Africa & Middle East

12 Best Oman Tours for Nature, History & Culture

Have limited time in Oman? You’ll be surprised by just how much of the country you can see on a Muscat day tour. Whether it’s hidden mountain villages, cooling off in a wadi or the solitude of the Empty Quarter you seek, this curated list of Oman tours has something for every traveller – and every budget.

Muscat is my favourite city in the Middle East. I could happily spend a week wandering the atmospheric Muttrah Souq, people watching on the corniche and eating kebabs on the beach as the sun melts over the Gulf. But it would be a shame to come all the way to Oman and not sample the country’s magnificent natural landscapes as well.

From sinkholes and wadis to Oman’s ‘Empty Quarter’, the Wahiba Sands desert, all the way to the rocky peaks of the Jebel Shams mountains and the pristine waters of the Gulf of Oman, this country is endowed with so much natural beauty, it’s almost overwhelming.

If you have limited time or you aren’t planning to hire a car and drive around Oman, an organised tour can be a terrific way to experience the country. It can also end up saving you some serious cash.

This post brings together 12 of the very best Oman tours.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Oman essentials

Here are the websites and services I used when planning my trip to Oman and regularly draw on for trip planning.

– Find affordable flights to Oman on Kiwi.com, a booking site that mixes and matches airlines to find the best route (there’s a money back guarantee if you miss a connection).

– Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa for Oman and apply for an expedited visa online.

– Pre-book a private transfer from Muscat Airport to your hotel.

– Find the best hotel deals in Oman on Agoda, or find a unique Airbnb.

– Find the best city tours and day excursions in Oman. Check out my round-up of the best Muscat day tours for more inspiration.

– Search and compare car rentals using Discover Cars to find the best value for money.

– No car? Book a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Muscat or charter a car and driver instead.

– Limited time? This 4-day tour of Oman covers all the highlights.

– Pick up a copy of the 2019 Lonely Planet guidebook for Oman.

12 of the very best Oman tours (Muscat day tours), including Muscat cruise tours, nature tours, wadi tours and desert tours.

Where to stay in Muscat

When we visited Muscat, we stayed at Mutrah Hotel, which we chose because of its proximity to the city’s biggest marketplace, Muttrah Souk. It’s basic but comfortable, with free parking on-site. Best of all, it’s walking distance to the market and corniche.

Another great budget-friendly choice is Unique Hostel. Oman’s only ‘true’ hostel, it offers dorms and private doubles with shared bathrooms from just $20 a night.

If you’re going to Oman to celebrate a special occasion or you just prefer a more luxurious kind of travel, Muscat has some amazing beach side resorts. Located right on the Gulf coast, The Chedi Muscat is a cut above the rest. W Muscat is slightly more economical but no less opulent.

If mid-range is more your style, try Levatio Hotel. And if you’re visiting Oman for a limited amount of time on a layover, I highly recommend Sundus Rotana near the airport.

Things to look out for when choosing an Oman tour

  • Religious holidays and festivals. Tour schedules often change if there’s a festival on and during the Holy Month of Ramadam. Keep this in mind when you’re planning your trip.
  • Day of the week. Some markets (for example the goat market in Nizwa) only take place once a week. If you have your heart set on visiting a particular market, make sure you plan your trip accordingly.
  • Does the price of the tour include entrance fees? Most outdoor attractions in Oman are free, but if the tour visits a museum, you should double-check to see whether the cost of your ticket is included.
  • Group size. If it’s not a private tour, is there a cap on group size?
12 of the very best Oman tours (Muscat day tours), including Muscat cruise tours, nature tours, wadi tours and desert tours.
  • Does it come with lunch? If it’s a full-day tour, check to see if lunch is included or if you’ll have to buy your own food. Often on tours you’ll be taken to a particular restaurant. If it’s out of your budget range or it doesn’t cater to your dietary requirements, there’s often not much you can do.
  • Are drinks included? Some of these Oman tours include drinks.
  • Is there hotel pick up, or do we rendezvous at a set location? If pick up and drop off isn’t included, you’ll have to make your own way to the meeting point. Muscat is very spread out, so this will probably mean having to take a taxi or drive your own car.
  • Can I get a refund if I change my mind? Plans change, things come up. I get it. When I was in Muscat, I had to cancel one of my tours at the last minute because I had a migraine (probably from dehydration). I always prefer to book through a third-party agent such as Get Your Guide or Klook instead of going direct to the tour company. Both these sites can offer a full refund provided you give notice.

