The Wanderbug’s One Perfect Day series asks travel bloggers around the world for their favourite insider tips & experiences in the cities they love most. I think it’s the best way to find fresh inspiration for visiting a city, with a handful of icons & must-dos interspersed with more low-key (but just as special) experiences that the guidebooks miss. If you’re a travel blogger itching to share your One Perfect Day on The Wanderbug, please get in touch!
Today’s guide to Oman comes from Australian communications expert, photographer & savvy traveller, Amy Feldtmann. You can read Amy’s take on the world around her and check out her photography at her website.
One of the friendliest countries I have ever visited, Oman has been listed on the New York Times ’52 places to go in 2015’. If I only had one day in its capital, Muscat, this is how I would spend it:
After a breakfast where I would indulge in the excellent hummus that would be on offer, I’d head to one of the most important and impressive locations in Muscat: the Grand Sultan Qaboos Mosque. It is only open to tourists for a few hours, usually 8am to 11am, and you will need to be appropriately dressed (men should not wear shorts, and women needing to cover hair with scarf). Be sure to visit the Islamic Centre on the grounds to ask all the questions you have ever wanted to about Islam with English-speaking staff; but don’t visit on a Friday when Friday Prayers will be taking place as you will only get access to the gardens and grounds.
The architecture of the mosque has design influences from all over the world, including the 14-metre-tall German-made chandelier above the main prayer hall.
In the middle of the day and early afternoon, it is likely that Muscat will be very, very hot (as in more-than-40-degree hot), and many businesses will be closed in the middle of the day until around 4pm. However, this presents a great opportunity to make the most of the indoors of the fancy hotels. Even if beyond your budget, the Shangri-La and Ritz Carlton will still be your friends. Head to the Shangri-La day spa for a massage where the cost will include access to sauna and spa area. Afterwards, call into the magnificent Ritz Carlton Al Bustan Palace Hotel for afternoon tea.
Find somewhere to eat the delicious local food. Given Oman’s location, it is no surprise that the traditional middle-eastern food has strong influence from Indian cuisine, and thanks to a long coastline, there is great, fresh seafood. Rice, hummus, olives, tomato salads, pita bread are regular at Omani mealtimes, which often include lots of share plates and communal eating, sometimes seated on the floor. Many restaurants, especially those not regularly hosting tourists, will have ‘family’ seating areas – this is where women or mixed groups should be seated – so be sure to respect that.
Once the sun starts to go down after dinner, the temperature should too, so head to the souk for some shopping – my tip is to buy some perfume oils, on offer for gents and ladies alike. Oman is the home of frankincense, and you will smell its scent it wafting from burners in many shops (keep an eye out for giant burner sculptures on roundabouts and clifftops).
After shopping, enjoy the sights (as the locals do) with a walk along the beachfront in the upmarket area of Qurum, or the Corniche, which is right near the souk.
Not known for its thriving nightclub scene, party animals might be limited to having a nightcap in a hotel bar instead (Oman is an Islamic country so alcohol is not widely available). Do your research ahead of time because there are options.
Otherwise, head home and reflect on a great day; or maybe plan an adventure to the old capital of Nizwa, or Al Hamra in the north tomorrow.
Feeling inspired? What’s your top tip for Oman?
All images are owned by Amy Feldtmann. To see more of Amy’s travel photos, check out her Flickr account here.