Road Trip in Oman: The Best 7 Day Itinerary

We explored the Northern part of Oman on a 7-day self-drive trip.

Our itinerary includes impressive forts, stunning mosques, and an overnight stay in the desert.

Road Trip in Oman: The Best 7 Day Itinerary

We explored the Northern part of Oman on a 7-day self-drive trip.

Our itinerary includes impressive forts, stunning mosques, and an overnight stay in the desert.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

We may earn affiliate commissions from websites we link to, at no cost to you. Click here for details.

Road Trip in Oman - desert

We enjoyed cool swim stops in the wadis dotted around the country, spent an evening watching green turtles nesting on the beach and we ate some incredible Omani cuisine.

A road trip in Oman was the perfect way to see this country.  

Oman is very easy to self-drive as the roads are wide, new and well planned. The roads are not overly busy and locals are considerate drivers. 7 days in Oman is the ideal itinerary to get a good taste of this beautiful country.

Oman is one of the safest countries in the Middle East and you’ll often feel like you have the place to yourself as tourism is still in its infancy here.

Petrol is cheap and public transport isn’t established here yet, so everyone has a car. Unless you are here on an organised small group tour such as this one from G Adventures, then having your own car is key.

Visa Information

Most nationalities can get a 30-day visa on arrival. There is a desk located on the right side, just before you go through immigration at Muscat International Airport.

Visa costs 21 OMR ($54 USD) and can be paid by cash or credit card. You’ll receive a receipt of payment for the visa, you can then proceed through immigration.

There are two ATMs located opposite the visa at the arrivals desk which didn’t charge any fees to make a withdrawal.

Should you hire a 4WD in Oman?

Many people recommended that we hire a 4WD for our road trip in Oman. Yes, they are double the price of a standard 2WD car, however, it really depends on what you’d like to see and do during your time here.

We wanted the flexibility of taking the car anywhere we pleased, so we decided to spend the extra cash and rent a 4WD vehicle.

There were a few places on our trip where we were glad to have spent the extra money on a 4WD. The road to Jebel Shams was quite steep and there is a 7km unpaved part with loose gravel. It could be done in a 2WD, but the extra power of our 4WD made us feel much safer.

We also drove through the desert to reach our desert camp in the Wahiba Sands. The rest of the roads in Oman were wide and in excellent condition, perfect for larger cars.

Car hire recommended for a road trip in Oman

We hired a Toyota Fortuner through Discover Car Hire for USD 311 for six days from the Dollar office at Muscat airport. We had a limit of 200km a day included in our rental agreement.

Any mileage over this is charged at 6 OMR per 100 km.

You drive on the right in Oman. All roads are very wide and all street signs are posted in English and Arabic. The speed limit is usually 120km/h or 60km/h in urban areas. It’s a good idea to stick to the speed limit as there are many speed cameras set up along highways.

Fuel stations are everywhere, and they all have attendants to assist you. You can pay by cash or card. Most will have a shop, and some have toilets.

Petrol is cheap—0.22 OMR (0.57 cents) per litre.

Driving to Jebel Shams

Buy a SIM card on arrival or Buy an eSIM

Upon arrival, we bought an Omantel SIM card from the desk at the airport. There are a few different providers to choose from.

We paid 7 OMR ($18). Our SIM card included 2 GB of data (valid for 30 days). We chose a longer plan as we weren’t entirely sure if we’d stay in Oman a little longer, so we paid a few extra rials.

Most sim packs for 7-10 days can be purchased for 5 OMR. Make sure you turn off all your phone apps before you put the sim card in your phone so it doesn’t immediately use up all your data.

The data package is great and we used an app called ‘Waze’ to navigate us around Oman as our Google Maps app wasn’t ideal for directions here, the turn-by-turn function wasn’t good.

Try and download the Waze application before you arrive in Oman. You will certainly utilise it during the next 7 days in Oman.

Update in 2024: Get connected in Oman with an eSIM. View all data packs available for eSIM here.

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Oman money & travelling costs

The current exchange rate is 1 OMR (Omani rial) = USD 2.60. The rial is divided into 1000 baisa.

