the full moon for a slice of the night sky.
Sushi for Christmas Lunch
The lack of the typical festivities was part of the novelty of being in Arabia for Christmas. I’m a massive fan of the ‘Big Day’ and love a family lunch with gifts and whatnot, but the whole commercial bandwagon that kicks in around the Late August bank holiday is total nonsense. Chrismas carols have no place in the autumnal British countryside. Bah humbug!
Having lived in the Tropics for the last five years, I don’t miss the Christmas countdown…
So, it was refreshing to start a new tradition for Christmas this year by eating sushi in one of Oman’s top Japanese restaurants. Tiny Lindt Santas graced our table alongside red and white striped candy canes. The juxtaposition of the Arabian sunset against the hefty beard and belly of the heavily berobed tinfoil Mr Claus a curiosity in the desert heat.
Weirdly, we had the place to ourselves. It seems the culture of drive-by and delivery has taken Muscat by storm. During our visit, several dozen meals were shipped out into hulking great SUVs or plain white sedans, moving meals to eat-at-home diners.
Trippin Out at Marah Land
As the sun sets over Muscat, the city comes alive with a vibrant energy that is simply irresistible. And if you’re looking for some nighttime excitement during your Oman road trip, look no further than MarahLand! This amusement park offers an array of thrilling rides and attractions that will leave you breathless.
From adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to spinning teacups and everything in between, MarahLand has something for everyone. The park’s illuminated pathways create a magical atmosphere as you navigate its various zones. Whether you’re travelling with family or friends, this night adventure promises unforgettable memories and plenty of laughs.
Day 3: Muscat to Bimmah (1 Night)
Muscat to Bimmah was a three-hour drive. Easy miles along the coast with a splendid view of the Arabian Sea. I felt a wave of euphoric trepidation at the prospect of our first night under canvas. We’d read that camping was widely accepted and popular with Omani people; still, we had a tingle of excitement making our first camp on the pebbly beach.
My friend, Francesca, had hitchhiked for two months across Oman and had recommended wild camping as a great way to see the country
After a brief recce of the sinkhole, we found a suitable spot on the beach. The smooth pebbles huge beneath our feet and the gentle sound of waves crashing against the shore created an idyllic atmosphere for relaxation. As night fell, we gathered around a bonfire, reflections of our journey so far illuminated by the full moon. Sky, sea and mountains witness to our presence in Arabia
On the drive, we’d seen dozens of Bedouin tents with all-terrain Toyota Land Cruisers parked up outside – a good omen for wild camping in Oman.
Day 4: Wadi Shab (1 Night)
Swimming at Wadi Shab is an experience like no other. As you make your way through the rocky terrain, a breathtaking oasis awaits you. Crystal-clear turquoise waters beckon you to take a dip and cool off from the desert heat. The Wadi offers a unique combination of rugged natural beauty and an ideal spot for swimming or snorkelling.
I followed the lead of a tour guide and took a leap of faith into the lagoon from the high cliff
Dive into these refreshing waters and feel all your worries melt away. Surrounded by towering cliffs, it feels like you’ve entered another world—a hidden paradise in Oman’s vast landscape. Swim alongside colourful fish, explore underwater caves, or float on your back and soak up the tranquillity of this enchanting place.
Day 5: Wadi Bani Khalid (1 Night)
A Little Detour to Sur
Before we set out for the Wadi, we popped along to Sur. The city of sailors and shipbuilders is one of the world’s oldest ports. Oman’s maritime legacy lives on in the dhow-building yard – a portal to the past. We called in to find camping gas for our stove. Happily, the local hypermarket had one. We grabbed a couple of coffees and we were off again!
Road-tripping to Wadi Bani Khalid is essential to any Oman road trip itinerary. As you drive through the rugged landscape, anticipation builds for the hidden gem that awaits. It’s a tricky spot to find, and Google Maps wasn’t quite on the trail, but we found our way thanks to a few helpful locals.
Travelling Roadside Blues
Upon arrival, prepare to be mesmerized by the stunning turquoise pools surrounded by lush greenery. We enjoyed a huge picnic by the water’s edge. Swimming at dusk was a highlight of the visit and I think an extra day could have been easy to fill with a further expedition into the canyon. Alas, toddlers and deep-water canyons are not easy companions. Something for next time!
We left the Wadi after dark and hastily made camp in the nearby town. It wasn’t quite sleeping rough like I’ve done in the past, but it was rustic, to say the least. That said, the beauty of camping on the roadside lies in its simplicity. There are few designated campsites in Oman and practically no restrictions; it’s just you and the open road.
You can wake up to a stunning sunrise over the horizon or fall asleep under a blanket of stars that seem within arm’s reach. The tranquillity and serenity of spending a night amidst such natural wonders is unparalleled. Or, in our case, strike up a conversation with friendly locals and share a story or two by the fire.
Day 6: Road Tripping Through The Mountains To Muscat (1 Night)
Cruising through the mountains was one of the most thrilling and picturesque parts of our road trip in Oman. As we drove along winding roads, surrounded by towering peaks and deep valleys, we couldn’t help but be in awe of the stunning landscapes that unfolded before us.
“The desert is a natural extension of the inner silence of the body.”
The mountainous terrain offered breathtaking vistas at every turn. The rugged beauty of the rocky slopes, dotted with greenery and occasional bursts of colourful wildflowers, created a mesmerizing backdrop for our journey. We rolled down the windows to let in the fresh mountain air as we savoured every moment of this exhilarating drive.
Returning to Muscat, the journey comes full circle. I lay motionless, floating in the rooftop pool, high above the bustle of downtown Muscat. I reflected on the adventure, the landscapes crossed, and the memories made.
