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Top 10 best things to do in Salalah

As the capital of the Dhofar region, Salalah has a totally different vibe to the rest of Oman, heavily influenced by its East African connections. Its weather patterns also make it more of a tropical paradise than desert city, and the perfect short-haul destination for a short break in the summer. To see the best of it all, here’s our list of the best things to do in Salalah.

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1. Museum of the land of Frankincense

This needs to be top of your list of things to do in Salalah because it tells the story of the country’s most famous and prized natural product. The museum itself covers the history of frankincense in Oman, including how it was first shipped to India and swapped for spices, as well as Oman’s broader history. It sits by the Al Baleed ancient ruins which were once part of the 12th-century port of Zafar, where the bulk of Salalah’s frankincense was shipped from. The country has arguably the world’s best frankincense trees and is incredibly proud of the fact.

Address:  Mina Al-Fahal, Salalah 116, Oman

Opening times: Sunday through Thursday, 8am – 2pm and 4pm – 8pm. Closed Friday and Saturday

Entry: 2 Omani Riyal (Dh19) for adults

2. Sultan Qaboos Mosque

While it almost shares the same name with Muscat’s Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Salalah’s Sultan Qaboos Mosque is less grand, but no less attractive. It has two large domes with minarets, decorated in white and gold, which look stunning against the blue sky backdrop. The interior has a similar color palette and is equally as understated yet beautiful, with crystal chandeliers, and gold and white ceiling mosaics.

Address: An Nahdah St, Salalah, Oman

Opening times: Non-muslims can tour the mosque from 8am through 11am, Saturday through Thursday. Modest dress is a must and women need to cover their hair

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3. Al Husn Souq (Al Husn Souk)

It’s always a good idea to visit a local souq when you’re traveling in the Middle East as it’s quite often the best place to see how the locals spend their leisure time. The Al Husn Souq in Salalah is one of the oldest and liveliest. It’s usually full of locals, especially men, enjoying shisha pipes and a game of dominoes. The smell of frankincense is unmistakable and wafts into every corner and alleyway. There’s also plenty of things to buy, including the distinctive traditional Omani hats, frankincense (it’s considered one of the best places in Oman to buy frankincense so take your time and when in doubt, ask a local for their opinion!) and jewelry.

Address: Sultan Qaboos St, Salalah, Oman

Opening times: Daily, 10am – 1pm and 4.30pm – 9.30pm

4. Al Mughsail Beach

There’s very little to do on this public beach apart from relax with a good book and a tasty picnic. It’s around a 30-minute car ride from Salalah city, and has around six kilometers of clean, white sandy shores. There’s also some natural blowholes at either end which are fun to watch.

5. Al Marneef Cave

The Marneef Cave is right by Al Mughsail Beach but worthy of a spot on the list of the best things to do in Salalah in its own right, due to its popularity. It has green mountains behind it and it’s common to see local families enjoying picnics and games on the public areas surrounding the cave. It’s not a particularly “cave-like” cave, in that you can’t walk inside it, but it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Salalah nonetheless!

6. Salalah Tourism Festival

This annual festival is held during the Khareef season (Oman’s monsoon season) at around the beginning of July to the end of August. It celebrates the country’s heritage and culture and is getting increasingly popular every year, especially with Arab families who like to enjoy the best of the region’s weather when most other countries are suffering hot and humid climates. Ittin Road is one of the main festival hubs, with amusement rides, replica cultural villages, restaurants, street-food stalls and theater shows. If you’re in town when it’s on, make sure you spend at least one evening down there.

Read more: Best things to see and do in Oman

7. Khor Rori

This small archaeological town dates back to around the 1st century CE, from the kingdom of Hadramawt. It was rediscovered in the 19th century by James Bent and is now part of the Unesco World Heritage Site Land of Frankincense. According to Unesco, the site “represent[s] in a unique way the distribution of frankincense which was produced in the wadis of the coastal hinterland”. Also known as Sumhuram, the ruins are situated around 400m from the sea and have stunning views of the Gulf of Oman waters. Over the years excavations of the site have revealed signs of agriculture work, burial sites, ancient carvings, and temples. Excavation by the Italian Mission to Oman is still ongoing and the team is still unearthing treasures.

8. Take a boat ride

At the Salalah port you’ll find lots of traditional Omani boats happy to take visitors out into the sea of Oman. You can ask to take a tour of the coast, or choose one of the specialist speed boat tours to see the Salalah dolphins. Some of the larger Salalah hotels also offer boat tours so do some research if you’re looking for something in particular.

9. Taqah Castle

Built in the 19th century, Taqah Castle is a lot newer that some of Oman’s other castles. Once the private home of Sheikh Ali bon Taman Al Ma’ashani, the maternal great grandfather of Sultan Qaboos, it now houses several small museum collections with tools, weapons and clothing. It also has a video display and a nice craft shop. It’s located 33 kilometers east of Salalah city and all taxi drivers should know it.

Opening times: Saturday through Thursday 9am – 4pm. Friday 8am – 11am

Entry: 5 Omani Riyals (Dh48) for adults, 2 (Dh19) Omani Riyals for children

10. Salalah plantations

Salalah, and Oman, is known for its fresh fruit produce – especially its coconuts which are perfect when served as fresh juice straight from the shell! The area also boasts banana and papaya plantations aplenty, and much of the produce is transported as fresh as can be to stalls set up near Salalah’s corniche (which is around 2km from Salalah city center), which continue to serve fresh juices late into the night.

*Content updated August 2019. Information correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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