Historical Day Trips from Muscat

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Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
On the top – Nizwa Fort

Oman has a great history with ancient cultural preserves, forts, fortress, castles and souqs/souks.  In your Oman Sightseeing tours, this historical Oman forts trip is must and highly recommended.  All these forts which I will be talking about are approximately two hours drive from Muscat. Therefore let’s explore historical Oman with some wonderful castles, forts, ethnic marketplaces which are considered as the best sightseeing attractions of Oman. Read this post for Historical Day Trips from Muscat or one of the most famous Oman Day Tours. 

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours

As you must have read in my Muscat City Tour article, that Oman has been blessed with rugged mountain terrains, the drive is mostly through beautiful mountains. As we planned to cover three forts, one cave, some viewpoints on mountains, in the whole day, we started early in the morning. 

First Stop – NIZWA FORT, NIZWA SOUK/SOUQ |HISTORICAL DAY TOURS FROM MUSCAT

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Nizwa Fort

Your visit to Oman is incomplete if you skip Nizwa Fort tour as it is the biggest and most beautiful fort of Oman which has a history dating back to 9th century. It is also known as Pearl of Islam. Located in Nizwa the oldest city of Oman is 140 km from Muscat. It was once important learning, defense center and also a former capital of ancient Oman.  The oldest part of the fort has the historical significance of the 9th century and later restored in the 17th century by Sultan bin Saif Al Yarubi.  This fort is believed to keep away many foreign invaders and even expelling Portuguese from Oman.  This fort has a big cylindrical and circular tower which is largest in all forts of Oman, with seven wells, two mosques, prisons, traps, pits underground tunnels, cannon shooting area, learning areas, exhibits of handicrafts and demonstrations of old-style living articles. The foundation of this fort is around 98 feet under the ground.  Earlier Oman was ruled by Imams in Oman and this place was center of learning & enlightenment, this place has generated many great poets, scientists, and religious personalities.

Uniquely built to protect from invaders you can see many traps for invaders like stairs were made with sudden gaps in between which were left open when there was an invasion. 

Also, there are many original exhibits of ancient items like study materials, silver articles with silver making workshop, rooms of scholars with bathing areas, kitchen and kitchen articles, ancient coins, rupees(even Indian rupees), Omani Khanjar (dagger) and much interesting ethnic stuff.  You can also see the evolution of Omani currency from barter trade times to present date. There was significant use of Gulf Rupee issued by Indian Government or Reserve Bank of India between 1959 to 1956. This shows that Oman played a major role in ancient trade between India and Arabic countries. In 1960s Oman developed its own currency system named Omani Rial(OMR).

On the ground floor, there are many handicrafts workshops going on which are run by rural women. The main handicrafts are basket weaving, a mask(niqab) making, embroidery on textiles and jewelry making. 

The huge sandstone colored, silent walls of Nizwa fort leads to an exciting historical journey of Oman.

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Walls of Nizwa Fort
TIP – Nizwa is an ancient historical city and therefore dress conservatively in this place with knees and shoulders covered. –

OPENING TIMINGS – Saturday to Thursday (8:00 A.M. TO 6:00 P.M.)

                                   Friday ( 8:00 A.M. TO 11.30 A.M. & 1:30 P.M. TO 6:00 P.M.)

ENTRANCE TICKET COST – OMR 5 (approx.. 13 USD) per person – With this you get guided tour and the guide will explain all the important history of this fort and also takes you to all sections.

While you enter or you exit of Nizwa fort, there is Nizwa souq where you will get lost into many interesting Omani handicrafts and local stuff. Claywork and pottery is the main product which you can buy from here. Also, you can buy Omani silver handicraft jewelry, embroidered caps, Khanjar(dagger), dates and date products. 

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Entering Nizwa Souq
PHOTOGENIC SPOT – Terrace of Fort, Doors, Arches, Nizwa souq and zigzag sandstone-colored walls.

After this detailed two hours Nizwa fort tour, we proceeded to Al Hoota caves.

Second Stop – AL HOOTA CAVE | HISTORICAL DAY TOURS FROM MUSCAT

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours

The two million years old cave – The Al Hoota cave in the Arabian peninsula which is 4.5kilometers long with only 500-meter access to visitors. It is located on the foot of Jabal Shams hills which is Oman’s highest mountain range. Jabal Shams is also known as Grand Canyon of Middle East. So let’s explore some natural wonders under the ground.

This cave system is formed by dissolution of limestone by acidic water and after every 100 years, the water dissolves 10mm of rock which forms stunning stalagmite and stalactites.  You can see huge formations with some interesting shapes and even you can figure out one massive lion type of face formed by stalagmite and stalactites.  There are four lakes beneath with a rich eco-system and also you can spot some rarest of fish species like Blind fish. 

The electric train takes you the entrance of the cave from the ticket window and then guide accompanies you through the whole cave while explaining all the things in detail. Photography is not allowed inside the cave and lights are only switched on by the guide for viewing as they are switched off to not create hindrance to cave dwellings. It takes around 45minutes to 1 hour to take the tour of this cave.

Click here to book your own time slot as they allow a specific number of people to enter the cave, before reaching here to avoid huge queues on weekends and special holiday days.

TICKET COST – ADULTS                     CHILDREN

                            3.5 OMR                    1.0 OMR                  OMANI NATIONALS

                            7.0 OMR                    3.5 OMR                  OTHER NATIONALITIES

They conduct special University & school tours at special discounted prices.

PRECAUTION/WARNING – There is a lot of humidity and sometimes lack of air inside the deep cave. You may feel claustrophobic sometimes. There are many steps which you have to climb and climb down to. Dark narrow passages and sometimes they are wet and slippery. Do not touch anything inside the cave. Watch your steps and head. –

After this, we hurriedly proceeded to Al Bahla Fort with few short stopovers at Jabal Sham mountains. Many of them divert from here and stay in luxury mountain resorts of Jabal Shams and try to indulge in some mountain adventures like hike, trails, mountain camps, etc. You can also consider staying at Anantara Jabal Akhdar Mountain retreat resort. But we decided to continue further and explore some ancient forts and castles in Oman.

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Jabal Shams – Grand Canyon of Middle East
Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Jabal Shams Mountain ranges

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Third Stop – BAHLA FORT | HISTORICAL DAY TOURS FROM MUSCAT

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours

One of the oldest fort with a history dating back to 500B.C. with many restorations in 13th, 17th and 19th centuries.  It is located in Bahla town which is also a potter’s town famous for clay work and pottery.  Bahla is 24 kilometers away from Nizwa town and this fort is UNESCO listed fort in Oman.  After many restorations, this fort had always severe damages but finally reconstructed in 2012 and open to the public.  It has a massive structure with huge walls, wells, mosques and many rooms with special arched doors. Though the fort looks massive interiors are empty without any exhibits and furnishings. 

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Bahla Town with fort and mud settlements with a backdrop of Jabal Shams mountain range

You can also see ancient mud settlement adjoining the fort which is a very interesting tour. You can explore through this little mud town to discover some beautiful doors, windows, zigzag roofs, and walls.  It is believed that fort is made up of bricks of mud & straw and therefore many parts of this fort are eroded with time.  Locals believe that this fort could not survive restoration due to some superstitions.  Once Bahla was center of Ibadism( a branch of Islam) and was a perfect example of ancient Islamic settlements.

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Interiors of Bahla Fort

This unique ancient styled mud settlement and Falaj system(special Middle-Eastern Irrigation system) add unique features to this place.

CLOSING TIMINGS – Fort closes 4:00 P.M. every day and 11:00 P.M. on Friday.

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Entrance to Bahla Fort
Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Exploring Mud/ClayTown Settlement near Bahla Fort

Now after this we proceeded to Jabreen Castle.

Fourth Stop – JABREEN CASTLE | HISTORICAL DAY TOURS FROM MUSCAT

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours

A lovely 17th-century castle located at 10 to 11 kilometers from Bahla fort which was built by Yaruba dynasty.  This castle is different from forts as it was not built during the war but was made during peace & prosperity time.  The ruler was fond of science & art and therefore this castle has lovely interiors. 

OPENING TIME – SATURDAY TO THURSDAY – 9:00 A.M. TO 4:00 P.M.

                                FRIDAY – 8:00 A.M. TO 11:00 A.M.

We reached after 4:00 P.M. so could not view it from inside but enjoyed the exteriors. 

After this, we proceeded to Muscat for a night stay and had dinner in Muscat. I stayed in Fraser Suites for one night and in Levatio Hotel Muscat for two nights. Read more about where to stay in Muscat. 

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Nizwa Town Entrance and Exit

THING TO TAKE CARE FOR HISTORICAL DAY TRIP FROM MUSCAT

  1. Respect local customs and traditions.
  2. Wear respectful clothing(with knees and shoulders covered) with not much skin show for both boys and girls.
  3. There can be hilly drive many times.
  4. During monsoon, if there is mist or fog, drive carefully and slowly.
  5. Refer to the closing times of forts.
  6. A lot of walk and climbing is required, so wearing comfortable footwear.
  7. Carry loads of water and take light meals in between as heavy meals can create upset stomach due to mountainous drive.
  8. Hire guides, tour operators or drive your own vehicle to reach here. You can book all these three forts tours by clicking here. Also, Click here to book your full day tour to Nizwa.
  9. Google Maps works perfectly fine and you will reach accordingly by following them.
  10. These towns are conservative towns so don’t expect big hotels or international branded food chains. You can try some local food in between.
  11. There is no language problem as all understand English and even signboards of forts are in English and Islamic.
  12. Very safe and well maintained
  13. Start early as much as possible as the closing time of forts is nearly 4 to 5 P.M. And most of the activities at least need 2 hours time to see thoroughly.
  14. There are designated parking spaces near the fort and therefore parking should be a problem.
  15. Roads are toll-free and you will find many fuel/gas refilling stations in between.
  16. Don’t try to overdo the things as this excursion is slightly hectic. Do as much as you can or whatever time allows.
  17. Enjoy in between paths as you will see many different natural rock styles and rock colors.
  18. Souks/Souqs and weekly market fairs are interesting, so try to reserve some time for them. Weekly market fairs are generally held on Fridays but there are some souks which are open forever.
  19. You can stay in these towns but as you cannot find big hotels to stay here, I would recommend staying at Muscat.
Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours

BEST TIME TO VISIT – OCTOBER TO APRIL

NEAREST INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – Muscat or you can drive from Dubai

Historical Day Trips from Muscat | Oman Sightseeing Tours | Oman Day Tours
Bahla Fort

HOW TO REACH MUSCAT FROM DUBAI

From Dubai, you can reach Muscat by SELF-DRIVE or there are many buses which run between these two cities. Mwasalat air-conditioned buses with toilets run between Dubai and Muscat.  From Dubai, bus 201 leaves at 7.30am, 3.30pm and 11 pm from 800m north of Deira City Centre and arrive roughly six hours with a stop at the border and later at Azaiba station in Muscat. The cost of a ticket is around 55AED.

From Muscat bus leaves at 6.20am, 3.20pm and 11.20pm and take around 40 minutes longer. Buses make a small stop in Sohar (Oman). Women traveling alone usually sit at the front of the bus. The cost of a ticket is around 5.5OMR.

USEFUL READS FOR OMAN TRIP

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Nizwa Fort tour from Muscat Nizwa Fort tour from Muscat

So, till then KEEP TRAVELING……………… KEEP EXPLORING……………………………………………………

All photos are taken by me and use of photos without permission would result in legal action.

DISCLAIMER – The content of the blog is solely my views of a place or a thing. This is not to offend any class, religion, ethnicity or nation. My views can change from time to time. This blog may contain some advertisements or links to commercial products and for that, this site is not responsible after you click those advertisements.  We are the independent owner of this site and views expressed in this are our own. All photographs are owned by me.  There can be slight differences in distances, locations or some details for which I (owner) am not responsible.  This post may contain some affiliate links, means at no additional cost to you.  I will earn if you will click through affiliates and make a purchase

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117 Comments

  1. Such interesting places to explore as a day-trip from Muscat. I found Al Hoote Cave as the most interesting for me – thanks for the warning of feeling claustrophobic though. So much of history in Nizwa Fort and Bahla Fort! You have managed to take some really good pictures, I must say.

    1. Thanks Shreya, yes this day trip is packed with lots of exciting things with much of history and natural wonders.

  2. This looks amazing. I would include Nizwa Fort, Bahla Fort and Jabreen Castle in my trip – forts and castles fascinate me. Thanks for including your tips.

  3. This is such an interesting read for me. I have always wanted to visit Oman because of its historical and cultural richness and this post addresses the same right on. I would love to visit those forts. They look so unique. And such an old cave system. I did not even know this existed. Your pictures do true justice to the beauties of Oman. A great read.

  4. I have never visited Muscat before and I have to admit I didn’t know that there were so many interesting day trips to take from the capital. The Al Hoota caves look fascinating. Oman wasn’t really high on my bucket list but this post just pushed it up a few places 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  5. I have travelled the Middle East a fair bit but it had the chance to go to Oman apart from a connecting flight. Imam seems to be making some headlines and I must say your post clarified why. A lot of natural beauty along with history. Like you said a trip is not completed without visiting Nizwa Fort which is indeed beautiful And which has a history dating back to 9th century. Some good local souvenirs shopping also on offer. Thanks for sharing this destination and one I will visit soon

  6. Oman is definitely on my list to visit. I have to save this post because there is just so much information! The Nizwa souq is just so cool and amazing looking. And I’ve never heard of the Al Hoota caves! Just incredible. I would have to mentally prepare myself though because if I think to hard about it, I can definitely get claustrophobic haha. Now I really need to book my trip to Oman! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks Clare for your lovely comment, but I must say you would truly appreciate Oman. Though initially you feel claustrophobic in caves but afterwards you would be normal

  7. Oh wow, these all look amazing! I’d love to visit Nizwa – the architecture is so beautiful and is what I’ve always thought of as typical Middle Eastern! I think the souq would be amazing to visit – I could probably spend a full day in there. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  8. I’ve never thought to visit Oman before, but your post and photos make me wonder why not! I’d love to visit Nizwa Fort – it looks just like a beautiful elaborate sandcastle. Jabreen Castle also looks like it would make an interesting visit. It’s too bad that it was closed when you arrived.

    1. Yes Carrie while doing so many things in whole day, we missed the entry to Jabreen castle but it was also great to see it from outside. Sandstone castles are always beautiful to see

  9. I have always thought that Oman is such an interesting place, and I would like to visit there someday. All these places you visited are amazing, but I would definitely want to experience the caves. That is one long cave! I loved the map at the end, it makes it easier to understand when you have been there.

  10. I have never visited Oman. But I have always been fascinated by its monuments and culture. Thanks to this informative post I now know how to plan my visit here. The Al Hoota caves look really interesting.

  11. Oman goes higher and higher on my list of places to see with posts like yours! The forts looks impressive and I would love to get me some clay pots from the marketplace. I also appreciate the tips on the right clothings and how to get there also with the map visualization. Thanks a lot!

  12. It looks like there’s a lot to see and do in Oman. I’m particularly interested in the historical and cultural aspects so I’d definitely like to visit Nizwa Fort, and the handicraft workshops. Bahla Fort appeals too and the mud settlement there.

