Oman. The first thought perhaps is that of a vast hot desert. Well, Oman is much more than that. You can have a short getaway to Oman in 3 days. Oman offers you city escape, desert, mountains, beaches, all in one neat package. There are oases known as wadis all over the country and little fishing villages along the coastline. Here are 2 alternatives for a 3-day Oman itinerary.
You could easily combine a 3 day trip to Dubai with further 3 days in Oman. The glitzy Dubai and its cultural and glamourous attractions followed by a more serene Oman experience would make for a wonderful introduction to the Middle East.
3 Days in Oman
Oman Travel Tips
October to March would be the best time to explore Oman. Omani riyal is quite strong so don’t expect Oman to be a super cheap destination. That said, it has options across budgets for accommodation, eating out and activities. It is completely safe to travel to Oman. The country has a very low crime rate, so safety shouldn’t be your concern at all.
Oman is a fairly conservative society. So dress and behave in public accordingly. This is particularly to be adhered to at all mosques and other cultural sites. You can be in any swimwear at a 5 star resort in Muscat, but while swimming at a wadi, it is best to avoid skimpy swinwear. Drunken behaviour, or swearing loudly in public is to be avoided.
English is widely spoken and Omani folks are very courteous to tourists. So you will have a good time in Oman, whether you travel solo or with your family.
Oman Itinerary Overview
There are a couple of itineraries I have put together to spend 3 days in Oman.
Itinerary 1: If you are looking for a cultural destination + mountains for the views.
Start with Muscat, the capital city, then drive to Nizwa, and further up to Al Hajjar mountains
Itinerary 2: If you are looking for city life + desert experience
Start with Muscat, then drive down to Wahiba Sands for an unmatched desert experience the next day. We booked a car rental at the international airport for our 6-day road trip in Oman. There was an option to rent a car with a local driver, if you are not too confident to drive yourself here.
3 Days in Oman Itinerary 1 – City + Mountains
Day 1: Explore Muscat
Start with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
The capital city of Oman with its low-rise buildings is well laid out. For your first day in Oman, I would recommend starting with the best cultural attraction in Muscat, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The mosque and the main prayer room would leave you astounded, both for its beauty and sheer size. You have to visit this mosque in the morning before 11 am. Tourists are allowed only until then. If you can’t make it in the morning of Day 1, then you could do this first thing in the morning on Day 2 before driving to Nizwa.
Do note that you need to dress appropriately to enter the mosque. Both men and women should have their legs covered in modest attire. If you are not wearing full-length loose clothes, an abaya for women can be rented at the mosque to put on your clothes. Do take a stole or large scarf to cover your head.
I would recommend a traditional Omani meal for lunch. Kargeen restaurant is a good option in the city. You could take a siesta post lunch to take a break. If you are visiting Muscat with kids, then Museum of Illusions is a good stop to add to your family vacation itinerary.
An evening at the Corniche
Muttrah Corniche in Muscat is a great way to spend an evening. You stroll on a broad pavement watching the ocean and boats thereon. The sunset makes for a great view at the corniche. And then it is time to explore the Muttrah souq (market) nearby. This is a traditional Arab market with an old-world charm and chaos. Shopkeepers sell everything from colourful lamps to spices to Omani artefacts here. It is a good place to buy a souvenir from Oman but put your haggling skills to test first!
There are plenty of restaurant options on the corniche for dinner.
Day 2: Drive to Nizwa Fort
The ancient city of Nizwa is at the foothills of Al Hajjar mountains. Day 2 is to drive towards Al Hajjar mountains to spend the next 2 days. The driving distance between Muscat and Nizwa is about 150 km and then there is a further 1.5-hour drive to go up to the mountains.
But, first a stop at Nizwa Fort. Nizwa Fort was built in 17th century and most tourists come to Nizwa to see this attraction. You can base yourself in Nizwa to explore the mountains nearby or choose to stay at one of the mountain resorts for a luxury experience. My recommendation would be to stay at a resort in Jebel Akhdar and enjoy the cool mountains and valley views.