Many things can be purchased on a card here, however, it’s a good idea to always have some cash with you.

We used an Excel spreadsheet to record all of our expenses whilst in Oman.

Our overall expenses in Oman came to a total of USD 998 for two people for 7 days. This includes accommodation, car hire, petrol, food, sights, and miscellaneous items.

This doesn’t include our visa or flights. Depending on where you are flying from, I recommend that you search Skyscanner for the cheapest flights.

Food in Oman

We found local food to be quite affordable in Oman. In general, a shwarma with bread, salad, and hummus costs 1 OMR. Pepsi costs 0.20 OMR, a coffee costs 1 OMR, and a local meal of rice, meat, and salad costs around 1.5 – 2.00 OMR. Expect to pay 6 OMR for dinner in a nicer restaurant.

They say that the water in Oman is OK to drink. You can also buy bottled water in bulk if you choose. We bought a big 6-pack of water from Carrefour and had it in the car with us, it cost 0.625 OMR for all six bottles.

What to Wear in Oman

As Oman is a Muslim country, this means that everyone should dress respectfully. Women need to cover both their shoulders and knees and men are expected to wear t-shirts and long trousers.

For the majority of our trip, I wore loose-fitting clothing such as long-sleeved light shirts and long light cotton pants. The only time we needed to cover our hair was at the Grand Mosque in Muscat.

If you’re female and you plan to visit any other mosques, you’ll need to cover your hair. We always travelled with light scarves in Oman, very useful and also cheap to buy in the country.

Inside the Grand Mosque in Muscat

Best time to visit Oman

Winter is the best time to visit Oman as the summers are extremely hot. We didn’t really have a choice on our adventure to visit every country, so we travelled here in mid-May. It was also Ramadan during the time we visited.

We experienced hot days, around 35-41 degrees Celsius, the nights were very warm too.

Accommodation

As with previous trips, we booked our accommodation on Booking.com.

Prices in Oman are pretty high for what you get, but there are some gems to be found. Remember that if you have a car, you can afford for your hotel to be out of town that little bit more.

We chose hotels that are comfortable which include ensuite, air conditioning, good WiFi, and free parking.

If you are on a tight budget, the cheapest option is to buy a tent and wild camp for free almost anywhere in the country. This is very safe, and we’d certainly do it next time.

Our 7 Day Oman Itinerary

  • Nizwa – 2 nights
  • Wahiba Sands – 1 night (desert camp)
  • Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve – 1 night
  • Muscat – 2 nights

Our road trip to Oman was for a duration of 6 nights/7 days, and we covered a total of 1286 km.

When planning your itinerary, remember that as Oman is an Islamic country and the weekend is on a Friday and Saturday and many places will be closed on Fridays.

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Our 7 Day self-drive itinerary in Oman

road trip in oman

Day 1 Muscat – Nizwa (2 nights)

Distance: 178km
Time: 1 hr 45 min

The drive from Muscat airport to Nizwa was easy, driving on great roads through the desert. We stopped at the Carrefour supermarket (located about a 15-minute drive from the airport) as we wanted some food and snacks for the next couple of days.

Our visit was during Ramadan, so nothing is open during the day for food options. We went to the H&M store to pick up a few simple light shirts for our time spent here.

I’d describe Nizwa as a big town that is very spread out. It’s a good location to base yourself for a few nights and do some day trips from here. The fort and souq area are intriguing, and great for capturing some photos of food and people.

Sights – Nizwa Fort.  Cost 5 OMR ($13 USD).

road trip in oman
Marty and I at Nizwa Fort

Day 2 (Day Trip to Jebel Shams – via Bahla Fort, some small villages including Misfat and al Hamla)

Distance: 210km
Time: 4 hrs 18 min

We stopped at Bahla Fort in the morning. Cost 0.50 OMR each (USD 1.30). It’s a very impressive fort, and the price is fair, too.

Driving towards Jebel Shams, it’s worth your time to stop at Misfat al Abryeen. This is one of Oman’s oldest and most charming villages. We wandered through the small village with crumbling mud houses and striking coloured doors.