What to bring on your Oman tour

  • A reusable water bottle. Absolutely essential in Oman for staying hydrated. I love my S’Well water bottle – it’s vacuum insulated to keep water icy cold for the whole day, and it doesn’t sweat.
  • Rehydration tablets or sachets. If you’re out on the water, dune bashing or hiking, your body will be crying out for electrolytes by the end of your tour (believe me!). I prefer Hydralyte tablets because they come in a handy tube.
  • Your swim kit. If you’re going out on the water or your tour involves stopping at a wadi, you should bring your swimming gear and a towel. Note that there are rules in Oman about what kind of swimming costumes women can wear in public. See the next section for more advice.
  • A sturdy day pack. Pop it all in a day pack and you’re ready for your Oman tour! I always go for a minimalist backpack when I’m travelling.

Dress code in Oman

If you’re travelling outside the city to rural villages and markets – or even if you’re staying in Muscat and visiting the mosque – you should dress conservatively. Women are not required to cover their hair in Oman. But it is advisable to wear long, loose-fitted clothing that covers your shoulders and knees at a minimum. Avoid tops with low necklines and fitted pants.

Women aren’t allowed to wear bathing suits or bikinis at some swimming areas in Oman. I usually wore bike shorts and a long-sleeved shirt in the water. Rules vary from place to place; if in doubt, contact your tour guide ahead of time to double check.

Should you tip your guide?

Tipping is not mandatory in Oman, but it is appreciated. If you’re happy with the service your tour guided provides, 5-10 Omani Rial (about 13-25 USD) would be considered a generous tip. It also depends on your group size. I would tip more for a private guide and maybe a little less if it’s a large group.

If you have a driver or a boat skipper, it’s a nice gesture to also offer them a small tip.


12 of the best Oman tours for nature, history & culture

All these Oman tours depart from Muscat and last for a full day or less.

12 of the very best Oman tours (Muscat day tours), including Muscat cruise tours, nature tours, wadi tours and desert tours.

Best Muscat tours

Make the most of your time in Oman’s capital with one of these guided Muscat city tours.

Muscat Half-Day City Tour With Audio Guiding

If you only have a day or two to see Muscat, this audio guided tour (available in Spanish, English, French, German, Italian) with a friendly driver will take you to Muscat’s most popular sites. Highlights include the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Bait Al Zubair Museum (entrance fee included in tour price) and the iconic Muttrah Souq.

You’ll also stop off at some photogenic spots along the way, and even check out a fish market. This tour is hands-off, but it’s great value for money, and a better option than using taxis to get from place to place.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Half-Day Muscat City Tour: Old Town, Muttrah, Palaces

If you prefer to have a local guide to talk you through the sites, this half day tour covers the same landmarks mentioned above. As you walk amongst merchant houses, through the fish market and souq, your guide will narrate the journey with stories of Muscat’s vibrant culture. Again, this tour is great value for money.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Muscat Night Tour With Dinner

This night tour is perfect if you want to see Muscat in the cool of the evening. You’ll visit the Shatti Al-Quruan area, Royal Opera House, Mohammed Al Ameen Mosque, Old Muscat (including the Muttrah Souq and Al Alam Palace) and more. Muscat looks and feels very different at night, so it would be quite nice to combine a day tour and a night tour on the same day.

After the tour, guests sit down to a traditional Omani dinner. It winds up between 10 and 11pm, and takes place on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Check prices & book online with Klook.

12 of the very best Oman tours (Muscat day tours), including Muscat cruise tours, nature tours, wadi tours and desert tours.

Best Oman tours for wadis & Wahiba Sands

Venture into the rolling red dunes and plunging water holes beyond the city with one of these Muscat wadi tours.

Red Dunes and Wadi Safari with Lunch

Visiting a wadi and seeing the Wahiba Sands are two must-dos when you’re in Oman. This tour takes you to Wadi Bani Khalid, a desert oasis, where you can swim and relax.

For an adrenaline rush, you’ll then drive on the dunes of the Wahaba Sands. The tour also includes a visit to an old merchant village near Ibra and a photo stop in Fanja. Lunch, hotel pickup and drop-off are all included. Just remember your swimmers!

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Wadi Shab Discovery Tour

One of my favourite days in Oman was when we visited Wadi Shab and the Bimah Sinkhole. This tour takes you to both sites and gives you plenty of independent time to take it all in. At Wadi Shab, you’ll enjoy an easy 45-minute walk to the natural pools and cave, where you can jump in the water and cool off.