Oman Road Trip Tips and Resources
Navigating Oman’s diverse terrains requires preparation. A reliable vehicle is your passport to freedom; opt for one that can handle both the city streets and the sandy whispers of the desert. Travelling with a toddler means keeping it simple and spacious. our top five tips for road-tripping with a toddler in Oman are:
- Keep driving time to a minimum during waking hours or drive during naps
- Trust that your child will love hanging out in nature – outdoor fun is the best
- Bring your swimmers and floaties for water activities – we love sea swims and beach games
- Pack a selection of easy snacks that everyone loves to eat – picnics are your friend
- Be flexible about your itinerary – we found lots to do that wasn’t in the guidebooks
Renting a Car in Oman
Freedom comes on four wheels in Oman. Renting a car offers the liberty to explore at your own pace. Ensure you have a GPS (smartphone) and a sense of adventure. We hired our car with Discover Cars. We took a sedan and it was brand new. I’d recommend a 4×4 if you plan to visit the desert.
What to Pack for Oman?
Pack light, but don’t forget essentials: camping gear, comfortable walking shoes, a hat, and a sense of respect for the local customs and traditions. I opted for khaki trousers and a loose cotton shirt. One pair of Birkenstocks was ample for the city. I was barefoot for the camping.
Practical layers in quick-drying fabrics are best. You’ll need way less than you think.
Potty, flasks for hot drinks, and a picnic blanket are handy. Think of the trip as a sequence of picnics neatly strung together between natural beauty and shady nap spots. Mamma packed way too many clothes for herself and our child. If you can’t carry it. in a backpack up a canyon, you probably don’t need it.
We wouldn’t have been without our baby carrier, sunglasses and trail mix.
Best Time to Visit Oman
The best time to make a road trip is between October and March when the weather is a gentle embrace rather than a harsh whisper. Our visit in December felt comfortable. Daytime was in the late twenties, and the night was cool but easy. It felt a refreshing change from the heat and humidity of Goa.
Oman Travel Essentials
Understanding the local customs, dressing modestly, and carrying an offline map is a smart thing to do before the visit. I downloaded a stretch with Google Maps, but we also bought an Omani sim at the airport for essential calls and data – £20 for 15GB.
A polite ‘salam ealaykum’ goes a long way to ingratiate yourself with locals – سلام عليكم
Visa On Arrival For 14 Days
Travel to Oman is visa-free for 14 days for British nationals. The option to extend visa online is easy and costs 20OMR for a month. It. is also possible to renew your visa at Muscat International Airport and local police stations should you have a need. Check with your embassy for up-to-date entry requirements.
Oman Itinerary: 7-10 Day Road Trip
This road trip itinerary for Oman is a canvas; feel free to add your strokes. Whether extending a stay in the mountains or adding a day in the desert, Oman welcomes you with open arms.
Had we had the time to stay on, I would have liked to visit cultural attractions in the city. I would have loved a couple of nights in the desert, and more miles along the coast would have been welcome.
Here’s my road trip shortlist for next time:
- Explore Muscat
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque: An architectural masterpiece showcasing Islamic art.
Royal Opera House: A centre for arts and culture offering a range of performances.
- Discover Nizwa
Nizwa Fort: A stunning example of Islamic architecture, offering panoramic views of the city and mountains.
Nizwa Souq: Known for its silver jewellery and intricately designed khanjars (traditional daggers).
- Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams
Hiking: These mountain areas offer trails with breathtaking views, including terraced gardens and deep canyons.
Via Ferrata: For adventure seekers, Jebel Shams offers a thrilling via ferrata (iron path) climbing experience.
- Wahiba Sands
Desert Safari: Experience the thrill of dune bashing in a 4×4.
Sand Dune Camping: Spend a night under the stars in a traditional Bedouin camp.
- Ras al Jinz
Turtle Watching: Visit the turtle reserve to witness sea turtles nesting on the beach, a truly magical experience. We swam with turtles along the coast on the second morning of our camp near Wadi Shab.
Khareef Festival: Experience the monsoon season from July to September, when the desert landscape transforms into lush greenery.
Al Mughsail Beach: Enjoy the scenic beauty and natural blowholes.
- Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain)
Nature Walks: Known for its cool climate and fruit orchards, it’s ideal for nature walks and exploring traditional Omani villages.
- Musandam Peninsula
Dhow Cruise: Take a cruise through the “Norway of Arabia,” known for its stunning fjord-like khors (inlets).
Snorkelling and Diving: The clear waters are perfect for spotting marine life.
Oman offers adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic Arabian experience.
Oman Road Trip Itinerary Wrap-Up
As we wrap up this journey, remember Lawrence’s words;
“All the revision in the world will not save a bad first draft: for it is by revision that a good first draft becomes a great second draft.”
Oman’s beauty lies in its diversity, from the rugged mountains to the serene deserts and vibrant cities. It’s a land that has mastered the art of storytelling through its landscapes. Learn more about things to do and in country essentials before your trip with Experience Oman.
Our Oman Road Trip Map
The roads mark our journey travelled, the stories created, the laughter shared, and the puffer fish found on the beach.
Bicycle Touring in Oman
Needless to say, I would highly recommend Oman for bicycle touring. I saw a couple camp out on the beach on our first night and again the next day, rolling along the quiet coastal road. From the mountains to the coast and the desert in between, there’s a lot going for bike travellers in Oman. Tim Moss, Founder of the Cycle Touring Festival, made some excellent trips while living in Oman.
Get inspired for your next road trip to Arabia!
Have you visited Oman? Share your Oman road trip stories in the comments: