How to do it, Middle East, Wanderlust

A week in Oman itinerary with kids

When I was planning our family trip to Oman for October half-term, I was looking for a country with plenty to occupy us for a week but where we shouldn’t end up exhausted trying to fit it all in.

Boy climbs up a sand dune towards the blue sky - week in Oman itinerary with kids

Oh, and sunshine. Needless to say, once I started researching Oman, it would have been easy to fill a two-week trip – or longer. But if, like us, you’ve got seven days to burn, it’s a great option – especially with a mid-haul flight of less than eight hours and a three-hour time difference to British Summer Time.

So this is what I planned as my week in Oman itinerary with kids, with some help from the lovely Stubborn Mule (who arranged my Cambodia trip) plus more suggestions from other travel bloggers if you’ve got longer to spend exploring.

Day 1 – Muscat
Unless you drive from the UAE, you’ll fly in to Muscat before heading out to explore the country. If you only have one day in the capital, you can’t miss the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque with its famously beautiful decorated interior – doublecheck the opening hours though, especially if you arrive early after an overnight flight, as you only have until 11am to visit. The other option is to visit the following morning on your way out of the city.

View of the exterior of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat - my week in Oman itinerary with kids

Muttrah and the souk, with its spices, bright textiles and gold stalls is also worth seeing on even a brief stop – take a wander along the corniche too before sitting down to people watch over fresh fruit juice.

We also found time to go dolphin spotting in the Gulf of Oman, which was a magical way to wake ourselves up after a very early landing.

Got longer? Check out the Oman Children’s Museum with plenty of interactive exhibits to while away a few hours and another dozen tips for things to see in Muscat here.

Stay at: The Best Western Muscat is central for a short stay, plus there’s a small indoor pool, restaurant and very comfy beds to combat jetlag.

If you’re splashing out a bit more, the Chedi is elegantly minimalist and right on the beach (perhaps better without enthusiastic toddlers!), while the Al Bustan Palace would be a fabulous family-friendly five-star splurge.

Day 2 – Nizwa and Jebel Shams
Leaving the capital behind, head to the ancient capital of Oman’s interior – Nizwa. Nizwa has its own fort as well as a souk, known for its silver and coppersmiths, and old jewellery plus it’s famous for its halwa, a traditional sticky sweet.

Jebel Shams, the Grand Canyon of Middle-East, Oman - my week in Oman itinerary with kids

Then on to Jebel Shams, nicknamed Oman’s Grand Canyon with its dramatic landscape where the country’s highest mountain plunges to a breath-taking canyon.

If you have time, stop at the nearby Jabrin Fort with its balconied courtyard and decorated rooms, as well as Bahla Fort with its labyrinth of corridors and the tomb of one of the Imams who traditionally ruled the interior. You could also stop at both the following day on the way to the desert.

Stay at: The View lives up to its name, set out in the mountains with incredible views from the rooms onto the canyon and a wonderful infinity pool.

Day 3 – Wahiba Sands
Leave the mountains for the desert at Wahiba Sands – with vast dunes, you’ll need a 4WD to explore this huge sand sea with the shifting sands blown over 100 metres high.

Count camels en route, stop at a Bedouin house or just marvel at the colours of the endless dunes.

A group of camels in slight silhouette - my week in Oman itinerary with kids

Stay at: A traditional Bedouin camp in the desert – 1000 Nights Camp has the option of staying in a house or several different kinds of tents. If you’re more of a glamper than camper (like me), the Sheikh tents are traditional Bedouin goat hair dwellings but there’s a toilet and shower that’s open to the sky, plus electricity. There’s also a pool, activities including a camel safari and barbecue around a camp fire under the stars – climb the dunes behind the camp to watch the sunset too.

Or consider the Nomadic Desert Camp if you’d prefer not to be right out in the desert, especially if you’re driving yourself.

Day 4 – Sur and Ras al Jinz
The seaside town of Sur is famous for its boatyards making dhows, the traditional sailing boats of Oman as well as pretty white buildings lining the streets and a corniche to wander along.