Lunch is provided at the Wadi Shab Resort. After that, it’s off to the incredible Bimah Sinkhole – and yes, people do jump from the top! The tour begins and ends in Shatti Al Qurum and runs for approximately 8 hours.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Village between the mountains.

Best Oman tours for mountains & nature

These Muscat nature tours take you deep into the Jebel Shams mountains where unbelievable scenery and hidden mud villages await.

Jebel Akhdar Green Mountain Tour

Known as the ‘Green Mountain’, Jebel Akhdar is located in a rare spot where there’s enough moisture for trees and shrubs to grow. This sets the mountain apart from the rest of the rocky desert and gives the area its name. The nearby Saiq Plateau is a magical, fertile place where locals grow pomegranates, apricots and lemons.

On this tour, you’ll get to see both these unique landscapes and also get a chance to explore Wadi Bani Habib. Water and soft drinks are provided, but lunch is not included. The tour lasts for about 8 hours.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Oman: Muscat to Bilad Sayt 4WD Day Trip

Located about two-and-a-half hours east of Muscat, Bilad Sayt is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Oman. You need a 4WD (and some serious driving skills) to access the village independently – or else you can join a day tour from Muscat, which is a much easier way to go.

Admire the stone and mud buildings and explore the labyrinth of narrow alleyways. It’s a great opportunity to take photos and witness local life in Oman, as farmers and villagers go about their daily chores. Pick up and drop off from your accommodation in Muscat is included, but lunch is on you.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

A dhow boat off the coast of Sur, Oman. Photo credit: Emily Lush.

Best Oman tours on the water

These Muscat cruise tours will introduce you to the wondrous marine life off Oman’s coast.

Snorkelling Cruise to Daymaniat Islands Reserve

The Oman coast offers some of the best snorkelling opportunities in the world. The Daymaniat Islands Reserve is a pristine area and a thriving marine ecosystem, where leopard sharks and sea turtles live in abundance.

For this full-day tour, you’ll be picked up from Al Mouj Marina in Muscat for the 35-minute cruise to the Islands. Snorkelling gear is provided and the tour goes for 5 hours. Be aware that during Summer (May 1 to September 30), only snorkelling is allowed and you’re not able to access the islands.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Dolphin Watching and Snorkelling Tour

With a focus on dolphin spotting, there’s a good chance you’ll get to see a variety of different dolphin species on this boat cruise. The tour also includes about an hour of snorkelling. The price include pick up/drop off from your hotel in Muscat, and the tour lasts for about 3 hours.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

2-Hour Dhow Cruise at Sunset

Oman does a mean sunset! Soak one up by hopping on a traditional wooden dhow boat and skimming along the Gulf. Perfect for honeymooners or couples, this tour allows plenty of time to relax and admire the view as you drink coffee or soft drink and snack on some dates and fruit (included). Get dropped back at your hotel at the end of the night, or hang around and grab dinner in the city.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

View of Niza mosque and town from the top of the fort. Photo credit: Emily Lush.

Best Muscat to Nizwa tours

The ancient city of Nizwa is more than worthy of a few days of your time. But if you’re in a rush, a Muscat day tour to Nizwa will suffice.

Full-Day Tour in Oman: Enchanting Forts of Nizwa and Jabreen

Nizwa is located about two-and-a-half hours’ drive inland south-west of Muscat. Although I strongly recommend staying in Nizwa for a night or two, you can easily join a guided tour from Muscat to see the highlights.

You’ll visit the famous 17th-century Nizwa Fort and have an opportunity to buy some silver jewellery and woven carpets from the adjoining Nizwa Souq. The tour continues to the towns of Bahla and Jabrin, making this a great opportunity to absorb yourself in Omani culture and history. Book your tour on a Friday to see the weekly Goat Market at Nizwa.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.

Hajar Mountains: Private Day Trip from Muscat

Departing Muscat, this private tour first stops in Nizwa to explore the fort and souq. For an amazing view, you’ll then head to Jebel Shams, the highest mountain in the country, considered the Grand Canyon of Oman. You’ll also visit Misfah, a picturesque town of mud-houses, where you can search the alleyways for a glimpse of local life. Lunch is provided, and you’ll travel in comfort by 4WD.

This is a private tour, so the price-point is a little higher, but I promise it will be worth it (just look at the reviews!). Entrance to Nizwa Fort is included.

Check prices & book online with Get Your Guide.


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