  13. Thanks so much for this! I’m planning to visit Oman the next time I’m in the region, and was looking for this exactly. I always wondering what ventures were outside of Muscat – Nizwa was on my list. Pinning for later!

  14. I’ve never thought of visiting Oman before but all of these day trips look great to me. I love history and experiencing new cultures. Would especially love to explore the forts and castle. The cave would probably be a little claustrophobic for me 🙂

    1. Just the drive to Oman alone sounds amazing as I’m a huge fan of mountainous landscapes. Your tip about dressing conservatively for Nizwa fort is exactly what I need. I would hate to accidentally be disrespectful of a culture I’m trying to learn about when it’s so simple to prevent.

      1. Thanks and yes even a drive to Oman from Dubai is worth because the whole route is mountainous.

  15. Hi there! Like many, I have never thought of traveling to Oman. I’m glad I stumbled upon this page and that you are exposing a very cool part of the world! Keep sharing 🙂

  16. What amazing architecture!!! I spent my whole life not caring one bit about architecture. Then our boys got really into architecture so I became interested a bit- and now that I’m travel blogging I am just amazed by the architecture all over the world. This would be so neat to explore.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth and even I can relate somewhat to you as in my early age, I too was not much interested in architecture but now I am truly fond of different and especially the historical ones.

  17. Wow these places are just incredible. Day trips to forts and castles are just my kind of thing. I came to learn about the Nizwa fort while doing my research about the best forts of the world, and your vivid pictures just ascertain why its called the pearl of Islam

    1. Thanks Sinjana, good to know that you have done an extensive research on forts of the world. As you love forts and castles, then you should definitely plan for Oman as it has many beautiful forts.

  18. Thanks for sharing this detailed itinerary! Great that you’ve snuck in some history for the unacquainted. This guide will surely come in useful when I visit Oman.

  19. Such an amazing article on places I knew very little about. Love the beauty in the monochrome architecture of Nizwa fort and as a amateur collector of currency the old Gulf/Indian rupee notes are a delight to see. Very interesting to read about the Al Hoota Cave. Had no clue about its existence and i’m sure it makes for a fascinating day trip.

  20. There is a lot of history and some interesting, for an European eye, architecture. To be honest, I have never heard of Muscat… but it looks to be in the middle of very interstng things.

  21. Fab pics and write up. I love historical sites. You have motivated me to add another new destination to my list . Thank you.

  22. I love when bloggers post articles about little-visited countries like this. Or is it? Are there many visitors there? I don’t see many people in your photos. The first photo alone was enough to interest me, and the souq there looks great. If you did all these sights in one day, no wonder the last one was closed, too bad. But I admire your ambition.

    1. Yes Tom, all sights in one day seems too much and therefore last one was closed. It is better to start early. You noticed correctly that I didn’t find many visitors as not many people know about these wonderful places.

  23. This part of the world is unfamiliar to me. I would love to explore the cave — millions of years old. Wow! And the fort would probably be my favorite.

  24. This makes me want to visit Muscat and Oman so much, the depth of the culture here seems so rich. We would love visiting the souks and forts and then exploring into the mountains too. It’s got it all!

  25. Good to see the ancient forts being preserved as a heritage site. Thus reminds me of my trip taken to heritage site in Karnataka. I felt like am actually walking in the fort on reading your post, well narrated and you managed to include even the smallest of information which may be helful for the readers. Loved it.

  26. Thank you for sharing this travel story about your trip to Muscat. It is amazing and words can’t fulfill it unique beauty.

  27. That’s a lot of my kinda places to go! I dunno when future will take me to Muscat. But, this is all too tempting.
    OMG! I didn’t know about the Gulf Rupee… Its so fascinating to read about it! The currency conversion is flabbergasting!
    Bahla Fort looks fascinating too.

  28. What a great array of short day trips from Muscat. I haven’t been to the Middle East yet, but it’s on my list. Oman has such beautiful scenery and quite a rich history. Would love to visit Muscat and the area around. Jabreen Castle looks very photogenic.

