Oman (Sultanate of Oman)

Languages: Arabic

Currencies: OMR · Omani rial (ر.ع.)

Capitol: Muscat

Continents: Asia

Borders: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

More useful information

Area: 309,500km2

Population: 5,106,622

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +968

Timezones: UTC+04:00

Last updated on January 6, 2024
Table of Contents

Nizwa Goat Market - cultural event you can't miss in Oman!

Me and my friend Lya were backpacking Oman in 2016. This was one of the most unique and crazy travels due to its unusual and unplanned itinerary. The plan was to land in Dubai, get through a land border with Oman by a public transport and reach Muscat – the capital city. We knew so little about Oman and the whole trip by public bus, that it was scary and fascinating at the same time. This trip brought us lots of unexpected and hilarious situations but most of all – allowed us to connect with the real middle east world. We were looking forward to reach our next stage – Nizwa Goat Market – one of the most beautiful culture events I’ve seen during my travels. 

Read: How to get from Dubai to Muscat by bus.

How to get to Nizwa from Muscat to visit Nizwa Goat Market unique culture event in Oman.

Strange Muscat - Oman capital city.

I flew to Budapest to meet Lya and we were off to Dubai to travel by public transport to Oman. Thanks Lya, it was an unforgettable experience and I couln’t have a better companion! 🙂

Oman is one of the safest countries in the world. Muscat – the capital city is very different to the rest of the country – it’s noisy, crowded and unfriendly. We traveled from Dubai to Muscat by public bus and we were so confused after getting off in the middle of this messy capital city. In the bus we met a lovely old lady from New Zealand. She was so full of energy, we couldn’t believe she is almost 80 and still traveling! She told us that she booked quite cheap hotel near Muscat bus station, so we thought it’s a good idea asking for a room in the same place, since we didn’t have anything booked in advance. The room was 80 euros per night, so definitely over our budget! Can you imagine the hotel receptionist did not even allow us to use hotel wi-fi to search for a place to stay. Crazy!

A must-visit mosques in Muscat are:

  • Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
  • Al Ameen Mosque

Where to stay in Muscat?

Few years back, there was no cheap accommodation options in Oman – it wasn’t a budget friendly country. Since it has become of the most visited travel destinations, you can now browse from thousands of accommodation options, starting from 20 USD or even less! Best accommodation prices are available in

In 2016 we stayed at Mutrah hotel – really nice (it used to be one of the cheapest stays in Muscat but still for 40 euros per night). 

During our first two days in Muscat, we experienced numerous instances of being cheated by taxi drivers and being approached by random people trying to sell us things or telling strange stories. A guy at the bus stop even tried to sell us fake cheap iPhone! While the bus driver refused to give us change! Heh! Our first impression of Oman was strange and we coulnd’t wait to get out of this busy city to visit Nizwa Goat Market.

For best planning your stay in Oman you may want to use these tools (below affiliate links contain best prices and travel deals, may provide me with a small commission at no cost to you):

  • TRANSFERS: – a booking service for transfers and car rentals with a personal driver at the best prices.
  • ACCOMMODATION: Muscat accommodation: I fould best deals on
  • CAR RENTAL: If you are planninc car rental in Oman – which is the right idea – it’s most convenient way of traveling and exploring the country since public transport is not that well developed, go on: – the world’s largest online car rental service.
  • SIM CARD: Stay connected with DRIMSIM – the first universal SIM card and free app for travelers. 
  • FLIGHTS: For last minute flights and airline deals check Skyscanner.
  • INSURANCE: Best medical coverage: VisitorsCoverage.

How to get to Nizwa from Muscat by bus?

The countryside (or rather desertside) of Oman was definitely my type of adventure – there was almost zero touristic infrastructure and convenient transport solutions. While the country remains quite unchanged, the touristic facilities have developed massively. After leaving Muscat we finally touchbased with first friendly people in Oman. 

Direct bus to Nizwa leaves from Ruwi Bus Station in Muscat. They asked us several times which Nizwa we’re going to? Obviously there are number of Nizwas.. luckily we reached the right one. 

Nizwa is located 140 kilometres from Muscat and the drive takes about 2.5 hours. Buses from Muscat to Nizwa operate twice daily. 

Bus ticket costs around 10$. Ask the driver to drop you in the nearest possible spot to Nizwa town.

Visit official Mwasalat bus network website for schedules.

Our crazy bus adventure from Muscat to Nizwa.

The whole country is made of sand. It was fascinating to drive through all the small villages surrounded by desert mountains, sinked in Arabic architecture. We didn’t book any guesthouse in advance, hoping it would be something available since there wasn’t many tourists. Surprisingly our bus wasn’t going through Nizwa. We were trying to explain the driver we need to get out near Nizwa town, but he was nervously gesticulating and we couldn’t understand a word from what he was trying to tell us. The bus driver picked up a phone call and after few seconds he just pointed and me and passed me his mobile. Seriously, we felt like in a movie – the whole bus community was staring at us – two lost women travelers in the middle of a running bus. While I was holding a mobile close to my ear I heard ‘Your trip FINISH!!’. Suddenly the bus stoped and they literally pointed we have to get out, throwing our backpacks in the middle of nowhere on the highway! You should have seen my face! It was almost dark and we knew there is no chance to find a hostel nearby. We noticed few people standing on the other side of the road, observing the whole situation. This was totally crazy situation, but somehow we felt there was no reason to panic. We walked to talk to them and ask about closest hostel.