Nizwa Fort has a round tower from which you can get good views of the surrounding areas. There is a large museum housed within the fort premises that has numerous Omani artefacts. Nizwa is a conservative town, like most towns in Oman, so do dress modestly here. There are several restaurants and cafes outside the fort area, and you can partake in a quick snack or lunch before heading up to the mountains.
Depending on how much time you take to explore Nizwa Fort and the nearby souq, you could reach Al Hajjar mountains between late afternoon to early evening. It would be time to settle in your accommodation and enjoy the sunset views.
Day 3: Explore Jebal Akhdar
Jebal Akhdar is a large area within Al Hajjar mountains. Jabal Shams, often called the ‘Grand Canyon of Arabia’ is further ahead and a paradise for adventure seekers and hikers. There are plenty of hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing options in Jebal Akhdar as well. Your resort can facilitate whatever adventure activity your heart desires!
Temperatures drop in the night so do take a light jacket. And from December to February, you may need a thicker jacket to ward off the chilly nights in the mountains.
We stayed at Anantara Al Jebal Al Akhdar resort and I highly recommend it. I have read equally good reviews of the Alila resort which is not too far off.
Post your morning adventure activity in Jebal Akhdar, you will drive back to Muscat on Day 3 of this Oman itinerary.
Oman in 3 Days Itinerary 2 – City + Desert
Day 1: Explore Muscat.
This day would be the same as suggested in Oman Itinerary 1. Start with Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, then lunch at Kargeen restaurant, and finally the evening exploring Muttrah corniche and the sprawling Muttrah souq.
Day 2: Wahiba Sands
Wahiba Sands is the largest desert area in Oman. Spending a night in this vast desert is a quintessential part of this 3-day Oman itinerary.
The driving distance between Muscat and Wahiba Sands is about 200 km. And once you reach the outskirts of the desert, chances are that there would be a further drive of 20-50 km on sand to reach the desert camp destination. Before you leave the paved roads and get on the sand in a 4WD, you would need to adjust the tire pressure in your vehicle. As you reach the desert, you will notice the vast dunes, pristine landscape, and a quiet that is all encompassing. Watching the sunset over a large sand dune is an amazing experience.
I recommend the Thousand Nights Desert camp here. The tents here were clean, and the hospitality of the staff is great. Whichever desert camp you choose to stay in, an overnight stay is a far more enriching experience that a quick dune bashing stop at Wahiba Sands could ever be. The traditional Omani dinner spread beneath the star-studded sky is lovely. You would learn a bit about the Omani Bedouin culture from the staff here.
Day 3: Dune bashing and drive back to Muscat
No desert experience is complete without going over the vast sand dunes in a rugged 4WD. You need an experienced local driver for this. Your desert camp can easily arrange for this experience. Depending on when you reach Wahiba Sands on Day 2, you could have a dune bashing experience either in the evening or on the morning of Day 3.
And then there is the drive back to Muscat. On our way back to Muscat, you could make a stop at Bimmah Sinkhole. This is a popular small lake known for its turquoise blue water. Even if you are not going to jump into the water to cool off, the view of Bimmah Sinkhole from the top of the stairs is pretty. The sinkhole measures 50 meters by 70 meters and has a depth of approximately 20 meters. Entry to this place is free. After cooling off at Bimmah Sinkhole, it is time to head back to Muscat and then home!
So, whether you chose to cool off in the mountains or spend a starry night in the desert, you are bound to have a wonderful time in Oman.
Looking for other Itineraries for the Middle East? Check out 3 days in Jordan.
Author Bio: Shweta has always been passionate about travel and immersing in new experiences. Having been to over 40 countries, she blogs at Zest In A Tote to bring family-friendly itineraries and tips, destinations, and luxury stays to her readers. Her belief in family travel needn’t be boring and one can do a mix of local culture & food, adventure activities and relaxation, all with family. Connect with Shweta on Facebook or Instagram