Oman is a mixture of age-old traditions and contemporary resorts, a wave of ochre coloured sand dunes and deserted beaches, and an intoxicating blend of antique culture and luxurious service. Whether you’re reclining on sumptuous Persian rugs on board a wooden dhow, sailing towards the hazy heat of the majestic Musandam peninsula, riding a camel through the burnt sienna Wahiba desert, or kayaking with pods of dolphins as the sun rises over Muscat, holidaying in Oman brings ancient Arabia to life.
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Rise at 4am to watch endangered green turtles nest and hatch their eggs, visit the ethereal Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and take a breathtaking walk through Wadi Bani Khalid, a valley surrounded by small villages embedded in the mountains, characterised by a series of stunning turquoise pools. Spend some time exploring Muscat and discover the fragrant Muttrah Souk where you can buy everything from frankincense and coffee to perfume and jewellery, and the magnificent Mirani forts that stand at the entrance to Muscat Bay. To the south west of the capital you’ll find the historic forts of Nizwa, Jabrin and Bahla, along with Jebel Shams, the highest peak in Oman, where you’re surrounded by near vertical rock faces that reach up into the bright blue sky.
Head out in a four wheel drive to the dunes of the Wahiba Sands, where you can overnight in a Bedouin style tent at Desert Nights Camp, or take a peaceful trek by horse or camel across virtually uninhabited sands. If all that sizzling desert heat has left you craving some underwater adventure, the warm waters of the Gulf boast some fantstic dive sites. For novices the best of these are off Muscat, and for more experienced divers the Musandam Peninsula boasts drifts, fjords and drop-offs.
Dining in Oman will undoubtedly set your senses on fire as a medley of hot spices, garlic and lime marinate with chicken and lamb in underground wood fired ovens. The Restaurant at The Chedi Muscat delivers authentic Arabian dishes, the Al Khiran Terrace at Al Bustan Palace hosts an amazing buffet with live cooking stations that will leave you spoilt for choice, and for a truly spectacular meal dine at Sense on the Edge at Six Senses Zighy Bay, where you'll enjoy a magnificent evening of mountain-top fine dining.
In and around Muscat...
Marvel at the Grand Mosque
The enormous Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, completed in 2001, is a dazzling architectural feat. Take a guided tour through the ornate archways, tranquil courtyards and vast prayer hall, where you’ll see a collection of Islamic styles and influences from around the globe, as well as eye-catching features including a huge Swarovski crystal chandelier and stunning French stained glass windows.
Dolphin and whale watching
The waters off the coast of Oman contain a rich and relatively untouched marine ecosystem, home to over 20 species of whale and dolphin, and nothing beats the thrill of seeing these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. Take a boat trip from Muscat’s beautiful coast out into the Gulf of Oman, where spinner and bottlenose dolphins are common, as are humpback whales. And if you’re really lucky you might even spot a pod of orcas, or the legendary blue whale!
A night at the opera
A gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos, himself an avid fan of classical music and the arts, Muscat’s imposing and ornate Royal Opera House opened in 2011. Performances planned for the coming season include Verdi’s Falstaff and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and the Opera House also plays host to both traditional and contemporary music and dance from Oman and the wider Arab world, along with international acts from across the spectrum of the arts.
Experience the Contrasts of Oman
To really experience Oman a tour of the rugged interior is a must. This is a landscape of jagged mountains, rusty red sands, historic fortresses and atmospheric Bedouin encampments. Our private tour includes the fascinating fort and charming souks at Nizwa, the beautiful mountain villages of Wadi Bani Khalid and the old port town of Sur, showing you another side to this country and its warm, welcoming people.
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Arabic is the official language of Oman, but English is widely spoken.
4 hours ahead of GMT.
Omani rial. Major credit cards are also accepted at all hotels.
Irish Citizens require a visa to enter Oman. Visas are issued on arrival at the cost of 20 OMR per person (approximately €35) for stay of more than 10 days and 5 OMR per person (approximately €10) for stays of 10 days or less. Details of how to obtain a visa will be enclosed with your final travel documents. Please note, photographs or application forms are not required.
Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha are important religious festivals in the Muslim world, the exact dates of which are determined by the lunar calendar and change each year.
Holy Prophet'sBirthday: 22 - 23 December Isra Al Miraj: 4 - 5 May Ramadan: 6 June - 6 July Eid Al Fitr: 5 – 8 July Eid Al Adha: 11 – 14 September
During these times, some restaurant and bars may close and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking in public. Please contact us for the latest information on how this may affect your holiday.