We found a small wadi (natural waterhole) where you could take a cool dip; the swimming sections are divided for both men and women.

Be sure to be dressed appropriately when visiting this village. There are signs everywhere to remind you to be respectful to the local people by dressing respectfully.

Misfat al Abryeen oman
The town of Misfat al Abryeen

We then drove through the small village of al Hamra, some great little coffee shops and fruit juice places to stop at if you need a refreshment.

The road climbing up to Jebels Shams was quite steep in some places, and there is a 7km unpaved part with loose gravel. You could manage this drive with a 2WD, but we were relieved to have the extra power of our 4WD.

Some great views once you reach the lookout point. You’ll pass by lots of long-haired goats along the way.

If you are wanting to stay here the night rather than return to Nizwa, as we did, there are only two places to stay at the top of Jebel Shams. Jebel Shams Resort and Sama Heights Resort. Both are pretty pricey.

Best prices can be found through Booking.com. If you’re on a budget, you can also choose to wild camp for free.

There are no other restaurants or shops on the mountain. Make sure you have enough petrol for the drive.

Where to Stay in Nizwa

Most of the hotels in Nizwa are about a 10-minute drive from the centre, but you drive everywhere anyway. Our hotel, the Tanuf Residency Hotel, was perfect; a new hotel and a reasonable price for Oman.

A great room, new beds, bedding, wifi connection, air-conditioning, TV, fridge, and kettle are fantastic. The rate was 22 OMR (USD 57 per night), which included a buffet breakfast.

where to stay in nizwa
Tanuf Residency Hotel

Where to Eat in Nizwa

There’s a Carrefour in town, so you can choose to self-cater. We wanted to try the local dish ‘shuwa’, which is slow-cooked lamb or chicken served with fragrant rice. We read some reviews and blogs and found this eatery – Arab World Restaurant. This place is clean and quite simple; however, the food was fantastic!

We paid 3.40 OMR total for 2 full meals (1 x chicken shuwa and 1 x lamb shuwa). Each meal was served with vegetable soup, a small salad, and the main meal. They served us a fresh mint tea to finish, a nice touch.

That’s only USD 4.40 each. It was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a while.

Eating a ‘shuwa’. The local traditional meal

Day 3 Nizwa – Wahiba Sands Desert  (1 night)

Distance: 192 km
Time: 2 hrs 30 min

We left our hotel in Nizwa just before midday and drove straight to the desert. We found a great rate through Booking.com and stayed at Sama Al Wasil Desert Camp.

The rate was 29.5 OMR, roughly USD 77 for the night. This rate included dinner and breakfast. We arrived at 3.00 pm.

Should you drive into the desert?

We made the decision to drive the 15km into the desert to reach our camp; however, we got stuck in the sand on the way. Lucky for us, the manager passed by us in his 4WD and helped us out.

It’s an arduous climb with loose sand. If you’re not an experienced driver, I’d recommend taking the hotel up on their offer of a pick-up from the Al Maha petrol station, which is 15km from the desert camp. Even if you have a 4WD, perhaps it’s a safer option to leave it parked there and take the pickup to avoid any problems.

Once we arrived, we checked in, and they served us dates, cardamon-infused coffee, and oranges on arrival. Our room was very nice, clean, and comfortable beds with a separate bathroom.

The rooms had air-conditioning and a ceiling fan too.

road trip in oman
Al Wasil Desert Camp

There was a little patio out front with cushions to sit and enjoy the tranquillity and views. We climbed the dunes and watched the sunset over our camp. It was tranquil, with only two other guests besides us.

We ate dinner in the evening. Lots of food. Chicken, rice, vegetable curry, boiled potatoes, hummus, yoghurt dip, and bread. We finished with custard for dessert and coffee and tea.

The following day, I woke at 05:00, and it was already a little light outside, but the sun hadn’t risen yet. I hiked up to the dunes again and watched the sunrise. Perfect. We enjoyed a good breakfast, showered, and checked out.