Amazing Omani people.

‘7 km away is the closest one’ – they say. OK, so now it’s getting nervous. How do we get there? No taxis, no buses, no chance to walk 7 km in the dark. We saw a guy getting out of his car and asked him for help. After a few moments he said that his wife is going to take us to the nearest hotel. That’s surprising but we agree to go. The guy ensures us there’s no reason to worry and introduces us to his wife and her sister. The girls speak fluent English. They come from Tunisia, and have been living in Oman for few years now. The closest hotel is really expensive so they offer to take us to a different one and say if we don’t like the next one or it’s too expensive, we can stay in their house for one night. The other hotel is also expensive but they offer to take us to a guesthouse, which may be much cheaper. Surprisingly the drive takes an hour!!

Two best tous options in Oman:

Adventurous backpacking Oman!

It’s totoally dark outside. Suddenly we see a policeman on a motorcycle stopping our car! We can’t believe this is happening and we are frozed by this situation. But at the same time if this is a police, nothing wrong can happen right? The policemen talks to the girls for ages and eventually they ask for our passports. It is getting weird! I say I need to take it out from the main luggage from the boot, which makes him a bit upset and the atmosphere feels a bit heavy… They talk a lot and we have no idea why it all takes so long! Finally he lets us go, for a minute there is a silence in the car, while suddenly the girls start to laugh! They say the policeman thought that they are smuggling us from Dubai. OMG, is this happening here? 🙂 

So we are back on the way to the guesthouse, while the ladies ask if they can stop on the way in the nearest mall? Well of course, we don’t have much of a choice as we are totally dependent on them. But at the same time, this whole evening is becoming hilarious and at the end of the day we are starving ..! Finally we reach the guesthouse. They let us out to check the rates with at the reception and it’s only 50 euros per night! We are staying! We give the ladies chocolates we bought earlier in the mall for being incredibly nice, helpful and patient with us. One of them gives me her phone number and says to call them in any case we feel we need help. WOW. That’s really kind of them!

Nizwa Goat Market - Omani cultural event.

Nizwa Goat Market starts early morning and is organized only on Fridays! I can’t believe we are so lucky we arrived on Thursday, having no information neither preparation ahead of this trip. The Souk (local market) is located in the city centre near Nizwa Fort. There are hundreds of cars parked in front of the Souk gate and it’s only 7 am. 

Nizwa Goat Market starts as early as 6am. Also to avoid extreme temperatures arising during the day, often reaching 45 Celcius degrees. When you walk through the gate, you’ll be passing number of fish and fruit stands to reach Goat Market place.

There is a convenient parking place in front of the market place.

The whole trading ceremony is like an act. Local farmers arriving early in the morning to gather in a circle to commence trading process. They are all dresses in white dishdashas – traditional clothing worn at formal occasions. This is the noisiest auction I’ve ever seen, but it’s very easy to understand the trading rules. The entrepreneurs walk in the circle along with the goats and the auction is full on! The buyers are gently tossing and turning the goat inspecting the full body, backside and grabing their testes. The owner shouts the price and after a short burgain the transation is agreed. I don’t see a single woman near this market (except one in burqua), we are the only two strangers participating in this scenery. But I heard it is accesible by foreigners. Surprisingly nobody said anything to us, but I could feel shivering intriguing glances on me while I was taking hundreds of photos of the whole trading ceremony.

Nizwa Souk.

The regular Nizwa Souk is opened every day (from 6am till 1pm and then in the afternoon hours). There’s plenty of local products including pottery, fish, fruits, spices, vegetables and even some domestic animals. It’s a very pleasant environment, nobody will tackle you with offers, unless you express your interest. People are willing to talk and interact with the visitors, one things though – if you are taking photos of people – always ask first for their permission! They are very respectful toward foreigners, should you be the same. Omani is a very gentle nation. In some parts of Oman – Wahiba Desert taking photos of local people and their houses is even forbidden to random visitors. 

What to do in Nizwa - visiting Nizwa Fort.

Nizwa Fort is a great destination to visit after the morning Nizwa Goat Market. The 9th century Nizwa Fort is one of the oldest in Oman and it’s an amazing example of old Omani architecture style. Rebuild in 17th century it is now a castle, fort and a museum in one. It’s accessible for a small entry fee of 5 OMR. The panoramic view from the top is incredible. 

Unforgettable Wahiba Sands - red desert in Oman.

Few years ago there was no public transport from Nizwa to Wahiba Sands. The cheapest tour by private car from Nizwa to Wahiba Sands desert used to cost 300 euros! Finally our reception guy said that his friend is a driver and he will take us for 150 euros. 

We booked the cheapest camp in the desert – Al Raha Camp. To visit Wahiba desert you absolutely need a 4WD car. We got in to the brand new white Toyota Jeep for a few hours drive to finally see a stunning red sand desert. 

It’s a place you must visit in Oman – you’ll be able to pop in to Bedouin settlements, watch incredible red sunset over sand dunes and go on a safari adventure. Spending a night in Wahiba Desert is truly a unique experience. Walking the red sand dunes or sleeping under the stars is seriously unforgettable!

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!

Leave a Comment