We just returned from our 4-day road trip to Oman and it’s time to share with you our thoughts on what too see in Oman in 4 days as well as share our complete itinerary. If you’re interested in visiting Oman and not sure, where to start, where to stay, whether you need an SUV for a road trip in Oman, I’ll answer all these questions and more.
So without further ado, let’s get started! But first, let’s clear a couple of frequently asked questions about Oman eVisa, SUV for Oman road trip and more.
eVisa to Oman: no more visa on arrival
Let’s start with some important changes that were introduced earlier this year. Basically, visas on arrival to Oman were cancelled (although as of April 2019 there were still booths in the airport to get the visa). Also, the airlines now ask you to provide your visa /eVisa voucher to Oman before check-in and boarding.
Good news: the eVisa to Oman costs only 5 OMR for 10 days and takes up to 4 days to get. It took us only 8 hours to get this visa though. We completed the form at night on Sunday and we got our visas the first thing in the morning on Monday.
You can apply for your eVisa to Oman here (based on eligibility). You need to sign up to this system, then pick your nationality and the system will tell you about all the possible visas you could /need to apply for.
Read this post about the best photo locations in Oman >>>
Do you need an SUV (4×4) car to explore Oman for the ultimate Oman road trip?
If you’re wondering, whether you need an SUV or in other words, 4×4 car to explore Oman, the answer if not so simple. It depends on your travel plans – if you intend to stay on the beach most of the time or just to a couple of places like Nizwa or Bimmah sinkhole, then you don’t need an SUV in Oman.
If you decide to explore further – head to Jebel Shams, be able to take any road you want, drive a bit in the sands in the Sharqiya sands and perhaps drive further to Wadi Rum, in this case, you would need an SUV in Oman.
We rented our car through Rentalcars.com using their full insurance (it was cheaper than buying full insurance from the provider directly). We also always book through Quidco. Our car provider was Budget and we initially booked Hyundai Tucson, however, Budget didn’t have this car on arrival and upgraded us to the best category – we got a brand new Toyota Fortuner and it was the best car for this 4-day trip to Oman.
If you book your own car, make sure to book from a well-known provider, as we witnessed a couple of fellow travellers stuck in Jebel Shams with a flat tyre. Their car wasn’t equipped with a manual, toolkit to change the tire or even a lock to open a spare tire compartment and they rented it through some local company.
Unfortunately, accidents like this are not uncommon in Oman especially if you drive off-road a lot, so again, I recommend hiring from a good international provider (we love Avis as they almost always have good new cars and Budget is also a part of Avis).
What to wear in Oman?
Head to my post about what to wear in Oman to read more, but long story short, you need to dress respectfully. For a female, I recommend a long dress covering shoulders or a jumpsuit with sleeves and for a man – linen trousers and a t-shirt.
Itinerary for the road trip in Oman in 4 days:
I hope you found the tips above useful. Let’s get started with things to see in Oman in 4 days. You can modify this itinerary and if it’s too packed for you, you can stretch it to 7 days in Oman depending on how much time you would like to spend on the beach.
We stayed in Oman for 4 days and 4 nights (we flew with Qatar Airways, however, there are plenty of direct flights from Europe, check the availability and prices how). We also stayed every night in a different place and only spent one night in a resort in Oman, you can, of course, stay longer.
Day 1 in Oman: Exploring Muscat and visiting a traditional Omani restaurant
On the first day of our road trip in Oman, we arrived around 4 pm, collected our hired SUV that we rented though Rentalcars and went to check in and leave bags in our first hotel. We picked Centara as it’s a well-known chain and the price was very appealing. The service in the hotel was impeccable and the room was nice and comfortable.
Once we left our bags, we went for a drive in the city to see the Qurum beach, the port and drive past the impressive Oman Royal Opera House.
Muscat is not a walkable city and there are barely even footpaths for pedestrians, so the easiest way to see the city is actually driving through it.
After our drive, we went to the famous Kargeen restaurant that actually required an advance reservation because it was absolutely full. Make sure to book it in advance here. The speciality of Kargeen is a goat – all the meat dishes are made of goat. The portions are absolutely huge – I recommend ordering just one main and one starter for 2 people.
Day 2 of the road trip in Oman – Jebel Shams and Nizwa
On day 2, we had our breakfast in Centara Muscat and headed straight to the Sultan Qaboos Mosque. The mosque is the main highlight of Muscat and it’s very impressive inside. It’s actually the most beautiful mosque we ever visited, the entrance is free, so you should definitely pay Sultan Qaboos Mosque a visit.
For non-Muslims, it’s open every day from 8am to 11am only. I recommend arriving early, as it gets quite crowded, as groups from the cruise ships arrive around 9-10am. As a female, you need to cover yourself from wrists to ankles and also wear a headscarf to enter the mosque. If you don’t have a suitable outfit, don’t worry – you can rent an abaya right at the entrance. Men need to wear long trousers.
Overall, as I already mentioned, the mosque is very impressive and worth visiting even though it’s quite modern.
Driving to Jebel Shams (+Balcony walk) without a tour guide: do you need a 4×4 car?
After visiting the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, we started driving to Jebel Shams. We had a few concerns, as we read online that the road is really tough and only a very skilled driver with a lot of experience driving 4×4 car can go in.