  29. Oman has never been on my radar until I’ve started reading more blog posts about it. And it sounds like an incredible country to visit. I had no idea there were so many amazing looking forts and castles, as a family they’re our favourite sites to visit.

  30. Oman is a country that is very high on my list to go. Reading your post and seeing the gorgeous pictures makes me want to go even more. The pictures from the fort you had visited have such beautiful architecture and remind of things I saw in Aladdin. I really hope I can visit sometime soon!

    1. I agree with you Courtney as I too got reminded of Aladdin when I visited these forts and castles. Looks like they have erupted from Arabian Tales.

  31. Oh, look at those mud brown forts! I am in love with the architecture just by seeing the photos. These are just amazing. I loved both the forts. Muscat was never in my bucket list, but seeing this I think I am going to add it right away. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Now this is something I’d love to try in Oman. The historical sites look very interesting especially the Al Hoota Cave. Though I tend to be claustrophobic, I’ve enjoyed several spelunking activities before, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to enjoy exploring this cave too.

  33. Each of these places are amazing in their own ways. I’d love to visit the fort. The architecture is so different from Indian forts, isn’t it? The beauty of this fort lies in its simplicity.

  34. Wow! I did not realize that there are a lot of places to visit in Oman. It is truly fascinating to see all of these historical and ancient structures. Would love to visit soon. Thank you for sharing these tips. Will keep them in mind.

  35. I have been doing a lot of research lately on Sri Lanka- pearl of the orient. I would have wondered how Muscat got that name if it weren’t for this month’s issue of National Geographic. They went on in depth about the Romans and their love of pearls. Muscat was a center for pearl diving back in the Roman days, much like Sri Lanka. Although come to think of it, I doubt the Romans ever were in Sri Lanka. Still, those old traditions continue to live on today in culture and etymology.

  36. I am a history teacher, and I LOVE visiting historical places. These trips all look wonderful. The Al Hoota cave especially looks interesting. What a beautiful part of the world! I hope to visit one day.

  37. Seeing your photographs entices me to visit Oman. Although I knew a little about Oman, all of these sights are new to me. I find the historical significance of the forts so interesting. What a fabulous resource to tuck away for when I do get to that part of the world!

  38. We love exploring places with lots of local history, so Oman seems like an interesting place to visit. Kerstin’s great aunt went there several years ago and really liked it. She also said that everything (roads, monuments) are all pretty well maintained, which is awesome considering that we’ve already lost so many other historical monuments due to war. Thanks for inspiring us with this post!

  39. Oman is very high on our list to visit for so many reasons … you’ve just added to them. Nizwa fort looks and sounds like an amazing experience and adventure. And of course there is a souq 😉 Their version of the gift shops you get as you exit any European museum. It is the Al Hoota Cave though that really has piqued my curiousity. Sounds so interesting and fascinating.

  40. I had heard and read a lot about Nizwa Fort and Jabreen Castle, but didn’t even know of Bahla Fort. It looks so well preserves, just like the other forts of Oman. Also, didn’t know local women sold handicrafts in specifically allowed space in Nizwa Fort. That is so cool! Loved how detailed your guide to each of the forts is and such stunning pictures! Would love to visit Oman and explore its historical and natural treasure.

    1. Nizwa Fort has many activities daily to showcase their glorious history. So it always a pleasure to see such things in person. Thanks for reading

  41. Thank you for sharing this incredible journey! You include so much useful information and Muscat looks like a cultural treasure trove. I have only been to Morocco, but I would really love to visit Tunisia and now Oman! Bandar al Khiran looks like an especially amazing beach that I’d love to see someday!

  42. Oman is definitely a place I’d like to visit, and these day trips sound fab. I appreciate the tips too on dressing conservatively in places like Nizwa Fort, I’ll be prepared. It’s so impressive how old these places are, and they’re still in good condition! I hope to visit one day soon.

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