You could also stop at Wadi Bani Khalid on the way, a little oasis with pools fed by natural springs in the mountains where you can swim – or just enjoy the date palms in the shadow of the mountains.

The coastline and lighthouses at Sur - my week in Oman itinerary with kids

Make Sur your base or continue to Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve, where endangered green turtles come ashore to lay eggs – the centre arranges visits to the beach to observe without disturbing the nests, both in the evening (around 8.30/9pm) and around 5am. Guests get to go in the first group which is ideal with younger kids.

There’s also a small but lovely museum, with information on the turtles, their place in myth and legends and more about the first people to live in this area.

July to October is the peak time to spot the turtles although you can still be lucky and see them in the months either side as well – five different turtle species live in the seas here.

Stay at: The Ras Al Jinz Scientic Centre – there are rooms to stay in as well as tents. The latter get booked up quickly so we missed out, but you can see a review here – the rooms were happily air conditioned after our previous night in the tent too!

If you’re staying in Sur, the Sur Plaza has its own outdoor pool.

Day 5 and 6 – Muscat’s beach
Finish the trip with a couple of days relaxing by the coast just outside Muscat – there are several different areas to pick from, around an hour from the airport, with watersports and restaurants as well as the beach itself.

If you do get bored, Muscat itself is around an hour away so you can explore some of the places you missed at the start of the trip… although frankly a day and a half lounging by the pool and beach suited us just fine.

View of boats on the water by Muscat - my week in Oman itinerary with kids

Stay at: The family-friendly Sifawy Boutique Hotel is set on a marina with a children’s pool, snorkelling and boat tours, an inflatable waterpark and the beach in walking distance.

Slightly closer to Muscat is the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah, actually three resorts in one including family-friendly Al Waha. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the resort as a whole which is why we opted for Sifawy Boutique but you can check out this (good!) review as well as how the resort works as a base for an Oman family holiday.

Day 7 Fly home
Like me, I suspect you’ll be wishing you had longer to explore Oman and plotting a return trip – for now, day 7 is time to fly home once more. We flew with British Airways direct from Heathrow to Muscat.

Some ideas for next time….
The lush green south at Salalah

The north – Sohar and the Musandam peninsula

A 14 day itinerary for Oman with kids

Need to know
We had a driver/guide for the whole trip – some days do involve a fair bit of time in the car. If you’re a confident driver, you could do much of the itinerary yourself although you’ll want good maps as the roads are being constantly updated but the signposts are few and far between.

A four-wheel drive is also a good idea and essential for the mountain and desert – quite honestly, I wouldn’t fancy driving in the desert unless you’ve had practice, especially when it comes to finding somewhere to let air out of the tires, not getting stuck on the soft sand and not getting lost!

As all of the hotels in our itinerary, bar the Best Western, are relatively isolated you’re also committed to eating in the on-site restaurant. This is definitely not a hardship, we had some wonderful meals but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re looking at deals including dinner.

For lunchtimes, we tended to stop at restaurants en route suggested by our driver – often nothing outstanding to look at but we had some fabulous food, usually biryani and bread or other rice and meat dishes to share.

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My week in Oman itinerary with kids - if you've got seven days for a family holiday in Oman, my tips on what to include from Muscat and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to Nizwa and the Jabrin Fort, the canyon of Jebel Shams, a bedouin camp and camel safari in Wahiba Sands, the dhows of Sur and turtles of Ras al Jinz plus some beach time and tips for a longer trip. #oman #omanwithkids #omanitinerary #middleeastwithkids #muscatwithkids #familyoman #weekinoman #omanholiday #mummytravels Image copyright https://depositphotos.com/portfolio-8509220.html

 

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may earn a few pennies to put towards a return visit to Oman. I paid for this trip myself apart from a few upgrades and meals courtesy of Stubborn Mule (who I chose again after having such a great holiday in Cambodia). All opinions and minor camel obsession remain my own.

Main image copyright galitskaya; Jebel Shams copyright kk_tt; all others courtesy Pixabay

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