Dramatically cocooned by one of the highest mountain ranges in Oman, the ancient city of Nizwa sits conveniently along a popular overland route from Muscat to some of the country's most famous historical sites in the east. Thanks partly to its close proximity to the the capital (two hours away), as well as its wealth of impressive attractions, Nizwa enjoys the title of being Oman's second-most popular tourist destination, with many visitors using it as a base for two or three days before heading off to Bahla, Jabrin and beyond.

The town center itself is still relatively conservative, despite the ever-increasing rise in tourist numbers, so it's wise to dress respectfully and observe traditional Muslim cultural norms. Often referred to as "The Pearl of Islam", Nizwa has a range of both old and new souqs waiting to be explored, some interesting ancients forts and a long list of museums for an air-conditioned culture fix.


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Bahla Fort

A real jewel among Nizwa’s long list of gleaming Islamic buildings, this beautifully-restored fort is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is one of the most popular tourist stop-offs near the city. The labyrinth of connecting rooms showcases some wonderful Islamic architecture, and the intricately-patterned dome at the top of the main building makes a particularly good photo-op.

Falaj Daris Irrigation System

Situated on the outskirts of town is this ancient irrigation system that dates back as far as the 5th century and, as a result, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Head here to see how the gravity-fed system still operates today, and explore the pleasant surrounding garden that has been recently renovated for passing visitors.

Goat market

For a true taste of local life, head to Nizwa’s famous Goat Market, taking place on Thursday and Friday mornings. The peak time to arrive is around 7:30am when the market is at busiest, and the air fills with the sound of local traders haggling over deals, not forgetting the incessant bleating of the goats that are shuffled along the maze of streets near to the adjacent souq.

Nizwa Souq

Just like any major city in Oman, Nizwa is home to an impressive range of souqs (traditional Middle Eastern markets). The main one is found in the center of the old town, offering mostly handicrafts, fabrics and homeware, while other smaller alternatives specialise in edible produce, with separate markets dedicated to fresh fish, meat, vegetables and spices.

Wadi Nakhr

Wadi Nakhr - also referred to as Wadi Ghul - presents some breathtaking views across the country’s vast mountain landscape and down into the gorge which drops deeps into the valley below. A drive to the top is only possible in a 4x4, that’s unless you want to ditch your regular road car half way up and walk the rest of the way up on your own. The gorge makes a popular daytrip from the city, or as a stop off en-route, heading east from Muscat.

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