Day 4 Wahiba Sands Desert – Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve (1 night)

Distance: 235 km
Time: 3 hrs 30 min

We drove the route via Wadi Al Khalid and Sur.

We ate breakfast and departed the desert at 09:30. We drove around 1.5 hours to Wadi Bani Khalid. These are fantastic rock pools, and beautiful date palms surround them. There are a couple of small ascents in the car to reach the wadi, but nothing major.

There’s a big car park for you to park in and it’s free. Walk 5 minutes into the complex. You’ll find a restaurant and coffee served here if you need it.

There is a sign directing you to walk about 1km to the incredible rock pools and little slides. It’s great fun and beautiful here!

Wadi al Shab

Feeling refreshed, we drove for around 2 hours to the coastal city of Sur. We experienced great roads along the way. We stopped at Carrefour in Sur. It’s big, excellent toilets and free showers for women! We picked up some food, and then we drove into Sur and explored.

Sur is a great coastal town, whitewashed, with little streets, a beach with people exercising, and lots of small fishing boats there too. We drove around and then watched the sunset.

What to eat in Sur

We went to a simple place called ‘Al Sharad‘ for dinner. It’s located downtown, near the beach, just behind Sur Sea Restaurant.

It’s a cheap and cheerful place, but quite busy. You will find lamb and chicken shwarma cooking at the front of the shop. We chose the chicken shwarma plate served with bread, hummus, and salad for 1 OMR each. It was a tasty meal.

Where to View Turtle Nesting

The drive took 45 minutes to Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve to watch turtles laying eggs on the beach. This cost 7 OMR each. There’s a restaurant here with good coffee for 1 OMR each, a museum and toilets etc.

The turtle tour starts at 9.30 pm (can be earlier, so check before), no flash photos are allowed, but take your camera or iPhone and be sure to keep the flash off.

The walk is 15 minutes towards the beach; you follow the guide. We spent the next 35-45 minutes watching five different turtles digging holes, laying eggs, and then returning to sea—an awesome experience.

We decided to sleep in the car at the beach car park with a few sarongs along with the windows for a bit of privacy, and the windows rolled down a little.

The coastal city of Sur

Day 5 – Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve – Muscat (via Wadi al Shab, Sinkhole) 1 night

Distance: 270 km
Time: 3 hrs 15 min

We left the car park early and drove back through Sur to reach Wadi al Shab. There is a small car park here. Pay the guys at the river 1 OMR per person and return to have them drive you 30 sec across the water so you can hike towards the Wadi.

It’s a decent hike; I’d recommend wearing running or hiking shoes rather than flip-flops.

We passed by many irrigation pipes and then different rock pools as we climbed over rocks to get there. It’s a journey time of 45 minutes total, and it’s hot.

Once you reach it, you’ll know. It’s totally worth it. It’s a good idea to take an old pair of sneakers or aqua shoes to walk across rocks and explore the rock pools. Take lots of water and maybe some food, as it’s pretty isolated.

After spending about two hours here, we returned to our car and drove towards Muscat, stopping at Bimmah Sinkhole on the way. This is another fantastic swim stop, a 5-minute walk from the car park.

All roads to Muscat are fantastic, and the speed limit is 120km p/h. We booked 2 nights at the Golden Oasis Hotel.

The rate was 13 OMR (USD 33) per night, including breakfast. Bargain! It was clean and comfortable; the wifi was fast, too.

Day 6 Muscat – Grand mosque & sights

Distance: 90 km
Time: 1 hr 30 min

The Grand Mosque in Muscat

Today was all about exploring Muscat. It’s free entry to the Grand Mosque, which opens from 08:00-11 am. Ladies must be fully covered, including your hair. Make sure you take along a scarf or a sarong.

The mosque is stunning; spend at least an hour or two here.

We then drove to the Corniche, parked there, and explored the Souk. We went to the Sultan’s Palace and took photos from the front which is free. The palace is located only a 6-minute drive from the Corniche (promenade). We returned to our hotel and rested for a few hours.