Driving to Jebel Shams or the Grand Canyon of Oman takes around 3.5 hours from Muscat. As the road is perfect up until the ascending point to Jebel Shams and the landscapes are gorgeous, the time passes fast.
The ascending part wasn’t as complicated as I have imagined. Pepe never drove an SUV before and there was absolutely no problem using that road. Yes, I’d say you need a 4×4 car to drive up to Jebel Shams and the balcony walk, but you don’t need to be a professional driver.
However, we did see quite a few sedans going up to the Balcony walk, but as I said before, it’s not only Jebel Shams where you would require a 4×4 in Oman.
Visiting Jebel Shams
You don’t need to hike the Balcony walk to see the stunning views of Jebel Shams. One viewpoint is located before the Jabal Shams resort, there is the second one 3 minutes driving from it and the third amazing Jebel Shams viewpoint is located right at the start of the Balcony walk.
I totally recommend visiting Jebel Shams as it looks really impressive in real life and no photos can show you how stunning it is. Many people decide to stay there overnight camping or stay in either of the two resorts in Jebel Shams.
There’s also a third resort with impressive views, but it’s not quite in Jebel Shams and it’s unique and luxurious – you can check it out here.
We wanted to stay in Alila Jabal Akhdar – one of the most impressive hotels I’ve ever seen, but it was fully booked 2 months before our trip, so we drove all the way to Nizwa (about 1.5 hours).
Exploring Nizwa and staying in a traditional Omani house
We arrived in Nizwa just before the sunset, checked in in our very impressive accommodation (a traditional Omani house in the heart of the city surrounded by the citadel) Nizwa Heritage Inn and headed straight to the Nizwa Fort to see the sunset. The entrance costs 5 OMR and covers the fortress and the museum inside.
We also went for a walk in the town, but apart from the fort, there is not much to see. However, as this place has very few tourists, you can see in Nizwa how Omani people used to live before.
Day 3 of 4 days in Oman: Visiting Sharqiya Sands and staying in a resort
On day 3, we were quite tired, so we didn’t wake up very early. We left our accommodation around 11 am and headed all the way to the sand dunes that are closest to Nizwa and Muscat. The closest sand dunes to Muscat are called the Wahiba Sands or Sharqiya Sands near Badyiah. They are located just about 2 hours 45 minutes driving from Nizwa. To drive there, you need a 4×4 (this time for sure), however, it’s definitely worth it. We didn’t drive there for a while, just about 40 minutes or so and saw so many camels. The sand dunes are very impressive and I can imagine how beautiful they are at sunset.
As we were limited by time and we really wanted to swim in Oman as well, we didn’t stay in one of the desert camps. However, if you have slightly more time or just different priorities, you can definitely stay in the Wahiba Sands overnight.
Also, you can take one of the driving in the desert tours, where a guide will take you for a ride in the sand dunes (I don’t recommend doing it by yourself). We didn’t drive in the dunes ourselves – we just took a road that goes between the dunes.
Staying in a resort in Oman
It took us about 3 hours to drive to our resort, Shangri La located outside Muscat. It also took me ages to pick a resort, as even though Oman has a long and impressive coast, there are very few resorts. Omanis are actively building new resorts, however, right now there are about 4 or 5 and the rest are located in Salalah (it’s really far from Muscat).
As you can imagine, all 5 are quite expensive and we simply picked one of the cheapest ones with breakfast included. That was Shangri-La Al Jissah.
Staying there honestly was a pleasure and the beach was awesome.
There was traditional live music at night and the dinner was also amazing.
Last day in Oman: Bimmah Sinkhole and Muscat
On the last day in Oman, we decided to take the most from our resort and stay there until the checkout. Because of that (and the weather), we decided not to visit the famous Wadi Shab and just go to the Bimmah Sinkhole.
The reason why we didn’t go to Wadi Shab in April
We visited Oman in April and the weather was very hot. It was 40 degrees in the desert and 36 in Muscat. Visiting Wadi Shab requires 45 minutes hiking under the hot sun one way, so I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Oman in April is actually really hot, so if you aren’t feeling well when it’s so hot, I recommend picking another month. As a Northerner, I don’t enjoy the heat that much and I did feel unwell twice in Oman, so be careful.
That’s the only reason why we didn’t go to Wadi Shab, however, if you’re visiting Oman in any other month that April (before April and after November), you can definitely go.
Getting to Bimmah Sinkhole from Muscat
Driving to Bimmah Sinkhole from Shangri La took about 90 minutes. In the sinkhole, you can wear whatever you want, however, at the entrance to it (there’s a 5-min walk to it), you need to look presentable (no swimming shorts allowed).
We actually really enjoyed the Bimmah Sinkhole, it was a great experience, so we spent there more than an hour (close to 2 hours). The water was warm and it was full of fish that eats your dead skin cells, so it was like a spa treatment.
We had to return our car at 6pm, so we headed back to Muscat, driving through the city again to see its beauty. We were still staying overnight in Muscat in a hotel A’Sinamar close to the airport, but our flight was departing at 6am, so we decided to return the car early (it took an hour to return it, as the procedure in Oman is quite unique).
I hope you enjoyed this post about what to see in Oman during 4 days: the itinerary for Oman and our road trip in Oman. In case you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!