Oman is one of the oldest Arab countries, its history spanning almost 6,000 years, with breathtaking terrain encompassing desert, riverbed oases and long coastlines on the Persian Gulf.
This is the Arabia of your children’s imagination, covered in untamed desert and soaring mountains, edged by an awe-inspiring coast and dotted with great cities, ancient ports, tiny villages and turtle-friendly beaches. It’s newer to tourism than the UAE neighbours, and catching up fast in terms of roads and resorts, but remains in no danger of losing its sense of tradition, respect for heritage and uniquely Omani spirit in the process.
There are direct flights from London to Muscat year-round. Flying time is just over seven hours.
Dubai Airport is two hours’ drive from resorts on the Musandam Peninsula.
Average temperatures of 27°C from November to March. Summer temperatures between 30°C and 40°C.
Oman is the only Middle Eastern country with a monsoon season (mid-June to late-August).
Traditional culture continues to thrive, particularly on the Musandam Peninsula and Sharqiya.
There’s a good choice of international hotels and resorts in the north and far south, but authentic desert camps are superb in Sharqiya and Dhofar.
Oman has four UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Five Falajs, Bahla Fort, Bat Tombs and the Frankincense Route.
Nestled against Ras Al-Khaimah on the country’s northern tip, this spectacular coast is one of the loveliest places to discover Oman for the first time. Unspoiled and traditional in many ways, life here runs at a slow pace, and even the exquisite resorts look more like traditional villages than luxury hotels. Sailing, climbing, walking and exploring are the themes here, and it’s best for outdoor-loving, adventurous kids and complete escapism.
Oman’s cultured and lovely capital is far from the high-rise extravagance of Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It’s no less fascinating, it just tends to work to a slightly more graceful scale, gently cares for heritage and is better known for ancient architecture rather than glittering modern monuments. This is a city of souks, evening strolls along the promenade, cleaner-than-clean streets, gorgeous mosques and large, peaceful parks and gardens, though it can be lively and bustling, too. Kids will like the easygoing atmosphere and they’ll never be short of something to see or do.
Just under two hours south of Muscat, Sharqiya is the entire landscape of Oman encapsulated in one region: beautiful coast, soaring mountains and endless desert sands. Historically, this ancient land of ship builders, slave traders and merchants was one of the country’s most prosperous areas and traces of the past are a fascinating counterpoint to the natural magnificence. Sharqiya is an unforgettable adventure for older children and could quite easily forge a lifelong passion for Oman.
Almost as far south as you can go without crossing the Yemen border, Dhofar is a summer-holiday favourite with Omanis. The region is world famous for the spectacle of the ‘blooming desert’ during monsoon season, and home to the town of Salalah, one of the most historic and lovely ports in the country.
Look for four- and five-star international hotels in Salalah and Mirbat and desert camps and beach resorts to the north.
Oman’s roads have improved dramatically over the past decade, and some of the coastal routes are jaw-droppingly dramatic. Hiring a car is easy, inexpensive and the best way to get around. Desert tours are best done with local guides. Most city centres are safe and well laid out for walking during the day, and taxis work well in the evening.