We ventured back out in the evening and ate an incredible buffet dinner for 12 OMR at a beautiful restaurant called Bait Al Luban. A La Carte meal starts at 6 OMR.

This meal was delicious.

Driving along the Corniche in Muscat

Day 7 Last Day: Muscat – Airport

Return to the airport – 34min drive from our hotel on great roads, 120km p/h all the way.

Total Spent on Petrol

We travelled 1286km and spent 35 OMR (USD 91) on petrol. Now, that’s a great deal. When returning the car, ensure it is clean throughout and clean enough on the outside to see if there is any damage, or else they’ll charge you.

We paid a 5 OMR airport fee to drop off the car and another 5 OMR as we were 86 km over the mileage allowance.

I’d recommend that you pick up the Oman Lonely Planet Guidebook (with a 10% discount) if you plan to do a road trip in Oman. You’ll find many great tips and information about some sights in this travel guide.

Travel Tips for Asia

We have many travel guides and tips for Asia— a fascinating continent!

Delicious cuisine can be enjoyed across Asia, and our food map of Asia will inspire your food journey.

These top 5 best street foods in Asia are unmissable! We explain Central Asian food, including seven popular foods in this region.

Our Southeast Asia packing list will be helpful if you’re travelling here.

Furthermore, if you plan to travel long-term (or at least until the money runs out), these 21 cheapest countries to visit will help you make your hard-earned dollars stretch a bit further.

Not surprisingly, our top 10 best countries for food lovers include a few Asian countries.

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling in Asia. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual Asian countries, or consider a regional eSIM for Asia (which covers 18 countries).

If your travels in Asia are part of a much larger global adventure, then a Global eSIM may be the answer. It connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text eSIM. The Global eSIM has been a game-changer; we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. View the best deals on group tours in Asia.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

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Travel Planning Resources

✈️ Flights: We use Skyscanner to book cheap flights worldwide.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.com is our preferred platform for booking hotels and accommodation. We use Vrbo to book apartments and long-term stays.

🏥 Travel Insurance: We recommend Heymondo (Get 5% off Heymondo) & SafetyWing

🚌 Transportation: Trainline is the best website to reserve trains. We use Omio to book transport worldwide. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. 

🚘 Car Rental: We use DiscoverCars to book rental cars worldwide.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures OR compare multi-day tours worldwide with Tourradar.

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only two platforms you need.

📚 Lonely Planet: The Best Range of Travel Guides & Ebooks, and FREE Shipping! (use code RACHELDAVEY10 for a 10% discount)

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range.

🛄 What to Pack: Don’t forget your Universal charger and a good power bank.  To help you pack the essentials, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

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💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE & Revolut are the best online accounts that let you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. Both are so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

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✅ Check out our Travel Gear and Travel Resources for more valuable tips to save you money!

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Daniel Jones
    June 29, 2018 8:45 am

    Thanks for sharing so much information. Ideas like these are so useful for a travel freak like me! Looking forward to going for this road trip soon! 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi, You just made my planning easier and now I am pretty sure about my 1-month road trip plan. Looking forward to going on this road trip soon! Thanks for sharing so much information.

    Reply
  • Thank you for sharing this nice article.
    Oman is anything but difficult to self-drive as the streets are wide, new and all around arranged. The streets are not excessively occupied and local people are accommodating drivers.

    Reply
  • It is a great blog to read out and i found it very interesting also ejoyed it So thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply
  • Excellent post, Really appreciate your excellent article.

    Reply
  • Vaclav Dekanovsky
    July 25, 2019 11:38 am

    Nice overview of the wonders of Oman. Men are not required to wear trousers, and you will see some local go in short, though most people wear ankle-length dresses. There’s also an online portal for getting visas now which works pretty well.

    Reply
  • Hi, First, I would like to thank you for sharing the useful guide on Oman Tours. As Oman is the best destination for traveling & tours and has lots of amazing places to visit. My experience says, Salalah is also a very good destination, there are many things to do in Salalah and for spending vacation. I have read your blog and I found that your tips and guide will be very helpful for visitors.

    Reply

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